Former Massachusetts State Police Trooper Joseph Silva Sentenced To 10 Years In Prison After Raping Woman In Maine

October 31, 2011

ALFRED, MAINE – A former Massachusetts state trooper was sentenced Thursday for sexually assaulting a woman from Portsmouth.

Joseph Silva received a 10-year sentence on a gross assault charge and received seven years each for the two aggravated assault charges and 10 years probation.

Silva made a brief apology in court, and his sister spoke on his behalf. The victim wrote a letter and did not appear in court.

The state asked for a 25-year sentence for Silva.

Silva, who lived in Newburyport, Mass., arranged to have dinner with the woman.

Later, Silva lured the woman to the Roadway Inn, in Kittery, telling her they could watch a Patriots football game.

Prosecutors said Silva raped and assaulted the woman, who managed to get away the next morning.

Silva was arrested in 2009 and indicted earlier this year.

It only took the jury about an hour to reach its verdict during last month’s trial

Appeared Here


Wetback From Honduras Murdered Random Woman In Albion New York Walmart Parking Lot

October 31, 2011

ALBION, NEW YORK — An illegal alien from Honduras was charged with murder for the vicious stabbing death of a shopper in the Wal-Mart parking lot Sunday night, a murder that appeared to be a random act, Orleans County Sheriff Scott Hess said.

Luis A. Rodriguez-Flamenco was arrested after an all-night search by numerous police agencies. He was arraigned in Town Court and committed to Orleans County Jail without bail.

Flamenco, 24, is accused of repeatedly stabbing Kathleen I. Byham, 45.

Byham was shopping alone and had just left the store when she was approached by three men as she got to her car about 7 p.m.

‘‘She suffered multiple stab wounds to the torso,’’ Hess said. ‘‘She was shopping by herself and was not with any of the three men.’’

Byham, of Albion, was transported to Medina Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 7:40 p.m.

Several people witnessed the attack and were able to give police a description of the men, who took off running east toward the village of Albion.

Two of the men were caught in separate homes in the village, about 90 minutes after the attack, Hess said.

‘‘We were able to locate them based on information we received,’’ he said.

The two men who were with Flamenco did not actively participate in the murder have not been charged. Hess said the two are illegal immigrants from Mexico and both have been turned over to U.S. Border Patrol.

Hess said it was unclear what the motive was but investigators were looking at the possibility of an altercation inside the store or a robbery.

‘‘There is no evidence whatsoever to indicate that the defendant and the victim knew each other,’’ Hess said. ‘‘Sheriff’s investigators believe that the defendant specifically targeted the victim only after she exited the store and walked towards her car. This appears to be a random act of violence.’’

The woman parked almost directly beneath a light pole in the middle of the parking lot. The pole also contained surveillance cameras, two which are pointed directly where the woman was stabbed.

Police did review the video.

The stabbing happened on a fairly busy Sunday night at Wal-Mart, which is just west of the village of Albion at Route 31 and Gaines Basin Road.

During the hours after the stabbing shoppers came and went, some driving slowly past the site of the stabbing, which was cordoned off with yellow police tape.

To the east a state police helicopter hovered over the area, searching for the third suspect. A Niagara County Sheriff’s Department K-9 unit arrived to assisted deputies, along with village of Albion police, Orleans Major Felony Crime Task Force and state troopers.

Police on foot were concentrating on an area east of Wal-Mart.

Patrol cars and unmarked police cars combed the area and parked at several intersections.

Hess said the extra help was ‘‘invaluable’’ and the Wal-Mart officials were cooperative during the investigation.

Appeared Here


FCC Begins Pissing Away Tax Dollars Targeting Tiny Churches Who Broadcast TV Without Closed Captioning

October 31, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – If a church broadcasts the word of God on TV without closed captions, it risks incurring the wrath of the FCC.

Some 300 small- to medium-sized churches can expect letters from the commission within the next few days explaining why their closed captioning exemptions were lifted for TV shows like “Power in the Word” and “Producing Kingdom Citizens.”

The FCC has been mailing the letters for the past few days to churches from Maine to California, explaining that the hundreds of exemptions are now rescinded and giving the programmers 90 days to reapply.

The churches were granted FCC exemptions from the closed captioning requirement under a 2006 commission decision known as the “Anglers Order” for the Anglers for Christ Ministries program that had argued for exemption from the rules.

While the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau used the Anglers Order as the model to grant at least 298 other exemptions, the full commission overturned that decision Oct. 20 after objections were raised from a coalition of organizations for the deaf and hard of hearing.

The churches may still be eligible to win an exemption from the rules if they can prove they can’t afford closed captioning, but they now have to make their case individually.

“This was a process that went awry,” said Craig Parshall, senior vice president of the National Religious Broadcasters, an international association of Christian communicators. “Now, we are going back to Square One.”

Advocacy groups for the deaf contend that the bureau erred when it granted the exemptions en masse because that created a virtual blanket exemption for nonprofit organizations. Under the closed captioning law, programmers can win an exemption if they can prove that the cost of the captioning will cause an undue economic hardship.

The groups wrote to the FCC asking commissioners to overrule the bureau order arguing that the order “improperly and unilaterally established a new class of exempt programming.”

While the commission’s decision has an immediate impact on churches across the country, it isn’t directed at religious organizations in particular, Parshall said. Small- and medium-sized churches just happened to apply for exemptions under the closed captioning law’s exception for TV shows where paying for captioning is an undue economic burden, Parshall explained.

Advocates for the deaf said they were pleased the commission was taking action on the issue, and hoped that it would make more programming accessible to the deaf and hearing impaired.

“Now, we look forward to viewing more TV shows that were not captioned before,” said Jim House, spokesman for Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. “It is our hope that those producers affected by the decision would see the positive benefits of making their shows accessible to more and more viewers and find that it is the right thing to do.”

Religious broadcasters want to reach the deaf community, but requiring churches across the country to close caption their TV programs could force the programming off the air, Parshall said.

“We believe our message needs to get out to the deaf and disabled communities,” Parshall explained. “All we want is a sensible regulatory structure that recognizes the plight of the small Christian broadcaster.”

Appeared Here


Spartanburg County South Carolina Sheriff Urges Residents To Buy And Carry Firearms After Woman Attacked In Park – “Don’t Get Mace. Get A Firearm.”

October 31, 2011

PARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. — The Spartanburg County Sheriff is known for speaking his mind, and at a news conference on Monday, he didn’t hold back his anger and frustration after a woman was attacked in a park over the weekend.

Investigators said 46-year-old Walter Lance grabbed a woman who was walking her dog in Milliken Park on Sunday afternoon. They said Lance choked the woman, made her take off her clothing and tried to rape her. (Full Story)

Lance is in custody and was denied bond on Monday.

Sheriff Chuck Wright opened his news conference by saying, “Our form of justice is not making it.”

He said, “Carry a concealed weapon. That’ll fix it.”

Wright said Lance had been charged numerous times with crimes against women, and other crimes such as resisting arrest and escape. Wright said Lance had been on probation for a federal gun charge.

He referred to Lance repeatedly as an “animal,” and expressed his disgust about Lance’s long record and the attack.

Wright said Lance has had more than 20 charges dating back to 1983.

Wright said Lance has been in jail more often than he has, and he runs the jail, and he said Lance gets out easier. Wright punctuated it by saying, “And I’m aggravated.”

He said he doesn’t believe every person needs to be kept in jail, but he said, “I don’t think this animal deserves to be out in our society, walking alongside our women.”

Wright said,”Liberals call me and tell me the chain-gang form of justice isn’t working. Well, let me inform you, your form of justice isn’t working either.”

He said Lance should not have had the right or opportunity to “violate a good, upstanding woman.”

“This is a horrific crime,” Wright said. “Her life was threatened so many times.”

He said Lance “doesn’t fight police or men folk — he just goes after women.” He said Lance is not married because, “No woman can stay married to him because he beats them down too much.”

Wright said, “It’s too bad someone with a concealed weapons permit didn’t walk by. That would fix it.” He said people are tired of doing the right thing and criminals getting away with their actions.

He said several times, “I want you to get a concealed weapons permit.”

At one point, Wright held up a fanny pack and said, “They make this right here where you can conceal a small pistol in them. They got one called The Judge that shoots a .45 or a .410 shell. You ain’t got to be accurate; you just have to get close.”

Wright said, “I’m tired of looking at victims saying, ‘There’s life after this’ … I’m tired of saying, ‘We’re sorry, we can’t keep them in jail.'”

Wright said in his view, gun control is, “Is when you can get you barrel back on the target quick. That’s gun control.”

Wright said the attack is not the fault of Millken Park. He said, “It’s a nice place for families.”

He said officers patrol the area all the time and respond to various calls there. He said, “Don’t blame anyone for having an animal on their property … We can’t get it all.”

He encouraged women to walk in groups, and he ended by saying again, “I want you to get a concealed weapons permit. Don’t get Mace. Get a firearm.”

And then he said, “I think I better stop before I get sanctioned.”

Appeared Here


Slow, Difficult, Or Impossible To Get Visas For Foreign Visitors Has Cost United States 78 Million Overseas Visitors And $606 Billion In Spending And 500,000 Jobs

October 31, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – In the decade between 2000 and 2010, the number of foreign overseas tourists travelling the world grew by an astounding 60 million. You would think the numbers would grow in the United States as well, but they haven’t. Ten years ago 26 million overseas visitors visited the U.S. In 2010, 26.4 million, according to the U.S. Travel Association, a trade group. That’s hardly any growth at all.

Take a look at the numbers. The average Chinese tourist who visits America spends $6,243 while they’re here, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Visitors from India spend $6,131. Brazilian tourists coming to America spend $4,940.

“I want to go to New York and California, maybe Las Vegas — the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone Park,” said one man waiting for a visa in Rio de Janiero.

But there is a catch, and it’s a big one. There is no guarantee he or any other foreign tourists will get to come and spend their money here.

In fact, last year, tourists from Brazil had to wait up to 145 days just to interview for the required piece of paper.

In China, there are 1.3 billion people and only five places where you can even get an American visa. This year, the wait time has been up to 120 days just to get an interview.

“You’re talking about visas simply to visit the U.S., not to stay here,” said Hal Sirkin, a senior partner at the Boston Consulting Group. “Yes, this is not about people staying here. This is people who come, may spend two weeks, may spend a lot of money, creating American jobs, and then go back to the countries they came from.”

Why, with tens of millions of travelers worldwide, have America’s numbers stayed the same?

“We don’t have the people to process them, and we don’t have the facilities and the locations to process them,” said Sirkin. “This could all be changed, and this could create literally millions of jobs in the United States.”

In New York City, the W Hotel is trying lure Chinese travelers by catering to Chinese culture.

The hotel has entire menus in Mandarin, as well as tea kettles and the customary slippers.

“The U.S. is the number-one outbound destination of choice for Chinese travelers today,” said Frits van Paasschen, CEO of Starwood Hotels.

But, because they can’t get here, he said, they go to Europe.

All around the world, in Brazil, India and China, the fast-growing middle classes look to travel to the U.S., but only 13 percent actually come here, according to the U.S. Travel Association – some say, because it’s so difficult to get a visa. Thirty-eight percent travel to Europe instead because it’s easier.

In the last decade, the U.S. lost out on 78 million overseas visitors — that’s $606 billion in spending — in stores, malls, tourist destinations right here in America. Enough to add nearly half a million jobs every year.

The State Department told ABC News that safety and security comes first, but acknowledged they’re working on the problem.

“We don’t want anyone to wait, but we believe that most of those who are waiting will be coming,” said David Donahue, deputy assistant secretary of state for visas, who added they are sending additional consular officers to both Brazil and China this year to increase processing capacity.

“It takes time to build new facilities, to grow,” Donahue said. “This is a rather new phenomenon in China, that this many people want to come to the United States, and we have to address that need, but it takes time to grow to meet the growth in China.”

In the meantime, those lines are growing and so, say economists, are the missed opportunities.

Appeared Here


Dumbass Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Police Officer Ticketed Fire Trucks Parked Outside City Hall

October 29, 2011

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA – There’s fallout following a KDKA Investigation.

The mayor of Pittsburgh is outraged by the ticketing of fire trucks.

The trucks were tagged outside City Hall while firefighters were inside getting flu shots.

“We certainly have a lot more important things to worry about than a fire truck that’s parked for five minutes on a city street,” Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, D-Pittsburgh, said.

The fire trucks were parked in spaces reserved for councilmembers.

Firefighters tell KDKA’s Marty Griffin that City Council President Darlene Harris asked one truck to move and the police officer followed with her ticket book. The council president says she had nothing to do with it.

“It’s really silly,” Ravenstahl said. “And when I was first briefed on it, I didn’t believe that it happened. I couldn’t believe that somebody would actually ticket a fire truck especially when we’re encouraging them to get a flu shot and stay healthy.”

The matter will end up in court with Fire Chief Darryl Jones testifying on behalf of his men.

“This one is on me,” Jones said. “I did send the ticket in for a court hearing date and I will ask the judge for some leniency on this.”

It’s not a criminal matter. It’s a parking ticket. The possible fine is under $100, but there will be a hearing and there will be possible testimony and if the judge rules in favor of the city against the city, someone will have to pay the fine.

Appeared Here


First Amnesty For Illegal Aliens, Now US Border Patrol Stops Checking Busses, Trains, And Airports On Northern Border With Canada

October 29, 2011

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – The U.S. Border Patrol has quietly stopped its controversial practice of routinely searching buses, trains and airports for illegal immigrants at transportation hubs along the northern border and in the nation’s interior, preventing agents from using what had long been an effective tool for tracking down people here illegally, The Associated Press has learned.

Current and former Border Patrol agents said field offices around the country began receiving the order last month – soon after the Obama administration announced that to ease an overburdened immigration system, it would allow many illegal immigrants to remain in the country while it focuses on deporting those who have committed crimes.

The routine bus, train and airport checks typically involved agents milling about and questioning people who appeared suspicious, and had long been criticized by immigrant rights groups. Critics said the tactic amounted to racial profiling and violated travelers’ civil liberties.

But agents said it was an effective way to catch unlawful immigrants, including smugglers and possible terrorists, who had evaded detection at the border, as well as people who had overstayed their visas. Often, those who evade initial detection head quickly for the nearest public transportation in hopes of reaching other parts of the country.

Halting the practice has baffled the agents, especially in some stations along the northern border – from Bellingham, Wash., to Houlton, Maine – where the so-called “transportation checks” have been the bulk of their everyday duties. The Border Patrol is authorized to check vehicles within 100 miles of the border.

The order has not been made public, but two agents described it to the AP on condition of because the government does not authorize them to speak to the media. The union that represents Border Patrol agents planned to issue a news release about the change Monday.

“Orders have been sent out from Border Patrol headquarters in Washington, D.C., to Border Patrol sectors nationwide that checks of transportation hubs and systems located away from the southwest border of the United States will only be conducted if there is intelligence indicating a threat,” the release says.

Those who have received the orders said agents may still go to train and bus stations and airports if they have specific “actionable intelligence” that there is an illegal immigrant there who recently entered the country. An agent in Washington state said it’s not clear how agents are supposed to glean such intelligence, and even if they did, under the new directive they still require clearance from Washington, D.C., headquarters before they can respond.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman, Bill Brooks, repeatedly insisted that any shift in enforcement tactics does not amount to a change in policy as local commanders still have authority to aggressively pursue illegal immigrants near the border and at transportation hubs.

“It’s up to the local commander to position his agents the way he wants to position them. What we’ve done is gone to a risk-based posture,” he said.

In a separate statement, the agency said, “Conducting intelligence-based transportation checks allows the Border Patrol to use their technology and personnel resources more effectively, especially in areas with limited resources.”

Shawn Moran, vice president of the union that represents agents, was outraged at the changes.

“Stated plainly, Border Patrol managers are increasing the layers of bureaucracy and making it as difficult as possible for Border Patrol agents to conduct their core duties,” the National Border Patrol Council’s statement said. “The only risks being managed by this move are too many apprehensions, negative media attention and complaints generated by immigrant rights groups.”

The Border Patrol, which patrols outside the official ports of entry handled by customs officers, has dramatically beefed up its staffing since 9/11, doubling to more than 20,000 agents nationally. Along the northern border, the number has jumped from about 300 in the late 1990s to more than 2,200.

At the same time, the number of Border Patrol arrests nationwide has been falling – from nearly 1.2 million in 2005 to 463,000 in 2010, and 97 percent of them at the southern border, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics. The office cited the recession as a likely factor in the drop.

Along the northern border last fiscal year, the agency made 7,431 arrests. It was not immediately clear how many stemmed from routine transportation checks. The public affairs office for the Border Patrol’s Blaine sector said it doesn’t break down the data that way.

But of 673 arrests in the sector, roughly 200 were from routine transportation checks, according to a Washington state-based Border Patrol agent who has been with the agency for more than 20 years and spoke to the AP.

Until receiving the new directive, the Bellingham office, about 25 miles from the Canadian border, kept agents at the bus and train station, and at the local airport 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Now, the agents have little work to do, the agent said.

The situation is similar in upstate New York, where an agent told the AP – also on the condition of anonymity – that a senior manager relayed the new directive during a morning roll call last month. Since then, instead of checking buses or trains, agents have spent shifts sitting in their vehicles gazing out at Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, where few illegal immigrants cross.

“They’re already bored,” the agent said. “You grab the paper every day and you go do the crossword.”

In the Buffalo sector, where there were more than 2,400 arrests in fiscal 2010, as many as half were from routine transportation checks, the agent estimated.

The change was immediately obvious to Jack Barker, who manages the Greyhound and Trailways bus station in Rochester, N.Y. For the past six years, he said, Border Patrol agents boarded nearly every bus in and out of the station looking for illegal immigrants.

Last month – one day after the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and all of the hype that surrounded it – the agents stopped coming. They haven’t been back since, Barker said.

“What’s changed that they’re no longer needed here?” Barker asked. “I haven’t been able to get an answer from anybody.”

Doug Honig, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, welcomed the news.

“If the Border Patrol is indeed not boarding buses and trains and engaging in the random questioning of people, that’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “People shouldn’t be questioned by government officials when there’s no reason to believe they’ve done anything wrong.”

Kent Lundgren, chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, said the transportation checks have been a staple of the agency for 60 years. His organization has heard from agents around the country complaining of the change, he said.

Gene Davis, a retired deputy chief in the Border Patrol’s sector in Blaine, Wash., emphasized how effective the checks can be. He noted that a check of the Bellingham bus station in 1997 yielded an arrest of Palestinian Gazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer. Abu Mezer skipped out on a $5,000 bond – only to turn up later in Brooklyn, where New York police shot him as he prepared to bomb the city’s subway system. Davis also noted that would-be millennium bomb suspect Ahmed Ressam was arrested at the border in late 1999 when he left a ferry from British Columbia to Washington in a rented car full of explosives.

“We’ve had two terrorists who have come through the northern border here. To put these restraints on agents being able to talk to people is just ridiculous,” Davis said. “Abu Mezer got out, but that just shows you the potential that’s there with the transportation checks.”

The Border Patrol informed officials at the Bellingham airport on Thursday that from now on they would only be allowed to come to the airport “if there’s an action that needs their assistance,” said airport manager Daniel Zenk.

“I’m shocked,” Zenk said. “We welcome the security presence the Border Patrol provides.”

Appeared Here