Obama Administration Awarded $5 Million To Oregon For Signing Up Residents For Food Stamps

September 30, 2011

n its quest to promote taxpayer-funded entitlement programs, the Obama Administration has actually rewarded one state with a $5 million bonus for its efficiency in adding food-stamp recipients to already bulging rolls.

It’s part of the administration’s campaign to eradicate “food insecure households” by improving access and increasing participation in the government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Incidentally, the program was recently changed to SNAP to eliminate the stigma that comes with a name like food stamps. Just a few months ago the federal agency that administers the program, the U.S. WASHINGTON, DC – Department of Agriculture (USDA), launched a multi-million-dollar initiative to recruit more food-stamp participants even though the number of recipients has skyrocketed in the last few years.

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This week Oregon officials bragged that the USDA has given the state $5 million in “performance bonuses” for ensuring that people eligible for food benefits receive them and for its “swift processing of applications.” The money comes on the heels of a separate $1.5 million award from the feds for making “accurate payments of food stamp benefits to clients.” So welfare recipients are clients? .

It marks the fifth consecutive year that Oregon has been “recognized” by the federal government for “exceptional administration” of the entitlement program, according to the announcement posted on the state’s Department of Human Services web site. The state official who runs SNAP assures that her staff will “continue working very hard to exceed expectations” so that Oregonians can “put healthy foods on their table quickly.”

Could this be why the number of food-stamp beneficiaries in Oregon has increased dramatically in the last few years? Since 2008 the state has seen a 60% boost in the number of food-stamp recipients, which means that more than 780,000 people (one out of five Oregonians) get groceries compliments of Uncle Sam.

As if this weren’t bad enough, the feds are also giving the state a two-year grant to test an “innovative approach” to the food-stamp “client eligibility review process.” This will make it even easier for people to get food stamps because it grants state officials a waiver that allows them to grant the benefit without interviewing the candidate.

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Immigrations Officers Finally Get Off Their Asses And Arrest 2900 Wetbacks With Criminal Records In Week Long Raid – 1600 With Violent, Sex, And Drug Related Felony Offenses – Including 151 Convicted Sex Offenders And 42 Gang Members

September 28, 2011

US – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested more than 2,900 convicted criminal aliens over the past week as part of “Operation Cross Check,” a law enforcement sweep that spread across all 50 states and four U.S. territories — the largest-ever ICE criminal alien operation.

The arrests came a month after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, bowing to pressure from immigration activists, announced that ICE would focus its interior enforcement efforts in the future on serious criminals and delay deportation cases for most non-criminal immigrants who don’t pose a threat to public safety or national security.

ICE described the arrests as part of the Obama administration’s “ongoing commitment to prioritizing the removal of criminal aliens and egregious immigration law violators.”

The seven-day operation involved more than 1,900 ICE officers and agents from all of the agency’s Enforcement and Removal Operations’ 24 field offices, as well as coordination with federal, state and local law enforcement partners throughout the United States.

“The results of this targeted enforcement operation underscore ICE’s ongoing commitment and focus on the arrest and removal of convicted criminal aliens and those that game our nation’s immigration system,” said ICE Director John Morton. “Because of the tireless efforts and teamwork of ICE officers and agents in tracking down at large criminal aliens and fugitives, there are 2,901 fewer criminal aliens in our neighborhoods across the country.”
From left: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton; Gary Mead, executive associate director for Enforcement and Removal Operations; ICE Deputy Director Kumar Kibble and James Dinkins, executive associate director of Homeland Security Investigations, take part in a news conference to announce results of ICE-led enforcement targeting at-large criminal aliens on Sept. 28, 2011, in Washington. (Associated Press)From left: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton; Gary Mead, executive associate director for Enforcement and Removal Operations; ICE Deputy Director Kumar Kibble and James Dinkins, executive associate director of Homeland Security Investigations, take part in a news conference to announce results of ICE-led enforcement targeting at-large criminal aliens on Sept. 28, 2011, in Washington. (Associated Press)

In August, Ms. Napolitano said the agency would proceed on deportation proceedings on a case-by-case basis against illegal immigrants who met certain criteria, such as attending school, having family in the military or having primary responsible for other family members’ care. She told Congress said has the discretion under the law to focus on “priorities” and her department and the Justice Department would review all ongoing cases to see who met the new criteria.

“This case-by-case approach will enhance public safety,” she said at the time. “Immigration judges will be able to more swiftly adjudicate high-priority cases, such as those involving convicted felons.”

All of the 2,901 persons taken into custody over the past week have prior criminal convictions including at least 1,282 who have multiple criminal charges. More than 1,600 of those arrested had felony convictions including manslaughter, attempted murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, drug trafficking, child abuse, sexual crimes against minors, and aggravated assault.

Of the total 2,901 criminal aliens arrested, ICE officials said 42 were members of known street gangs and 151 were convicted sex offenders.

Immigration legislation has been stalled in Congress for years as Democrats and Republicans have sparred over what to include. Republicans generally favor stricter enforcement and a temporary program that would allow workers in the country for some time, but eventually return to their home countries. Democrats want the legislation to include legalization of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants now in the country, and want a future guest-worker program to include a path to citizenship so those workers can stay permanently.

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Federal Judge Upholds Majority Of New Alabama Immigration Laws Targeting Wetbacks

September 28, 2011

ALABAMA – A federal judge on Wednesday said Alabama law enforcement officers can try to check the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally, but blocked other parts of the state’s new crackdown law, which is considered the toughest in the country.

Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn generally let stand the parts of the law that allow the state to enforce its own penalties if they match already existing federal laws, such as being in the country illegally. She also upheld a provision requiring schools to determine if students are in the United States legally.

“Nothing in the text of [federal immigration law] expressly preempts states from legislating on the issue of verification of an individual’s citizenship and immigration status,” she wrote. “There is also nothing in the [law] which reflects congressional intent that the United States occupy the field as it pertains to the identification of persons unlawfully present in the United States.”

But the judge did block parts of Alabama’s law that she said go beyond federal code, such as the provision that makes it a state crime for an illegal immigrant to apply for or solicit work, or for someone to transport an illegal immigrant.

The Obama administration had asked the court to block 10 provisions in the law, but the judge agreed to halt just four. The other six she allowed to go into effect while a full trial proceeds.
People gather in front of the Alabama State Capitol for a rally against Alabama’s HB56 on Aug. 28, 2011, in Montgomery, Ala. (Associated Press)People gather in front of the Alabama State Capitol for a rally against Alabama’s HB56 on Aug. 28, 2011, in Montgomery, Ala. (Associated Press)

It marks a major victory for Alabama, which passed the law during its legislative session earlier this year.

Late last month Judge Blackburn had halted the entire law, saying she needed more time to consider the complex arguments and study the issue. But she had promised a ruling by the end of this month.

In upholding enforcement parts of the law, she reached a different conclusion from the one that both federal district and appeals courts reached on Arizona’s similar law.

But in her 115-page opinion Wednesday, Judge Blackburn said as long as state laws or regulations aren’t inconsistent with the intent of Congress, they are allowed.

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Romulus Michigan Police Officers, Former Police Chief, And Chief’s Wife Arrested In Corruption Probe

September 28, 2011

ROMULUS, MICHIGAN – Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy announced charges in the corruption probe of several Romulus Police Department law enforcement officers.

The press conference was held on the 12th floor of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office in Detroit.

Former Romulus Police Chief Mike St. Andre, his wife and five officers were arrested or turned themselves in to the Michigan State Police Monday.

All seven were released on personal bonds after being arraigned in 34th District Court Tuesday afternoon.

The presiding judge is allowing the officers to keep their firearms but they have been ordered to stay away from all former informants and current witnesses involved in the case.

Charges are as follows:

Former Chief Michael St. Andre is facing 10 felony counts that include Conducting a Criminal Enterprise which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

For his wife Sandra Kay Vlaz-St. Andre, she faces four counts including Conducting a Criminal Enterprise and Receiving and Concealing Stolen Property over $20,000.00.

Detective Richard Balzer is facing seven felony criminal counts including Conducting a Criminal Enterprise and Misconduct in Office.

Officer Donald Hopkins is facing a seven counts including a charge of Conducting a Criminal Enterprise and Misconduct in Office.

Detective Richard Landry is charged with a seven count felony. He’s accused of conspiracy and embezzlement.

Officer Jeremy Channells is facing a three felonies including Misconduct in Office and Neglect of Duty.

Detective Larry Droege faces Misconduct in Office and Neglect of Duty.

The arrests follow a more than three-year investigation into alleged misconduct in the department’s drug enforcement unit, sources tell Action News.

Michigan State Police raided the police department in March and have been leading the investigation in conjunction with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office and the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Also raided at that time was St. Andre’s home in Garden City and his wife’s tanning salon in Westland.

The Action News Investigators broke the story of how MSP has been looking for evidence to support allegations that tens of thousands of dollars had been taken from the police department’s drug forfeiture accounts. At least one kilo of cocaine used by undercover officers in reverse drug buys was also missing.

Prosecutor Worthy says some of the charges relate to hookers and drugs used by the officers. There also are allegations that some officers on the drug enforcement team may have “padded overtime,” putting in for extra hours they really didn’t work.

Romulus Mayor Alan Lambert released the following statement about the charges:

“For several years, we have cooperated fully with an investigation by the Michigan State Police into the Romulus Police Department,” Mayor Lambert said. “After hearing the Wayne County Prosecutor discuss the charges, I am very disappointed in the actions that were alleged. The end result will be a matter of due process.

“As a former police officer, I know the importance of public trust and integrity – especially in matters of public safety. I will work with other elected officials and our new Police Chief Robert Dickerson to strengthen the faith and trust between our residents and our Police Department. I hired Chief Dickerson because he has a strong background in law enforcement and police administrative operations and I will work with him to move this department forward.

“The charges against these five officers and our former police chief are not indicative of our entire Police Department. Our police officers are dedicated, professional individuals who uphold the law. They agree with me: that keeping our neighborhoods safe is our top priority.”

The new Romulus Police Chief Robert Dickerson spoke at the city council meeting on Monday night as well as the Mayor, assuring the people that this should not be a reflection of the entire department; it is just a handful of individuals. Dickerson said “I can move on without a cloud over the department.” And the Mayor Alan Lambert said, “I want the people to know the Police Department will protect them.”

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Dinner With Disgraced President Barack Obama? Three Bucks…

September 28, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – The emails from the Barack Obama reelect about winning a dinner with the president as a randomized reward for contributing to the campaign have gotten a bit more intense as time goes on, and the latest one, from the first lady, emphasizes that the winner of such a prize shouldn’t freak out about it.

“Just relax,” she advises.

The email is below.

From: Michelle Obama [mailto:info@barackobama.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 2:34 PM
Subject: These dinners


Not everyone knows how to prepare for a dinner like this. As someone who’s eaten countless meals with my husband, I want to tell you the one thing to do if you’re selected to join him…

Just relax. Barack wants this dinner to be fun, and he really loves getting to know supporters like you.

I hope you’ll take him up on it before Friday’s deadline.

Will you donate $3 or more today and be entered to have dinner with Barack?

These dinners mean a lot to Barack. They’re a chance for him to talk with a few of the people who are driving the campaign — and a chance for him to say thank you.

So come prepared to tell your story, and say whatever’s on your mind.

Don’t miss the opportunity to be there. Donate $3 today, before the September 30th deadline:




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$77,000,000 Taxpayer Funded Runway Planned In The Middle Of Nowhere

September 28, 2011

ALASKA – Remember Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere,” a $400 million span that was supposed to connect Ketchikan to its airport on sparsely inhabited Gravina Island? The project gained infamy in 2005 as a waste of taxpayer dollars and the funds earmarked for it were withheld. The 8,000 residents of Ketchikan continue to be connected to their airport by ferry.

Fast forward six years and another remote Alaskan airport project is raising questions about how the government spends money.

The price this time is $77 million and the place in Akutan, a remote island village in the Aleutian chain, according to a report from the Alaska Dispatch.

By next winter Akutan is scheduled to have a 4,500-foot-long runway, built at a cost of $64 million ($59 million in federal and $5 million state funds), the Dispatch reports. The problem is, the runway is on Akun Island, 6 miles from the village across the treacherous waters of the Bering Sea. Plying those waters can be tricky with seas over 6 feet and winds above 30 mph.

Original plans called for using a hovercraft – at a cost of $11 million – to ferry passengers from Akutan to Akun. But, the Dispatch points out, the same model hovercraft planned for the route has proven unreliable under similar conditions elsewhere in Alaska. And when it did run, operating losses were in the millions.

Now, transportation officials are considering using a helicopter to ferry passengers from Akutan, according to the Dispatch report. Cost of that is still being determined.

Should officials get it all figured out and funded, who’ll benefit? Akutan has a year-round population of 100, but that spikes to about 1,000 in the summer when Trident Seafoods processing plant, the largest seafood processing plant in North America, is in operation, the Dispatch reports. Trident is contributing $1 million to the project, the Dispatch says.

And why is this necessary? Air service to Akutan is now provided by World War II-era amphibious aircraft operated by Peninsula Airways. Those are becoming increasing difficult to maintain, Peninsula Vice President Brian Carricaburu told the Dispatch.

Carricaburu also says the runway could cut the government’s costs in one way. Peninsula Airways routes to Akutan are now subsidized by about $700,000 annually under the federal Essential Air Service program. Using bigger, more efficient aircraft could bring that cost down, he told the Dispatch.

But to reach that point, it looks like a lot of figurative bridges have to be crossed.

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Department Of Homeland Security Official Anthony Mangione Suspended, Arrested, Charged With Child Pornography In Florida

September 28, 2011

MIAMI, FLORIDA – The head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for south Florida has been arrested on child pornography charges, the Department of Justice said Wednesday.

Anthony Mangione, 50, of Parkland, Florida, was charged in a three-count indictment unsealed Wednesday with transportation of child pornography, receipt of child pornography and possession of child pornography, authorities said in a statement.

“According to the indictment, between March 2010 and September 2010, Mangione allegedly transported and received visual depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct,” the statement said. “The indictment also alleges that Mangione possessed electronically stored messages that contained additional images of child pornography during the same time period.”

Mangione was arrested Tuesday by FBI agents and made an initial appearance Wednesday in federal court in West Palm Beach, Florida.

During the appearance, Mangione pleaded not guilty to the charges, according to CNN affiliate WPTV. Both the prosecution and the defense requested he undergo a psychological evaluation, and the judge approved that request.

“The government has concerns that given the magnitude of the charges, that he might melt down,” defense attorney David Howard told WPTV. “So there is … real concern, and it’s going to be addressed.”

Mangione, a 27-year law enforcement veteran, wore a gray jumpsuit with “federal prisoner” on the back in court Wednesday, and his hands and feet were shackled, WPTV said. He made no statement during the hearing.

He was being held in the Broward County, Florida, jail, according to jail records.

A law enforcement official who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media said Mangione has been on leave from his job at ICE. WPTV reported he was placed on paid administrative leave in April amid a federal investigation into four images on his home computer he allegedly received via e-mail.

According to its website, ICE targets and investigates child pornographers, child sex tourists and facilitators and human smugglers and traffickers of minors, among others. The agency developed Operation Predator, which it describes as “an initiative to identify, investigate and arrest child predators and sexual offenders.”

If convicted, Mangione faces up to 20 years in prison, the Department of Justice said. He also faces a term of supervised release from five years to life following his prison sentence and he will be required to register as a sex offender.

Asked about the Mangione case on Wednesday at a news conference on another matter, ICE director John Morton said his agency cooperated fully with the investigation, but he declined to comment further.

The case is being investigated by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI, the Department of Justice said. Broward County referred questions to federal authorities, and the FBI referred them to the Department of Justice.

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Even Those Cleared Of Crimes Remain On Terror Watch List, Including US Citizens

September 28, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC — The Federal Bureau of Investigation is permitted to include people on the government’s terrorist watch list even if they have been acquitted of terrorism-related offenses or the charges are dropped, according to newly released documents.

The files, released by the F.B.I. under the Freedom of Information Act, disclose how the police are instructed to react if they encounter a person on the list. They lay out, for the first time in public view, the legal standard that national security officials must meet in order to add a name to the list. And they shed new light on how names are vetted for possible removal from the list.

Inclusion on the watch list can keep terrorism suspects off planes, block noncitizens from entering the country and subject people to delays and greater scrutiny at airports, border crossings and traffic stops.

The database now has about 420,000 names, including about 8,000 Americans, according to the statistics released in connection with the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. About 16,000 people, including about 500 Americans, are barred from flying.

Timothy J. Healy, the director of the F.B.I.’s Terrorist Screening Center, which vets requests to add or remove names from the list, said the documents showed that the government was balancing civil liberties with a careful, multilayered process for vetting who goes on it — and for making sure that names that no longer need to be on it came off.

“There has been a lot of criticism about the watch list,” claiming that it is “haphazard,” he said. “But what this illustrates is that there is a very detailed process that the F.B.I. follows in terms of nominations of watch-listed people.”

Still, some of the procedures drew fire from civil liberties advocates, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which made the original request and provided the documents to The New York Times.

The 91 pages of newly disclosed files include a December 2010 guidance memorandum to F.B.I. field offices showing that even a not-guilty verdict may not always be enough to get someone off the list, if agents maintain they still have “reasonable suspicion” that the person might have ties to terrorism.

“If an individual is acquitted or charges are dismissed for a crime related to terrorism, the individual must still meet the reasonable suspicion standard in order to remain on, or be subsequently nominated to, the terrorist watch list,” the once-classified memorandum says.

Ginger McCall, a counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said: “In the United States, you are supposed to be assumed innocent. But on the watch list, you may be assumed guilty, even after the court dismisses your case.”

But Stewart Baker, a former Homeland Security official in the Bush administration, argued that even if the intelligence about someone’s possible terrorism ties fell short of the courtroom standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” it could still be appropriate to keep the person on the watch list as having attracted suspicion.

Mr. Baker noted that being subjected to extra questioning — or even kept off flights — was different than going to prison.

The guidance memo to F.B.I. field offices says someone may be deemed a “known or suspected terrorist” if officials have “particularized derogatory information” to support their suspicions.

That standard may be met by an allegation that the suspect has terrorism ties if the claim is corroborated by at least one other source, it said, but “mere guesses or ‘hunches’ are not enough.”

Normally, it says, if agents close the investigation without charges, they should remove the subject’s name — as they should also normally do in the case of an acquittal. But for exceptions, the F.B.I. maintains a special file for people whose names it is keeping in the database because it has decided they pose a national security risk even they are not the subject any active investigation.

The F.B.I.’s Terrorist Screening Center shares the data with other federal agencies for screening aircraft passengers, people who are crossing the border and people who apply for visas. The data is also used by local police officers to check names during traffic stops.

The December memorandum lays out procedures for police officers to follow when they encounter people who are listed. For example, officers are never to tell the suspects that they might be on the watch list, and they must immediately call the federal government for instructions.

In addition, it says, police officers and border agents are to treat suspects differently based on which “handling codes” are in the system.

Some people, with outstanding warrants, are to be arrested; others are to be questioned while officers check with the Department of Homeland Security to see whether it has or will issue a “detainer” request; and others should be allowed to proceed without delay.

The documents show that the F.B.I. is developing a system to automatically notify regional “fusion centers,” where law enforcement agencies share information, if officers nearby have encountered someone on the list. The bureau also requires F.B.I. supervisors to sign off before an advisory would warn the police that a subject is “armed and dangerous” or has “violent tendencies.”

The F.B.I. procedures encourage agents to renominate suspects for the watch list even if they were already put on it by another agency — meaning multiple agencies would have to be involved in any attempt to later remove that person.

The procedures offer no way for people who are on the watch list to be notified of that fact or given an opportunity to see and challenge the specific allegations against them.

Chris Calabrese, a counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, called the watch list system a “Star Chamber” — “a secret determination, that you have no input into, that you are a terrorist. Once that determination is made, it can ripple through your entire life and you have no way to challenge it.”

But Mr. Healy said the government could not reveal who was on the list, or why, because that would risk revealing intelligence sources. He also defended the idea of the watch list, saying the government would be blamed if, after a terrorist attack, it turned out the perpetrator had attracted the suspicions of one agency but it had not warned other agencies to scrutinize the person.

Mr. Healy also suggested that fears of the watch list were exaggerated, in part because there are many other reasons that people are subjected to extra screening at airports. He said more than 200,000 people have complained to the Department of Homeland Security about their belief that they were wrongly on the list, but fewer than 1 percent of them were actually on it.

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Two Male Richmond Virginia Deputies Fired After Investigation Into Sexual Activity With Female Inmates

September 27, 2011

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA – Two Richmond deputies accused of having sexual contact with female inmates have been fired.

Sheriff C.T. Woody Jr. tells media outlets that he fired the male officers on Sept. 20 following an internal investigation. The results of the investigation have been given to the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.

Woody says the allegations involved two female inmates at the city jail. The inmates have been transferred to other facilities.

He didn’t identify the deputies.

Prosecutors say the office plans to seek indictments against the men.

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Obama Visit To Emergency Bunker In Massachusetts Caused $687K In Damages To Airport – Department Of Homeland Security Refuses To Pay Up

September 27, 2011

MARLBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – President Barack Obama’s entourage for a 2010 visit to Massachusetts caused $676,048 in damage to Marlborough Airport — and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has refused to compensate the company that runs the field, a suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court alleges.

Obama landed at the field on April 1, 2010, so Obama could visit an emergency bunker in the state.

Marlborough Airport Properties Inc. states in its complaint that prior to the visit, the squadron that runs the Marine One helicopter — the designation given to any helicopter carrying the president —established that the aircraft would not damage the tarmac. Indeed, the suit states, the helicopter “did not cause any property damage to the runway.”

“However,” the suit continues, “ground vehicles brought onto the airport by or under the Secret Service, such as, but not limited to, a ‘foam truck,’ which weighs approximately 44,000 pounds, (were) negligently driven onto the airport and proximately caused property damage in an amount of $676,048.13.”

“Turf or grassed-in areas” also were “significantly damaged,” the suit states.

“As to ground vehicles, there was no clearance in advance,” the suit states.

The suit says the company asked the government for compensation and was denied.

“They stated we haven’t shown or proven any negligence,” Evans J. Carter, the lawyer for the airport operator, said in a telephone interview.

Marlborough Airport Properties is seeking a jury trial.

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Mob Of Black And Hispanic Savages With Bats And Pipes Hunt White Youths, Attack White Man Who Tried To Help Victims

September 27, 2011

PORT RICHMOND, PENNSYLVANIA – About 11 P.M. on Sept. 9, dozens of youths with bats and pipes descended on a tidy residential area of Port Richmond looking for white teens who allegedly had attacked an African-American kid at Stokely Playground a couple of hours earlier.

Two fearful white teens spotted Mark LaVelle on Indiana Avenue near Belgrade Street and asked for help. Suddenly, the mob appeared. LaVelle, who said that he didn’t know the two kids, who looked to be 13 or 14, ran with them into his nearby house.

” ‘We got you, you white mother——-!’ ” LaVelle said he heard someone yell in the “mob” of black and Hispanic youths.

Inside his house, LaVelle, 37, called to his wife, Kim, 30, to go to their bedroom with their twin 13-month-old boys, Mark and Mason, and to call police. He also ordered his two other sons, 11 and 17, and his nephew, 7, to stay upstairs.

With the two teens hiding in the house, LaVelle, 5 feet 10, 220 pounds, a well-known sports-league organizer and coach in the community, went outside to try to calm the angry mob.

They were standing on his steps. One shouted, ” ‘Something’s going to happen now!’ ” LaVelle recalled in an interview Friday at his house. LaVelle got nervous and went back inside, locking his door with a deadbolt.

But the attackers pounded on his front windows and kicked his wooden door so hard, it flew open and some of them entered his house.

“The first guy hits me with a pipe. The second guy knocks me in the face. All I’m hearing is my wife and kids screaming,” said LaVelle, who feared that the next time they saw him, he would be in a casket.

He said that he was able to push the attackers out the door, but then a third man – who had a gun – tried to extend his arm. LaVelle grabbed onto the gunman’s lower arm and shoulder so he couldn’t raise the weapon. Then, police sirens screamed in the neighborhood, and the mob turned and ran.

LaVelle was able to identify three of the people from the melee. He said he did not know if they had been chasing the white teenagers, or if they were just trying to find someone to attack.

Police arrested Bergson Morin, 21, of Rosehill Street near Wyoming Avenue, Feltonville, as the man with the gun. They arrested Enrique Delgado, 32, of Rockland and C streets, Feltonville, as the man who hit LaVelle with the pipe. And they arrested a 17-year-old juvenile as the one who punched LaVelle in the face, giving him a black eye.

LaVelle said that the next day the mother of the juvenile came back with some other people, banging on his door, screaming. LaVelle, who was at a charity sports event, was called back to the house by one of his sons.

When he got home, LaVelle said, the mother yelled at him, ” ‘You white mother——, you got my kid locked up! You got my son locked up because he’s black, you’re white!’ ” The mother claimed that her son had been “a witness,” not an attacker. To that, LaVelle said if that were true, it would come out in court.

But the mother, according to LaVelle, then yelled: ” ‘If you make it to court! I know where you live!’ ”

Police public affairs could not confirm yesterday if the mother has been arrested for making threats.

Patty-Pat Kozlowski, president of the Port Richmond on Patrol and Civic Association, said that police told her that the attack on LaVelle stemmed from the incident at Stokely Playground, Indiana Avenue and Thompson Street, a few blocks from LaVelle’s house.

She heard that an African-American “kid got knocked off his bike or fell off” and white kids were laughing at him. The group of African-Americans and Hispanics came back for retaliation, Kozlowski believes.

She said she didn’t know any of the people involved in the playground incident or in the attack on LaVelle. LaVelle said he also did not know anyone involved.

Morin and Delgado, who face charges of aggravated assault, conspiracy, burglary, weapons and related offenses, were scheduled to face a preliminary hearing in Municipal Court today, but the hearing got postponed to Nov. 7. Delgado, who is in state prison, was not brought down to the city. Also, both defense attorneys requested a lineup in the case, which the judge granted. Morin is in custody in county prison. Their family members could not be reached for comment Monday.

Freddy Godoy, Delgado’s attorney, said yesterday that someone Delgado knows “was probably related to the child” who was attacked in the playground. But he contends that Delgado was not one of the people who attacked LaVelle.

Richard Patton, Morin’s attorney, declined comment yesterday.

Kozlowski, a legislative aide to City Councilwoman Joan Krajewski and a lifelong Port Richmond resident, wrote about the attack in The Spirit community newspaper, which serves the river wards. Since then, the story has created a lot of buzz in the predominantly white neighborhood.

Kozlowski and Maryann Trombetta, president of the Port Richmond Town Watch, both recalled the murder of Sean Daily, a white teen who was beaten and shot by bat-wielding youths, mostly Latino, in May 1989.

They don’t believe that the attack on LaVelle started as a racial incident, but believe that there was a racial element to it when the mob “called him a white mother——” and when the juvenile’s mother allegedly threatened LaVelle.

LaVelle, who runs sports leagues composed of youths and adults of different races, said he doesn’t want any retaliation on the people who attacked him. But the attack has instilled fear in him and his family, and he hopes that there will be more of a police presence in the neighborhood.

His wife is afraid to stay at home, and “every time I hear a car, I’m looking out the door,” he said.

“It’s not a good way to live.”

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Richmond Virginia Man, Imprisoned For 27 Years After Wrongful Convictions, Seeks Exoneration – Cleared By DNA Evidence

September 27, 2011

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA – Lawyers for a Richmond man imprisoned nearly 30 years for at least one crime he didn’t commit are asking the Virginia Court of Appeals to exonerate him in two other sexual assaults.

Thomas Haynesworth petitioned the full court Tuesday for writs of actual innocence, which would vacate rape and abduction convictions for two sexual assaults in 1984. DNA testing in 2009 cleared the 46-year-old Haynesworth of sexual assault in two cases after the evidence implicated imprisoned serial rapist Leon Davis.

Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli and prosecutors in the two localities where the crimes occurred have backed efforts to secure full exoneration for Haynesworth, who was released from prison in March but is seeking to lift his strict parole and to remove his name from public sex-offender registries.

Cuccinelli and Innocence Project attorney Shawn Ambrust told the 10 judges that several pieces of evidence discovered after Haynesworth’s convictions indicate Davis, and not Haynesworth, also committed the two rapes at issue in the petition and clear Haynesworth from having committed the crimes.

Davis committed a string of sexual assaults during the time that included the two for which Haynesworth was convicted, Ambrust said. Known attacks by Davis occurred in the same area and followed the same pattern, and law-enforcement authorities concluded that the same person committed all five attacks, she said.

Also, Ambrust said, Davis and Haynesworth looked strikingly similar. He said Haynesworth already had been misidentified twice as Davis, and witnesses described the attacker as taller than the 5-foot-6-inch Haynesworth. Davis is 5 feet 10 inches, according to Haynesworth’s attorneys.

Both Cuccinelli, representing the state of Virginia, and Ambrust argued that the body of evidence entitles Haynesworth to have the two convictions vacated because “a rational trier of fact” wouldn’t be able to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that he was the perpetrator.

In conceding that Haynesworth didn’t commit the crimes, Cuccinelli said that as the state’s chief law enforcement officer, he was acknowledging error in the case.

While the court isn’t obligated to accept such concessions, he argued that it should in this case because the concessions came after a rigorous review by the attorney general’s office, Haynesworth’s lawyers and prosecutors in Richmond and Henrico County, where the attacks occurred. All concluded that Haynesworth was innocent and Davis was guilty.

Judges asked the attorneys whether they thought the victims’ testimony identifying Haynesworth was credible, and whether it should stand because DNA evidence in the two cases is unavailable. Cuccinelli characterized the misidentifications as “innocent inaccuracy” and said that given the combined weight of the new evidence, a rational juror would conclude that the women were mistaken in naming Haynesworth as their attacker.

Police arrested the 18-year-old Haynesworth in February 1984 near his home after a victim in one of the assaults reported that a man resembling him attacked her. The other victims selected his face in photographic lineups. Ultimately, Haynesworth was convicted in three of the attacks and was acquitted of one _ in which DNA testing later implicated Davis. Prosecutors dropped charges in the case of the victim who first identified him as her attacker.

Cuccinelli noted that under Virginia’s actual innocence law, the Court of Appeals must decide the facts and the law given the new evidence implicating Davis in the cases.

Haynesworth, who now has a clerical job at the attorney general’s office, said after the hearing that he hopes the appeals panel with do the right thing, considering “27 years of my life were taken.” He said he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was wrongly arrested and convicted.

Davis is serving several life prison terms for rape and has refused to discuss the cases for which Haynesworth was convicted, Ambrust said.

The appeals court could take several months to issue a ruling. It could dismiss Haynesworth’s petition, grant him the exonerations, or send the case back to a trial court for rehearing.

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Gallup Poll Finds That 50% Of America Thinks US Government Is “Immediate Threat To The Rights And Freedoms Of Ordinary Citizens”

September 26, 2011

PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY — A record-high 81% of Americans are dissatisfied with the way the country is being governed, adding to negativity that has been building over the past 10 years.

Trend: Reaction to How the Nation Is Being Governed

Majorities of Democrats (65%) and Republicans (92%) are dissatisfied with the nation’s governance. This perhaps reflects the shared political power arrangement in the nation’s capital, with Democrats controlling the White House and U.S. Senate, and Republicans controlling the House of Representatives. Partisans on both sides can thus find fault with government without necessarily blaming their own party.

The findings are from Gallup’s annual Governance survey, updated Sept. 8-11, 2011. The same poll shows record or near-record criticism of Congress, elected officials, government handling of domestic problems, the scope of government power, and government waste of tax dollars.

Key Findings:

82% of Americans disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job.
69% say they have little or no confidence in the legislative branch of government, an all-time high and up from 63% in 2010.
57% have little or no confidence in the federal government to solve domestic problems, exceeding the previous high of 53% recorded in 2010 and well exceeding the 43% who have little or no confidence in the government to solve international problems.
53% have little or no confidence in the men and women who seek or hold elected office.
Americans believe, on average, that the federal government wastes 51 cents of every tax dollar, similar to a year ago, but up significantly from 46 cents a decade ago and from an average 43 cents three decades ago.
49% of Americans believe the federal government has become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. In 2003, less than a third (30%) believed this.

Congress’ Ratings Have Plunged in Recent Years

Confidence in Congress hit a new low this month, with 31% of Americans saying they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the legislative branch, lower than the percentage confident in the executive (47%) or judicial (63%) branch. Confidence in the legislative branch is slightly higher among Republicans than among Democrats, 41% vs. 32%.

Trend: Trust and Confidence in the Legislative Branch of the Federal Government, Consisting of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives

Apart from a brief rally in public approval of Congress after the 9/11 attacks, Congress’ job approval rating has followed a similar path, declining sharply since about 2000. The 15% of Americans approving of Congress in the September poll is just two percentage points above the all-time low reached twice in the past year.

1974-2011 Trend: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job?

Public Officials Held in Low Esteem

Americans’ confidence in the people who run for or serve in office is also at a new low; however, the decline has been more recent, dropping from 66% in 2008 to 49% in 2009 and 45% today. For most of the history of this trend, Americans had much more positive views of those seeking or holding public office, but that changed in 2009, and the balance of opinion has since remained more negative than positive.

1972-2011 Trend: Trust and Confidence in the Men and Women in Political Life in This Country Who Either Hold or Are Running for Public Office

Americans Particularly Critical of Domestic Policy

At 43%, fewer Americans today than at any time in the past four decades say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the federal government to handle domestic problems. That is significantly lower than the 58% average level of confidence Gallup has found on this since 1972, including a 77% reading shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Gallup did not ask the question between 1976 and 1997, however, and thus may have missed low points during the recessions that occurred in the early 1980s or at the time of the House banking scandal in the early ’90s.

By contrast, faith in Washington to handle international problems (57%) is currently better than the 51% all-time low recorded in 2007, during the Iraq war, and not far off from the 65% average seen since 1972.

1972-2011 Trend: Trust and Confidence in the Federal Government When It Comes to Handling International, Domestic Problems

Along with Americans’ record-low confidence in the federal government on domestic policy, Gallup finds record skepticism about government waste. As previously reported, Americans, on average, think the federal government in Washington wastes 51 cents of every tax dollar, the highest estimated proportion of waste Gallup has found on this measure in trends dating to 1979.

Nearly Half Now Say Government Poses Immediate Threat

Americans’ sense that the federal government poses an immediate threat to individuals’ rights and freedoms is also at a new high, 49%, since Gallup began asking the question using this wording in 2003. This view is much more pronounced among Republicans (61%) and independents (57%) than among Democrats (28%), although when George W. Bush was president, Democrats and independents were more likely than Republicans to view government as a threat.

2003-2011 Trend: Do you think the federal government poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens, or not?

Bottom Line

Americans’ various ratings of political leadership in Washington add up to a profoundly negative review of government — something that would seem unhealthy for the country to endure for an extended period. Nevertheless, with another budget showdown looking inevitable and a contentious presidential election year getting underway, it appears the ratings reviewed here could get worse before they improve.
Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Sept. 8-11, 2011, with a random sample of 1,017 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2010 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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Documents Show Our Tax Dollars Funded ATF’s “Fast And Furious” Operation – Which Provided 2,000+ Guns To Mexican Drug Cartel

September 26, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Not only did U.S. officials approve, allow and assist in the sale of more than 2,000 guns to the Sinaloa cartel — the federal government used taxpayer money to buy semi-automatic weapons, sold them to criminals and then watched as the guns disappeared.

This disclosure, revealed in documents obtained by Fox News, could undermine the Department of Justice’s previous defense that Operation Fast and Furious was a “botched” operation where agents simply “lost track” of weapons as they were transferred from one illegal buyer to another. Instead, it heightens the culpability of the federal government as Mexico, according to sources, has opened two criminal investigations into the operation that flooded their country with illegal weapons.

Operation Fast and Furious began in October 2009. In it, federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives encouraged gun stores to sell weapons to an arms smuggling gang, then watched as the guns crossed the border and were used in crimes. Each month, the agency allowed hundreds of guns to go South, despite opposition from some agents.

All told, the gang spent more than $1.25 million for the illegal guns.

In June 2010, however, the ATF dramatically upped the ante, making the U.S. government the actual “seller” of guns.

According to documents obtained by Fox News, Agent John Dodson was ordered to buy six semi-automatic Draco pistols — two of those were purchased at the Lone Wolf gun store in Peoria, Ariz. An unusual sale, Dodson was sent to the store with a letter of approval from David Voth, an ATF group supervisor.

Dodson then sold the weapons to known illegal buyers, while fellow agents watched from their cars nearby.

This was not a “buy-bust” or a sting operation, where police sell to a buyer and then arrest them immediately afterward. In this case, agents were “ordered” to let the sale go through and follow the weapons to a stash house.

According to sources directly involved in the case, Dodson felt strongly that the weapons should not be abandoned and the stash house should remain under 24-hour surveillance. However, Voth disagreed and ordered the surveillance team to return to the office. Dodson refused, and for six days in the desert heat kept the house under watch, defying direct orders from Voth.

A week later, a second vehicle showed up to transfer the weapons. Dodson called for an interdiction team to move in, make the arrest and seize the weapons. Voth refused and the guns disappeared with no surveillance.

According to a story posted Sunday on a website dedicated to covering Fast and Furious, Voth gave Dodson the assignment to “dirty him up,” since Dodson had become the most vocal critic of the operation.

“I think Dodson demanded the letter from Voth to cover both himself and the FFL (Federal Firearm Licensee). He didn’t want to be hung out to dry by Voth,” a source told the website “Sipsey Street Irregulars.”

Subsequent to this undercover operation, sources told Sipsey, “Dodson just about came apart all over them (his supervisors). In a ‘screaming match’ that was heard throughout the Phoenix office by many employees, Dodson yelled at Voth and Assistant Special Agent in Charge George Gillett, ‘Why not just go direct and empty out the (ATF) arms room?” (to the cartels), or words to that effect.’

After the confrontation, ATF managers transferred Dodson to a more menial job. Months later, after the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, Dodson blew the whistle and went public about the federal government’s gunrunning operation.

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Pink Savannah Georgia Police Patrol Car Repeatedly Vandalized

September 26, 2011

SAVANNAH, GEORGIA – On a pink police cruiser meant to memorialize women who have survived cancer, a vandal scrawled “Snap!” and “VA Big Booty,” while the car was parked at the Oglethorpe Mall last week.

It wasn’t the first time the car was vandalized.

The Southeast Georgia chapter of Guardians of the Ribbon has police cars and fire trucks painted pink to honor women who have been diagnosed with cancer. The women, or their families, are invited to sign the trucks.

“Our vehicles are like rolling memorials,” said Fort Stewart firefighter Shane Shifflett, president of the Southeast Georgia Guardians chapter. After a panel is filled with signatures, it gets topped with a clear coat.

“It’s just like carrying these women with us everywhere we go,” Shifflett said.

But several of those signatures were erased last week when graffiti, written next to the words “Granny survived xoxoxo,” was cleaned up.

Shifflett said even more signatures were lost three months ago, when the same pink cruiser was tagged with several gang signs while parked on River Street.

The car “pretty much had to be wiped clean,” after that, Shifflett said. Some of the signatures that were erased were from women who have died.

The vandal who tagged the car on River Street never was found, Shifflett said, but mall security have video footage of the most recent vandal, who marked the car sometime between noon and 8 p.m. Monday.

Guardians of the Ribbon is a national organization that helps women with cancer cover medical and living expenses. Although its signature color is pink, the organization helps women with all types of cancers, not just breast cancer.

The local chapter of the all-volunteer organization is composed of about 15 firefighters, EMTs, paramedics and police officers who raise money through donations and T-shirt sales. All of the money is sent to Georgia women, Shifflett said.

The Guardians’ pink police cruiser is parked in front of the mall food court to promote a parade of nine pink police cars and fire trucks, accompanied by local motorcycle clubs and police cars and fire trucks from several area departments, scheduled for Wednesday.

The parade will start at the Interstate 95 rest area just over the Georgia state line at 4 p.m. and is expected to reach Oglethorpe Mall between 4:45 p.m. and 5 p.m. Children’s activities, educational booths and a pink-clad Zumba dance-fitness class are planned while the pink vehicles are parked in the mall’s lot through 8 p.m.

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New York City Police Chief Ray Kelly Claims His Department Could “Take Down A Plane”

September 26, 2011

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – The chief of the New York Police Department says city police could take down a plane if necessary.

Commissioner Ray Kelly tells CBS’ “60 Minutes” that after the Sept. 11 attacks, he decided the city couldn’t rely on the federal government alone. He set about creating the NYPD’s own counter-terrorism unit. He says the department is prepared for multiple scenarios and could even take down a plane.

Kelly didn’t divulge details but said “obviously this would be in a very extreme situation.”

Other measures include sending NYPD officers abroad, using radiation detectors and creating a network of surveillance cameras in Manhattan.

The interview airs Sunday evening. It comes two weeks after the tenth anniversary of 9/11, when hijackers flew planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

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Nutcase Kissimmee Florida Police Officer Writes Parking Tickets A Week In Advance, Wrong Times, For Unmarked Areas, And For Cars Parked On Private Property

September 25, 2011

KISSIMMEE, FLORIDA — Kissimmee drivers called Eyewitness News when they got some strange parking tickets, with next week’s date on them, on city blocks where there are no parking restriction signs

“She obviously doesn’t know her numbers, doesn’t know math or anything,” said Osceola County resident Michelle Cintron, “She’s giving wrong dates, wrong times.”

Cintron got a ticket for parking just two hours in the un-posted three-hour parking zone that was dated next Monday.

Kissimmee police said they weren’t aware of not having signs posted along the stretch of Broadway Avenue.

“So I’m taking time from my job to try and figure out this problem, so it’s a waste of my time,” Cintron said.

The parking enforcement officer has also been writing tickets at a parking lot that’s not owned by the city. The police department admitted they have no jurisdiction over it.

Business owners on the block were also fed up. Workers and clients at Massage Works have gotten the tickets, too.

“They were for longer periods of time than people were actually parked – and there is no signage here in the first place,” said Marilyn Farrah, owner of Massage Works.

Police don’t know how many unwarranted tickets have been issued, but the department said to bring any suspicious tickets to the police station. The department said it had already thrown out nearly a dozen tickets, as of Friday.

Police said the area should be posted with 3-hour parking signs and they would fix the problem as soon as possible.

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NO PRIVACY: Obama’s Health Care Law Gives The U.S. Government Everyone’s Confidential Medical Records

September 24, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – It’s been said a thousand times: Congress had to pass President Obama’s health care law in order to find out what’s in it. But, despite the repetitiveness, the level of shock from each new discovery never seems to recede.

This time, America is learning about the federal government’s plan to collect and aggregate confidential patient records for every one of us.

In a proposed rule from Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the federal government is demanding insurance companies submit detailed health care information about their patients.

(See Proposed Rule: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Standards Related to Reinsurance, Risk Corridors and Risk Adjustment, Volume 76, page 41930. Proposed rule docket ID is HHS-OS-2011-0022 http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-07-15/pdf/2011-17609.pdf)

The HHS has proposed the federal government pursue one of three paths to obtain this sensitive information: A “centralized approach” wherein insurers’ data go directly to Washington; an “intermediate state-level approach” in which insurers give the information to the 50 states; or a “distributed approach” in which health insurance companies crunch the numbers according to federal bureaucrat edict.

It’s par for the course with the federal government, but abstract terms are used to distract from the real objectives of this idea: no matter which “option” is chosen, government bureaucrats would have access to the health records of every American – including you.

There are major problems with any one of these three “options.” First is the obvious breach of patient confidentiality. The federal government does not exactly have a stellar track record when it comes to managing private information about its citizens.

Why should we trust that the federal government would somehow keep all patient records confidential? In one case, a government employee’s laptop containing information about 26.5 million veterans and their spouses was stolen from the employee’s home.

There’s also the HHS contractor who lost a laptop containing medical information about nearly 50,000 Medicare beneficiaries. And, we cannot forget when the USDA’s computer system was compromised and information and photos of 26,000 employees, contractors, and retirees potentially accessed.

The second concern is the government compulsion to seize details about private business practices. Certainly many health insurance companies defended and advocated for the president’s health care law, but they likely did not know this was part of the bargain.

They are being asked to provide proprietary information to governments for purposes that will undermine their competitiveness. Obama and Sebelius made such a big deal about Americans being able to keep the coverage they have under ObamaCare; with these provisions, such private insurance may cease to exist if insurers are required to divulge their business models.

Certainly businesses have lost confidential data like the federal government has, but the power of the market can punish the private sector. A victim can fire a health insurance company; he cannot fire a bureaucrat.

What happens to the federal government if it loses a laptop full of patient data or business information? What recourse do individual citizens have against an inept bureaucrat who leaves the computer unlocked? Imagine a Wikileaks-sized disclosure of every Americans’ health histories. The results could be devastating – embarrassing – even Orwellian.

With its extensive rule-making decrees, ObamaCare has been an exercise in creating authority out of thin air at the expense of individuals’ rights, freedoms, and liberties.

The ability of the federal government to spy on, review, and approve individuals’ private patient-doctor interactions is an excessive power-grab.

Like other discoveries that have occurred since the law’s passage, this one leaves us scratching our heads as to the necessity not just of this provision, but the entire law.

The HHS attempts to justify its proposal on the grounds that it has to be able to compare performance. No matter what the explanation is, however, this type of data collection is an egregious violation of patient-doctor confidentiality and business privacy. It is like J. Edgar Hoover in a lab coat.

And, no matter what assurances Obama, Sebelius and their unelected and unaccountable HHS bureaucrats make about protections and safeguards of data, too many people already know what can result when their confidential information gets into the wrong hands, either intentionally or unintentionally.

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Warren Michigan Police Killed Handcuffed Man With Taser Weapons

September 23, 2011

WARREN, MICHIGAN – Neighbors say police may have used excessive force because victim not threatening

A neighbor of a 27-year-old Warren man who died after he was Tasered by police said a few minutes prior the incident the man appeared “freaked out” but not threatening.

The neighbor, a 43-year-old man who did not want to be named, said Sunday that Richard Kokenos knocked on the front door of his home on Kendall Street shortly after midnight Saturday morning and asked to use the telephone to call his mother because his grandmother needed help.

“He looked like he was freaking out, like something might have happened at home,” the neighbor said. “It was strange. He was acting weird.”

When the neighbor returned to the door with his cell phone, Kokenos already had gone next door and knocked on that door. Kokenos went to a third house before returning to the second house, where the 43-year-old man again approached Kokenos to offer his phone.

But Kokenos left and walked a few houses to Eureka Street, where he tried to enter a home, according to a TV report. When police responded to the scene, Kokenos reportedly was seen slamming his body into the home.

Officers handcuffed and placed Kokenos in a patrol car. Kokenos attempted to break out of the squad car, and one of the officers attempted to stop him by stunning him with a Taser gun, according to the TV report.

Spay paint markings made by police indicating the location of Kokenos’ body could be seen Sunday in the parking lane of northbound Eureka, across the street from St. Mark Church, which abuts the Fitzgerald High School football field.

No one answered the door of the home early evening Sunday where it is believed Kokenos tried to enter.

The 43-year-neighbor and another neighbor, Dave Magiera, said based on what they heard, the police’s actions seem excessive. They said Kokenos was not threatening, as he was heavy and short.

“I think maybe it’s overkill,” the 43-year-old man said. “He was not a threatening guy. It’s just too bad.”

Magiera said he learned that a dozen police officers responded.

“They had enough force there to contain him” without Tasering him, Magiera said. “I’m pissed. I think they used excessive force. He was kind of a chubby kid, not a threat.”

Magiera said Sunday morning he talked to Kokenos’ mother, with whom Kokenos had been living since earlier this year.

“She was a wreck,” he said. “She told me they Tasered him three or four times.”

The use of Taser stun guns by police have come under fire off and on in recent years in Macomb County and nationally due to occasional deaths involving them.

The incident is at least the third death following a police Tasering in Macomb County, and second in Warren, in recent years.

Robert Mitchell, 16, of Detroit, died in April 2009 after he was struck several times by a Taser fired by a Warren police officer in a Detroit house after Mitchell ran from an Eight mile Road traffic stop . Although the marijuana was found in the 16-year-old’s system, two forensic pathologists concluded that the Taser contributed to his death by affecting his heart. The teen’s family sued in federal court. The outcome of that case was unclear Sunday.

In 2007, 47-year-old Steven Spears, a body builder and hairdresser from Shelby Township, died after he was involved in a tussle with police that included the deployment of a Taser gun. Although autopsy reports attributed his death to cocaine, his family filed an excessive force lawsuit against the township and settled for $1.95 million.

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Central Michigan University Police Officer Jeffrey Allen Card Charged After Taking Two Female Students To Remote Area And Convincing Them To Show Boobs

September 23, 2011

MICHIGAN – A former Central Michigan University police officer allegedly convinced two female students to show him their bare chests earlier this month, leading to his resignation and criminal charges.

Jeffrey Allen Card, 34, is charged with misconduct in office, a five-year felony.

Card is accused of driving two women to a remote dirt road while giving them a ride home from O’Kelley’s bar in the early morning hours Sept. 11.

Card allegedly had a conversation with the two women, who are both, 21, before one of the two asked him for a ride to her boyfriend’s house on South Main Street, according to court documents.

Card allegedly agreed but asked the two if they wouldn’t mind going on a nuisance party call with him before he took them home, according to court records.

Both women told investigators that instead of going to a nuisance party call, Card drove them to the “country” on a “desolate dirt road,” where he allegedly told the women he was going to give them portable breath tests after they got out of the car, according to court documents.

The women told police that Card told them they would have to expose their bare chests if the test results were higher than a limit Card set, according to court documents.

Both women agreed, and when the test results were higher than the limit Card allegedly set, they bared their chests, according to court documents.

Both women told investigators that they believe Card took advantage of them because they were drunk, according to court documents.

Once the women put their clothing back on, they agreed to pose for a photograph for Card on the back of the patrol car, according to court documents.

Investigators later found the photograph on Card’s cell phone.

Card, who lives in Mt. Pleasant, resigned from the department Sept. 15, CMU Police Chief Bill Yeagley said.

Card is scheduled to be in court at 8:15 a.m. Sept. 29 for a hearing before Judge William Rush.

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Veteran Broward County Florida Deputy Sheriff Brent Wooddell Arrested, Charged With Theft In Undercover Sting Involving Cash And Drugs

September 23, 2011

BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – A Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy is facing grand theft and official misconduct charges after police say he stole cash from an undercover officer posing as a drug dealer.

Brent Wooddell, 37, was arrested Thursday night by members of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Strategic Investigations Division working with Miami-Dade Police, according to a BSO arrest report.

The report said the undercover officer was given 1,000 Oxycodone pills and $7,340 in cash and made contact with Wooddell, a member of the BSO Selective Enforcement Team, in Deerfield Beach.

After Wooddell arrested the undercover officer on drug trafficking charges, he was seen taking a blue bag containing the pills and cash and placing it in his own car, the report said.

After a slight detour, Wooddell returned to the Deerfield Beach District Office, where he turned in the pills and cash for evidence, the report said.

But when the cash was counted, there was only $6,000, the report said.

Wooddell, a 10-year veteran of the BSO, was taken into custody. He was later released on bond and it was unknown whether he has an attorney.

He has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of an investigation, officials said.

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Ogden Utah Wants To Use Blimp To Spy On Its Citizens

September 23, 2011

OGDEN, UTAH – A patrol car fitted with all of the police extras cost $40,000; a surveillance blimp will cost well below that — possibly as low as $15,000; after that, it is $100 a week to keep it filled with helium and charge its electric batteries; the police in Ogden, Utah, decides this is a good deal

Ogden, Utah adds its police to the list of those using blimps // Source: alea.org

The police chief in Ogden, Utah, said the city could launch a surveillance blimp by Christmas as part of the city’s crime-fighting efforts.

The 54-foot-long craft will be equipped multiple cameras and operated by pilots via remote control. It would run for five to seven hours at a time at an altitude of around 400 feet.

“Nobody else in the nation is trying to do this, so the FAA has no regulations for it,” said Police Chief Jon Greiner. The Standard-Examiner reports that the FAA recently approved the first step of the blimp proposal, a 25-page administrative application — but that this is only the first of five steps before the police would be allowed to use the blimp.

FAA officials will visit Ogden at some point to view the blimp in action.

Chief Griener says that that a patrol car fitted with all of the police extras cost $40,000, but the blimp will cost well below that — possibly as low as $15,000. After that, it is $100 a week to keep it filled with helium and charge its electric batteries, one for the propeller and one for the cameras.

The blimp can follow a preprogrammed route, or be instructed to follow a single individual or vehicle.

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Widespread Abuse Of Illegal Immigrants By U.S. Border Patrol Agents – Beatings, Denied Food And Water, Death Threats, Torture, Etc.

September 22, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Back in 2006, volunteers with No More Deaths, a humanitarian organization dedicated to helping migrants along the Arizona-Mexico border, began hearing the same stories from many who had been in the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol.

Thwarted would-be unauthorized immigrants spoke of being denied water or food during their custody. Others said they were beaten.

The organization started properly documenting these allegations, and the stories added up to nearly 13,000 testimonies whose results were released in a report this week.

The findings went beyond denial of food and water. Migrants held by the Border Patrol spoke of being exposed to extreme heat or cold, sleep deprivation, death threats, and psychological abuse such as blaring music with lyrics about migrants dying in the desert.

A previous report by No More Deaths in 2008 raised the same concerns, but now the number of recorded cases point to a systematic problem.

“By this point, the overwhelming weight of the corroborated evidence should eliminate any doubt that Border Patrol abuse is widespread,” the report states.

The Border Patrol responded with a statement highlighting the fact that respect for detainees is taught in training and consistently reinforced during an agent’s career.

“Mistreatment or agent misconduct will not be tolerated in any way,” the statement said. “We appreciate the efforts of individuals to report concerns as soon as they arise and we will continue to cooperate fully with any effort to investigate allegations of agent misconduct or mistreatment of individuals.”

The interviews were conducted with migrants in Naco, Nogales and Agua Prieta, in Mexico’s Sonora state who were in border patrol custody. Although No More Deaths conducted thousands of interviews, in places like Nogales they could only speak with a fraction of the migrants who crossed. This raised the issue of how representative their sample was, said Katerina Sinclair, a statistical consultant on the report.

But in Naco, a smaller town, they were able to speak with enough migrants to have a representative sample. So the report stays away from making conclusions about percentages except for the subset of interviewees from Naco. But despite the difficulties with such an ambitious project, the authors say that the numbers on their own are cause for concern.

Some 2,981 people reported they were denied food, and more than 11,000 said they were given insufficient food by the Border Patrol, the report states.

The report found that 863 people, many of whom were already dehydrated, were denied water.

There were nearly 6,000 cases of overcrowding reported, and almost 3,000 people had at least some personal belongings not returned, the report states.

In addition, 869 people — including 17 children and 41 teenagers — reported that they were split from their families and deported separately.

No More Deaths also recorded instances of sleep deprivation, death threats, and the forced holding of strenuous positions.

“There’s no question that there is systematic abuse of people in Border Patrol custody,” Danielle Alvarado, one of the report’s authors, told CNN.

Although the research focused on migrants in the Arizona border area, the findings are consistent with reports from Border Patrol sectors across the country, she said.

“This systematic abuse must be confronted aggressively at the institutional level, not denied or dismissed as a series of aberrational incidents attributable to a few rogue agents,” the report states.

In its statement, the Border Patrol responded that, “on a daily basis, agents make every effort to ensure that people in our custody are given food, water, and medical attention as needed.”

“The sad reality is that between what they say on paper and the day-to-day reality there is a big disconnect,” Alvarado said.

Brandon Judd, president of Local 2544, the Tucson branch of the National Border Patrol Council, said that it is No More Deaths’ report that is disconnected from reality.

Border patrol agents are law-abiding citizens who believe in accountability, he said. “If these allegations are true, these are crimes,” he said.

There are 3,000 agents in the Tucson Sector of the Border Patrol, Judd said, and one complaint every two weeks would be considered a lot. Agents also police themselves, he said.

“I can tell you that our agents are the ones who report mistreatment if they see it,” he said.

He was skeptical about the types of questions that were asked and the credibility of the interviewees who were freshly repatriated.

“There’s some glaring weaknesses in the story,” he said.

But Sinclair said that care was taken to make sure that all conclusions were drawn from the Naco sample, which also happened to report the lowest rate of incidents. The questions were also phrased in a way to give credit to the Border Patrol where due.

“We gave them every benefit of the doubt,” she said. But their research shows that “it only gets worse from here.”

“It just doesn’t ring true,” Judd said.

The reports of abuses come as the number of apprehensions along the border has decreased. Increased border enforcement and a slow economic recovery in the United States have reduced the amount of illegal traffic across the border.

Also, No More Deaths reported, the demographics of those being deported have changed. A number of the migrants they interviewed were older and had been in the United States longer. One sample of 100 migrants revealed an average of 14.4 years of living in the United States before deportation.

In light of its report, its authors argue for legally enforceable standards, and a tougher oversight mechanism.

From October of last year to the present, about 115,000 migrants were apprehended by the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector.

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Two Innocent Men Released From North Carolina Prisons After A Decade Each Behind Bars

September 22, 2011

ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA – Two men who spent a decade in prison on murder charges were set free Thursday after a panel of judges in North Carolina ruled they were innocent.

* Kenneth Kagonyera, left, and Robert Wilcoxson were ruled innocent Thursday and set free after a decade in jail.

North Carolina Department of Corrections

Kenneth Kagonyera, left, and Robert Wilcoxson were ruled innocent Thursday and set free after a decade in jail.


North Carolina Department of Corrections

Kenneth Kagonyera, left, and Robert Wilcoxson were ruled innocent Thursday and set free after a decade in jail.

The three-judge panel made its decision after seven days of testimony in the case against Kenneth Kagonyera, 31, and Robert Wilcoxson, 32.

Wilcoxson was the first to be released. He hugged his 10-year-old daughter, Taneea, and his father as he walked out of jail hours after the hearing. He left quickly, saying only that his plans for his first night as a free man in nearly a decade were simple. “Pray,” he said.

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Kagonyera left jail hours later to applause and hugs and kisses from his mother and grandmother.

“It was a blessing,” he said. Kagonyera said he had prepared himself for the panel to rule against his claim though he tried not to dwell on the prospect of going back to prison. He said his plans are to “get a job, move on and put this behind me.”

“I am just so happy I don’t know what to say,” said Charlene Holmes, Kagonyera’s mother.

The hearing came after the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission in April found enough evidence to indicate the men were not guilty, including the confession of another man and DNA testing that pointed to other suspects.

The men had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the slaying of Walter Bowman in 2000, though they repeatedly claimed they were innocent. Their attorneys at the hearing said the men admitted to the murder to avoid life sentences.

District Attorney Ron Moore, the elected prosecutor who handled the case, said, “We accept the ruling of the court.” He said the ruling would make it harder to accept guilty pleas for fear that suspects are taking a deal to avoid longer sentences.

North Carolina is among a growing number of states taking steps to prevent and address wrongful convictions and grant greater access to biological evidence. It has the nation’s only investigative innocence commission.

Until recently, that was largely the purview of the privately funded Innocence Project, which has been involved in 154 DNA exonerations in the USA since 1989, according to the group’s research director, Emily West.

The North Carolina commission has heard three other cases, one of which resulted in the release of a man who served almost 17 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. A three-judge panel found Greg Taylor innocent in February 2010.

Twenty-eight percent of exonerations nationally have involved defendants who pleaded guilty, falsely confessed or made incriminating statements to police, according to the Innocence Project.

The group recently pushed the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to stop the execution of Troy Davis, who claimed he was innocent of the murder of an off-duty police officer in 1989. Witnesses who identified him as the shooter have recanted, the group said on its website. The board declined, and Davis was executed late Wednesday.

“The state clemency system in Georgia and in many other states is not functioning as an effective safety valve in cases where there is serious doubt about guilt,” said Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

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Los Angeles California Firefighters Investigated After Taking Part In On-The-Job Porn Movie Production

September 22, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – LA City firefighters are under investigation for allegedly taking part in porn movies on the job, Cpt. Jaime Moore of the Los Angeles Fire Department confirmed to NBC4 LA.

This is the second city department this year where employees have been investigated for alleged involvement in porn movies while on duty.

In April, NBC4 LA revealed how two LA traffic cops from the LA Department of Transportation appeared in a porn movie.

LAFD insiders recently tipped off NBCLA that several firefighters allowed porn producers to use their fire engines in two adult movies that are available on one of the world’s biggest porn websites.

If participation by the firefighters is proven true, it is a violation of department policy, Moore said.

In one of the movies, shot at Venice Beach, LAFD Engine 263 is used as the backdrop by an actress performing lewd acts.

“Look at this fire truck,” says porn actress Charley Chase, as she climbs on the engine and repeatedly exposes herself. “Isn’t that nice.”

It appears that a group of firefighters are watching the movie being shot.

“I know them,” one man says on camera in the reality-style porn flick. “I’m a firefighter.”

Firefighters “set it all up ahead of time” with “the film crew” because they thought it was “good clean fun,”an insider told NBC4 LA.

In the movie, Engine 263 is parked in two disabled spots — a violation of department policy — apparently so the porn producers could use the truck.

For several minutes of the movie, the actress appears to have free access to the engine, and asks numerous passersby to fondle her.

“Look, I think we have more friends,” she says, as a group of men stop to fondle the actress.

“Zero tolerance for that,” said Cpt. Tina Haro, an LAFD spokeswoman.

Fire Chief Brian Cummings has ordered a full-scale investigation into possible misconduct by an undisclosed number of firefighters who allegedly cooperated with the porn producers, Haro said.

“The fire chief is adamant about addressing the issue, finding out what took place,” she told told NBC4 LA.

Firefighters might have a tough time explaining how their truck was used in a porn movie. Department policy says “apparatus…shall be kept in sight at all times” by firefighters assigned to it.

The policy also says LAFD employees must “operate apparatus in a way that does not compromise the reputation of the department.”

An insider told NBC4 LA “the battalion chiefs knew. Everyone at the station level knew” about the movie.

“The professional standards division is following all leads, all reasonable leads, leaving no stone unturned” in its investigation, which could take months Haro said.

That’s in stark contrast to the LA Department of Transportation, where officials learned earlier this year that two Parking Enforcement officers appeared in another porn movie, while in uniform and on duty.

LADOT didn’t launch a full investigation until the officers’ participation was revealed in an exclusive NBC4 LA report.

One officer was fired and another disciplined as a result of the city investigation. Parking Enforcement Chief Jimmy Price retired two years ahead of schedule.

The LAFD brass say they’re taking the allegations seriously.

They confirmed they’re investigating not just the firefighters from Venice, but some from another station in Hollywood.

That’s because NBC4 LA learned of yet another porn movie, where Engine 41 from Hollywood is used as a backdrop.

“Hey, turn around,” a firefighter sitting atop the truck is heard shouting to a topless actress in the movie.

LAFD officials say any employees found violating department policy by cooperating with porn producers will be disciplined.

“The fire chief absolutely will not tolerate the type of thing that might have happened in that videotape,” Haro said

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Fullerton California Police Officer Manuel Ramos And Cpl. Jay Cicinelli Charged After Beating Innocent Homeless Man To Death

September 21, 2011

SANTA ANA, CALIFORNIA – A police officer has been charged with second-degree murder and another faces an involuntary manslaughter charge in the death of a mentally ill homeless man who died after a confrontation with police, California prosecutors announced Wednesday.

The actions of Fullerton Police Officer Manuel Ramos, who has been charged with second-degree murder, “were reckless and created a high risk of death and great bodily injury,” Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told reporters.

Ramos, who’s 37 years old and a 10-year veteran of Fullerton police, is also charged with one felony count of involuntary manslaughter, the prosecutor said.

The second officer, Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, is being charged with involuntary manslaughter and felony excessive force, the prosecutor said.

Ramos and Cicinelli were scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon.

Ramos faces a maximum sentence of 15 years to life if convicted, authorities said.

Cicinelli, who’s 39 years old and a 12-year veteran of Fullerton police, faces a maximum of four years in prison if convicted, authorities said.

The charges come in the death of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas, who was beaten by police during an altercation in July and died five days later. The FBI is also investigating civil rights violations in the death of Thomas, a homeless man with schizophrenia.

Six Fullerton officers were put on paid leave after Thomas’ death. The case put widespread attention on the police department of Fullerton, located about 25 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.

Since then, two other brutality allegations have been made by men who were allegedly injured by Fullerton police last year, and officer Kenton Hampton has been placed on paid leave in the wake of one of those two complaints, a department spokesman said. Hampton, 41, is a five-year veteran of the Fullerton police, prosecutors said.

The other four officers in the Thomas death — Hampton, Officer Joseph Wolfe, Sgt. Kevin Craig and Cpl. James Blatney — were not charged because “the evidence does not show knowing participation in an unlawful act on the part of these officers,” the prosecutor said in statement.

Ramos, who is accused of setting into motion the events that led to Thomas’ death, made initial contact with Thomas on July 5 after police received a call about a homeless man looking in car windows and pulling on handles of parked cars, Rackauckas said.

Cicinelli, who arrived later to the scene, is accused of using excessive force when he allegedly assaulted and beat Thomas, “acting recklessly, under the color of authority without lawful necessity,” the prosecutor’s office said.

Cicinelli is accused of using the front end of his Taser to hit Thomas in the head and face eight times while Thomas was pinned to the ground by other officers and was making no audible sounds, indicating that Thomas was “down and seriously injured,” the prosecutor’s office said.

Ramos made “a deliberate showing of putting on Latex gloves” in his detention of Thomas, Rackauckas said.

Ramos is accused of making two fists with his gloves still on in front of Thomas, Rackauckas said.

“He lifted his fists to Kelly Thomas and he said, ‘You see my fist? Now they’re getting to ready to ‘f’ you up,'” Rackauckas told reporters, using “f” instead of the full profanity.

Rackauckas said Ramos’ conduct was unacceptable and “not protecting and serving” the public.

“Ramos had to know that he was creating a situation where Kelly Thomas feared for his life and was struggling to get away from an armed officer who going to ‘f’ him up,” Rackauckas said.

Rackauckas said he viewed a bus dept surveillance video of the beating. The video shows 16 minutes passed from the initial time of contact by police to the start of the beating and unlawful police conduct, the prosecutor said.

“It’s heart rending. It’s hard to watch and listen to. It’s a person saying he’s sorry, calling for his dad and asking for help. He seems to know that it’s over just before it is. It’s just sad. It’s heartbreaking. It’s hard to listen,” Rackauckas said of the video.

“Officer Ramos had prior contact with Kelly Thomas and he knew Kelly Thomas and who he was. He was a homeless drifter who frequented that area,” Rackauckas said.

In all, prosecutors also reviewed video from two cell phones, bus camera videos, statements by 151 witnesses, police reports written by all six officers, the coroner’s report, medical reports, and the batons and Tasers of the officers, Rackauckas said.

When asked about the charged officers’ motive, the prosecutor responded: “That’s a pretty good question. It just appears from watching the video that the officer became increasingly angered with Kelly Thomas as this goes on.”

“Ramos is accused of instructing Thomas to put his legs out straight and place his hands on his knees, but Thomas had difficulty following Ramos’ instructions,” Rackauckas said in a statement. “Thomas appeared to have cognitive issues.”

The physical altercation began at 8:52 p.m. and last nine minutes and 40 seconds until Thomas was handcuffed and no longer moving, the prosecutor said.

“Throughout the physical altercation, Thomas struggled, yelled and pleaded, ‘I can’t breathe,’ ‘I’m sorry, dude,’ ‘Please,’ ‘OK, OK,’ ‘Dad, dad,’ and ‘Dad, help me.’ Thomas was severely bleeding but the officers did not reduce their level of force. Throughout the struggle, Thomas’ actions were defensive in nature and motivated by pain and fear,” the prosecutor added in a written summary of the incident.

Responding to the altercation, Cicinelli is accused of kneeing Thomas twice in the head and using his Taser four times on him, including three times as a “drive stun,” or direct application on the skin, for about five seconds each, the prosecutor said. The fourth time was a dart deployment, in which two darts connected to wires are ejected and stick to the skin or clothing, for about 12 seconds.

“Thomas screamed and yelled in pain while being Tased,” the prosecutor’s summary said.

Cicinelli is accused of using the Taser “unreasonably and unnecessarily” because Thomas was pinned to the ground by several officers and was vulnerable with his head and face exposed, the prosecutors said.”The biggest shame about this case is the fact that it could have been avoided,” Rackauckas said in a statement. “This never had to happen, and it never should have happened.”

After announcing the charges during a press conference, Rackauckas held a private meeting with Thomas’ father, Ron, and his attorney.

After that meeting, Ron Thomas told reporters that he was “very, very happy” with the outcome of the prosecutors’ investigation.

“Tony Rackauckas made it very clear that this murder charge will not be reduced,” Thomas told reporters. “We came in here expecting the worse and got the best. He’s extremely serious about prosecuting to the fullest extent.”

Prior to the press conference, Thomas told CNN that he would like to see at least two of the six officers charged with manslaughter because, he said, “the other four weren’t as involved.”

Regarding all six officers involved in the arrest of his son, Thomas added: “They should all lose their jobs and not be allowed to work in law enforcement.”

But the prosecutor said any firing would be a decision by the Fullerton police department.

A family attorney for Thomas has already publicly released Thomas’ hospital and medical records showing that he was brain dead by the time he reached the hospital after the police altercation. Thomas had no narcotics or prescription medicine in his body, the attorney said.

According to the medical records released by the family attorney, Thomas died from brain injuries as a result of head trauma. Thomas also suffered multiple broken bones in his face and rib fractures, and he was shocked multiple times near his chest cavity and on his back with a police Taser, the family attorney said.

Thomas suffered nose and brain trauma and smashed cheekbones, according to the medical records. The family attorney accused police of using their Tasers to deliver some of the head and face blows.

The medical reports provided by the family attorney said Thomas suffered internal bleeding, and Thomas also choked on his blood, the family attorney said.

Several bystanders witnessed the encounter and others recorded portions of the beating on cell phones, according to the family attorney.

The incident began after six officers responded to reports of a man attempting to break into cars near a bus depot just blocks from Fullerton City Hall, according to police.

Following the beating, there was no evidence that vehicles were burglarized, nor was Thomas in possession of any stolen property, according to the Thomas family attorney.

Thomas was taken off life support five days after the July 5 incident.

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Jersey City New Jersey Police Officer’s Butt Kicked By Two Kids

September 21, 2011

JERSEY CITY, N.J – Aggravated assault charges have been filed against two youths who allegedly attacked and injured a Jersey City police officer who was trying to break up a street brawl involving roughly 30 teenagers.

The boys — ages 14 and 17 — were among several teens fighting during Tuesday afternoon’s fracas. The officer was trying to separate the two when they allegedly attacked him, striking him several times.

Other officers who were arriving on scene at the time quickly collared the youths, who were remanded to the Hudson County Youth House in Secaucus. They also face charges of failure to disperse and resisting arrest.

The injured officer, whose name was not disclosed, was treated at Jersey City Medical Center for undisclosed injuries.

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San Juan Capistrano California Target Couple’s Bible Study Group – Officials Threaten $500 Fine For Each “Meeting”

September 21, 2011

MISSION VIEJO, CALIFORNIA – An Orange County couple has been ordered to stop holding a Bible study in their home on the grounds that the meeting violates a city ordinance as a “church” and not as a private gathering.

Homeowners Chuck and Stephanie Fromm, of San Juan Capistrano, were fined $300 earlier this month for holding what city officials called “a regular gathering of more than three people”.

That type of meeting would require a conditional use permit as defined by the city, according to Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), the couple’s legal representation.

The Fromms also reportedly face subsequent fines of $500 per meeting for any further “religious gatherings” in their home, according to PJI.

“We’re just gathering and enjoying each other’s company and fellowship. And we enjoy studying God’s word.” Stephanie Fromm told CBS2.

After city officials rejected the Fromms’ appeal, PJI, which represents other Bible study participants, will appeal the decision to the California Superior Court in Orange County.

“This is also about a city trying to get a family to pay fees – to pay fees and pay money to them – just to be able to have friends over to read the Bible,” attorney Brad Dacus of PJI told CBS2.

Neighbors have written letters to the city in support of the Fromms, whom they said have not caused any disturbances with the meetings, according to PJI.

“The Fromm case further involves regular meetings on Sunday mornings and Thursday afternoons with up to 50 people, with impacts on the residential neighborhood on street access and parking,” City Attorney Omar Sandoval said.

The city of San Juan Capistrano was founded as a mission in the late 1700s by Catholic priest Junipero Serra, who established a local chapel that remains the oldest standing building in California.

Officials with San Juan Capistrano did not respond to requests for comment.

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Nashville Tennessee TSA Agent Arrested, Jailed, Charged With Statutory Rape

September 21, 2011

RUTHERFORD COUNTY, TENNESSEE – A TSA agent has been arrested in Rutherford County on charges of statutory rape.

Clifton Lyles was arrested by U.S. Marshals Tuesday night, following a grand jury indictment.

Lyles worked at Nashville International Airport.

Details about what led to his arrest were not released.

His bond was set at $10,000.

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Mississippi TSA Assistant Federal Security Director Ruben Orlando Benitez Charged With Stabbing Death Of Co-Worker

September 20, 2011

MISSISSIPPI – One of the top federal Transportation Security Administration officials in the state of Mississippi has been arrested in connection with the killing of TSA worker Stacey Wright.

On Sunday, D’Iberville police found Wright, 43, stabbed to death in her apartment there.

Authorities said Ruben Orlando Benitez, 45, who serves as assistant federal security director for screening for the TSA in Mississippi, has been arrested.

Bond has been set for $3 million by Justice Court Judge Albert Fountain.

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Florida Credit Card Processor Offers New Business Clients AK-47 Assault Rifles To Protect Themselves

September 20, 2011

FLORIDA – A Florida company is giving new clients a voucher to buy an AK-47 assault rifle to defend themselves from violent crime.

Sarasota-based MerchantService.com is a business that provides small stores and businesses with cash machines and credit card processing services.

Its “No Merchant Victim” program now offers a voucher that can be used to buy a gun such as an AK-47 from a local gun dealer, or upgraded security camera equipment, when clients have had its services for three months.

“We encourage all merchants to stand their ground against attack with lethal force,” company president Gino Kauzlarich told AFP. “Hence our recommendation they buy a firearm such as a AK-47… (But) what the merchant chooses to do with the voucher payment cash is the merchants choice.”

He charged that US federal government plans to increase early releases from prison, particularly in California, will likely fuel violent crime such as assaults on merchants.

Kauzlarich also said that with 400,000-500,000 guns robbed annually in the United States, “our goal is to effect a societal expectation shift that every criminal should expect to confront lethal force when they attack our merchants, rather than the criminal justice system protects the criminals well being during the commission of murders, robberies and crimes.”

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9/11 Hysteria – New York City Police Want Nightclubs To Look For “Bulging Veins”

September 20, 2011

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – The NYPD’s updated guide to bolstering the safety of city nightclubs offers tips on how to spot patrons who are bombed – as well as those carrying bombs.

The 27-page booklet, titled “Best Practices for Nightlife Establishments,” advises owners to be cautious about nervous customers who are sweating profusely and with “bulging veins in the neck.”

“Counter-terrorism security plans should include training for all staff in the detection of possible suicide bombers,” the guide, released Monday, says.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly insisted the guide, produced in conjunction with the New York Nightlife Association, is not meant to “alarm, but to help owners and operators craft effective strategies for terrorism prevention and preparedness.”

On how to spot would-be terrorists, the guide recommends being alert to people with “visible wires and tape” protruding from their clothing and “individuals who are obviously disguised.”

Nightclub workers should also be aware of people casing establishments by photographing or videotaping.

“Be on the lookout for people with suspicious bags and identical bags being carried by several individuals,” the guide suggests.

The booklet also has plenty of tips on how to spot plastered patrons, advising they’re usually the ones with slurred speech and bloodshot eyes who appear “sick, confused, abusive, profane, antagonistic or incoherent.”

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Department Of Justice Caught Pissing Away Taxpayer Dollars At Conferences – $16 Muffins…

September 20, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Justice Department agencies spent too much for food at conferences, in one case serving $16 muffins and in another dishing out beef Wellington appetizers that cost $7.32 per serving, an audit found.

“Some conferences featured costly meals, refreshments, and themed breaks that we believe were indicative of wasteful or extravagant spending,” the Justice Department’s inspector general wrote in a report released today.

The inspector general reviewed a sample of 10 Justice Department conferences held between October 2007 and September 2009 at a cost of $4.4 million. The Justice Department spent $73.3 million on conferences in fiscal 2009, compared with $47.8 million a year earlier, according to the report.

The muffins were served at a conference of the Executive Office for Immigration Review and the beef Wellington was offered at a meeting hosted by the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys. A conference of the Office on Violence Against Women served Cracker Jacks, popcorn and candy bars at a single break, costing $32 per person, according to the report.

The report is a follow-up to one from 2007 that found the Justice Department had few controls to limit the costs of conference planning, food and beverages. That audit cited a reception that included Swedish meatballs costing $5 apiece.

In April 2008 the Justice Department issued policies and procedures designed to control conference spending.

The new report found that agencies were able to “circumvent meal and refreshment cost limits” when conferences were planned under cooperative agreements, a type of funding awarded by a Justice Department agency.

Justice Department agencies “did not adequately attempt to minimize conference costs as required by federal and DOJ guidelines,” the report said.

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Crisis Hot Line Opens In Illinois For Wetbacks Facing Deportation

September 19, 2011

ILLINOIS – A new hotline being unveiled Monday aims to help illegal immigrants clear up confusion about deportation.

Modeled after those for the homeless or victims of domestic violence, the “first-in-nation” crisis hotline will serve callers 24 hours a day. It launches Monday afternoon at Jane Addams Hull House.

Volunteers will take calls and direct people facing deportation to lawyers and social service agencies by asking them a checklist of questions to help determine the right course of action.

“In the last five years, 48,330 people have been deported from the Chicago ICE region, leaving an estimated 80,550 children without a parent,” the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights said in a statement.

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“The ICIRR is partnering with 35 social service agencies … to launch the country’s first 24-hour hotline for families facing the crisis of deportation.”

The phone line offers help in English, Spanish, Korean and Portuguese and was paid for by private and individual donations.

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New York Prosecutor Alisha Smith Suspended For Moonlighting As A S&M Dominatrix

September 19, 2011

NEW YORK – A lawyer for the New York State Attorney General’s Office has been suspended after the New York Post inquired about word that she was leading a double life as an S&M dominatrix.

Alisha Smith, 36, had been working as a prosecutor by day and as a paid performer for fetish events in her free time, the Post reports it learned from a source active in New York’s fetish world. The office suspended Smith after the Post inquired about her extracurricular activities.

Smith has been suspended without pay, effective immediately, pending an internal investigation, the Post quoted an unnamed spokesman for state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as saying.

The spokesman would not elaborate on the reason for the suspension.

An executive order in the attorney general’s office stipulates that employees must “obtain prior approval … before engaging in any outside pursuit … from which more than $1,000 will be received or is anticipated to be received,” the Post reports.

Smith has been working in securities fraud, and three years ago, then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (now the governor) praised her for her role in obtaining a $5 million settlement from Bank of America and other firms in a securities fraud case, the Post reports.

The Post approached Smith outside of her Manhattan home and she declined to comment. Her lawyer, Marshall Mintz, also would not comment.

On Aug. 5, Smith sent out a post via Twitter in which she shared her experience trying to find the best price for a fetish product, the Post reports.

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Only In Florida: Tampa Police Arrest Strippers For Stripping At Strip Club

September 19, 2011

TAMPA, FLORIDA — A strip club manager and several dancers have been arrested after undercover police found violations of a Tampa ordinance that prevents nudity at places that sell alcohol.

The arrests were made Sunday at Hollywood Nights in Tampa.

The club’s 45-year-old manager Isaac O. Elder III has been charged with allowing nudity on the premises where alcohol is served.

The St. Petersburg Times reports eight fully nude dancers were arrested Sunday on similar charges.

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State Of Pennsylvania Refused To Give Copy Of State Constiution Under Open Records Request

September 19, 2011

PENNSYLVANIA – The state constitution.

There’s nothing secret about it.

It lives and breathes through our state laws. Elected state officials swear to uphold it. And schoolchildren learn that it provides the framework of their state government.

It should be readily available to anyone who wants it, right?

That’s probably what Michael Baynard thought when he requested a copy of it from the Pennsylvania Department of State through the state’s Right to Know Law.

Instead, the 37-year-old prison inmate was told he couldn’t have it.

Baynard, who is serving time at the State Correctional Institution at Coal Township for sex offenses, appealed to the state’s Office of Open Records. On Sept. 7, the Open Records Office ordered the State Department to send him a copy of the constitution.

When that appeal arrived at the Open Records Office, its executive director, Terry Mutchler, said she thought it was some kind of high jinks. Then she realized it was for real.

“It almost leaves me speechless,” Mutchler said. “It encapsulates some of the derision that folks have for us in government because a copy of the constitution is clearly a public record.”

The Department of State argued that the constitution doesn’t qualify as a record that falls under its purview since it is not a record that the department made as a result of an action it took, spokesman Ron Ruman said.

In defending its decision to the Open Records Office, the department also claimed it assigns act numbers to records and the request for the constitution failed to cite an act number and year.

But there is only one state constitution.

Mutchler said she couldn’t imagine a state agency not providing it.

“Unfortunately, when you get a request like this, it gets right to the gut of what open government is about, and it doesn’t bode well for any of us in government when we see a situation like this when there’s a denial of a copy of the constitution,” Mutchler said.

The State Department has decided not to appeal the Open Records Office decision, although the department’s staff counsel stands by the initial denial as correct and appropriate, Ruman said.

“We don’t feel it’s appropriate to expend the resources and such to appeal it, so we will provide Mr. Baynard a copy of the constitution,” Ruman said

Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon County, was dumbfounded upon learning of the matter.

Folmer carries around a pocket-sized version of the constitution wherever he goes. The more he thought about the situation, he grew increasingly angry that a state agency would deny the request, even if it came from a prisoner.

“He should still be able to get a copy of constitution regardless of what he’s in for,” Folmer said. “It never ceases to amaze me the asinine things we do in government. … It’s the most open record there is.”

Barry Kauffman, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, called the State Department’s denial “just plain silly.”

“The amount of time they spent reviewing the request, making a decision about it, denying it and then having to deal with the Office of Open Records probably cost a couple hundred dollars in staff time. Where they could have just gone to the photocopier, copied the constitution and mailed it to the guy for 10 bucks,” he said.

Or he suggested they could have advised him that the state constitution can be found in the Pennsylvania Manual, which a Department of Corrections spokeswoman said is in state prison library collections.

Kauffman said, “I would hope people, in implementing the open-records law, would use some common sense.”

Ruman said any future Right to Know requests to the department for the state constitution will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

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TSA Fired 28 Honolulu Baggage Screeners For Not Doing Their Jobs, Suspended 15 Others

September 18, 2011

HONOLULU, HAWAII – The Transportation Security Administration fired 28 of its employees — in addition to three that resigned or retired — following a probe that revealed bags were allowed onto planes at Hawaii’s Honolulu International Airport without being properly screened, the agency said Sunday.

Another 15 people were suspended, the TSA reported in a statement.

The moves come after the agency “completed the adjudication process” it had announced in June, months after the allegations first surfaced. All those terminated or suspended “have the right to appeal the decision,” according to the TSA.

The firing is believed to be one of, if not the biggest, such action in the agency’s history, with officials previously stating that it underscores they will not tolerate employees who compromise security.

In March, Honolulu’s KITV 4 News reported that TSA officers assigned to a morning shift regularly allowed checked bags to be loaded onto flights on nine daily departures without being screened for explosives. Sources told the TV station that such lapses occurred for as long as four months and involved thousands of checked bags. CNN confirmed the investigation.

TSA officers are required to screen 100% of all checked bags before they are stored in the cargo holds of passenger aircraft.

In June, agency officials said they did not know exactly how many bags were allowed onto flights without being inspected, but said the lapse took place during the last four months of 2010. The TSA said after it became aware of the problem, it took steps to ensure that every bag is properly screened at the airport

A TSA official said in June that in addition to rank-and-file screeners and some supervisors, the airport’s federal security director and assistant federal security director for screening had also received letters proposing that they lose their jobs.

“TSA holds its workforce to the highest ethical standards, and we will not tolerate employees who in any way compromise the security of the traveling public,” TSA Administrator John Pistole said then in a statement.

The TSA said it uses closed-circuit TV, random inspections, covert tests and peer and management oversight to check on the integrity of the system.

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American Traffic Solutions Created Scam Nonprofit “National Coalition for Safer Roads” To Promote Their Red Light Cameras

September 17, 2011

US – Last month, a group alling itself the National Coalition for Safer Roads (NCSR) obtained a great deal of exposure for red light cameras through the “National Stop on Red Week” publicity campaign. Several police departments around the country participated, with most news reports treating the issue as a public service announcement. Documents show the group coordinating this effort, NCSR, is controlled exclusively by the photo ticketing firm American Traffic Solutions (ATS).

As previously reported, NCSR is the creation of David Kelly, the head of the public relations firm Storm King Strategies, and ATS is just one of Kelly’s many clients. According to congressional records, Kelly has received at least $580,000 since 2009 to lobby in favor of ticketing for the National Safety Council; for legislation mandating ignition interlocks on behalf of interlock manufacturers; and for reduced CAFE standards on behalf of Jaguar-Land Rover.

Documents incorporating NCSR Inc as a nonprofit entity in the state of Missouri confirm that NCSR is anything but the independent campaign of “victims, parents, medical professionals and first responders” as the group’s publicity material suggests. NCSR’s board of directors instead consists of three individuals: James D. Tuton, ATS president; George J. Hittner, ATS General Counsel; and Charles Territo, ATS spokesman.

While NCSR’s website does mention that it is “supported by American Traffic Solutions,” it fails to disclose the complete control ATS has over the entity’s operations. Matt Hay, former city councilman for the city of Arnold, Missouri and creator of the WrongOnRed website, suggests NCSR is, in effect, misusing public funds.

“In Missouri, we had public officials on the public payroll filming commercials and participating in other advertising for the National Coalition for Safer Roads,” Hay told TheNewspaper. “With the revelation that these two entities, American Traffic Solutions and National Coalition for Safer Roads, are the same, it raises real concerns over the legitimacy of what amounts to propaganda they produce as well as the ethical issue of public employees advertising for a private firm on taxpayer time.”

For Stop on Red Week, NCSR released a glossy, 18-page manual for elected officials and police chiefs to use to celebrate the benefits of red light cameras. It included sample letters to the editor, press releases talking points and city council resolutions. Those playing ball with the effort have been rewarded with highly lucrative jobs. John Wintersteen, the former chief for photo radar pioneer Paradise Valley, and Ron Reagan, the former state representative responsible for legalizing cameras in Florida, both are now part of NCSR-ATS.

Each new city that signs up for a photo ticketing contract represents millions in revenue for ATS. In 2005, the firm attempted to trademark the phrase “Safety Pays.” A copy of NCSR’s incorporation filing is available in a 550k PDF file at the source link below.

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Keystone Kops: San Francisco California Police Shoot, Miss Target, Hit Two Innocent Bystanders

September 17, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – According to KCBS and Bay City News Service, two bystanders were hit by gunfire after an officer-involved shooting in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood early this morning.

According to police, at 2:06 a.m., officers located a wanted person in the 400 block of Broadway. The suspect ran away from police and produced a weapon, they said.

Officers then fired at the suspect, who was not hit. However, two bystanders were hit by the gunfire. They were taken to a hospital to be treated for their injuries that are not believed to be life-threatening, according to police.

The suspect, who was not wounded, was taken into custody. The suspect’s weapon was recovered, police said.

Police did not have information available about how many officers were involved in the shooting or how many rounds were fired.

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Pack Of Savage Negros And Hispanics Attaced 4 White Men At Denver Colorado Mall

September 16, 2011

DENVER, COLORADO – Police are asking for the public’s help tracking down a large group of violent teenagers.

They say 10 to 15 young people — described as black or Hispanic and both male and female — attacked four white men on the 16th Street Mall at about 10:45 p.m. on Sunday.

Denver police say the men were standing on the mall near Arapahoe when they were approached by the group. After a conversation, the group turned violent and they attacked the men.

Two of the four victims left the scene before they could be questioned. The Denver Post reported that two of the victims suffered minor injuries.

“It’s really unclear as to what their motivation was — why such a large group of young people came together and assaulted these individuals,” said Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson.

Authorities say the attacks could have been gang related or racially motivated.

“We’re not going to dismiss anything in this case because we don’t know,” Jackson told CBS4.

In 2009 a similar series of attacks took place near downtown, on the 16th Street Mall and in surrounding areas. The victims were usually white or Hispanic and the suspects were black. Surveillance video captured one of the attacks on camera.

Many of those arrested in connection with the assaults were known to have ties with street gangs. Police said some or all of those attacks may have a kind of gang initation.

Police will confirm that in this weekend’s case the victims were not robbed, which narrows down the list of motives somewhat.

Police are asking anyone who has more information about the attacks, including the two victims who walked off, to come forward. They also want to interview anyone who witnessed the attack.

There is a $2,000 Crimestoppers reward for information that helps solve the case.

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Veteran Hastings Nebraska Police Captain Gene Boner Crashed Truck Towing Trailer With Riding Lawnmower While Drunk Driving

September 15, 2011

HASTINGS, NEBRASKA – A Hastings police captain has been arrested for driving under the influence after a Sunday accident.

Capt. Gene Boner was driving eastbound on 12th Street between Adams Central Avenue and Highland Road in Hastings at about 7:45 p.m. Sunday when he lost control of his vehicle, said Hastings Police Chief Larry Thoren.

Thoren said Boner was driving a pickup towing a trailer with a riding lawn mower when something malfunctioned on the trailer, causing the pickup to roll. He was not injured.

Hastings police investigated the accident and called for the Nebraska State Patrol to handle the DUI investigation because of an “obvious conflict of interest,” said NSP Capt. Chris Kolb.

Kolb said the investigation continues, but the preliminary breath test indicated enough probable cause to arrest Boner. Kolb said the blood alcohol content results are not yet back.

Thoren said Boner is on administrative leave pending an internal investigation for violation of administration policy.

“No violation of the law” is the policy that was violated, Thoren said.

“The DUI will go through the court system and we will do our own administrative review for the administrative violation,” Thoren said. The Adams County attorney’s office said it does not have a report on the incident.

Boner has been with the Hastings Police Department for 22 years, 10 of those years as captain. He is captain of administration services, which oversees the 911 center and related services.

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El Paso County Texas Sheriff’s Detective Got A Whooping, Lost Unmarked Car, Guns, Radio, And Bulletproof Vest To Arrested Man

September 15, 2011

EL PASO, TEXAS – A manhunt is underway in West Texas for an “extremely dangerous” fugitive who overpowered a detective and fled in an unmarked police car with stolen guns and a bulletproof vest, authorities said.

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said Fernando Lavenant, 19, who is wanted on numerous felony charges, was briefly arrested by officers from the U.S. Marshal Lone Star Fugitive Task Force in Vinton, Texas, on Thursday.

But he overpowered a sheriff’s office detective while under arrest in an unmarked police car and fled in the vehicle, which was later found abandoned nearby.

“Fugitive Lavenant is armed with weapons taken from the unmarked unit and should be considered extremely dangerous,” the office said in a statement.

“He is also in possession of a sheriff’s office radio and bulletproof vest,” it added.

Lavenant was described at 6 feet, 4 inches tall, weighing 185 pounds. He has a tattoo of La Santa Muerte, a scythe-wielding icon often revered by criminals in Mexico, on his chest.

The sheriff’s office said Lavenant, whose outstanding charges include aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and driving while intoxicated, may have fled to New Mexico. It urged members of the public not to approach or make contact with him, but to call 911.

The El Paso Times newspaper reported that several schools in the El Paso area were placed in lock-down Thursday as police hunted for Lavenant.

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Disabled Woman Attacked By Atlanta Georgia Police Officer Kenneth Thomas And Falsely Arrested For Sitting Outside In A Chair

September 15, 2011

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – A physically disabled Atlanta woman says a police officer threw her to the ground and arrested her when she refused to move from her chair.

Shequita Walker, 40, suffers from severe joint pain and has a limited range of motion. For several years, Walker has enjoyed sitting in a metal chair in the vacant lot next to her apartment complex on Boulevard. Walker says she isn’t on the sidewalk or in anyone’s way, and has spent many hot afternoons waiting on the ice cream truck to drive by so she can buy a cold treat.

But on April 21, an Atlanta police officer asked her to move when she was in her regular spot, next to three other people. Walker responded by telling Officer Kenneth Thomas she was within her rights to sit outside, and that other Atlanta officers had not had a problem with it.

“She did stand her ground,” attorney Dan Grossman told the AJC. “She clearly gave him defiance and some attitude.”

Thomas then grabbed Walker’s wrist and twisted her arm, causing her to fall to the concrete, unable to get up on her own, Walker said. Another Atlanta officer helped Walker to her feet and to the back of a patrol car. An ambulance was called to transport Walker to Grady Memorial Hospital, where she received treatment for a shoulder injury sustained when she hit the ground, Grossman said.

When she was released from the hospital, Walker then spent the night in jail on a disorderly conduct charge. The case against Walker was later dropped, but her attorney said the matter isn’t over.

“It’s not like they did this to a healthy woman,” Grossman told the AJC. “She has very limited range of motion. She suffered and she deserves some compensation.”

The Atlanta Citizen Review Board examined Walker’s complaint that she was falsely arrested, concluding that the officer should be disciplined for his actions, according to a letter sent to APD Chief George Turner. The APD has not yet responded to the letter, Grossman said.

APD spokesman Carlos Campos said the department will not comment on the case while it is still under investigation.

Additionally, the review board found that during a five-month period, Thomas had made 38 arrests, 27 of which were for disorderly conduct. The total of 27 arrests for disorderly conduct was three times the amount made by two other officers that patrol the same area, during the same shift, the letter sent to Turner states.

“These people are just arrested because he (Thomas) doesn’t like their attitude,” Grossman said.

Grossman said he hopes the case can be resolved without the expense of a lawsuit against the city.

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CIA Investigates Itself After Helping New York City Police Build Intelligence Gathering Programs And Helping Them Spy On US Residents

September 14, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – The CIA inspector general is investigating whether the agency broke the law by helping the New York Police Department build intelligence-gathering programs that monitored life in Muslim communities, the agency said Tuesday following an investigation by The Associated Press. Separately, the U.S. government’s top intelligence official conceded that it looked bad for the CIA to be working with city police departments.

“It’s my own personal view that that’s not a good optic, to have CIA involved in any city-level police department,” said James Clapper, the U.S. director of national intelligence. “But I think CIA is going to address that.”

The agency’s unprecedented cooperation with the NYPD was a subject of an eight-month investigative reporting project by The Associated Press. The AP found that NYPD intelligence officers analyzed hundreds of mosques and student organizations, infiltrating dozens of them. Undercover officers eavesdropped in cafes and restaurants and wrote daily reports about what they overheard. The department also maintained a list of 28 countries that, along with “American Black Muslim,” the department labeled “ancestries of interest.”

A CIA officer, Lawrence Sanchez, helped create and guide these programs. From 2002 to 2004, when these programs were being built, Sanchez was on the CIA payroll and maintained an office at both the NYPD and the CIA’s offices in New York. The programs have continued with at least the tacit support of President Barack Obama, whose administration has repeatedly sidestepped questions about them.

The NYPD also sent a detective on a temporary assignment to the CIA, where he completed the agency’s 17-week foreign espionage course. After that rare training, he then returned to New York to supervise intelligence investigations.

It’s unclear to what extent Mayor Michael Bloomberg oversaw these programs and he has repeatedly refused to answer questions about them. On Tuesday, he again referred questions to the NYPD, which said it welcomed the CIA’s investigation.

During a rare joint intelligence oversight hearing on Capitol Hill, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., asked Clapper about the government’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques, electronic surveillance of some U.S. citizens and the AP’s reporting about CIA and New York police working together closely. “Do you believe that domestic activity by federal intelligence agencies, particularly the CIA, has crossed the line?” she asked.

Clapper said some of what Schakowsky cited was done in response to the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

“Some things that were done right after, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11—and I think that in itself is a very important factoid to remember,” he said. “What was the atmosphere and the conditions then that led to certain of these actions?”

Clapper did not describe exactly how he expects the CIA will respond to the concerns he expressed about perceptions of the spy agency’s work with New York police, and members of Congress did not press him on the subject.

The CIA’s new director, David Petraeus, told lawmakers that the agency’s inspector general began investigating the CIA-NYPD nexus at the request of acting director Michael Morell, before Petraeus took office just over one week ago.

Petraeus, testifying for the first time as CIA director, said he would follow up on the investigation “and just ensure that we are doing the right thing.”

The CIA is prohibited from domestic spying. The NYPD, the CIA and Obama’s counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan, have said the relationship never crossed that line and said Americans expected such collaboration after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

CIA spokeswoman Marie E. Harf said Tuesday that the recently launched investigation was a “preliminary review of the CIA’s post-9/11 cooperation with the New York City Police Department.”

Much of the NYPD’s intelligence-gathering was conducted by a secret team called the Demographics Unit, which used plainclothes officers to help map and monitor ethnic communities in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The NYPD has denied that unit ever existed, despite documents and interviews showing otherwise.

Sanchez took a leave of absence from the CIA in 2004 to become a senior official in the NYPD Intelligence Division. But some in the CIA raised questions about the relationship, forcing him to choose in 2007 whether to remain with the CIA or the NYPD. He left the NYPD last year.

After he left, the CIA dispatched one of its most senior clandestine officers to the NYPD, where he serves as a special assistant to intelligence chief David Cohen, himself a retired senior CIA officer. The officer, whom the AP is not identifying because he remains undercover, twice served as station chief in the Middle East and has run a major division at CIA headquarters.

Clapper described him on Capitol Hill as an analyst, but his office later said he misspoke and recognized the officer’s career in the clandestine service.

Officials have described the posting as a sabbatical, a chance for him to learn the management of other departments. They have said he is not operating in the same role as Sanchez.

Civil rights groups have urged the Justice Department to investigate the NYPD for what it said was racial profiling. The New York Civil Liberties Union applauded the CIA investigation but it called for a parallel investigation into the NYPD saying, “The NYPD should not be engaged in warrantless surveillance or racial or religious profiling.”

The Justice Department has said it is reviewing the matter. Under Attorney General Eric Holder, the department has stepped up enforcement of civil rights violations by police departments, but none of those cases involves national security investigations like the ones being conducted by the NYPD.

Also Tuesday, Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., called on the Justice Department to investigate. Holt, who previously served on the Intelligence Committee, said he doesn’t remember being told about these programs or about the CIA’s involvement.

“I think this is pretty troubling,” he said. “It sounds to me like profiling.”

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Fighter Jets Escoted Airliner – Detroit Michigan Law Enforcement Cuffed And Strip Searched Ohio Mom Simply Because Of Her “Appearance” On Airline

September 13, 2011

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – A woman says she was taken off an airplane in handcuffs, strip-searched and interrogated by authorities in Michigan on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks “simply because” of her appearance.

Shoshana Hebshi said Tuesday she was one of three people escorted off a plane in handcuffs from a Denver-to-Detroit Frontier Airlines flight. The 35-year-old mother from Ohio says they didn’t know each other but were in the same row.

Hebshi says the men were Indian and describes herself as half-Arab, half-Jewish, with dark complexion.

Two fighter jets escorted the plane after its crew reported suspicious activity.

The FBI says it questioned Hebshi and released her after finding no reason to suspect her. Messages seeking comment were left for Frontier and police.

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8 Amish Men Jailed For Not Displaying SMV Signs On Horse Drawn Buggies

September 13, 2011

GRAVES COUNTY, KENTUCKY – Eight members of a traditional Amish sect were behind bars on Tuesday after refusing to pay fines for failure to display orange-red safety triangles on their horse-drawn buggies.

The eight were being held in the Graves County Jail, serving sentences ranging between three and 10 days for failing to pay the fines on religious grounds.

Graves District Judge Deborah Hawkins ordered the men jailed Monday in Mayfield, about 200 miles from Louisville in western Kentucky. The defendants contend that paying the fines would amount to complying with a law that violates their religious restrictions against wearing or displaying bright colors or relying upon man-made symbols for their safety.

Graves County Jailer Randy Haley said Tuesday that the men brought Bibles with them when they reported to jail late Monday night and were given dark-colored jumpsuits and sandals to wear instead of the standard orange coveralls. All were placed together in a large holding cell, Haley said.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals denied an appeal of the men’s misdemeanor convictions in June. The case has been appealed to the state Supreme Court, which has not ruled on whether it will hear the case.

Dozens of Amish people and supporters were on hand as Hawkins handed down the sentences, which varied depending on the amount of unpaid fines and court costs. A ninth defendant was ordered to jail initially but the sentence was lifted when a friend paid so the man could care for an ailing son who has cerebral palsy.

All of the defendants are members of a traditional Amish group known as the Old Order of Swartzentruber. Other Amish groups in Kentucky do comply with the requirements to display the safety signs on the rear of their buggies.

“We’re certainly disappointed that the judge chose to go forward,” the men’s lawyer, William Sharp, said in an interview Tuesday. “… We thought it was unnecessary to do so until the cases had been conclusively resolved one way or another by the Kentucky Supreme Court.”

Sharp, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union in Louisville, said he filed the appeal with the Supreme Court on June 30. Explaining her decision to go forward with the sentencing, Hawkins said she had 44 cases involving the same charge on her docket Monday.

“It’s time we move forward,” she said.

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Six Flags Magic Mountain Security Officers Break Into Car, “Rescue” Dog, Then Lose It

September 13, 2011

VALENCIA, CALIFORNIA – A woman is upset with a Southern California amusement park for taking her support dog from her car and then losing him.

A Six Flags Magic Mountain spokesperson insists they were rescuing Brook’s pet from a sweltering car. They placed the 1-year-old Pomeranian in the park’s dog kennel, where it escaped while an employee was filling the pooch’s water bowl.

Shelanon Brooks says her dog, “Malibu”, was prescribed by her doctor for emotional support.

“I really love my dog and I wouldn’t let anything happen to her,” Brooks sobbed. “I thought she was OK, I thought she was OK. And I keep thinking what I could have did different.”

Brooks was going to take “Malibu” into the park but the bag she used to carry the dog had just ripped. She said she decided to leave him in the car with the windows rolled down, food and a tupperware filled with water.

Security discovered the dog inside the car and that it was visibly “distressed”.

The temperature that day was in the 80s.

“Our security personnel and the Sheriff saw the dog, which they thought was dead,” according to Six Flags spokesperson Sue Carpenter.

“[They] broke into the car to get the dog out. We brought it over here to the dog kennel, revived it, gave it some water and cooled it down,” Carpenter said.

The kennel door was left open while the dog’s water was being replenished and “Malibu” ran out the front door and into the parking lot.
Woman Upset With Six Flags For Taking Dog From Hot Car, Losing Him

(credit: CBS)

Six Flags officials say it’s standard policy to rescue dogs from cars. They say they aren’t responsible for the pet while it’s in their care.

“We do in-park announcements and we leave messages on your windshield to let you know where your animal is, and that no animal should be left in the car — that’s the law,” Carpenter said.

Brooks said she’s upset and doesn’t believe she was putting “Malibu” in danger. She just wants him back.

“I don’t know how I’m going to go back without my daughter,” Brooks said. “I don’t know how I’m going to live in my house without her — I just don’t.”

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Northern Arizona University Police Officer And Officials Stop Students From Handing Out Free Flags

September 13, 2011

ARIZONA – Northern Arizona University students who were passing out American flags Friday in remembrance of 9/11 got a bigger response than they expected.

No fewer than four university officials and a police officer descended on the group, accusing them of hindering foot traffic and lacking an advance permit.

“9/11 is very important to me,” said student Stephanee Freer. “That’s why I do the event. Every year, I do something for 9/11 and it’s never been disrupted like this.”

University spokesman Tom Bauer said it had nothing to do with what they were saying and everything to do with keeping traffic moving.

“I don’t think that this is a freedom of speech issue. We were not asking them to be quiet. We were not asking them to leave,” he said. “We were asking them to move to a different location within the same area. This is basically clearing the walkways.”

Freer said she meant to pass out flags all weekend but canceled the rest of her plans after the dust-up.


The NAU students were among students at more than 270 colleges and high schools participating in the “9/11: Never Forget Project,” which is endorsed by the conservative Young America’s Foundation. The University of Arizona also held an event, according to the YAF’s website.

Freer videotaped the confrontation, which at various times showed university officials asking the students to go outside, get a permit, or move to the other end of the building where few other students were congregating.

The students handing out flags had originally set up outside the University Union, but spontaneously moved inside after it started raining.

Bauer said permission is easily granted for events held inside, but it must be given.

The students were stationed along a wall a few paces away from Starbucks, just by the main east doors and near the main cafeteria entrances.

Unlike with outdoor demonstrations, students need to get clearance from the Office of Student Life to hold a small event like this indoors, according to the student handbook.

Freer’s video shows the small group — two or three students — arguing with four university employees, including an associate dean, who asked them to move.


When the rain started and the students brought their flags, pins and bumper stickers inside, an employee at the nearby information desk approached them to ask if they had filled out the university forms to reserve space.

Freer founded the NAU Conservatives club three years ago, and she said university employees recognize her as a leader of the group. However, Freer said she and the other students weren’t acting on behalf of the club. Freer is no longer formally in the NAU Conservatives club but works closely with them as a field representative for the Leadership Institute, which supports conservative student clubs at college campuses.

Bauer said that it doesn’t matter, though, as the permission process also applies to individuals.


According to Freer’s footage, the first employee to walk up suggested they move outside, to which Freer replied that it was raining.

The second employee, a coordinator from the Office of Student Life, told the students that it is the same policy for all student organizations to reserve indoors space, and that they could move outside or step into a booth up the hall.

Freer said that the booth was out of the way and nobody would see them.

“This is for 9/11,” she said. “Do you want to shut down our 9/11 table? Are you unpatriotic?”

She also asked the employee what the First Amendment states, and the employee replied, “Free speech in a designated time, place and manner.”

The students vocally sneered at the definition.

After they folded up their small table, not much bigger than a TV dinner tray, a third employee told them the university is within its bounds to regulate the “time, place and manner” where students can assemble.

“You’re not following what administration is letting you do,” she said.


When Associate Dean Deborah Harris approached the students, as shown on the videotape, she said she wanted to reach a compromise that both sides could be happy with and that nobody was judging their project. (She declined further comment Monday.)

Freer replied that they were. She said Monday that she believes she, a conservative, was targeted politically.

“I wasn’t waiting for an incident. I wasn’t looking for an incident,” she said. “This was really about 9/11 and it turned into a free speech violation.”

Bauer stressed again Monday that wasn’t the case.

“It was just asking you to please take this display and move it over there,” he said. “Do the same thing, say the same thing, just not where you are right now.”


After the students refused Harris’ request to move, a uniformed NAU police officer stopped by to collect the students’ names for the administration. A slide at the end of Freer’s video said they were not ticketed and the officer said they did not commit a crime.

The NAUPD online crime log does not mention going to the Union for the flag situation nor does it refer to a police report.

The students said they have been summoned by the dean of students office, though. Bauer said Monday that the students would not be disciplined, only that officials wanted to talk with them.

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Three TSA Agents, One Westchester County New York Police Officer, And Florida State Trooper Arrested During Drug Bust

September 13, 2011

STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT – Three Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents, along with two law enforcement officers, were arrested for conspiring to ship tens of thousands of oxycodone pills from Florida to New York and Connecticut, officials said Tuesday.

The TSA agents, based at airports in Florida and New York, as well as a Westchester County police officer and a Florida state trooper allegedly received cash payments to help transport the highly addictive painkillers, The Hartford Courant reported.

Some of the officers also allegedly helped ship the profits from the illicit drug sales back to Florida, the paper reported, citing federal prosecutors in Connecticut.

The TSA said in a statement obtained by FOX News Channel that it “holds its security officers to the highest professional and ethical standards and has a zero-tolerance policy for criminal activity in the workplace.”

It added, “The actions of a few individuals in no way reflect on the outstanding job our more than 50,000 security officers do every day to ensure the security of the traveling public.”

Further details about the scheme were expected to be released at an afternoon press conference in Stamford, Conn.

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