Veteran Los Angeles California Police Officer Alejandro Nava And Other Officers Under Investigation For Military-Style Boot Camp For Kids

July 31, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – Officials from the Los Angeles Police Department are investigating two officers who allegedly operated a military-style boot camp for kids that employed harsh physical methods.

The Juvenile Intervention Program, which bills itself on its website as a 12-week program that will “improve the lives of “at risk” youth and their families by implementing structure, self-discipline and respect,” has been operating its weekend classes in Hollywood since at least February, according to the program’s website.

Two online videos show drill instructors screaming at young participants, disparaging them, and, in at least one instance, challenging one child to a fight. Much of the footage shows the children struggling to complete sets of push-ups and other difficult endurance exercises. In one scene, a group of exhausted-looking girls calls out, “316, sir,” as they count off another squat with their hands held behind their heads. Several kids are seen crying during the exercises or as instructors lean down into their faces to shout at them.

In one scene, a male officer pushes a girl from her knees into push-up position. In another, a young boy is brought to tears by an expletive-filled tirade.

The program and videos were first reported by the Los Angeles Daily News.

Several of the instructors are shown wearing holstered guns and uniforms from the city’s General Services police–an agency that soon will become part of the LAPD, but traditionally has been separate. The chief of the General Services force did not immediately respond to a call for comment.

LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith confirmed the department was investigating two LAPD officers, who reportedly started the program. Smith would not elaborate, citing the ongoing investigation. Police sources who requested their names not be used because they were not permitted to discuss the details of the case, said the department was investigating the way children were treated, whether the organizers improperly billed the program as being associated with the LAPD, and the program’s finances.

Although its website says the program is a charity with tax-free status, no program with its name is listed in a charity database kept by the federal government and a for-profit company with the group’s name was created last year, state records show. The program charges $200 for each child, according to its website.

One of the LAPD officers who runs the program is identified on the videos as Alejandro Nava, a 17-year department veteran. Nava did not return an e-mail seeking comment.

The program seems to be modeled closely on a boot camp sanctioned by the LAPD that uses officers as drill instructors. Smith, however, said instructors in the department’s program are closely vetted and monitored. “If someone is running another juvenile program and identifying themselves as an LAPD officer…that could lead parents to mistakenly believe we sanction it. That could lead to problems,” Smith said.

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South Saint Louis County Missouri Police Officer Tackles Woman With Traffic Violations Inside Victoria’s Secret Store, Attacks Her Little Girl Using Taser Weapon

July 31, 2012

SOUTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI – A police officer tased a 12-year-old girl inside a Victoria’s Secret Wednesday afternoon at South County Center.

Police say the officer came into the Victoria’s Secret looking for the teenager’s mom, who had warrants for her arrest. But it was the teen who got tased.

“This one goes in my chest. It was stuck in there so she had to keep on pulling trying to pull it out,” said Dejamon Baker, as she pointed to a small wound on her chest.

Baker has a matching wound on her stomach.

“I had fell on the floor and I couldn’t control myself I just kept on shaking and stuff,” said the girl.

Baker, her mother Charlene Bratton, and some other relatives were in the Victoria’s Secret.

Bratton had just tried on some shorts and was about to buy them when she says a St. Louis County officer came looking for her. Bratton had warrants, she says, for numerous unresolved traffic tickets.

“He said, put your hands behind your back. I said for what. Next thing you know he tackled me down on the ground,” said Bratton.

Baker said, “I was just crying. I guess he got mad because I was crying or something, then he just took it out and just tased me.”

A police spokesman says the officer stated the girl was physically getting involved and would not back away, but Dejamon and her mother deny that.

“He should have had enough control to tell her to get back instead of pulling out his gun, I guess he was nervous or whatever, and tasing people,” said Bratton.

The police spokesman says he believes the officer’s actions were justified, but he admits it’s a unique situation.

He suggests the mother report the incident to internal affairs to have in investigated.

The mother says that’s what she plans to do.

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US Postal Service 1 Day Away From Historic Default On $5.5 BILLION Dollar Payment To US Treasury

July 31, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Postal Service is bracing for a first-ever default on billions in payments due to the Treasury, adding to widening uncertainty about the mail agency’s solvency as first-class letters plummet and Congress deadlocks on ways to stem the red ink.

With cash running perilously low, two legally required payments for future postal retirees’ health benefits – $5.5 billion due Wednesday, and another $5.6 billion due in September – will be left unpaid, the mail agency said Monday. Postal officials said they also are studying whether they may need to delay other obligations. In the coming months, a $1.5 billion payment is due to the Labor Department for workers compensation, which for now it expects to make, as well as millions in interest payments to the Treasury.

The defaults won’t stir any kind of catastrophe in day-to-day mail service. Post offices will stay open, mail trucks will run, employees will get paid, current retirees will get health benefits.

But a growing chorus of analysts, labor unions and business customers are troubled by continuing losses that point to deeper, longer-term financial damage, as the mail agency finds it increasingly preoccupied with staving off immediate bankruptcy while Congress delays on a postal overhaul bill.

“I think for my generation it was a great asset – if you had a letter or package and you needed it to get up to the North Pole, you knew it would be delivered,” said Jim Husa, 87, of Lawrence, Mich., after stopping to mail letters recently at his local post office. Noting the mail agency’s financial woes, he added: “Times have changed, and we old-timers know that. FedEx and UPS and the Internet seem to be making the Postal Service obsolete.”

Banks are promoting electronic payments, citing in part the growing uncertainty of postal mail. The federal government will stop mailing paper checks starting next year for millions of people who receive Social Security and other benefits, paying via direct deposit or debit cards instead.

First-class mail volume, which has fallen 25 percent since 2006, is projected to drop another 30 percent by 2016.

Art Sackler, co-coordinator of the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service, a group representing the private-sector mailing industry, said the payment defaults couldn’t come at a worse time, as many major and mid-sized mailers are preparing their budgets for next year.

“The impact of the postal default may not be seen by the public, but it will be felt by the business community,” he said. “Mailers will be increasingly wary about the stability of the Postal Service. The logical and likely move would be to divert more mail out of the system.”

The Postal Service, an independent agency of government, does not receive taxpayer money for operations but it is subject to congressional control. It estimates that it is now losing $25 million a day, which includes projected savings it had expected to be accruing by now if Congress this spring had approved its five-year profitability plan. That plan would cut Saturday delivery, reduce low-volume postal facilities and end its obligation to pay more than $5 billion each year for future retiree health payments.

While the Senate passed a bill in April that provides an $11 billion cash infusion to help the mail agency avert a default, it also would delay many of the planned postal cuts for another year or two. The House remains stalled over a measure that allows for the aggressive cuts the Postal Service prefers; that’s unlikely to move forward this year, partly due to concerns among rural lawmakers over cutbacks in their communities.

The Postal Service originally sought to close low-revenue post offices in rural areas to save money but after public opposition agreed to keep 13,000 open with shorter operating hours. The Postal Service also is delaying the closing of many mail processing centers, originally set to begin this spring. The estimated annual savings of $2.1 billion won’t be realized until the full cuts are completed in late 2014.

The postal uncertainty offers opportunities for banks, which can save up to one-third of the cost of processing checks if payments are made electronically. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. (C) and Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) have been urging electronic transactions.

“This could be a watershed event to motivate consumers and businesses to stop writing checks,” said Rodney Gardner, head of global receivables at Bank of America, who recently reviewed the topic at a conference with insurance companies.

The Postal Service, which releases third-quarter financial results next week, has projected a record $14.1 billion loss for the year. It expects to avoid bankruptcy in October only by defaulting on the two health prepayments, totaling $11.1 billion. It faces a cash crunch again next year.

Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, notes that the onerous health payment for future retirees – something not required of any other government agency or private business – is to blame for much of the post office’s red ink. He faults Congress for mandating the payments in 2006, saying they force the post office every year into a “panic mode that absorbs energy and resources” rather than focusing on longer-term innovation.

“The word ‘default’ sounds ominous, but in reality this is a default on the part of Congress,” Rolando said.

In 2007 and 2008, the Postal Service initially had profits of roughly $3 billion but fell into the red after making the health payments. In more recent years, it has suffered annual losses of $2 billion to $5 billion even after factoring out the health payments; by 2016, the mail agency expects to lose $21.3 billion a year, of which $5.8 billion will be caused by that payment.

Peter Nesvold, a financial analyst with Jefferies and Co., says the post office’s financial future will depend on how Congress resolves its conflict over the mail agency’s core mission. While the Postal Service is a business expected to stay afloat, it also has a legal obligation to provide uniform first-class mail service even to sparsely populated, far-flung areas of the U.S., all for the same price of a 45-cent postage stamp. UPS and FedEx don’t deliver to those areas that are less profitable, contracting with the Postal Service to get the job done.

Last year, first-class mail contributed to 49 percent of the Postal Service’s total revenue; by 2016, that share will drop to 41 percent. The mail agency has been seeking to pick up the slack by promoting its fast-growing package business as a cheaper alternative to FedEx and UPS, as well as encouraging more use of “standard mail,” which are advertising circulars and catalogs often referred to as “junk mail.”

Linda Graham, a postmaster in Hope, Alaska, says she understands the Postal Service’s financial dilemma. Her rural postal branch may see its hours reduced from eight to four hours a day. “I feel that right now the post office is really grasping to try to make things work. I mean, they’re losing money,” she said.

Graham acknowledges her postal branch could probably get by if it were open just 6 hours a day, but believes that a bigger cut would be “suicide” for the town because of the role it plays as a community gathering place. “That’s a real concern. So I just tell people, write more letters, buy more stamps,” she said.

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Former US Military Police Officer Rogelio Harris Arrested, Charged With Trying To Smuggle Pounds Of Meth To Japan Inside Snickers Candy Bars – Tossed Out Of Navy After Testing Positive For Drugs, But Still Traveling On “Official Passport” For US Government

July 31, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – A former military policeman is facing a federal narcotics rap after he allegedly sought to smuggle several pounds of methamphetamine to Japan in the form of 45 Snickers bars.

Rogelio Harris, 34, was arrested Friday afternoon at Los Angeles International Airport after federal agents discovered the narcotics in his suitcase during a “border search,” according to a felony criminal complaint. Traveling alone, Harris was headed to Tokyo on a Delta Airlines flight (and scheduled to return to L.A. three days later).

Federal agents found the meth-filled candy bars inside a “box with a design printed on the outside suggesting that it contained Snickers candy bars.” When investigators unwrapped one of Snickers bars, they determined that the meth “was actually wrapped inside clear cellophane, which was itself coated in a chocolate-like substance so as to make the contents of the package appear to be a real candy bar.”

There was no tasty nougat, caramel, or peanuts to be found anywhere.

During questioning, Harris told agents that he last year received an “other than honorable discharge” from the Navy after testing positive for marijuana use. He claimed to be “traveling to Japan to visit his girlfriend, who lived in Hong Kong,” according to the felony complaint. When an investigator explained that Hong Kong and Japan were separate countries, Harris replied, “They are?”

Though he was bounced from the military, Harris was carrying an “Official Passport” with an endorsement reading, “The bearer is abroad on an official assignment for the United States Government.” Before requesting a lawyer, Harris admitted to agents that he “was not traveling to Japan on official orders.”

Harris is being held in L.A.’s Metropolitan Detention Center.

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Investigation Finds Top 5 Senior ATF Officals Responsible For “Fast And Furious” Gun Operation That Armed Criminals And Mexican Drug Cartels Under Disgraced US Attorney General Eric Holder

July 31, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Republican congressional investigators have concluded that five senior ATF officials — from the special agent-in-charge of the Phoenix field office to the top man in the bureau’s Washington headquarters — are collectively responsible for the failed Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation that was “marred by missteps, poor judgments and inherently reckless strategy.”

The investigators, in a final report likely to be released later this week, also unearthed new evidence that agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Phoenix initially sought to hide from the Mexican government the crucial information that two Fast and Furious firearms were recovered after the brother of a Mexican state attorney general was killed there.

According to a copy of the report obtained Monday by The Times, the investigators said their findings are “the best information available as of now” about the flawed gun operation that last month led to Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. being found in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over subpoenaed documents.

Two more final reports, they said, will deal with “the devastating failure of supervision and leadership” at the Department of Justice and an “unprecedented obstruction of the [congressional] investigation by the highest levels of the Justice Department, including the attorney general himself.”

The first report did allege some Justice Department involvement, however, notably that Kenneth E. Melson, then acting ATF director, was made into a “scapegoat” for Fast and Furious after he told congressional Republicans his Justice Department supervisors “were doing more damage control than anything” else once Fast and Furious became public.

“My view is that the whole matter of the department’s response in this case was a disaster,” Melson told the investigators.

Fast and Furious, which allowed some 2,500 illegal gun sales in Arizona with the hope that agents would track the weapons to Mexican drug cartels, began in fall 2009 and was halted after U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in December 2010. By then, most of the weapons had been lost, and two were recovered at the scene of his slaying.

The five ATF managers, since moved to other positions, have either defended Fast and Furious in congressional testimony or refused to discuss it. They could not be reached for comment Monday. At the Justice Department, senior officials, including Holder, have steadfastly maintained that Fast and Furious was confined to the Arizona border region and that Washington was never aware of the flawed tactics.

The joint staff report, authored by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, was highly critical of the ATF supervisors.

They found that William Newell, the special agent-in-charge in Phoenix, exhibited “repeatedly risky” management and “consistently pushed the envelope of permissible investigative techniques.” The report said “he had been reprimanded … before for crossing the line, but under a new administration and a new attorney general he reverted back to the use of risky gunwalking tactics.”

His boss, Deputy Assistant Director for Field Operations William McMahon, “rubber stamped critical documents that came across his desk without reading them,” the report alleged. “In McMahon’s view it was not his job to ask any questions about what was going on in the field.”

They added that McMahon gave “false testimony” to Congress about signing applications for wiretap intercepts in Fast and Furious.

His supervisor, Mark Chait, assistant director for field operations, “played a surprisingly passive role during the operation,” the report said. “He failed to provide oversight that his experience should have dictated and his position required.”

Above Chait was Deputy Director William Hoover, who the report said ordered an exit strategy to scuttle Fast and Furious but never followed through: “Hoover was derelict in his duty to ensure that public safety was not jeopardized.”

And they said Melson, a longtime career Justice official, “often stayed above the fray” instead of bringing Fast and Furious to an “end sooner.”

But, the investigators said, ATF agents said that they were hamstrung by federal prosecutors in Arizona from obtaining criminal charges for illegal gun sales, and that Melson “even offered to travel to Phoenix to write the indictments himself. Still, he never ordered it be shut down.”

In the November 2010 slaying in Mexico of Mario Gonzalez, the brother of Patricia Gonzalez, then attorney general for the state of Chihuahua, two of 16 weapons were traced back to Fast and Furious after they were recovered from a shootout with Mexican police.

But 10 days later, ATF Agent Tonya English urged Agent Hope MacAllister and their supervisor, David J. Voth, to keep it under wraps. “My thought is not to release any information,” she told them in an email.

When Patricia Gonzalez later learned that two of the guns had been illegally obtained under Fast and Furious, she was outraged. “The basic ineptitude of these officials [who ordered the Fast and Furious operation] caused the death of my brother and surely thousands more victims,” she said.

The following month, Agent Terry was killed south of Tucson. Voth emailed back, “Ugh … things will most likely get ugly.”

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London UK Police Run Out Of Crimes To Solve, Terrorists, And Real Criminals To Hunt – Arrest Twitter User Who Commented About Olympic Diver

July 31, 2012

LONDON, UK – Police say a man has been arrested in connection to Twitter postings directed at British Olympic diver Tom Daley.

Daley’s father died of brain cancer a year ago and the 18-year-old Olympian had hoped win a medal “for myself and my dad.” But he finished fourth on Monday in the 10-meter synchronized platform with teammate Pete Waterfield.

Afterward, a Twitter user sent him several negative messages, including: “You let your dad down i hope you know that.”

Dorset Police said early Tuesday that a 17-year-old man was arrested at a guest house in Weymouth “on suspicion of malicious communications” in relation to Twitter threats made against Daley.

In Britain, tweeting messages considered menacing can lead to prosecution.

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Obama Administration Scrambling To Delay Mass Layoffs Just Before Election – Intimidating Businesses, Companies, And Corporations

July 31, 2012

President Obama is trying to prevent thousands of layoff notices from going out a few days before the November election, Sen. Jame Inhofe (R-Okla.) said on Tuesday.

Obama’s Labor Department on Monday issued “guidance” to the states, telling them that a federal law requiring advance notice of mass layoffs does not apply to the layoffs that may occur in January as a result of automatic budget cuts known as “sequestration.”

Inhofe, appearing on Fox & Friends Tuesday morning, said President Obama, through his Labor Department, “is trying to intimidate businesses, companies, corporations — not just defense contractors — into not issuing the pink slips,” which are required by federal law 60 days before mass layoffs or plant closings.

“(T)he president doesn’t really want all these pink slips going out five days before the election,” Inhofe said.

He noted that if the automatic budget cuts kick in on Jan. 2 — as they will if Congress can’t reach a deficit-reduction agreement — layoff notices would have to go out no later than Nov. 2. The general election is on Nov. 6.

Under the WARN Act — The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act — companies with more than 100 employees must give 60 days’ notice if there is to be a mass layoff during any 30-day period for 500 or more employees (or for 50-499 employees if they make up at least 33% of the employer’s active workforce).

But in guidance issued on Monday, Assistant Labor Secretary Jane Oates said never mind about those pink slips:

“Questions have recently been raised as to whether the WARN Act requires Federal contractors…whose contracts may be terminated or reduced in the event of sequestration on January 2, 2013, to provide WARN Act notices 60 days before that date to their workers employed under government contracts funded from sequestrable accounts. The answer to this question is ‘no.’ In fact, to provide such notice would be inconsistent with the purpose of the WARN Act.”

In its guidance, the Labor Department also noted that “efforts are being made to avoid sequestration,” making its occurrence “not necessarily foreseeable.”

“You can’t not comply with the law,” Inhofe said on Tuesday. “Put yourself on the board of directors of Lockheed Martin. If they came out with a class-action suit of a thousand dollars per employee, that would be $120 million. You bet they’re going to send out pink slips. And by the way, they don’t have to wait until Nov. 2. They can send them out today if they want,” Inhofe added.

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) also criticized the Obama administration for the “obvious political aim” of its guidance on the WARN Act.

“At a time when our economy continues to suffer from staggeringly high unemployment, the Obama Administration today took away an important planning tool for Americans who may lose their jobs as a result of the failure of Congress and the White House to address the looming and entirely predictable threat of budget sequestration. Sequestration is currently the law of the land, and our nation’s workers have a right to know how these sequestration cuts which begin in January may impact them,” the senators said in a news release.

“This decision is especially disturbing in light of the fact that the Department of Labor previously stated in a Fact Sheet that ‘since it has no administrative or enforcement responsibility under’ the WARN Act, it ‘cannot provide specific advice or guidance with respect to individual situations.’ Today the Department did just that, issuing guidance to government contractors not to provide their employees advance notification of potential layoffs as a result of sequestration. This is a troubling turnaround that lays bare the obvious political aim of today’s announcement – avoiding mass layoff notices just days before the November 6th election.

McCain, Ayotte and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) this week are visiting communities in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia and New Hampshire that will be hardest hit by the steep, automatic cuts to the Defense budget.

“The Americans we have met today are asking Republicans and Democrats to do their jobs – to come together to find a solution that avoids this threat to our national security and economy. They are also asking for something that has been totally lacking in Washington – presidential leadership,” they said.

Republicans say President Obama has refused to engage in the debate and will share responsibility for the potential loss of one million jobs if sequestration takes effect.

“The Senate Armed Services Committee has received letters from eight defense companies, all of which advise that they will have to lay off thousands – if not tens of thousands – of workers if sequestration occurs. These Americans deserve fair warning that politics in Washington is placing their jobs in jeopardy,” McCain and Ayotte said.

Under the Budget Control Act of 2011, if Congress can’t produce deficit-reduction legislation by the end of the year, automatic spending cuts will take effect in 2013, split 50-50 between domestic and defense spending. That amounts to a $500-billion cut to the Defense budget over ten years.

In theory, the deep Defense cuts were supposed to be so unpalatable that Democrats and Republicans would come together to find other ways to reduce the deficit.

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