August 23, 2005
Staff say Stockwell Tube shooting was caught on camera
By Daniel McGrory and Stewart Tendler
Dead man’s family accuse police over riddle of CCTV tapes which officers said were blank
STAFF at Stockwell Underground station have protested at police suggestions that closed-circuit television cameras were not working when an innocent man was killed by police hunting potential suicide bombers.
Senior officers are reported to have told the independent investigation into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes that they had no footage from inside the carriage or from on the platform because all five cameras were not working.
But the Tube workers have challenged the police claim, allegedly telling investigators from the Independent Police Complaints Commission that three out of the four cameras covering the platform were definitely working on the morning of July 22.
Staff say that they do not know why the camera inside the carriage would not have filmed the moments when the Brazilian electrician was shot dead by armed police.
Meanwhile, the head of the IPCC investigators has been ordered to appear before a coroner today to report on his progress. John Sampson, the Inner London Coroner, has asked John Cummins, a former detective, to appear before him.
Mr Sampson adjourned the inquest on July 25. Normally the inquest would not sit again until the end of the IPCC investigation and any decision by the Crown Prosecution Service on criminal charges.
But in the past week there has been a succession of leaks from the IPCC inquiry alleging a series of “catastrophic blunders”. The accusations will put further pressure on Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, and intensify demands from the de Menezes family for a public inquiry. A spokesman for the Justice4Jean campaign said: “Somebody is lying about this film.”
Scotland Yard declined to answer questions, saying that the matter was in the hands of the IPCC. The first officers on the scene after Mr de Menezes was shot took away all CCTV tapes but allegedly found them blank. Station staff decided to break the confidentiality of what they told the IPCC because they fear they are being blamed for failing to maintain the cameras.
The IPCC has already protested that the police have compromised their investigation by taking away vital evidence, including the tapes, in the first hours of the incident when Sir Ian wanted to block the IPCC from handling the inquiry. Members of the de Menezes family have accused police of evidence tampering.
Alessandro Pereira, a cousin of Mr de Menezes, said that the dispute over the tapes was another reason why the family wanted a public inquiry. Last night he led a protest to Downing Street.
This latest embarrassing allegation against the police came as two senior Brazilian officials arrived in London to assess the investigation They may attend the inquest.
The CCTV system is maintained by Tube Lines, the private sector consortium that is in charge of maintaining the Northern Line. It is understood to have confirmed that the cameras were working that morning. It is not known if staff in the control room saw the shooting unfold on their screens.
A London Underground spokesman said: “Everything now has to go to the IPCC.” However, one senior Tube official said: “What are the realistic odds of five cameras — four on the platform, one in the carriage — all being on the blink?”
Wagner Gonçalves, of the Brazilian Federal Prosecutor’s Office, and Marcio Pereira Pinto Garcia, of the Justice Ministry, plan to see the IPCC tomorrow but officials say that the pair will not be allowed to question any of the surveillance officers or the armed officers involved in the operation.
Nor will they be shown any of the evidence compiled by the IPCC since the leak of witness statements last week.
A spokesman said: “We will update them on our inquiry but we cannot give them any more information than we gave to the lawyers for the de Menezes family. They will get no special treatment, nor will they be shown any sensitive material.”
Yesterday Clare Short, the former Cabinet minister, told the ITV News channel: “We’ve been lied to. This should be bigger than calling for Sir Ian Blair to go. Who was telling the lies?”
Last night Scotland Yard said that it had briefed Mr de Menezes’s cousins in London two days after the fatal shooting.
In a statement the Metropolitan Police said that they had told the London-based cousins that the Brazilian “did not run into the Tube station, that he used a ticket to get through the Tube station barrier — specifically that he did not vault the barrier — and that he was not wearing a padded jacket or carrying a bag”.
Scotland Yard had been accused of not doing enough to correct false reports. But last night the Met said it did tell his London-based family on July 24 that many initial reports were wrong.
In a meeting with Brazilian officials last night, John Yates, a Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Met, reiterated the apology for the death of Mr de Menezes.
August 21, 2005
Focus: Executed: Anatomy of a police killing
The real story of how an innocent man was shot by police is only now beginning to emerge. Jonathan Ungoed-Thomas investigates the accusations of incompetence and cover-up
The day after Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead by police at Stockwell Underground station, his grieving relatives and one of his closest friends filed into a mortuary to identify his body. They found him covered in a thin sheet and his face, unmarked, was ghostly white.
Gesio de Avila, a friend and fellow worker, looked carefully over the body, confused by de Menezes’s peaceful repose. Where were the wounds from the seven bullets to the head that killed him?
“Every bit of colour had left his face, but apart from that it was normal,” de Avila said last week. “There was a bandage on his head behind his ear and when I looked closer, I realised what had happened. He had been shot several times in the back of the head. It was like he had been killed by bandits.”
De Menezes’s cousins, Alex and Alessandro Pereira, who were also at Greenwich mortuary in southeast London, were outraged by what they saw.
In their view, seven bullets into the back of the head, almost certainly at close range, did not seem like an appalling accident; it seemed like an execution.
“He was on the train with a newspaper on his way to work and they killed him,” said Alex. “He would never have run from the police. He was assassinated.” Ever since de Menezes’s death, those who knew him have felt a double injustice: both the untimely loss of a loved one and a refusal by the British police to acknowledge fully the tragic errors that led to his death.
Although the police soon admitted they had killed an innocent man, it was only last week that a proper account of what happened emerged. Leaked documents from the investigation into de Menezes’s death revealed a shockingly different version of events to the original ac- counts, including those apparently sanctioned by the police.
The documents show de Menezes was behaving normally when confronted; he never ran from police; he did not leap a barrier at the station; he was not acting suspiciously; and he was already being restrained by an officer when he was shot.
To compound matters, it also emerged that Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan police commissioner, tried to block an immediate inquiry into de Menezes’s death by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). Late last week relatives of de Menezes accused Blair of misleading the public.
“The police knew Jean was innocent. Yet they let my family suffer,” said Alessandro. “For three weeks we have had to listen to lie after lie about Jean and how he was killed. The police even went to Brazil. Yet they still didn’t tell us the truth.”
Instead of facts, the police offered money: de Menezes’s parents claim they were offered possible compensation of £560,000, although this is denied by the police. The dead man’s mother angrily described it as “blood money”.
The controversy is likely to gather pace. It emerged last week that George Galloway’s political party, Respect, is jumping on the bandwagon by helping to galvanise demonstrations against police and government over the affair.
Battered by the allegations of a cover-up, Blair put up a robust defence. “I am not defending myself against making a mistake or being wrong,” he said. “But I am defending myself against an allegation that I did not act in good faith and I reject utterly the concept of a cover-up.” He adds in an interview published today that he did not know his officers had shot an innocent man until 24 hours after the killing of de Menezes.
But there was no escaping that the operation had been riddled with tragic errors.
SURVEILLANCE experts last week explained how a “textbook” operation against de Menezes should have proceeded. Undercover operatives watching a property, explained an expert who has trained MI5 officers and military teams, ought to form a surveillance perimeter known as “the box”. Their task is not to allow anyone to leave the box without being identified as their target or eliminated as not matching the target description.
“The second that the person watching the door — whom we call the trigger — says someone is on the move, then you want a positive identification,” said the expert. “It shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds, perhaps a minute or two at the outside.
“If the trigger isn’t sure, then you use someone else. You get them to walk by and get a good look at the target.”
Such a tactic means that the operative making close contact is “burnt” for the rest of the surveillance and cannot be used again for close work. But it is a price that must be paid for certainty.
“If you still haven’t got a positive identification, then you burn someone else,” the expert said. “Still not sure? Burn someone else. You can’t afford to let the target out of the surveillance box without a proper identification. It comes down to experience and good judgment.”
On the morning of July 22 — the day after unsuccessful bomb attacks on the London Underground — a surveillance team was watching a three-storey block of flats in Tulse Hill. They had arrived there after finding evidence in the rucksack bombs that had failed to explode on three Tube trains and a bus.
One had contained a gym membership card belonging to Hussain Osman, suspected of an alleged bomb attack at Shepherd’s Bush Tube station. In addition, the number plate of a vehicle spotted at a suspected terror training camp (believed to be in central Wales) had been tracked to the Tulse Hill address.
The building housed numerous flats. The suspect address was No 21 on the third floor of the block; de Menezes lived a few doors down at No 17.
Experts say the correct way to have monitored the address would have been to install a small camera in the block, covering the flat under suspicion. But that entailed a number of risks and on July 22 the surveillance team was relying simply on an officer, armed with a video camera, covering the communal entrance.
There was another potential weakness, too. The operation involved two surveillance teams and a unit of armed police on standby. In the teams were both police officers and specialists on secondment from the military. Such a mix can lead to friction, say police sources.
“I can’t imagine what we would want to use the military for,” said an officer trained in surveillance. “Some of our officers have 15 years’ experience, whereas a military operator would have only a few.”
According to well-placed sources, tensions between the police and the Army were running so high that army bomb disposal experts could not even find out the type of explosives used in the July 7 and July 21 attacks. “[The Army] wanted basic details of the bombs that the terrorists had used,” one defence source said. “The Met told them ‘mind your own business’.”
That day, the trigger man, codenamed Tango Ten, was a soldier who had been on secondment to the police for about a year. That morning, according to his own testimony leaked last week, he began watching de Menezes’s block at about 6.30am.
His task was to take footage of anyone who left it and compare it with pictures of the suspects involved in the failed attacks the previous day.
At 9.33am de Menezes emerged from the communal entrance. He was on his way to north London to help his friend de Avila fit a fire alarm. Tango Ten was caught off guard because he was “relieving himself” as de Menezes walked into the street.
The surveillance officer noted down his observations in a logbook. “I observed a U/I [unidentified] male IC1 5’8” dark hair beard/stubble, blue denim jacket, blue jeans and wearing trainers exit the block, he was not carrying anything and at this time I could not confirm whether he was or was not either of our subjects.
“I should point out that as I observed this male exited [sic] the block I was in the process of relieving myself . . . At this time I was not able to transmit my observations and switch on the video camera at the same time.”
In many features de Menezes was strikingly similar to Hussain, and surveillance experts say it would have been a difficult judgment as to whether de Menezes matched the description of Hussain. But one key indicator was his skin colour. The trigger man had described de Menezes as IC1, which is police jargon for light-coloured skin; yet Hussain was IC3 — dark-coloured. Despite this discrepancy, the surveillance officers following de Menezes remained suspicious. They followed him for the next half hour as he travelled north on a bus towards Stockwell, still trying to establish whether he was Hussain.
Their observations and radio transmissions were being reported to Gold Command in Scotland Yard where the officer in charge was Commander Cressida Dick, an Oxford graduate on the fast track to the highest echelons of the police service.
Dick, who trains other officers in dealing with serious incidents, was known as an experienced hand with a cool head and deft judgment. But that morning tension was high and nerves stretched to the limit.
London had just faced a second string of attempted bombings. The biggest hunt Britain had known was in full swing. Thousands of officers were deployed, many armed. Fears of another attack were running high.
Dick had to decide whether the man sitting quietly on the No 2 bus heading towards Stockwell was a potential suicide bomber.
At 9.47am her suspicions may have started to grow. At that point de Menezes got off the bus, waited for a few moments and boarded it again. Quite why de Menezes acted in such a manner is not known. But to the watchers it may have looked like an evasive technique to check if he was being followed.
It was also increasingly clear that de Menezes was heading for Stockwell Tube station — where three of the suspected bombers had set out the previous day.
Exactly what instructions Dick issued remain unclear. According to some reports, she ordered that the suspect be “detained” or “intercepted”. What is clear is that an armed CO19 unit that had been on standby began to move in.
Last week one senior police officer said a decision to call in CO19 would normally occur only when there was a high likelihood the suspect would have to be shot. The independent inquiry is likely to concentrate on the exact nature of the communications from that point between the surveillance officers, Gold Command, and the CO19 men.
As de Menezes walked toward Stockwell station, he had no inkling of the armed team closing in on him. He phoned de Avila and explained that he might be late for work because he expected delays on the Underground.
“I had called him about 45 minutes previously, so I wasn’t surprised to get his call,” de Avila said last week. “He was in the street and I think he was just about to walk into the station.”
As de Menezes walked into the foyer of the station, he picked up a copy of Metro newspaper. He passed his Oyster card across the ticket reader and descended the escalator. About halfway down he began to run — just as any commuter might to catch a train at the platform.
An officer of the surveillance team, codenamed Hotel Three, was close by. In an account provided to investigators, Hotel Three said he followed de Menezes into a train carriage.
“He sat down with a glass panel to his right about two seats in. I took a seat to his left-hand side on the same carriage and there were about two or three members of the public between me and the male in the denim jacket.”
When Hotel Three saw plainclothes CO19 officers arriving on the platform, he stood up and moved to the door of the carriage.
“I placed my left foot against the open carriage door to prevent it shutting . . . I shouted ‘He’s here’ and indicated the male in the denim jacket with my right hand.”
Under Operation Kratos, the guidelines to combat potential suicide bombers, armed officers were advised to shoot suspects in the head, without warning, to prevent them setting off their bombs.
But as the shouts went up and officers piled onto the train, such surprise was lost. It was obvious to de Menezes that something odd was happening, and he stood up and moved forward.
As Hotel Three later recorded: “He immediately stood up and advanced towards me and the [CO19] officers. I grabbed the male in the denim jacket by wrapping both my arms around his torso pinning his arms to his side.
“I then pushed him back onto the seat where he had previously been sitting with right-hand side of my head pressed against the right-hand side of his torso.” In the melee the police still saw de Menezes as a threat, even though he was now being restrained, perhaps negating the arguments for shooting to kill. Events, however, had taken on a momentum of their own.
“At this stage his body seemed straight and he was not in a natural sitting position,” recorded Hotel Three. “I then heard a gunshot very close to my ear and was dragged away onto the floor of the carriage. I shouted ‘police’ and held up my hands. I was then dragged out of the carriage by an armed officer who appeared to be carrying a long-barrelled weapon. I heard several gunshots as I was being dragged out of the carriage.”
Terrified commuters scrambled out of the train and fled from the platform. One of the last to leave said she saw an empty platform apart from four or five men in plain clothes. They were standing over the body of de Menezes.
Among de Menezes’s possessions were his driving licence and mobile phone. The name on the licence was nothing like that of the man the police were hunting — so almost immediately there were signs of a tragic mistake.
In addition, even as the Met commissioner was declaring that there were “direct links” between the shooting and the investigation into the bombers, de Menezes’s mobile phone began to ring regularly. It was de Avila. “I tried to call many times and sent him text messages,” he said. “In the morning it just rang and rang and in the afternoon it went to the message service.”
De Avila went to bed that night still not knowing what had happened to his friend. Then the police rang. “I was phoned in the early hours,” he said. “They contacted because my number had been on his phone.”
About an hour later a balding detective inspector and a uniformed woman police officer arrived at de Avila’s flat in Dollis Hill, north London. Over the next two hours, they questioned de Avila on everything he knew about de Menezes. “The detective wouldn’t tell me what had happened to him,” said de Avila, “but he said ‘we suspect this person is a terrorist suspect’.
“I told him, ‘It’s not true and I just don’t believe that. I know him. We have a social life together. He doesn’t come from Muslim peoples.’ I told him he was a Catholic.
“At the end, he showed me some pictures of Menezes. He said: ‘Are you sure this is the person we are talking about?’ I told him I was. He then told me: “Well, then, maybe this person is dead.”
De Avila’s testimony was convincing. De Menezes was from the same impoverished region of Brazil and was simply trying to save enough money in Britain to fund a business in his home country.
It meant that less than 24 hours after the shooting the police knew they had killed an innocent man. Yet they did nothing to quash misleading reports that the dead man had been a terrorist.
All police shootings are investigated — but Blair wrote to the Home Office asking for any independent investigation to be delayed. According to Blair this was because he believed his officers should not be distracted from the urgent hunt for the terrorists.
His intentions might have been good, but it looked less than open. A similar impression was given when Scotland Yard issued a statement the day after the shooting admitting de Menezes’s death was a tragic and regrettable error.
In the statement the police seemed to put forward a misleading element of justification. It said that de Menezes was followed by surveillance officers and his “clothing and behaviour added to their suspicions”. Yet he had dressed normally and behaved, apart from getting on and off the bus, like any other commuter.
There is not even a single police version of what happened. According to police sources, memebers of the surveillance team who followed de Menezes into the station believed he was not a threat but the firearms officers who arrived later tooka different view. If true, this could prove significant for any prosecution resulting from the shooting.
The family of de Menezes want to know why the Independent Police Complaints Commission did not take over the investigtion until July 27. Blair attended a high-level meeting at the Home Office two days after the shooting, and the family suspect he was still lobbying for an internal investigation rather than one by the IPCC.
This is denied by Scotland Yard. A spokesman said yesterday: “It had already been agreed by the time of that meeting that the Metropolitan police would hand over the investigation to the IPCC.”
Faced with the reluctance of police to provide a full account of the circumstances, the de Menezes family approached seasoned legal advisers and campaigners for help. Gareth Peirce, who represented the Guildford Four, wrongly convicted of being IRA bombers, was asked to represent them.
One of the family’s key advisers has been Asad Rehman, a founder of the Stop the War campaign who worked as a political assistant to Galloway in the last general election.
The Home Office’s action is one of the family’s sources of anger. Shortly after the shooting, it released a statement that suggested de Menezes had been in the country illegally. It seemed to give a possible reason for why he might have tried to flee from police. Later accounts suggested he had not in fact tried to run away, although it does now appear he was in Britain illegally.
Lawyers acting for the de Menezes family say they do not want his death to be in vain and believe it should be used to highlight the wider issue of the accountability to parliament of police protocol. They say a shoot-to-kill policy was introduced without the sanction of the politicians or the public. One reason Peirce is pressing for a public inquiry is that the IPCC findings are likely to be confidential for many months, possibly years, unless there are more leaks.
The commission says it will take three to six months to complete its inquiry and will then pass the file to the Crown Prosecution Service, which will decide whether charges are warranted against the firearms officers involved.
Meanwhile, although the Kratos guidelines are under review, the threat of suicide bombings remains — and so does the shoot-to-kill policy.
Yard blocked shooting investigation, says inquiry
By Sam Knight, Times Online
Scotland Yard resisted an independent inquiry into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, the innocent Brazilian shot dead by anti-terrorism police, the Independent Police Complaints Commission said this afternoon.
John Wadham, the deputy chairman of the IPCC, confirmed earlier reports that Sir Ian Blair, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, tried to delay the investigation into the shooting of Mr de Menezes to give priority to the force's broader anti-terrorism inquiry.
Mr Wadham's comments will aggravate the growing row between the Metropolitan Police and the IPCC, which was the source of a damaging leak earlier this week in which witness statements and photographs describing the shooting were given to ITV News.
The suspected source of that leak, one of the secretarial staff at the IPCC, has been suspended, Sky News reported tonight.
The documents suggested that a series of errors were committed by the police in the moments leading up to the killing of de Menezes. The leaked evidence also raised doubts about the way police initially characterised the shooting.
Mr Wadham said Sir Ian's failure to delay the IPCC inquiry was an important victory for the commission, which was set up in April 2004 to be more independent than its predecessor, the Police Complaints Commission.
"The Metropolitan Police Service initially resisted us taking on the investigation but we overcame that," said Mr Wadham.
"It was an important victory for our independence. This dispute has caused delay in us taking over the investigation but we have worked hard to recover the lost ground," added Mr Wadham.
Sir Ian responded quickly to the allegation, and to broader questions raised by the lawyers representing the family of Mr de Menezes, who have called the police response to the shooting "a chaotic mess" and a "blanket of secrets".
"These allegations strike to the heart of the integrity of the police and integrity of the Met and I fundamentally reject them. There is no cover-up," Sir Ian told London's Evening Standard.
In a statement released yesterday, Scotland Yard said that any delay to the IPCC inquiry lasted a matter of hours and that the investigation handed over on the afternoon of July 22, the day Mr de Menezes was shot.
Mr Wadham was speaking hours after an IPCC commissioner and John Cummins, the investigator leading the inquiry, met lawyers representing the family of Mr de Menezes to discuss the latest findings about the shooting, which took place on a Tube train at Stockwell Station.
After the meeting, Harriet Wistrich and Gareth Peirce, the lawyers for the de Menezes family, expressed their frustration at the pace and nature of the investigation into the electrician's death. Ms Peirce said that it was unclear how much of the "mess" was due to incompetence.
"This has been a chaotic mess. What we have asked the IPCC to find out is how much is incompetence, negligence or gross negligence and how much of it is something sinister," she said, and added that the de Menezes family will visit London next week to meet the IPCC investigators personally.
The argument over the delay to the de Menezes inquiry has been hardened by a belief within Scotland Yard that Tuesday's leak, which has reignited the controversy over the close-range shooting, came from the IPCC.
The Times has learnt that Sir Ian has written to Nick Hardwick, the head of the IPCC, demanding that a police force from outside London should be called in to investigate how material highly damaging to Scotland Yard reached ITV.
Police sources say they are certain that the material has come from IPCC files. A leaked pathology report was prepared after the IPCC opened its inquiry and police computer experts say that the documents, given to ITV News, were produced on computers that the Yard does not use.
The leaked file, which includes statements and photographs, shows a "series of catastrophic errors".
One of the surveillance team, a seconded soldier, was meant to establish whether the man leaving the block of flats which was being watched was a suspect in the 21/7 London bombings. But he was relieving himself as Mr de Menezes left and could not identify him.
His statement to the inquiry read: "At this time I was not able to transmit my observations and switch on the video camera at the same time. There is therefore no video footage of this male."
Fresh material shown last night also revealed that when the surveillance of Mr de Menezes began, one officer, codenamed Hotel Three, asked for permission to detain him before he reached the station but this was refused.
The papers show there were three surveillance officers in the carriage at Stockwell station where the Brazilian sat down seconds before he was killed. One had to hold the doors open with his foot to let a team of marksmen in and point out Mr de Menezes.
It is unclear whether Mr de Menezes was ever clearly identified as a suspected suicide bomber before the order was given to shoot.
More Lies From The British Police
On The de Menezes Murder
By Chris Talbot
25 August 2005
World Socialist Web
More evidence has emerged relating to the July 22 police killing of the young Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes in London, providing further proof that the police systematically lied about the subway shooting and have been conducting a cover-up, with the aid of the Labour government of Prime Minister Tony Blair and a largely compliant media.
Claims that there were no closed-circuit television tapes of the underground tube station where de Menezes was shot dead by eight bullets fired at close range have been refuted by the staff working at the station. According to Monday’s London Evening Standard, the staff were “amazed and furious” when told by police that tapes from the cameras were blank.
An official with the rail workers’ union said that at least three of the four cameras were working. “It is most unusual to say the least,” he said of the police claims. Normal procedure is that tapes are replaced every 24 hours and kept for 28 days, and it is inconceivable that station staff would not keep to this procedure shortly after the July 7 bombings of the capital’s transport network that killed 56 people and a failed attempt to detonate devices on July 21.
Police have claimed that the stories that were circulated in the aftermath of the event— and used to excuse the killing—did not come from them, although they did nothing to contradict them. Until exposed as lies by ITV News, the public had been told that de Menezes had vaulted the ticket barrier at the station, had run away from the police and was wearing a heavy coat or jacket that could be concealing bombs. Witnesses were widely quoted in the press backing up this story, describing de Menezes as an Asian and even with electric wires poking out of his clothes. In fact, none of this was true. De Menezes wore a light jacket, used his pass for the ticket barrier, and moved leisurely into the station.
But ITV News has now pointed out in a follow-up report that the pathologist’s report on de Menezes’s death, five days after the shooting, referred to him having “vaulted over the ticket barriers” and run down the stairs of the tube station. Harriet Wistrich, the de Menezes family lawyer, has alleged that this false information in an official document could only have come from the police.
After ITV news revealed leaked evidence from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) showing the extent of the lies and cover-up, de Menezes’s family and their lawyers demanded the resignation of Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair. Much of the media speculated that the revelations could lead to his resignation.
Not only had the lies been allowed to circulate in the media, but it also emerged that Commissioner Blair had attempted to delay the IPCC investigation, so that it only began taking evidence several days after the killing. Even more damning was the revelation that the Metropolitan Police, in a visit by Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Yates to Brazil, had offered the de Menezes family a £15,000 “ex gratia” payment.
According to the Mail on Sunday, the family had been pressured into meeting Yates without a lawyer present. De Menezes’s brother, Giovani, said, “They thought we were poor people, stupid people. We may be poor but we are not that stupid. We will not exchange money for my brother’s life—but we will punish them.”
The British government has come to Sir Ian Blair’s aid and insisted that he has its backing. This reinforces the political fact that de Menezes was shot in a cold-blooded manner to instill fear in the population and implement a shoot-to-kill policy that had been secretly decided on by Prime Minister Tony Blair and top officials two years previously. The state execution of de Menezes marks a watershed in the drive of the British ruling elite, under cover of the struggle against terrorism, to destroy the democratic rights of the people and establish the framework for a police state.
Tony Blair is on holiday, but his press secretary issued statements for two successive days declaring his complete confidence in Sir Ian. Home Secretary Charles Clarke and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott have both made statements giving full support to the commissioner.
The entire spectrum of official politics in Britain has lined up behind Commissioner Blair and the government. The Tory opposition spokesperson on homeland security, Patrick Mercer, gave full support to the police, and no criticism of the police has emerged from officials in the Labour Party or the Liberal Democrats.
London’s Labour Party mayor, Ken Livingstone, could hardly have showered more praise on Ian Blair, suggesting that the demand for his resignation came from disgruntled police officers. “Here is a radical and reforming commissioner who is making major changes in the police. He has many enemies in there who really don’t want to see these changes, who want to hold on to the old ways...and I am sure many of them are taking every chance here to undermine him,” Livingstone told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme.
The British establishment is also closing ranks to make sure that no further exposures relating to the de Menezes murder get into the public domain. Following the pattern of recent government inquiries, the IPCC investigation will be dragged for months and will attempt to bury the issue. Richard Latham QC, on behalf of the IPCC, said that there was only “an intention” to report by Christmas. He added, “There is no intention on the part of the IPCC of providing what might be described as a running commentary on the progress of the investigation.”
Using the justification that there may be criminal proceedings or internal Metropolitan Police disciplinary proceedings arising out of the IPCC’s investigation, and that the inquest will not be held for another six months, Latham said that “nothing should be disclosed or published which could prejudice this inquest or any potential criminal or disciplinary proceedings.”
Similar tactics were used in the Hutton inquiry—the investigation into the death of weapons inspector and whistleblower Dr. David Kelly, who exposed lies used by Prime Minister Tony Blair to drag the country into the war against Iraq. (See: “Britain: Lessons of the Hutton Inquiry”.)
Nor has the delegation from the Brazilian government that has travelled to Britain to investigate the circumstances of de Menezes’s killing done anything to challenge the British police’s or the Blair government’s role. According to BBC reports, Brazilian Ambassador Manoel Gomes Pereira said he did not believe there was a Scotland Yard cover-up and that he “completely” trusted the IPCC.
Based on Hiibel v Nevada the 5th Amendment is now null and void in Arizona. In this case the ASU police arrested this woman for refusing to provide an ID. Note the Arizona law does not require you to give an ID as the cops demanded. The Arizona law requires you to state your name to the police. ARS 13-2412 It is unlawful for a person ... to state the person's true full name
Police Beat: 21-year-old man tries to use fake ID
by Brian Indrelunas published on Friday, August 26, 2005
Tempe police reported the following incidents Thursday:
A 21-year-old Lake Havasu City, Ariz., man was arrested near The Library Bar and Grill, 501 S. Mill Ave., early Thursday morning and charged with using a fake ID to enter the bar. Police reported that the suspect "is 21 ... but presented an ID that was altered. The ID was visibly altered by [scratching] the 84 into 81."
A 29-year-old Las Vegas man was arrested early Thursday morning at the Tempe Police Department on charges of DUI, trespassing, and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. An officer reportedly "saw [the man] drive his vehicle into the secured Tempe PD parking lot ... by following a marked [police] vehicle through a security gate and a 'no trespassing' sign." The officer reportedly noted that the man "displayed signs of alcohol consumption and impairment" and "showed additional signs of impairment" in field sobriety tests. Police also allegedly found a lighter, rolling papers and marijuana in the man's vehicle.
A 22-year-old female ASU student was arrested in the 100 block of East Sixth Street late Wednesday night on charges of public consumption of alcohol and failure to identify herself to police. The woman was reportedly observed drinking from a can of Sparks, an alcoholic energy drink. When police twice asked the woman for an ID, she reportedly "questioned [the] reason to provide ID and crossed [her] hands across [her] chest." Police said the suspect allegedly maintained the hands-crossed pose without answering for 30-60 seconds when asked for ID a third time and was reportedly "placed in handcuffs after a short struggle."
Reports compiled by Brian Indrelunas. Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
it is possible to fight the high tech american police state!!!
Border Patrol Chopper Downed By Rock-Throwing Immigrants
POSTED: 7:40 am EDT August 26, 2005
YUMA, Ariz. -- It could make aviation history: a helicopter downed by rock-throwing illegal immigrants just north of the U.S.-Mexico border.
It was a close call for the Border Patrol pilot and an observer.
The A-Star helicopter was in California, several miles west of Yuma, Ariz., when a group of immigrants began throwing rocks at the aircraft. A Border Patrol spokesman said one baseball-sized rock gashed the rotor, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing. No one was injured.
After the incident on Tuesday, 17 people were arrested for illegally crossing the border, and two of them were being investigated for smuggling. Ten others escaped.
Chandler pursues the worst criminals: Teen moviegoers
Aug. 27, 2005 12:00 AM
I was on vacation earlier this month when the Great Breast-Feeding Scandal broke loose in Chandler.
I never got the chance to compliment the ever-vigilant city fathers (clearly not mothers) for their aggressiveness in stamping out that most perilous threat to the public's health and welfare: the notorious nursing mommy.
It all started in June when a lifeguard told 29-year-old Amy Milliron not to breast-feed her 2-month-old beside the pool at the West Chandler Aquatics Center. When Milliron objected, the brain trust that runs Chandler decided that the city needed a breast-feeding policy.
To wit: Any nursing mother who refuses to cover up or leave a public area when asked will face criminal trespassing charges.
Faced with an onslaught of complaints - and, I suspect, a few observers who were laughing their heads off - the City Council two weeks ago scrapped the city's directive to throw new mommies in jail. Instead, Chandler's leaders resorted to every politico's favorite fallback: the study committee.
One can only hope they study quickly so they can get on with eliminating this scourge from city swimming pools.
Meanwhile, who would have thought that Chandler could so quickly outdo itself?
Having dealt with new mommies and their hungry infants, the city is now taking aim at the criminals who no longer wear diapers, that most dreaded of species known as the teenager. Every Friday, this dangerous breed emerges from their schoolbooks and their computer screens to assemble in groups of twos and threes and fours.
I believe they call it movie night, an activity, apparently, fraught with all manner of lawlessness, at least at Chandler Fashion Center.
It seems the mall, which is only too happy to sell these kids $85 jeans during the day and $8 movie tickets in the evening, is not so happy to have them there once there is no more money to be made.
Which is how 15-year-old Jenna Prescott came to be an outlaw. Jenna, a sophomore at Marcos de Niza High School, went with friends to see the Dukes of Hazzard last weekend at the Harkins Theatre at the mall. They were able to buy tickets to the 9:30 p.m. showing, making Dan Harkins an accessory to her crime. But I digress.
Jenna's dad, John, told me he was waiting in the parking lot to pick up the girls when the movie let out at 11:15 p.m. He was circling the lot when he got a tearful call from his daughter. She'd been arrested. Chandler police were holding her in a vacant restaurant inside the mall.
Jenna's crime: curfew violation.
Police began their sting three weeks ago after the mall reported trouble with loitering teens. Specifically, vandalism, fights and suspected gang activity.
Instead of arresting the troublemakers, however, police decided to round up, well, everybody. Not counting last night, police have corralled 130 movie-going teenagers for violating the city's curfew, which is 10 p.m. for 15 year olds.
Prescott said his daughter was nabbed as she exited the theater. It didn't matter that she wasn't causing trouble. It didn't matter that the only gangs she belongs to are the junior varsity volleyball and softball teams. It didn't matter that she was on her way to her waiting father's car.
Now she's got a criminal citation and a Sept. 20 date with a judge. Meanwhile, with yet another crime wave nipped in the bud, we can all breathe a sigh of relief as we wait for the city to crack down on the next public menace.
But do you think the cops will be able to outrun those grannies on their scooters?
Reach Roberts at email@example.com or (602) 444-8635.
Scottsdale cops lie about murder to a grand jury?
Wade attorney pushes for dismissal of charge
By Gary Grado, Tribune
August 27, 2005
A judge is considering whether to dismiss an indictment of first-degree murder against ex-Arizona State University tailback Loren Wade.
Wade’s attorney, Ulises Ferragut, argued in Maricopa County Superior Court on Friday that the indictment should be tossed because the state gave an unfair presentation of the case to the grand jury April 5.
Ferragut said the state mischaracterized witness statements and failed to disclose evidence that was "clearly" favorable to Wade, who claimed he accidentally shot former ASU defensive back Brandon Falkner. In addition, Ferragut said, the grand jury should have had the option of returning the less severe charges of manslaughter or negligent homicide because evidence shows the shooting was an accident.
Wade shot and killed Falkner outside Coyote Bay Night Club in Scottsdale March 26 when Wade got angry about Falkner speaking with his girlfriend, police said.
Ferragut said Scottsdale detective Todd Larson testified that witnesses saw Wade walk up and shoot Falkner as he sat in his car, when they actually said he took a swing or hit him in the head before the gun went off, which would be consistent with Wade’s story.
Prosecutor Catherine Hughes said the grand jury based its decision on the statements of the three witnesses who had the best view of what happened — the three men in the car with Falkner when he was shot.
She said each witness reported either hearing or seeing Wade put a bullet into the chamber of his semiautomatic .38-caliber handgun as he approached Falkner in the parking lot of the nightclub.
"That’s the crux of the intentional and premeditated conduct," Hughes said. Firstdegree murder requires premeditation.
She said the panel had the option of returning a charge of second-degree murder, but still voted 13-0 to bring the most serious charge.
But Ferragut said that even though it was not known at the time of the grand jury proceeding, investigators have since found out the gun had a history of malfunctioning and could be fired with the safety on.
And that, he said, supports Wade’s claim that the gun went off when he tried to punch Falkner with it in his hand.
Judge Douglas Rayes did not indicate when he would rule.
Contact Gary Grado by email, or phone (602) 258-1746
OH NO!!!! Exporting Arizona's police state to England!!!!
Arpaio to talk shop with British officials
By Mike Branom, Tribune
August 27, 2005
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio leaves today for England, where he’ll spend five days discussing law enforcement policies with British officials and media.
"They want to know how I operate," Arpaio said.
Arpaio will meet with Baroness Vivien Stern, the secretary-general for Prison Reform International, and may also visit with Prime Minister Tony Blair. The trip is sponsored by the British Broadcasting Corporation.
The BBC’s interest was sparked by a lawmaker’s suggestion that young criminals be dressed in uniforms and forced to work on public streets as part of their community service sentences. Arpaio has established chain gangs in Maricopa County’s corrections system.
One of the visit’s highlights will be a tour of London’s Wormwood Scrubs prison.
In 2001, six guards were convicted for mistreating prisoners — the latest in a long line of scandals at the prison. But last year, the British Home Office declared conditions were greatly improved.
Contact Mike Branom by email, or phone (480) 898-6536
Jean Charles de Menezes
No more police cover-ups
THE RECENT leaked report on the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes clearly shows what many local activists already suspected, that this was the murder of an innocent Brazilian man. The campaign for justice has called for Metropolitan Police chief Ian Blair to resign, no more cover-ups and a public inquiry now.
Rob MacDonald, Lambeth Socialist Party
It was clear from the outset that the police intended to muddy the water to cover their blunder. They have been helped by the jingoism of the tabloid press, with one paper using the headline "got one," after the shooting.
Stop the War Coalition Demonstration
24 September 2005
Assemble 1pm Central London
But of course Jean Charles wasn't "one" and did nothing suspicious to be seen as "one". Contrary to earlier reports, he wasn't wearing a heavy jacket which may have hidden a bomb. He travelled on two buses, was being tracked all this time and could have been stopped if surveillance police thought he was dangerous.
The story that he jumped a barrier is untrue. He picked up a newspaper and calmly walked to his train, only running when rushing to catch his train, something all Londoners do. It then seems he sat down.
All he did to arouse suspicion was to leave a block of flats that police suspected a bomber might be in and to have similar eyes to a bomb suspect! This shows the reality of the repressive anti-terror laws that Charles Clarke was so pleased to defend just hours before the latest leak.
Lambeth Socialist Party has produced thousands of local bulletins in English and Portuguese and campaigned on the issues amongst Portuguese, South American and other local working-class communities. This led to a high turnout at our public meeting on the shooting and the political situation in Latin America.
Tony Saunois from the Committee for a Workers' International reported on the protest in Brazil against the shooting and explained that Jean Charles was one of many who left his homeland in search of a better living due to the neo-liberal attacks taking place in South America.
The meeting reaffirmed our branch's commitment to justice for Jean Charles de Menezes and for fighting for working-class unity across south London's many communities. As there is a clear link between the killing of Jean Charles and the war in Iraq, we are pushing for a strong feeder march to pass Stockwell station, go through Lambeth estates and then join the national Stop the War Coalition demonstration on 24 September.
For more information on the family campaign go to www.Lambethsocialistparty.org.uk or contact the campaign direct at firstname.lastname@example.org
A 600-strong protest was held on 22 August near 10 Downing Street demanding justice for the family of Brazilian worker Jean Charles de Menezes who was mercilessly gunned down by police in Stockwell tube station.
Natasha Burke, Lambeth Socialist Party
The cousin of Jean Charles, handed in a letter to the Prime Minister calling for a public enquiry into the shooting.
The protest was attended by other families of victims who were killed in police custody, such as the family of Paul Coker who dies in Plumstead police station only hours after being arrested on 6 August.
The protestv turned into a lively impromptu demo from Downing Street to Scotland Yard, despite police attempts to stop it. (The police said that to march without their prior permission was illegal.)
The marchers passed through the Westminister zone where a law passed on 1 August made spontaneous protests in the Westminster zone illegal.
The demonstration finished 50 metres short of Scotland Yard where further passionate speeches were made, calling for Ian Blair to resign and that there would not be peace without justice.
De Menezes shooting
Working-class victims of repressive powers
THE POLICE shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes in Stockwell tube station tragically showed why the 'shoot-to-kill' policy must go.
Rob MacDonald, Lambeth
Many Brazilians in Britain have been shocked that the killing of Jean Charles could be committed by the British police who they had seen in a good light compared to the Brazilian state forces.
And this is not the first suspicious death at the hands of the police in Lambeth; there have been at least 16 in recent years. The cases of Derek Bennett, Wayne Douglas, Ricky Bishop and Brain Douglas are still remembered.
Hours after Jean Charles was shot, police raided the flat of Girma Belay, an Ethiopian refugee, who was then beaten, stripped naked and held under arrest for six days. He may have been targeted for being a protester against Tony Blair's relationship with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Actions like these have increased the tense atmosphere on some estates in Lambeth, which endure police shootings, raids, harassment and regular bomb alerts.
It is almost 20 years to the day that rioting erupted on the streets of Brixton following the police shooting of Cherry Groce and killing of Cynthia Jarrett. These cases and that of Jean Charles raise questions not only about the role of the police but also on who controls them.
The IPCC, set up after worries about the police investigating themselves, should have started their investigation into the Stockwell tube shooting immediately, but were prevented from doing so by police chief Ian Blair's delaying tactics. Many important days were lost, leading to further speculation of a cover-up.
The police have clearly lied from the start and continue to hamper the investigation. Lambeth Socialist Party has been calling for a genuine public inquiry so all information can be scrutinised. We believe this should be led and controlled by the local community, involving trade unions and community groups.
There should be democratic accountability of the police. Leading police should be elected by the public and decisions such as 'shoot-to-kill' should not be a secret.
There is fear amongst Londoners following the bomb attacks but increased repressive powers will not prevent further terrorist attacks and can eventually be targeted at anyone opposing the British state.
It is essential that an alternative is posed to both the British state's increasingly repressive powers and to terrorism.
The mess that US imperialism has created in Iraq, the fear and anger Londoners have after the bombs and the social conditions of low pay and cuts, including attacks on emergency services, need to be linked up.
Lambeth Socialist party has vigorously campaigned for a local demonstration to unite the working class in our area on this basis, to build the pressure for justice for Jean Charles, but also to fight for social rights and a genuine future for all on the basis of socialism. The local and national trade union movement needs to act to build unity and a vigorous fight-back for the whole working class.
The Police State comes to Scottsdale. The 4th Amendment is now null and void at Scottsdale City Hall
Scottsdale City Hall security upgraded
By Ryan Gabrielson, Tribune
August 27, 2005
Metal detectors and X-ray machines will greet visitors to Scottsdale City Hall on Monday as security upgrades planned for more than a year take effect.
The city has spent $1 million to install protective measures at its government buildings. Private security personnel will patrol City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd., and record who goes where.
The City Council funded the upgrades in April 2004, two months after a mail bomb injured three Scottsdale employees.
"All visitors to City Hall are going to have to go through the front entrance and they’ll be subjected to the same type of screening that you have at an (airport) or courts or other cities," said Marc Eisen, Scottsdale homeland security director. "Nothing onerous."
Visitors who bring bags or purses will be required to have them scanned by the X-ray machine as the metal detector checks them for weapons, Eisen said. Once inside the building, visitors will be directed to either the city clerk’s window to get passports and city records, or to the front desk to check in.
To go farther, visitors will have to have an appointment with a city employee or a City Council member, he said.
Visitors without appointments will be guided by security personnel and front-desk clerks to appropriate staff members to assist them.
Turnstiles have been installed in the passageways leading to city offices and the council’s meeting space, restricting access, Eisen said. Most people moving beyond the front desk will need to be escorted.
The heightened security is not expected to disrupt operations, City Clerk Carolyn Jagger said. "We’re ready and, as a matter of fact, we’re bending over backwards to make sure this goes as smooth as we possibly can."
Contact Ryan Gabrielson by email, or phone (480)-898-2341
Kevins Physical Address is
ASPC - Tucson
10000 South Wilmot
Tucson, AZ 85734
Main Fax # (520) 574-7300
Kevins Physical Address is
ASPC - Tucson
10000 South Wilmot
Tucson, AZ 85734
Proceed east on I-10 to Exit 269 (Wilmot Road). Turn south on Wilmot Road and travel 2.3 miles. You will pass the Federal Correctional Institution on your left approximately one mile before you reach ASPC-Tucson which is located on the west (right) side of Wilmot Road. The first entrance will access either Manzanita or Echo Unit. The second entrance accesses the remainder of the Complex. Visitor parking is available on the north (right) side of this access road. Staff parking is available on the south (left) side of this access road.
On visitation days, a tram is available to transport visitors from the parking lot to the Complex registration area.
Sounds like a slave labor site to me!!!!
Work, Education, and Treatment Programs
As part of an Intergovernmental Agreement ASPC-Tucson currently has a total of 27 inmate work crews; nine work crews are on contract with the Arizona Department of Transportation and work off-site trimming and cleaning debris from the median and sides of roads. The work sites cover an area between Tucson, Nogales, Marana and Sells. Other crews work for the Arizona State Parks Department at the Karchner Caverns located in Benson, Arizona. There are seventeen crews that work on site, either inside or outside of the secure perimeter, at the Santa Rita garden, Solar Industries and the fence project.
In addition to these inmate crews, each unit is allocated a WIPP (Work Incentive Pay Plan) budget based on the number of inmates assigned to the unit. With these funds, inmates are paid to work at jobs ranging from labor crews which clean the yard, rake rocks and mow lawns, to semi-skilled and skilled jobs such as clerical, barber and maintenance jobs. Inmates may also work half a day and attend vocational education classes half a day for which they also receive WIPP wages. The Arizona Correctional Industries Sign Shop at ASPC-Tucson employs up to 26 inmates at an average wage of $.65/hour. These inmates are classified as skilled to highly technical, depending on the job involved. Most positions require a background in computer, silk screen, painting or metal fabrication.
Approximately 30% of ASPC-Tucson inmates are involved in some form of education. 40% of arriving inmates have not yet achieved a 8th-grade level of education and are automatically enrolled in the compulsory literacy program. Programs available to the inmates are: English as a Second Language; Adult Basic Education; GED preparation; Pima Community College Vocational Courses. There are also classes offered to the inmate population via the cable television system which are now being formalized.
These are some of the Arizona laws that cover slave labor as used in Arizona:
(using slaves to raise county revenue)
Any monies received in the operation of an inmate industry program shall be transmitted to the county treasurer for deposit in the special services fund.
the sheriff shall cause the prisoner to be kept constantly engaged in labor during every day, Sunday excepted.
The sheriff may require prisoners ... to perform such labor as he deems necessary, even if the prisoner was not sentenced to hard labor.
no prisoner given a work assignment ... shall be considered an employee or to be employed by the county or the sheriff, regardless of whether the prisoner is compensated or not,
The sheriff may ... require prisoners ... to be employed on the public streets
(A maximun wage for government slaves is set at $10 a day)
A prisoner sentenced to pay a fine shall be allowed not to exceed ten dollars per day credited to the fine for each day he is employed at hard labor.
A person committed for nonpayment of a fine shall be given credit toward payment for each day of imprisonment at the rate specified in the commitment not to exceed ten dollars per day.
(a work week of OVER 40 hours is required)
The director has the authority to require that each able-bodied prisoner ... engage in hard labor for not less than forty hours per week
"hard labor" means compulsory physical activity
no prisoner given a work assignment ... shall be considered an employee or to be employed by the state or the state ... whether the prisoner is compensated or not
A. The director may enter into a cooperative agreement with any ... department or agency ... to provide hard labor by prisoners on public works.
The director ... shall use prisoner labor to the maximum extent feasible in the construction of all prison facilities.
(a maximun wage for prison slaves)
Each prisoner who is engaged in productive work in any state prison or institution ... shall not exceed fifty cents per hour
(slaves get punished for filing lawsuits)
If the prisoner initiates a lawsuit, twenty per cent from all deposits to the prisoner's spendable account until the court fees are collected in full.
(slaves have to pay for their room and board)
Thirty per cent of the prisoner's wages for the room and board costs of maintaining the prisoner at the facility.
the arizona republic inserted a several page pamphlet in the sunday republic which was paid for the state of arizona and was against drunk driving.
one thing i found on the 2nd page that was interesting said:
"You can refuse a breathalyzer test or blood draw. However .... a search warrent will be issued on the spot to draw your blood"
hmmm... it looks like the fourth amendment has been flushed down the toiled in the for the sake of the DUI laws. just how is this justified???
also it appears when we talk about DUI were talking about $revenue$. new the end of the booklet it said that the DUI taskforce busted over 5,500 people this year. it also said the fine for first time DUI was $250 but they also hit you up for a $1,000 assement that the state uses to fund programs. hmmm thats over $5 million in revenue the DUI task force generates.
your share of the government debt is $145,000. And the bill is rising every day.
Heavy debt threatens the American economy
By Robert Tanner
Editor’s note: - Growing debt has long been a concern in the United States. But many economists now warn runaway spending and borrowing have the nation on track toward a major economic crash. The first in a three-part series, "Drowning in Debt," this story offers an overview of what many financial experts see as the gathering storm.
You owe $145,000. And the bill is rising every day.
That’s how much it would cost every American man, woman and child to pay the tab for the long-term promises the U.S. government has made to creditors, retirees, veterans and the poor.
And it’s not even taking into account credit card bills, mortgages - all the debt we’ve racked up personally. Savings? The average American puts away barely $1 of every $100 earned.
Our profligate ways at home are mirrored in Washington and in the global marketplace, where as a society we spend $1.9 billion more a day on imported clothes and cars and gadgets than the entire rest of the world spends on its goods and services.
A new Associated Press/Ipsos poll finds barely a third of Americans would cut spending to reduce the federal deficit and even fewer would raise taxes.
A chorus of economists, government officials and elected leaders both conservative and liberal are warning nonstop borrowing could bring fiscal disaster - one that could unleash plummeting home values, rocketing interest rates, lost jobs and threats to government services ranging from health care to law enforcement.
Country at a crossroads
David Walker, who audits the federal government’s books as the U.S. comptroller general, put it starkly in an AP interview:
"I believe the country faces a critical crossroads and that the decisions that are made - or not made - within the next 10 years or so will have a profound effect on the future of our country, our children and our grandchildren. The problem gets bigger every day, and the tidal wave gets closer every day."
Undeniably, borrowing isn’t all bad - easy access to money has been a critical tool in building America’s businesses, from mom-and-pops to multinationals. Areas like Las Vegas are sprawling with new homes that will be purchased with borrowed money. But something has changed.
An epidemic of American indebtedness runs from home to government to global marketplace.
To examine it, let’s start at home.
Americans used to save, but no longer. The savings rate rose and fell in the post-World War II era, up to 11 percent, down to 7 percent. But in the last few years, savings have plummeted: to just 1.8 percent last year, nearly to zero in the last few months.
The lack of savings is mirrored by a rise in debt. In 2000, household debt broke 18 percent of disposable income for the first time in 20 years, meaning debt eats almost $1 in every $5 American families have to spend after they get past the bills that keep them fed and housed.
In lieu of savings, Americans have been taking comfort in the soaring value of their homes. But there’s a vigorous debate over whether the housing boom is becoming a bubble that will burst.
"I see people younger than me with comparable jobs that drive new vehicles and have a boat and mortgage and things," says Jo Canelon, a 46-year-old social worker in Statenville, Ga. "And I just wonder about their debt."
Canelon sees echoes in the rise of obesity: a pervasive I-want-it-now attitude no matter what the consequences. The American people seem to want the best of both worlds - tax cuts and government services - while they hope the dollars sort themselves out.
An Associated Press/Ipsos poll of 1,000 adults taken July 5-7 found that a sweeping majority - 70 percent - worried about the size of the federal deficit either "some" or "a lot."
But only about a third, 35 percent, were willing to cut government spending and deal with a drop in services to balance the budget. Even fewer - 18 percent - were willing to raise taxes to keep current services. Just 1 percent wanted to both raise taxes and cut spending. The poll has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
Boom, bust, Bush and the federal deficit
A few years ago, government finances were the strongest they had been in a generation. But it didn’t last. The budget surplus of $236 billion in 2000 turned into a deficit of $412 billion last year. The government had to borrow that much to cover the hole between what it took in and what it had to spend; a difference that’s called the federal deficit.
Blame the bust of the dot-com boom, the ensuing recession, President Bush’s federal tax cuts, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Still, the federal deficit isn’t as big, in proportion to the size of the economy, as it was at times under President Reagan. Some note things are getting better: The latest reports project a deficit of $331 billion for 2005, nearly $100 billion less than expected. Outstanding debt - the amount of securities and bonds that must be repaid - is far below what it was in the early 1990s.
But bigger worries lie ahead.
The nation’s three biggest entitlement programs - Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - make promises for retirement and health care that carry a huge price tag that balloons as the population grows and ages.
Add it up: current debt and deficit, promises for those big programs, pensions, veterans health care. The total comes to $43 trillion, says Walker, the nation’s comptroller general, who runs the Government Accountability Office. That’s where the $145,000 bill for every American comes from.
The dangers are clear to Felicia Brown in Saginaw, Mich. It’s the leaders who ignore them, says the cashier and mother of three: "We’re led off on this belief that we should buy, buy, buy. ... We’re not saving anything."
Some people, however - including economists - think the picture isn’t so gloomy.
Ben Bernanke, who recently left the Federal Reserve Board to serve as Bush’s top economic adviser, has argued the problem is not with the United States. The trouble lies overseas, where people want to save rather than invest or spend their money. While the federal budget needs to be balanced, the key is to encourage other countries to create more economic activity, he says.
The overseas equation gives many other economists the biggest scare.
Growing trade deficit
The trade deficit - the difference between what America imports and what it exports - is the highest it’s ever been, both in absolute numbers and in comparison to the size the economy.
As a society, Americans are on track this year to spend $680 billion more on foreign goods like Chinese-made clothes and Scandinavian cell phones than overseas buyers do on American products. The crush of arriving, Asian-made goods recently spurred the Port of Los Angeles to switch to 24-hour operations.
Nearly two decades ago, the country fretted over a trade imbalance equal to 3.1 percent of the overall economy, or the gross domestic product. It’s more than twice as big now, roughly 6.5 percent.
Here’s how economists, from former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker to analysts at the International Monetary Fund, explain the danger that creates:
l Americans go into debt to live a life beyond their means, spending borrowed money to buy goods, many from overseas.
l Government provides more services than it can afford to, and goes into debt to cover the gap.
l Foreign banks increasingly cover that debt by buying it, in the form of U.S. Treasuries, which helps keep interest rates low and keeps American consumers buying.
Experts say the relationship is unsustainable. It could all come crashing down if foreign banks reduced their investment in the dollar, says Nouriel Roubini, an economics professor at New York University.
Economists and business leaders are closely watching China’s decision last month to uncouple the value of its currency, the yuan, from the dollar and tie it instead to a basket of different currencies. The move could make the dollar’s position less exposed to a quick shift by international investors - or it could spur those investors to look elsewhere and leave the United States’ position more precarious.
So could any of a number of possible economic shocks - even greater hikes in oil prices, a major terrorist attack, another war.
In the end, Roubini, Walker and others say, disaster is still avoidable, but it’s going to require the American people and its leaders to clean financial house - to reduce the federal deficit and the trade deficit.
If not, the future poses some frightening what-ifs:
What if the dollar plummets, do stocks follow? What if interest rates soar, what happens to homeowners and home values? How would government keep all its promises?
OK, now back to you. No one’s asking you to write a check to cover that $145,000, not yet. But the pressures are building around the world, in Washington, and in America’s homes to straighten out our finances.
"We’re living beyond our means," Roubini says, "and we have to get our act together."
Next: Doomsday scenarios in which debt could derail the economy.
dont these pigs have any real criminals to chase down?????
Newborn is evidence in statutory-rape case of mom, 14
New York Times
Aug. 30, 2005 12:00 AM
FALLS CITY, Neb. - On Sunday evening, Matthew Koso tipped 3 ounces of formula into his 4-day-old daughter's mouth, then hoisted her atop his shoulder in hope of a burp. This morning, he is to be arraigned on charges for which the newborn is the state's prime piece of evidence.
Matthew Koso is 22. The baby's mother, Crystal, is 14. He is charged with statutory rape, even though they were wed with their parents' blessing in May, crossing into Kansas because their own state prohibits unions of people younger than 17.
The attorney general accuses Matthew Koso of being a pedophile; the couple says it is true love.
"We don't want grown men having sex with young girls," said Jon Bruning, Nebraska's attorney general. "We make a lot of choices for our children: We don't allow them to vote, we don't allow them to drink, we don't allow them to drive cars, we don't allow them to serve in wars at age 13, whether they want to or not, and we don't allow them to have sex with grown men."
But Koso's mother, Peggy, said she and her husband of 25 years are proud that her son did not disappear like so many deadbeat dads.
"He's not always lived up to his responsibilities, but this time he will," she said. "He could have left, but he didn't. He said, 'Mom, I love Crystal, I love this child.' "
Outrage over the case has rippled through this town of 4,800 and to two state capitals. The governor of Kansas, embarrassed by her state's status as one of the few allowing children as young as 12 to marry, has promised to propose a raise in the minimum age when the Legislature reconvenes in January.
Meanwhile, Bruning's office has been deluged with letters, a vast majority angrily urging he leave the couple alone. One woman identified only as Patricia, wrote, "I'm sure your time can be better spent putting away real criminals."
Studies show that one teenager in five has sex before turning 15 and that about 150,000 babies are born each year to a minor parent. In Nebraska, there were 25 births to mothers younger than 15 in 2002, the latest year for which statistics are available; in Kansas, five girls younger than 15 were married in 2003, three in 2002 and six in 2001.
In Nebraska, as in many states, intercourse between someone 19 and someone younger than 16 is classified as statutory rape. It is illegal here even if the couple is married.
But experts said it is extremely rare for a man to be prosecuted for statutory rape when he has married his minor partner.
A Syracuse, N.Y., judge in September delayed a 1 1/2- to three-year prison sentence until this summer so a 38-year-old defendant could marry a pregnant 16-year-old; in Florida in 2001, charges were reduced to a misdemeanor when a 17-year-old married the 13-year-old girl expecting their second child, and he received six months' probation.
"It's odd that the state would be prosecuting someone who did not leave the girl pregnant and unwed," said Rigel C. Oliveri, a law professor at the University of Missouri who has studied statutory-rape laws since 1998. "I guess they're just trying to send a message to other men who are contemplating doing this type of thing."
Koso faces one to 50 years in prison, and Bruning said he was considering additional charges based on complaints that he had sex with other young girls in the past. Koso's lawyer would not allow him to discuss that, but his mother said he told her that he had dated only one other girl younger than 16 and that they did not have sex.
For now, Koso, out on $5,000 bail, sits in the basement of his parents' home, where the walls are papered with the pink and purple, heart-filled love notes his wife scribbled on notebook paper in class, and a crib crammed next to the bed has Winnie-the-Pooh sheets to match the keychain dangling from her schoolgirl purse.
The couple named the 7-pound, 1-ounce baby girl, born Thursday morning, Samara Ann Koso, after a character in the horror movie The Ring.
As Koso changed Samara's diaper three times in 30 minutes Sunday, Crystal worked on a homework assignment for her ninth-grade world history class.
"I love her to death; I couldn't be any happier than I am right now," Koso said, adding of Bruning, "He's a home-wrecker. He's trying to rip a father away from a child, and rip a husband away from a wife."
say heil hitler to janet napolitano
Napolitano: Let DPS stop vehicles bound for Mexico
By Howard Fischer
CAPITOL MEDIA SERVICES
PHOENIX - Gov. Janet Napolitano wants up to 60 DPS officers certified by the federal government to enforce customs laws - a move that would give the officers authority to stop vehicles headed into Mexico and question the occupants.
The proposal, unveiled Monday, would put Department of Public Safety officers at ports of entry along the state's southern border. There, the officers would have the power to demand identification from motorists for no reason except that the vehicles were leaving the country.
DPS spokesman Rick Knight said the proposal is far broader than state law, which requires officers to have a specific reason or probable cause to stop a vehicle.
Knight said a key goal would be to seize stolen vehicles before they could cross the border. But he said the proposal also would give DPS officers a chance to check out everyone in the vehicle, helping them identify and arrest those who are wanted in this country.
The certification would have to be approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Russ Knocke, spokesman for the agency, said the proposal, made in a letter from Napolitano to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, is being reviewed.
Knight said it's "amazing" what people try to take into Mexico.
"They show up with guns," he said, even though Mexican law prohibits individuals from bringing those into the country. "They show up with dope; they show up with all kinds of different things."
Napolitano said the state had a similar pact a decade ago with the U.S. Department of Justice. That program, said Knight, proved very successful.
"We've come across stolen vehicles, wanted people, recovered Jet Skis, ATVs," he said.
Knight, who was one of the officers cross-certified at the time, said federal law allows vehicles leaving the country to be stopped. But that isn't always done, he said, because federal officers are overworked.
"They barely have the resources to keep track of people coming into the country," he said.
This plan, said Knight, would let DPS put its own officers at the border to check people leaving the United States.
Napolitano's proposal was made in the latest in a series of letters between her and Chertoff on finding new ways for state and federal authorities to work together on border-related problems. That sort of cooperation got an endorsement Monday from President Bush.
"That's the most effective way to do things, to work with state and local authorities," the president said Monday during a speech in El Mirage, where he was promoting new Medicare prescription drug coverage.
"There are more resources that will be available," Bush said. "We'll have more folks on the border."
The president assured his audience that as a former governor of Texas, a border state, he understands the problems caused by illegal entrants.
"It's important for the people of this state to understand your voices are being heard in Washington, D.C.," Bush told a crowd of about 400.
"We have an obligation to enforce the borders," he continued, saying a lot of people are working hard to do that. "But there is more we can do."
50,000 Swazi virgins vie to catch king's eye
By David Blair
Ludzidzini Royal Kraal
August 31, 2005
Portly and beaming in a leopardskin loincloth, King Mswati III of Swaziland studied 50,000 topless virgins when the flower of his country's girlhood paraded before him, vying to become his new queen.
Legions of half-naked teenage girls danced, twirled and pounded the earth outside the royal kraal on Monday, proclaiming their willingness to become the 13th wife of the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa.
King Mswati, reclining on a throne under a golden awning, smiled broadly at the display. The former pupil of Sherborne school in Dorset, England, has already amassed 12 wives, a fiancee and 27 children.
This annual ceremony, known as Umhlanga, or the Reed Dance, is the highlight of Swaziland's traditional calendar. Every chief in the country of 1 million people sends a group of teenage virgins to the royal kraal in Ludzidzini.
Some travel from neighbouring South Africa, home to many Swazis, and every year the ceremony expands. Monday's occasion attracted more girls than ever before, more than twice as many as last year.
Yet in a country where 42.6 per cent of the adult population are infected with HIV/ AIDS - the highest rate in the world - the Reed Dance is increasingly controversial. Critics accuse King Mswati of setting a bad example. "It's as if the girls are going on an auction sale with the king picking," said Mario Masuku, leader of the People's United Democratic Movement, a banned opposition party.
Last year, the 37-year-old monarch cast his eye over the girls and chose Miss Teen Swaziland, Nothando Dube, 16. Critics point out that his eldest daughter, Princess Sikhanyiso, is 17. Participants in Monday's parade included the reigning Miss Swaziland and a glamorous state TV presenter.
The king will take his time over Monday's offering, studying a video that is made of the festivities, before his bodyguards descend on the chosen girl and whisk her away for a lifetime in royal service.
There will be significant compensations. The king will build her a palace and give her an expensive car. She will become a fully fledged queen when she becomes pregnant.
Last year, he spent ££8.5 million ($A20 million) on building eight new palaces for his wives and refurbishing three existing ones. He also blew ££450,000 on new BMWs for his queens.
These facts are not lost on the Reed Dance's participants. "I want to be a queen because I want to be famous and I want people to look at me," said Gindza Mondlanha, 22, a trainee policewoman. "I also want a BMW, not a Mercedes, a BMW series X-5, that's what you have if you become a queen."
Miss Mondlanha then joined an endless column of girls dancing before their monarch.
Yet some of the girls were hoping not to catch the royal eye. "I don't like it and I don't believe in it," said one girl, who asked not to be named. "I want to pick my own husband and get all the love I deserve as a woman."
Posted on Tue, Aug. 30, 2005
Swaziland princess' bash upstages father
MBABANE, Swaziland - The Swazi king's daughter has long raised eyebrows with her Western-style clothes. Now her decision to hold a drinking party to celebrate the end of a chastity decree has shocked members of Africa's last absolute monarchy - and resulted in a beating.
The scandal caused by Princess Sikhanyiso's latest flouting of tradition has cast a pall over Swaziland's royal bride-choosing festivities, when her father was to select another wife.
The annual reed dance, at which 20,000 girls in beads and traditional skirts danced before King Mswati III, ended late Monday with no indication of whether he had chosen a bride. In recent years, the king has increasingly made his choice in private, after a screening by palace aides and his mother.
Royal officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the issue is considered sensitive, said Tuesday the king had privately chosen three potential brides and might unveil one at a ceremony in southern Swaziland this weekend.
Royal officials had tried to keep word of Princess Sikhanyiso's party quiet during the reed dance, but acknowledged late Monday it had occurred on Friday to celebrate the end of a ban on sexual relations for girls younger than 18. The chastity rite is separate from the bride-choosing ritual.
In 2001, Mswati temporarily revived the ancient "umchwasho" rite - symbolized by the wearing of woolen tassels - to fight AIDS, which is at crisis levels in Swaziland, but it was ridiculed as old-fashioned and unfairly focused on girls. Days before the reed dance, the king announced he was ending the ban a year early.
His eldest daughter, a 17-year-old who was rarely seen in the umchwasho tassels herself, said Friday's party with loud music and alcoholic drinks was a private gathering that did not warrant the public scrutiny it received.
"We were just enjoying ourselves," Princess Sikhanyiso was quoted as saying in a local newspaper.
Ntsonjeni Dlamini, who oversees traditional affairs, was not amused.
"We were so shocked that the girls decided to turn the reed dance ceremony into a drinking and dancing spree," Dlamini said Monday.
He said he was compelled by tradition to beat the celebrating girls - including the king's daughter - with a stick.
"I was so surprised to see Princess Sikhanyiso drinking and dancing when I expected her to lead by example by respecting herself as a leader," said one of the girls involved, Nonhlanhla Dlamini, who is not related to Ntsonjeni Dlamini.
The king and his family are no strangers to controversy. Princess Sikhanyiso's father has come under international pressure for resisting reforms to introduce more democracy in the country. His lavish lifestyle, including indulging a love of top-of-the-range cars, contrasts with the absolute poverty of most of his subjects.
The AIDS crisis has compounded the misery, with estimates that about 40 percent of the 1 million population are infected with HIV.
According to Swazi tradition, the king is always meant to have a bride in waiting. He can only marry her when she is pregnant.
Mswati's late father, King Sobhuza II, who led the country to independence from Britain in 1968, had more than 70 wives.
Cops failed to preserve evidence, Pizza Hut murders lawyer says
By Joyesha Chesnick
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Police failed to preserve evidence that could clear Christopher "Bo" Huerstel in the 1999 murders of three people at an East Side Pizza Hut, according to Huerstel's lawyer, who is seeking to have charges against his client dismissed.
The truck in which Huerstel and Kajornsak "Tom" Prasertphong left the restaurant after the killing spree was returned to Prasertphong's family after the two were convicted of first-degree murder in 2000, potentially destroying any traces of gunshot residue that might have rubbed off, attorney James Stuehringer said.
Both men were sentenced to death for the slayings of waitress Melissa Moniz, 20, cook James Bloxham, 17, and restaurant manager Robert Curry, 44, during a robbery.
Huerstel's conviction, however, was overturned in September 2003 after the state Supreme Court said the judge in the case pressured the jury into reaching a verdict. His new trial is scheduled to start Sept. 13.
This time the state will not seek the death penalty because the U.S. Supreme Court has since ruled that people who were minors at the time of the crime can't be executed. Huerstel, now 23, was 17 at the time of the crime.
Huerstel originally confessed to the murders and said he laid the gun on the floor under the passenger seat of Prasertphong's pickup truck. But he later recanted, blaming Prasertphong during his trial, according to court records.
Prasertphong, who was tried separately, blamed Huerstel for the shootings.
The gun was found in a plastic bag in the undercarriage of the truck with other evidence.
Stuehringer said checking the floor of the truck for gunpowder residue could help prove whether Huerstel really put the gun there, and residue on the steering wheel could help prove that Prasertphong, who was driving, had held the gun.
"The state destroyed the truck without us having the opportunity to look in it," he said.
Prosecutor Rick Unklesbay said he had no comment because "we're getting close to trial."
Contact reporter Joyesha Chesnick at 807-7789 or email@example.com.
traffic safety my ass!!! its all about raising $REVENUE$. and of course letting the police state seize peoples property
More vehicles are impounded under new law
The rules governing vehicle impoundment
Visit the Tucson Police Department Web site at www.ci.tucson.az.us/police and click on the impounded vehicle information under "hot topics."
New rules in effect
The law says a vehicle will be impounded for 30 days if:
● The person's driving privilege is canceled, suspended or revoked, or the person has never had a license from Arizona or any state.
● The vehicle is not insured as required by law.
● The person is driving a vehicle that is involved in an accident that results in either property damage or injury or death of another person, regardless of who is at fault.
Starting Nov. 1, more rules will take effect. Vehicles will be impounded if:
● A person's driving privilege is revoked for any reason.
● The driver's license is suspended because of a DUI conviction.
● The license is suspended because the driver previously has been arrested for driving on a suspended license.
● The license is suspended for having too many violation points.
● The driver is arrested for extreme or aggravated DUI or being a minor under the influence of alcohol.
The price for getting your vehicle back is high.
● Drivers now have to shell out at least $450 to have their impounded vehicles returned, including a mandatory $150 payment to the city's general fund and fees for towing and storage. That doesn't include the price of reinstating a driver's license, which costs about $35, and the cost of buying auto insurance.
By Becky Pallack
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Tucson police have impounded around 30 vehicles in the past 20 days under a strict new state law that requires police to seize crashed vehicles if the driver isn't insured.
Police also have received a lot of phone calls from people wanting to know how to get their cars back, said Capt. George Stoner of the Tucson Police Department. The explanation is long, and online instructions cover five pages.
Based on violation numbers from past years, TPD expects to impound up to 2,500 vehicles in the law's first year, Stoner said. In past years, officers impounded vehicles only for evidence purposes and probably seized fewer than 100 a year.
The law is causing some pain for police, too.
TPD has developed a six-page release policy, a new hearing process and four forms to accommodate the new law, Stoner said.
Agency officials also have added a new sergeant position to oversee the processes. Sgt. Mary Kay Slyter will move from the South Side substation to fill that role.
Officers who respond to crashes have to spend an average of 45 minutes longer at the scenes waiting for tow trucks and have to fill out the extra paperwork and help drivers understand what's happening to their vehicles, Stoner said.
Parts of triplicate forms go to the driver, the tow-truck driver and the police.
"It will tie up officers longer in the field," Stoner said, and that could mean less time for other investigations, especially for officers in the DUI squad.
● Contact reporter Becky Pallack at 629-9412 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
OK you have been wiped out by the hurricane. What should you do next? Start patching up things. Nope Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco asks that you PRAY!!!!! please tell me how many homes god has completely rebuilt by the end of today. those people will be real happy, and it will make me a total beleive in the christian god :)
Gov. calls for day of prayer, orders New Orleans evacuated
Aug 31, 2005
NEW ORLEANS (BP)--The horrendous destruction left by Hurricane Katrina worsened Aug. 31 as floodwaters continued to rise in New Orleans, prompting Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco to order a complete evacuation of the city and to ask for a statewide day of prayer.
"As we face the devastation wrought by Katrina, as we search for those in need, as we comfort those in pain and as we begin the long task of rebuilding, we turn to God for strength, hope and comfort,” Blanco said in a statement.
“I am asking that all of Louisiana take some time Wednesday to pray,” she added. “Pray for the victims and the rescuers. Please pray that God give us all the physical and spiritual strength to work through this crisis and rebuild.
“Please pray for patience for those anxiously waiting to hear from family members or to get word about their homes. Pray for the safety of our hard-working rescuers and those they are bringing to safety.
“I know, by praying together on Wednesday, that we can pull together and draw strength we need -- strength that only God can give us. In my prayers, I will also thank God for the strong and resilient people of this state and how they are working to meet this challenge,” Blanco said.
In Mississippi, Gulfshore Baptist Assembly was leveled by Hurricane Katrina’s storm surge, and two visible churches on the coast –- First Baptist of Gulfport and First Baptist of Long Beach -– have been destroyed.
The Baptist conference center had been blown away by Hurricane Camille in 1969 and rebuilt to withstand a major hurricane, but to no avail when it came to Katrina.
All that remains of First Baptist in Gulfport is its steeple and its steel frame.
In Metairie, La., Dennis Watson, pastor of Celebration Church, said his church was overtaken by water just like many others in the New Orleans area. But he said the 2,500-member congregation will recover and God will use this opportunity to bring New Orleans closer together.
“To turn the tide and recover will take something supernatural,” Watson told the Baptist Message, newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. “He uses natural disasters like this to bring people to His Kingdom. I believe America will rally around New Orleans just as it supported New York City after the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center terrorist attacks.
“Oftentimes tragedy brings people together,” he added. “Christians in unaffected areas of the state and nation have already shown their love and support for us by offering to help in so many ways.”
East Bayou Baptist Church in Lafayette already has offered to let Celebration Church set up temporary offices in their facility.
The members of Marksville (La.) Baptist Church opened their building to more than 80 evacuees and transformed the baptistery into a makeshift shower. They placed Styrofoam blocks in front of the baptistery windows to ensure more privacy, pastor Dennis Hackler told the Baptist Message.
“This was kind of an ingenious idea,” Hackler said. “We may patent it. The idea wasn’t mine but from my people, which made me so proud.”
Further south, about 450 evacuees found refuge at Dry Creek (La.) Baptist Camp. The camp was providing free meals, medical care and recreation for evacuees, and area churches have contributed food and supplies. The camp staff said the facility will remain open as long as needed, though they are almost at capacity.
“Basically, we are running camp,” Curt Iles, Dry Creek’s camp director, told the Baptist Message. “Jesus told us that if you’ve done it to the least of these, you’ve done it unto Me. Some of these people may have lost everything and they need to be ministered to.”
At press time, 21 Southern Baptist Disaster Relief units had been activated to minister in Louisiana.
New Orleans residents thought they had been spared the fiercest wrath of Katrina when the storm moved slightly eastward of the city on Monday, but when two crucial levees broke Tuesday, a steady flow of water from Lake Pontchartrain began filling the bowl-like city. Mayor Ray Nagin estimated at least 80 percent of New Orleans was under water that was 20 feet deep in some places, according to MSNBC.com.
As efforts to distribute basic supplies to folks holed up in shelters in New Orleans grew more difficult with rising waters, Blanco ordered everyone in the city to leave within two days -- a task that meant moving nearly 20,000 people from the Superdome sports arena to Houston’s Astrodome. Reports of overflowing toilets, mounting trash and flaring tempers compounded by the 90-degree temperatures inside the Superdome contributed to the need to move people elsewhere.
Officials said it was too early to begin tallying a death toll in New Orleans because the focus was still on rescuing the hundreds trapped on rooftops amid the rising waters. Rescuers in some areas were forced to push aside floating bodies or mark houses with an “X” to indicate bodies were inside in need of recovery at a later date, according to FoxNews.com.
Blanco estimated about 1 million residents in Louisiana were left homeless by Katrina, and the Red Cross reported about 40,000 people were seeking refuge in 200 shelters across the area. Four Navy ships were quickly making their way toward the Gulf Coast with drinking water and other supplies for those in need, MSNBC.com reported, and officials estimated it could take up to a month to clear the water out of New Orleans.
In Mississippi, Gov. Haley Barbour said 90 percent of the structures along the state’s coastline were obliterated by a 30-foot storm surge, resembling the aftermath of a nuclear bomb.
“I can only imagine that this is what Hiroshima looked like 60 years ago,” Barbour said after touring the damage by air Tuesday, according to FoxNews.com.
Streets and homes were flooded as far as six miles inland from the beach near Biloxi and Gulfport, and buildings that survived record-setting Hurricane Camille in 1969 were reduced to rubble by Katrina.
Utility companies estimated 2.3 million customers -- or nearly 5 million people -- were without electricity in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, MSNBC.com reported, and restoration could take weeks.
Looting was becoming another major problem in the hurricane’s aftermath as people in New Orleans, Biloxi, Gulfport and other areas were seen breaking windows and stealing goods from homes, shops and large stores. An NBC News crew even videotaped police officers in New Orleans joining scores of others in looting a Wal-Mart store.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is considering using cruise ships, tent cities, mobile home parks and boats to house those displaced by the hurricane, and President Bush plans to visit the region later this week.
Compiled by Erin Curry with additional reporting by Brian Blackwell of the Baptist Message, newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, and William Perkins of The Baptist Record, newsjournal of the Mississippi Baptist Convention.
the government ruler said its business as usuall - taking bribes and passing laws.
Tenn. lawmaker pleads guilty to taking bribes
Aug. 31, 2005 12:00 AM
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A state lawmaker pleaded guilty to taking bribes in exchange for legislative favors, saying he got snagged "by business as usual" at the Capitol.
State Rep. Chris Newton told a federal judge he sought and accepted bribes from undercover FBI agents, becoming the first lawmaker charged in the continuing federal investigation to admit guilt. Two men described as bag men for lawmakers have pleaded guilty.
Newton and four current or former state senators were charged in May with taking payoffs to help a company called E-Cycle Management get favorable legislation passed in the General Assembly. The lawmakers all had pleaded innocent.
After his plea, the Republican lawmaker said he "became caught up in business as usual in Nashville."
"It is time for us to acknowledge candidly that the legislative process has become saturated with money and special interests," Newton said, reading from a statement.
Newton already had said he would resign from his House seat Nov. 1, but Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, asked him to step down immediately after the guilty plea.
The governor said he expects further indictments in the federal probe.
Some lawmakers, though, took issue with Newton's description of the Capitol.
"I don't think it was anything like business as usual because it was not business as usual," Democratic House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim DiScenza told Judge Jon McCalla that Newton cooperated with authorities investigating the charges against him.
DiScenza refused to say outside the courtroom whether Newton was cooperating with investigations involving others.
Newton was charged with taking bribes in exchange for sponsoring legislation designed to favor E-Cycle, which supposedly wanted to buy and resell used government computers. The bill made it all the way to the House floor, but Newton withdrew it just before he and the others were arrested in the closing days of the legislative session.
On Tuesday, a county official in Memphis was indicted in the expanding corruption probe.
Shelby County Commission Chairman Michael Hooks Sr., nephew of former NAACP head Benjamin Hooks, was charged with taking $24,200 in bribes in exchange for aiding E-Cycle.
Hooks made an initial appearance in court Tuesday and was released without bail. As he left the courthouse, he refused to comment.
The crimes Newton admitted committing carry a maximum punishment of 25 years in prison plus fines of $500,000, though federal guidelines will call for a much lighter sentence. He is scheduled for sentencing in February.
The others indicted were state Sens. Ward Crutchfield and Kathryn Bowers, and former Sens. John Ford and Roscoe Dixon.
we have been living in a police state for many years. and the police state just gets bigger and bigger each year. and they take or money to buy these weapons to use against us.
Border agents to get help from unmanned aircraft
'Predator B' arriving in Arizona next month
Republic Washington Bureau
Aug. 31, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - Federal officials say they will have a new "bird's-eye view" of activity along the Arizona-Mexico border, starting next month.
One day after President Bush assured Arizonans that his administration would deliver more border-enforcement resources, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials announced Tuesday a $14 million contract with a San Diego-based aeronautical company to deliver an unmanned aerial vehicle to aid their efforts in the state.
"This improves our ability to deter, detect and apprehend individuals conducting illegal activity, including smugglers, terrorists and people attempting to illegally enter our country," Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert Bonner said of the state-of-the-art, equipment-toting "Predator B" craft.
The aircraft, which will relay detailed images to the ground, including from remote areas where border agents cannot easily travel, is expected to be flying in the state by the end of September.
It can fly up to 253 mph and can reach altitudes of 50,000 feet, although it primarily will be operated between 15,000 and 20,000 feet. It weighs 10,000 pounds, has a wingspan of 66 feet and has a fuselage length of 36 feet.
One of the aircraft's biggest strengths is that it can operate for 30 hours at a time, operated and monitored remotely by agents and certified pilots on the ground.
The craft, made by General Atomics Aeronautical Services Inc., is to be based at Fort Huachuca, in Sierra Vista, agency spokesman Mario Villarreal said.
The contract with the company includes support services and maintenance for a year.
Arizona, the major illegal-crossing corridor in the nation, last year accounted for 52 percent of the 1.1 million arrests along the 1,950-mile border with Mexico.
Arizona's 389-mile share of that border includes remote, treacherous expanses of desert and well-established smuggling corridors.
The Predator B is to be deployed in support of the so-called Phase II of the Arizona Border Control Initiative, a Department of Homeland Security plan to increase the number of border agents in the state to 2,900 by the end of September.
That plan includes more helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft to monitor smuggling corridors controlled by organized-crime networks.
No details of how many other companies competed for the contract were made available by agency officials Tuesday.
Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz., who has been a vocal proponent of expanded use of more-effective technology on the border, praised the announcement of the contract.
"I have seen the Predator in action, and I believe it is the premier option in unmanned reconnaissance vehicles," Shadegg said.
Steve Camarota, research director for the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Immigration Studies, said he agreed that the aircraft will provide some needed help on the border.
"But bottom line: Let's also not get carried away here," said Camarota, who argues that there simply are not enough Border Patrol agents.
"The analogy is this is like a truckload of food and baby formula arriving in New Orleans. It's helpful. It's important. It's good," he said. "But if we're serious about defending the borders, it's only a small or tiny component of what you need to do."
Earlier this month, Gov. Janet Napolitano followed the lead of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a fellow Democrat, in declaring a state of emergency along the border with Mexico, to free up more money for patrols, equipment and other security needs.
During his appearance Monday in El Mirage, Bush said that he understood the problems border states face and that "there are more (federal) resources that will be available."
Regarding the new aircraft, Napolitano said in a statement Tuesday, "This is a step in the right direction, but we really need more resources."
16 plead guilty in drug smuggling sting
Law officers, GIs will cooperate in FBI border probe
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 1, 2005 12:00 AM
A new round of guilty pleas by military and law enforcement personnel has nearly doubled the number of government employees corrupted in a bribery and narcotics-smuggling conspiracy along the Arizona-Mexico border.
To date, 33 suspects have agreed to cooperate with the FBI in a probe that suggests a staggering openness to crime among some uniformed government workers.
The list of defendants includes Arizona Army National Guard members, state Department of Corrections officers, regular military personnel and Nogales Police Department employees.
The FBI sting known as Operation Lively Green targeted corrupt government officials who worked with cocaine-smuggling organizations from January 2002 to March 2004. The defendants transported 670 kilograms of the drug, in some cases wearing uniforms and hauling loads in military vehicles. Other times, suspects waved narcotics through the border or looked the other way, according to the Department of Justice.
Federal investigators said members of the ring accepted bribes totaling nearly $300,000 for transporting cocaine and recruiting other government workers into the conspiracy. The bribes actually were paid by undercover FBI agents.
As the operation wound down, authorities said, some participants made extortionate threats in an effort to prevent colleagues from cooperating with the Southern Arizona Corruption Task Force.
Wednesday's announcement marked a second round of charges in the case, with 16 new defendants agreeing to plead guilty and cooperate with investigators.
In May, 17 defendants pleaded guilty, including former members of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the federal Bureau of Prisons. They are to be sentenced at the U.S. District Court in Tucson in December.
All told, 12 Arizona Army National Guard soldiers have been charged in the case. Capt. Paul Aguirre, a guard spokesman, said he could not comment on any court martial or disciplinary actions planned by the military until after the civilian prosecutions are completed.
A dozen state prison employees also have been named as defendants. Most of those were fired or resigned this spring when the corruption probe went public. At the time, DOC director Dora Schriro described their criminal acts as "despicable."
Bart Graves, a prisons spokesman, said corrections officers violate the law with open eyes because they work with criminals every day. Graves said the corrupt officers are no reflection on an estimated 10,300 DOC employees who do honest work for low pay.
sure the fda is here to help us!!!
FDA official resigns in protest over morning-after pill
Washington, Sep. 01 (CWNews.com) - A ranking official of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has resigned in protest over the agency's decision not to grant immediate approval for over-the-counter sales of the "morning-after" pill.
Susan Wood, the director of the FDA's Office of Women's Health, announced that she was leaving the agency after Commissioner Lester Crawford announced that the FDA was postponing a final decision on full approval of the pill known as Plan B, which is taken after intercourse.
Wood complained that postponing the decision would "limit women's access to a produce that would reduce unintended pregnancies and reduce abortions." The decision, she complained, was "contrary to my core commitment to improving and advancing women's health."
The "morning-after" pill, designed to be used after a woman engages in sexual intercourse, has been the focus of a tense debate in Washington. Although proponents of the pill argue that it would cut down on demand for abortions, opponents point out that if conception has taken place, the pill's effect is to cause the death of the embryo-- that is, to cause an abortion.
FDA Commissioner Crawford had been under heavy pressure to approve pharmacy sales of the morning-after pill for all women. Crawford indicated that he is concerned about purchase of the pill by teenage girls if the pill is approved for sale without a prescription.
'This is a desperate SOS': City slips into anarchy
Sept. 1, 2005 04:03 PM
NEW ORLEANS - Storm victims were raped and beaten, fights and fires broke out, corpses lay out in the open, and rescue helicopters and law enforcement officers were shot at as flooded-out New Orleans descended into anarchy Thursday. "This is a desperate SOS," the mayor said.
Anger mounted across the ruined city, with thousands of storm victims increasingly hungry, desperate and tired of waiting for buses to take them out.
"We are out here like pure animals. We don't have help," the Rev. Isaac Clark, 68, said outside the New Orleans Convention Center, where corpses lay in the open and he and other evacuees complained they were dropped off and given nothing - no food, no water, no medicine.
About 15,000 to 20,000 people who had taken shelter at the convention center to await buses grew increasingly hostile. Police Chief Eddie Compass said he sent in 88 officers to quell the situation at the building, but they were quickly beaten back by an angry mob.
"We have individuals who are getting raped, we have individuals who are getting beaten," Compass said. "Tourists are walking in that direction and they are getting preyed upon."
In hopes of defusing the unrest at the convention center, Mayor Ray Nagin gave the refugees permission to march across a bridge to the city's unflooded west bank for whatever relief they can find. But the bedlam at the convention center appeared to make leaving difficult.
A military heliocpter tried to land at the convention center several times to drop off food and water. But the rushing crowd forced the choppers to back off. Troopers then tossed the supplies to the crowd from 10 feet off the ground and flew away.
National Guardsmen poured in to help restore order and put a stop to the looting, carjackings and gunfire that have gripped New Orleans in the days since Hurricane Katrina plunged much of the city under water.
In a statement to CNN, Nagin said: "This is a desperate SOS. Right now we are out of resources at the convention center and don't anticipate enough buses. We need buses. Currently the convention center is unsanitary and unsafe and we're running our of supplies."
In Washington, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the government is sending in 1,400 National Guardsmen a day to help stop looting and other lawlessness in New Orleans. Already, 2,800 National Guardsmen are in the city, he said.
But across the flooded-out city, the rescuers themselves came under attack from storm victims.
"Hospitals are trying to evacuate," said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Cheri Ben-Iesan, spokesman at the city emergency operations center. "At every one of them, there are reports that as the helicopters come in people are shooting at them. There are people just taking potshots at police and at helicopters, telling them, 'You better come get my family.' "
Some Federal Emergency Management rescue operations were suspended in areas where gunfire has broken out, Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said in Washington. "In areas where our employees have been determined to potentially be in danger, we have pulled back," he said.
A National Guard military policeman was shot in the leg as he and a man scuffled for the MP's rifle, police Capt. Ernie Demmo said. The man was arrested.
"These are good people. These are just scared people," Demmo said.
Outside the Convention Center, the sidewalks were packed with people without food, water or medical care, and with no sign of law enforcement. Thousands of storm refugees had been assembling outside for days, waiting for buses that did not come.
At least seven bodies were scattered outside, and hungry people broke through the steel doors to a food service entrance and began pushing out pallets of water and juice and whatever else they could find.
An old man in a chaise lounge lay dead in a grassy median as hungry babies wailed around him. Around the corner, an elderly woman lay dead in her wheelchair, covered with a blanket, and another body lay beside her wrapped in a sheet.
"I don't treat my dog like that," 47-year-old Daniel Edwards said as he pointed at the woman in the wheelchair. "I buried my dog." He added: "You can do everything for other countries but you can't do nothing for your own people. You can go overseas with the military but you can't get them down here."
The street outside the center, above the floodwaters, smelled of urine and feces, and was choked with dirty diapers, old bottles and garbage.
"They've been teasing us with buses for four days," Edwards said.
People chanted, "Help, help!" as reporters and photographers walked through. The crowd got angry when journalists tried to photograph one of the bodies, and covered it over with a blanket. A woman, screaming, went on the front steps of the convention center and led the crowd in reciting the 23rd Psalm.
John Murray, 52, said: "It's like they're punishing us."
The Superdome, where some 25,000 people were being evacuated by bus to the Houston Astrodome, descended into chaos as well.
Huge crowds, hoping to finally escape the stifling confines of the stadium, jammed the main concourse outside the dome, spilling out over the ramp to the Hyatt hotel next door - a seething sea of tense, unhappy, people packed shoulder-to-shoulder up to the barricades where heavily armed National Guardsmen stood.
At the front of the line, heavily armed policemen and guardsmen stood watch and handed out water as tense and exhausted crowds struggled onto buses. At the back end of the line, people jammed against police barricades in the rain. Luggage, bags of clothes, pillows, blankets were strewn in the puddles.
Many people had dogs and they cannot take them on the bus. A police officer took one from a little boy, who cried until he vomited. "Snowball, snowball," he cried. The policeman told a reporter he didn't know what would happen to the dog.
Fights broke out. A fire erupted in a trash chute inside the dome, but a National Guard commander said it did not affect the evacuation. After a traffic jam kept buses from arriving at the Superdome for nearly four hours, a near-riot broke out in the scramble to get on the buses that finally did show up.
Col. Henry Whitehorn, head of state police, said authorities are working on establishing a temporary jail to hold people accused of looting and other crimes. "These individuals will not take control of the city of New Orleans," he said.
The first of hundreds of busloads of people evacuated from the Superdome arrived early Thursday at their new temporary home - another sports arena, the Houston Astrodome, 350 miles away.
But the ambulance service in charge of taking the sick and injured from the Superdome suspended flights after a shot was reported fired at a military helicopter. Richard Zuschlag, chief of Acadian Ambulance, said it was too dangerous for his pilots.
The military, which was overseeing the removal of the able-bodied by buses, continued the ground evacuation without interruption, said National Guard Lt. Col. Pete Schneider. The government had no immediate confirmation of whether a military helicopter was fired on.
Terry Ebbert, head of the city's emergency operations, warned that the slow evacuation at the Superdome had become an "incredibly explosive situation," and he bitterly complained that FEMA was not offering enough help.
"This is a national emergency. This is a national disgrace," he said. "FEMA has been here three days, yet there is no command and control. We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can't bail out the city of New Orleans."
In Texas, the governor's office said Texas has agreed to take in an additional 25,000 refugees from Katrina and plans to house them in San Antonio, though exactly where has not been determined.
In Washington, the White House said President Bush will tour the devastated Gulf Coast region on Friday and has asked his father and former President Clinton to lead a private fund-raising campaign for victims.
The president urged a crackdown on the lawlessness.
"I think there ought to be zero tolerance of people breaking the law during an emergency such as this - whether it be looting, or price gouging at the gasoline pump, or taking advantage of charitable giving or insurance fraud," Bush said. "And I've made that clear to our attorney general. The citizens ought to be working together."
On Wednesday, Mayor Ray Nagin offered the most startling estimate yet of the magnitude of the disaster: Asked how many people died in New Orleans, he said: "Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands." The death toll has already reached at least 126 in Mississippi.
If the estimate proves correct, it would make Katrina the worst natural disaster in the United States since at least the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, which was blamed for anywhere from about 500 to 6,000 deaths. Katrina would also be the nation's deadliest hurricane since 1900, when a storm in Galveston, Texas, killed between 6,000 and 12,000 people.
Nagin called for a total evacuation of New Orleans, saying the city had become uninhabitable for the 50,000 to 100,000 who remained behind after the city of nearly a half-million people was ordered cleared out over the weekend.
The mayor said that it will be two or three months before the city is functioning again and that people would not be allowed back into their homes for at least a month or two.
"We need an effort of 9-11 proportions," former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, now president of the Urban League, said on NBC's "Today" show.
"A great American city is fighting for its life," he added. "We must rebuild New Orleans, the city that gave us jazz, and music, and multiculturalism."
Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu toured the stricken areas said rescued people begged him to pass information to their families. His pocket was full of scraps of paper on which he had scribbled down their phone numbers.
When he got a working phone in the early morning hours Thursday, he contacted a woman whose father had been rescued and told her: "Your daddy's alive, and he said to tell you he loves you."
"She just started crying. She said, 'I thought he was dead
By BRAD HAMILTON and ANGELA MONTEFINISE
August 28, 2005 -- The NYPD is auctioning off cars to people, and then arresting them for owning them, The Post has learned.
Car dealers say that after they buy cars at police auctions, they have been told by cops the cars were stolen, then get locked up, have their cars confiscated and are turned away when they ask for their money back.
"I've been doing this for eight years," said Pierre Loiseau, a Queens dealer who co-owns Elie & Jimmy Auto Repair Shop.
"It's very common. It happens all the time."
Police auction cars once a week, offering vehicles that have been abandoned or that they've seized from felons, ticket scofflaws and drunken drivers.
Many of the cars have problems with their vehicle identification numbers, which can be altered or removed, a favorite tactic of thieves.
Cops are supposed to verify the car's history of ownership to make sure it's not stolen but often don't, dealers say, and the problem isn't usually discovered until the new owner tries to register the car or get a new title.
By then a bureaucratic boomerang has begun: Cops go after buyers — often their own auction customers — charging them with possession of stolen property.
Queens dealer Joey Chou knows the process all too well.
He was jailed last year for possessing a stolen vehicle, a BMW 740 he purchased at a police auction for $14,000 in 2002.
He put $9,000 into fixing it up and intended to resell it, but when he didn't get a price he liked, he kept the vehicle, registering it at his home so his wife could drive around in style.
His luck didn't hold.
In March 2004, police paid him an unfriendly visit.
"The NYPD's Auto Crime Division came into my place of business and asked if I had a BMW. They said it was stolen," recalled Chou, who owns Joey Tai's Auto Repair in Jamaica and has been buying city-auctioned cars for a decade.
"I said, 'I bought it from you guys, but if you'd like to see it, it's in my garage.'
"So I took them to my house and said, 'There it is.' They said, 'Turn around, you're under arrest.' "
The charges were eventually dropped, but Chou says cops won't return the BMW or give him his money back, even though a Carfax vehicle-history check showed the car to be clean and the Queens District Attorney's Office gave him a release to retrieve the car, he says.
When he went to pick it up at the police pound in College Point recently, an officer told him, "If you're going to pursue this, we're going to lock your ass up again," he said.
So he's suing the city for $27,000 to recoup his losses.
"They don't notify the original owners — they just turn around and sell the vehicles," Chou said.
"They don't check it enough, and we get the s--- end of the stick."
Loiseau was arrested last year when he bought a car with a stolen engine at a sheriff's auction — and resold it a day later to a customer who'd been hurt in a mugging.
Cops investigating the attack inspected the car, discovered the stolen engine and accused Loiseau and his partner of illegally installing it.
"I sold that car in one day," he said. "How can you put an engine in a car in one day? It's just impossible." Loiseau is still stuck in that legal battle and has a trial date set for Sept. 21.
He has had plenty of other bad luck with police.
Two years ago, he purchased a 1997 Jeep Cherokee at an auction in Queens for about $3,000. In February 2004 the car was confiscated by state cops after a DMV inspection revealed it to have been stolen.
Cops then reauctioned the car a few months later, he said.
"I went to an auction, and there it was," Loiseau said. "I was like, 'Hey, that's my car!'
"It turned out it became the property of the state, so the stolen car they just took from me, they put a new VIN number on it, turned around and sold it."
He asked the city for a refund on the SUV, which had a vehicle identification number that had been tampered with when he bought it.
"They refused," he said.
So he went to court and won a $3,000 judgment, but the city appealed and the matter hasn't been resolved.
At least in that case, he didn't end up in jail. But one of his buyers did — after Loiseau sold him a Chevy van he'd obtained at a police auction in 2002.
A month later, the hapless motorist was pulled over and arrested for driving a stolen car.
"He spent the night in jail," Loiseau said. "He came to me, and I said, 'Hey, I got this car from the police.' I gave him the bill of sale, and eventually it got worked out. He even got to keep the car. But it took a long while."
Queens used-car buyer Barry Weisman thought he had a steal when he bought a dinged-up 1997 Lexus SUV for just $2,600 — he did, but the wrong kind of steal.
He believed the only problem with the luxury ride, other than some front-end damage, was a missing VIN number. It had only 12,000 miles on it and had sat in a police pound for six years.
So he put in $1,000 to fix it up and submitted the car for a "salvage exam" — a search by the state DMV done when a buyer wants to retitle his car.
The Lexus turned out to have been stolen from an owner in Michigan.
The state confiscated the car, and the cops refused to give Weisman a refund, citing a disclaimer that "all auction items are sold 'as is.' "
They also argued that Weisman bought the car just for parts.
He sued in Small Claims Court, where a lawyer for the city didn't deny that the car was hot. Still, an arbitrator ruled against Weisman.
"Unfortunately, the Police Department is not adult enough to admit they made a mistake or has the decency to refund the purchase price," Weisman said.
"The arbitrator said, 'I wonder whether the Police Department is under any obligation to investigate to determine the true VIN number of a the car.'
"You don't have to answer that question. The fact remains that the car was stolen, and you cannot convey title to stolen property."
The fixed-up Lexus eventually went back to Allstate Insurance, which had paid out on a theft claim, and the carrier resold the vehicle.
Asked about the foul-up, a spokeswoman for the insurance giant said, "We have no idea what might have occurred with that vehicle."
Weisman says he would have made his money back if he'd chopped up the car and sold it for parts — and no one would ever have known it was stolen.
He doesn't think police are selling stolen cars intentionally, but he's angry that dealers like him have no recourse when they buy a swiped vehicle.
"The police made an honest mistake," he said. "But someone could very well have been arrested for this vehicle."
Calls to a police spokesman were not returned.
Mellencamp, Fogerty mix politics, classic rock in concert
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 3, 2005 09:45 AM
Never a fan of President Bush, rocker John Mellencamp came down hard Friday night on the White House’s handling of the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina during his concert at Cricket Pavilion in Phoenix.
“I’m really angry about what’s happening down on the (Gulf) Coast,” Mellencamp told a crowd of about 12,000 early in his set.
“The government is on TV, saying, ‘Please send cash.’ I’m saying, ‘I already sent cash. It’s called taxes.’ “
Echoing other critics’ attacks on the federal government’s response to the chaos created when the hurricane hit Louisiana and Mississippi on Monday, Mellencamp asked, “Where the hell was Homeland Security? What if this was a terrorist attack?”
The outburst was one of three politically-tinged moments in a concert that also featured rock icon John Fogerty, former leader of Creedence Clearwater Revivial. Both Mellencamp and Fogerty took part in last fall’s Vote For Change tour, which was aimed at defeating Bush’s re-election campaign.
Before singing his hit “Love and Happiness,” Mellencamp said, “This is for the soldiers over in Iraq, protecting us. Hopefully we’ll put an end to this senseless war.”
In introducing the title song from his latest album, “Déjà vu All Over Again,” Fogerty referenced the war in Iraq by saying, “I was in the Army for Vietnam. It looks like we’re doing the same damn thing all over again.”
Fogerty then showed a video that included footage of fighting in Vietnam and what appeared to be military funerals for soldiers killed in Iraq as he sang the song.
Many in the audience reacted positively to both Mellencamp’s and Fogerty’s comments, though a few boos were heard later when Mellencamp jokingly apologized for his verbal tirade.
Despite the political commentary, Friday’s concert was mainly a celebration of good-time American rock and roll.
Both artists delivered strong sets that sampled their storied careers.
Fogerty, 60, raged through such Creedence classics as “Born on the Bayou,” “Travelin’ Band” and “Green River” with the energy and enthusiasm of a man half his age.
Dressed all in denim, the singer-guitarist prowled the stage throughout his set, contorting his face and hopping incessantly during the guitar solos that have become imbedded in many a baby boomer’s brain.
The crowd, heavy with fans in their 30s to 50s, ate up Fogerty’s performance, which included a few newer solo tunes such as 1990’s “Old Man Down the Road.” Marching in place, Fogerty played his inimitable version of voodoo guitar during the song.
Fogerty covered most of the big hits from his career, but he should have skipped a few: His voice was noticeably tired during “Around the Bend” and a sped-up “Fortunate Son,” with Fogerty skipping the high notes.
Mellencamp, meanwhile, let the audience help him handle the choruses of such radio classics as “Authority Song,” “Jack & Diane” and “Pink Houses.”
While some of the decades-old hits were slightly rearranged to take advantage of Miriam Sturm’s fiddle and Michael Ramos’ accordion, many were performed in versions that were fairly close to the originals. Those who were seeking nostalgia no doubt enjoyed that approach, while those hoping that Mellencamp, 53, can remain relevant may have been disappointed.
Eleven years after suffering a heart attack, Mellencamp looked healthy and buffed when he peeled off his brown sport coat to reveal a T-shirt and hefty biceps.
He smiled down often at fans in the front rows, chewed gum incessantly and pumped his fist like a cheerleader during “Lonely Ol’ Night” and “Hurts So Good.” His seven-piece band was solid.
The night’s most fun moment came when Mellencamp and sexy percussionist Pat Peterson stood side by side on the edge of the stage and did such ’60s dance moves as the jerk, the swim and the hitchhiker during 1985’s “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.”
With no new studio album to spotlight, Mellencamp relied on older tunes, which also included 1983’s “Crumblin’ Down’ “ and a rare performance of 1980’s “Ain’t Even Done With the Night.”
Both Mellencamp and Fogerty kept most of the crowd on its feet throughout their sets, demonstrating the power of that old-time rock and roll.
Reach Rodgers at email@example.com or (602) 444-8043.
Bush's Gulf trip a grand task
Besieged leader works to regain political footing
Richard W. Stevenson
New York Times
Sept. 3, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - From the moment he walked out of the Oval Office toward his helicopter Friday morning until he left New Orleans at the end of the day, President Bush's task was to erase the hardening impression that his administration had failed to act with sufficient urgency and determination to address the suffering of tens of thousands of people.
Bush has been imperiled politically by the deep gulf between the disturbing reality in the storm-ravaged region and what was widely perceived to be a slow federal response detached from the desperation felt on the ground. He used his trip to try to close the perception gap. Bush made some progress, demonstrating compassion toward those he ran into, particularly in Mississippi, which represents politically solid ground. The impact of his trip was magnified by the fact that his arrival coincided with those of convoys carrying food, water and troops.
But the overall impression was tentative, particularly compared with the confident visit he paid to New York four years ago, just three days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. Then, he took up a bullhorn to hail rescue workers at ground zero; on Friday, he steered clear of the streets of New Orleans, whose stricken population could not be counted on to hail him with open arms.
Bush began his day by saying on the South Lawn of the White House that the results of the federal effort so far had been "not acceptable." But he qualified that criticism as the day wore on, apparently out of discomfort with the implication that he was criticizing rescue and relief workers.
At times, he still seemed off-balance on a trip that took him to Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, and he struck a few discordant notes along the way. In Mobile, he touched only briefly on how hundreds of thousands of displaced people in the regions would be housed in the weeks and months ahead, but singled out Sen. Trent Lott's intention to rebuild his home.
At several stops he appeared as concerned with bucking up the morale of government officials, like Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, as with reassuring people whose health and livelihoods were at risk. Even as he pledged to right what had gone wrong with the rescue and relief effort, he congratulated Michael Brown, the FEMA director, for doing "a heck of a job," an evaluation not widely shared in New Orleans.
Fortuitously or by design, he reached the region on the very day that a huge influx of supplies and waves of troops arrived in New Orleans, palpably easing the crisis. And he generated scenes that will no doubt help repair his image, as he hugged victims of the hurricane in Biloxi, Miss., and stood near the site of the main levee breach in New Orleans.
The White House's political recovery effort extended beyond Bush. With race looming as an issue, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the most prominent African-American member of the administration, said Friday that she would travel on Sunday to her native Alabama to see the storm damage and recovery efforts.
"It's natural to want to blame somebody," said Ron Kaufman, a veteran Republican strategist and lobbyist. "But I don't think that in the end, as long as he carries through with the kind of tone he set today, that he'll pay any kind of price."
But Democrats made clear that however much progress the administration shows in the days ahead in dealing with the disaster, and however much of his political touch Bush recovers, they intend to make his management of the response an issue for a long time to come.
"The lack of an adequate, swift response to this emergency should not be covered up with political grandstanding and slaps on the back," said Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y. "This failure must not be swept under the rug."
Earlier, in an interview with ABC, he said no one had expected the levees in New Orleans to be breached, when in fact engineers, members of Congress and other government officials had been warning of just such a risk for years.
"Katrina took away his agenda, and maybe his image as a leader, unless he pulls it out in the next few days," said James Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University in Washington. "His initial reaction was certainly not as quick and compassionate as a lot of people would have liked
government its all about $REVENUE$. for every person in your city the state steals $300 and gives it to the mayor and city council to spend
ASU student count in census crucial for Tempe coffers
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 3, 2005 12:00 AM
Tempe each fall is awash in Arizona State University students. But when it's time to count them for the census, students can be the hardest folks to find.
That's why Tempe is making an extra effort to spread the word on campus about the mid-decade census surveys sent to Tempe mailboxes this week.
It's critical that everyone who gets one -- especially students -- fill them out and send them in, city officials say. The count will help determine state funding for Tempe.
"Undercounting Tempe residents would cost us millions of dollars, and those dollars help us to provide police, fire, parks and recreation services," said Mayor Hugh Hallman, who recently cut a Spanish language commercial urging residents to participate.
While landlocked Tempe won't reap a multi-million dollar windfall from the census like fast-growing municipalities, the count is still critical. For every resident counted, the city gets more than $300 a year from the state.
Tempe's share of state funding is shrinking because of its slow growth and the city stands to lose millions in fiscal year 2006-07. When the count is complete, Tempe will have to live with the results of the census for five years.
With so much at stake, Tempe is making a publicity push at ASU.
In addition to a banner on Mill Avenue, the city plans to buy advertisements in the State Press student newspaper, put up posters on campus and print information in ASU Insight, the staff and faculty newspaper. Off-campus apartment dwellers -- like other Tempe residents - will get reminders in their water bill and will get postcards in the mail. Census signs also will grace city garbage trucks, and Harkins moviegoers will see a census ad before the main attraction.
messy yard criminals!!! dont mow your lawn or pick up the garbage the government will seize your home and everything you own!!!
Pinal amnesty plan trims zoning fines
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 3, 2005 12:00 AM
Michael Wagoner paid only $75,000 for his 5-acre property in Pinal County just south of Queen Creek four years ago.
But he has racked up $332,200 in zoning violation fines for the travel trailers, unlicensed vehicles and junk that he has piled up on his land, just a few hundred yards southwest of hundreds of new homes.
As Maricopa County's growth continues to spill into Pinal County, eyesores that at one time were far from public view are now nearly in the back yards of new residents.
"A lot of these people wanted to move away from civilization, and when they did, there was no one around to see their properties," said Seymour Gruber, a former Pinal County prosecutor who has been reassigned to pursue zoning violators.
Wagoner is one of a dozen Pinal County property owners who have racked up a combined $2 million in fines over the past few years for zoning violations. There are 45 additional property owners and one business facing smaller fines. Fines started at $100. Through lax county enforcement and landowner laziness, penalties in some cases grew$700 a day and ballooned after a few years to hundreds of thousands of dollars each.
As growth continues in the area, county officials have decided to get tough. But they're first giving owners a chance to accept an amnesty program that will cut fines and penalties to pennies on the dollar, and one last chance to clean things up themselves.
Wagoner said he can't afford to clean up his property on a customer service representative's salary. He put up a fence to block views from the road.
"If they try to impose the fines on me, I just can't pay it," said Wagoner.
Mike Decourcy owes $555,200 on his 1.25-acre lot on East Pony Track Lanenortheast of Queen Creek. He bought it for $28,000 in 2002.
Decourcy's property holds nearly two dozen old and seemingly inoperable cars and trucks, several RVs or trailers, a dump truck, workshops, stacks and racks of auto parts and tires, tools and a small two-story A-frame house. Chickens roam about drums of smoldering trash and metals. But none of it spills out past the ramshackle fence he has pieced together.
Decourcy said he ignored letters from the county. He doesn't work full time because of congestive heart problems and can't afford the cleanup the county wants, he said.
The county has given violators until the first week of October to clean up and get in on the amnesty program that will drop the penalty charges and cut the fines back to their original amounts. After that, they'll get 30 more days to accept a deal that's not quite as sweet. During that period, fines will be reduced to 0.75 to 5 percent of the total amount owed for those owing $10,000 or more and to 5 to 10 percent of the total amount for those owing less than $10,000.
Violators who don't accept one of the deals may soon face lawsuits from the county, along with liens against their property to cover the cover the fines, penalties and cost of the county cleaning up the property. Liens could be collected from after-sale profits.
Although some properties have exchanged hands, Gruber said the county would pursue the former landowners who built up the fines.
Pinal County Supervisor David Snider said with the help of Gruber, future violations won't take as long to fix and fines are unlikely to be allowed to grow so large.
Pacifist teacher punished in Tokyo
Sept. 3, 2005 12:00 AM
TOKYO - When the national anthem started playing during a ceremony this year at Tachikawa Daini Junior High School, Kimiko Nezu, a soft-spoken but resolute home economics teacher, refused to stand and kept her mouth shut while others sang around her.
Nezu, a self-described pacifist, said she has done the same thing ever since the parliament designated the World War II hymn Kimigayo as the national anthem in 1999. She said she opposes the song because it was the same one sung as the Imperial Army set forth from Japan calling for an "eternal reign" of the emperor.
Previously, her protest brought nothing more than harsh stares from some students and parents. But the Tokyo School Board issued an order in October 2003 that the anthem must be respected. Since then, Nezu, 54, has been punished by frequent transfers from one school to another and with temporary salary cuts. And in May, shortly after the incident at Tachikawa, she was suspended for a month. Officials warned that another offense could lead to her dismissal after 34 years of teaching.
The School Board reaction was part of an effort by Tokyo and other school districts to enforce a new sense of pride in being Japanese. The measures were strongly backed by Shintaro Ishihara, the governor of Tokyo and an outspoken nationalist, as a way to strengthen classroom patriotism.
The School Board's mandatory rule has had a visible effect. At graduation ceremonies in 2004, 198 teachers refused to stand. After a series of fines and disciplinary actions, Nezu and nine other teachers were the only protesters this year.
"They are trying to weed us out of society," Nezu said. "The pacifists, the people who oppose nationalism in Japan. We are gradually being silenced."
The School Board action is at the center of criticism throughout East Asia about rising Japanese nationalism. But it is also part of an ideological battle over the role of patriotism in Japan, where people are especially concerned about how the young will view their country.
"It is time our children learned to be proud of Japan," said Hitomi Nakayama, 48, a council member in Tokyo's Tachikawa City district. Nakayama, whose son has just graduated from the junior high school, has called for an investigation of Nezu's teaching practices.
"There is nothing wrong with paying respect to our flag and our anthem or in taking pride in our nation and heritage," Nakayma said. "Most of the world enjoys that right. Why shouldn't we?"
Displays of overt patriotism were controversial in Japan in the decades after World War II. But public discourse has been changing. When the parliament adopted the Kimigayo hymn, it also declared the traditional Japanese sun flag, a red disk in a field of white, as the official flag. Until then, the country did not have a legally recognized national flag or anthem.
As Japan has observed the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in the Pacific this month, nationalist political leaders have gained prominence advocating a stronger role for Japan in the world. In the aftermath of Japan's economic recession in the 1990s, there is a growing popular notion that the country deserves clout commensurate with its position as the world's second-largest economy.
Citing the threat of international terrorism and concerns that North Korea may have nuclear weapons, members of the governing Liberal Democratic Party say part of updating the country's international profile involves military preparedness.
They advocate a change in Japan's Constitution, which was drafted by the United States after World War II and removed Japan's right to maintain a military or wage war. The change would allow the country to define its Self-Defense Forces as Japan's armed forces.
government sure has screwed up priorities! doing autopsies and identifying the dead is a more important priority for some government buerocrats then cleaning up the mess
Dead low priority; toll rising
Autopsies done in parking lots; morgues mobile
Sept. 2, 2005 12:00 AM
PASCAGOULA, Miss. - Crews are driving around coastal Mississippi, picking up bodies left on sidewalks like garbage and depositing them in refrigerated mobile morgues. Coroners are conducting autopsies in parking lots because the only available light is from the sun.
Most Hurricane Katrina relief efforts are focused on the living, many of whom are struggling to get enough food, water, shelter, power and medical attention. The dead are a lower priority, and many bodies have been putrefying since the water receded Monday.
The official death toll was rising Thursday as search-and-rescue teams and dogs go through the ruins of neighborhoods washed away by the huge storm surge.
Most of the bodies in Jackson County, where the beach towns of Pascagoula, Gautier and Ocean Springs were swamped, have been taken to the Heritage Funeral Home in Moss Point. The business has no water, power or phone service, making the job of storing and identifying the dead difficult for Coroner Vicki Broadus and a forensic pathologist working with her.
A refrigerated truck was running in the parking lot Thursday with 10 bodies, six of which could not be identified. Broadus said most of the victims drowned or suffered severe injuries when buildings collapsed around them. Their faces have been distorted from the water or the rubble, and they have started to decompose. Their identification and clothes were swept away, and many bodies had drifted miles from home.
"We are looking for any scars, tattoos, dental work. I'm doing DNA, fingerprinting and photos," she said Thursday. "It's not easy. This isn't like looking at James standing there and telling what he looks like. These people really are not identifiable right now."
Authorities were struggling with low fuel supplies and threatening weather. Adding to the miserable conditions along the coast were tons of rotting shrimp and chicken that had been blown from shipping containers into the water and across the landscape.
On the other side of the state in Waveland, one of the hardest-hit towns, police and others drove past obliterated homes in pickup trucks, stopping where bodies had been spotted by officials or reported by family or neighbors.
"All we've been told is that there are bodies lying around, and we can't get to them all," police Officer John Saltarelli said.
Many family and neighbors tried to treat the bodies with respect, using what they found amid the debris to wrap bodies.
On Wednesday, the crew picked up the body of an older woman that had been laid out on a sidewalk in front of a single-story brick apartment complex. A flower-patterned curtain covered her body, and her arms were outstretched. Her face was contorted. Police did not know her name.
Search-and-rescue crews were still trying to work their way to areas west of Waveland, expecting to find more bodies. Teams of dogs were sent into the rubble to try to pick up the scent of the living, or the dead.
Some survivors were pulled out as late as Wednesday, when crews found an 80-year-old man under 12 feet of debris in Long Beach. Officials did not release his condition or name.
Federal official upends Prop. 200 voter ID rule
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 2, 2005 12:00 AM
Arizonans who show up to the polls without identification must be given a provisional ballot, a top federal Justice Department official warned Thursday.
That opinion dealt a blow to Arizona's requirement that voters must show identification in order to cast a ballot at the polls, and throws into question rules approved under Proposition 200 to combat voter fraud.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Bradley Schlozman wrote to Secretary of State Jan Brewer Thursday and told her that a voter who shows up to the polls without identification must be given a provisional ballot.
That legal opinion contradicts a key portion of Brewer's much-delayed plan to carry out Proposition 200's voter-identification requirement, which was sent to the Justice Department for approval in early August. That plan, which Attorney General Terry Goddard and Gov. Janet Napolitano also signed off on, said any voter unable to produce proper identification would be turned away and not be allowed to cast a provisional ballot.
Provisional, or contested, ballots are put into sealed envelopes and verified later. They are counted only if the signature on the ballot envelope matches the signature on a person's voter registration.
While the letter said voters must be given provisional ballots whether or not they have identification, it added that state officials can still decide whether to count the ballots. It did not say that state election officials had to count the ballots.
Brewer said she had not seen the letter, but said she would comply with the department's interpretation of the law. Brewer did not believe the letter meant that the Justice Department would reject Arizona's voter-identification plan. The plan is still under review for compliance with the Voting Rights Act and election officials hope to have the new rules in place before local elections in November.
"My gut instinct is, if that's what DOJ says, then we will give provisional ballots," Brewer said. "But we will also (give voters) three or five days to return to the county elections director with ID before we count those votes. The people said they wanted ID at the polls with Prop. 200. So those votes won't be counted until they bring back their identification. Simple."
Not so simple, said Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez, one of Brewer's most powerful critics on the voter-identification issue.
Rodriguez said it would be impractical to require voters to travel to county election offices to prove their identity, as well as a logistical nightmare. Maricopa County had over 65,000 provisional ballots in the 2004 election, and Pima County had over 60,000. Rodriguez said election officials already have a method to verify provisional ballots by matching the signature on the ballot envelope with the voter's signature on their registration form.
"Considering gas is now $3 a gallon, and how far somebody might live from the elections office, are voters really going to do that?" Rodriguez said. "That sounds like a quick response off the top of (Brewer's) head without really thinking it through."
So there could be more battles ahead.
Thursday's letter also contradicted - or "clarified" - a letter sent in April from a different Justice Department official to Brewer. She and other Proposition 200 supporters had used the letter to justify a hard-line stance against providing provisional ballots to voters without identification. Brewer had also used the April letter to chastise Napolitano for vetoing a bill that would have prevented people from casting a provisional ballot at polling places if they didn't have identification.
The letter Brewer received in April raised some eyebrows at the time. It had come from a politically appointed Justice Department official, Sheldon Bradshaw. He had resigned and started a new job as chief counsel for the Food and Drug Administration two weeks before he wrote to Brewer.
Schlozman didn't say why he disagreed with Bradshaw's earlier letter but wrote "we feel it necessary to clarify our earlier interpretation in order to ensure an accurate representation of the Justice Department's views."
Thursday's letter reversed Bradshaw's position and left Napolitano's chief legal adviser feeling vindicated.
"We've said all along that federal law requires provisional ballots and the statute was crystal clear on that," said Tim Nelson, Napolitano's general counsel. "This certainly calls into question whether the DOJ is gong to pre-approve the secretary of state's voter manual."
Nelson said Napolitano disagreed with Brewer over denying provisional ballots to those who lacked identification, but backed off because it appeared the idea had the backing of the Justice Department, and Attorney General Goddard had agreed as well.
Goddard said Thursday he was still evaluating the department's letter but said, "It appears to be a major change in position about identification on provisional ballots, and is pretty much in line with the governor's position."
Fight for control
Sept. 2, 2005 12:00 AM
NEW ORLEANS - Federal and local authorities struggled Thursday to regain control of this ruined and lawless city, where tens of thousands of desperate refugees remained stranded with little hope of rescue and rapidly diminishing supplies of food and drinking water.
As some police reportedly turned in their badges, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco declared war on looters who have made the city a menacing landscape of disorder and fear.
"They have M-16s, and they're locked and loaded," she said of 300 National Guard troops who landed in New Orleans fresh from duty in Iraq. "These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so, and I expect they will."
The chaos that has gripped New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina also showed signs Thursday of spreading to Baton Rouge and along the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast as weary refugees continued their slow and confused exodus to higher ground. Fresh waves of National Guard troops began pouring into the region in an attempt to quell the unrest, but large swaths of New Orleans and other sodden areas remained essentially ungoverned.
By the end of the day, the American Red Cross announced that its hurricane shelters in seven states were full, with an estimated 76,000 refugees at facilities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Texas and Arkansas. The official death toll in Mississippi climbed above 100, while officials in Louisiana repeated warnings that thousands could be dead in New Orleans alone.
The Energy Department said about 1.8 million customers remained without power because of Katrina.
Those left behind in the Crescent City, including many with diabetes and other worsening health conditions, clung to rooftops, gathered on overpasses and bridges and huddled on islands of dry ground waiting for help that never came. Parents carried small children while grown children carried their elderly parents through the flotsam. Corpses floated in fetid waters and lay amid the crowds of refugees as helicopters airlifted hundreds of seriously ill patients to a makeshift field hospital at the city's airport.
At the storm-damaged Superdome, faltering efforts to transport up to 23,000 refugees to the Astrodome in Houston were temporarily halted after a gunshot was reportedly fired at a military helicopter and authorities continued to struggle with incidents of looting, carjackings and other violence.
Col. Henry Whitehorn, chief of the Louisiana State Police, said he heard of numerous instances of New Orleans police officers - many of them from flooded areas - turning in their badges.
"They indicated that they had lost everything and didn't feel that it was worth them going back to take fire from looters and losing their lives," Whitehorn said.
The deepening crisis prompted urgent pleas for help from local officials and residents, many of whom pointedly criticized the federal government for a meager and slow response.
"This is a desperate SOS," New Orleans' beleaguered mayor, Ray Nagin, said at one point in the day.
In Washington, meanwhile, Congress rushed to provide a $10.5 billion down payment in relief aid for Gulf Coast victims of Hurricane Katrina. The Senate approved the measure Thursday night, and the House will convene at noon today to speed the measure to Bush's desk.
"Don't buy gas if you don't need it," Presiden Bush urged consumers already hit by sharply rising prices.
A skeleton crew of Senate leaders was all that was required to speed the measure through by voice vote after Bush informed top Republicans and Democrats that reserves of relief funds could be exhausted before Congress' scheduled return from a five-week vacation on Tuesday.
Calls for calm came amid increasing signs of unrest among the refugees who remain stranded in New Orleans and continued engineering difficulties that have kept 80 percent of the city flooded for more than three days.
One of the most squalid and desperate situations unfolded Thursday at the city's fetid Ernest M. Morial Convention Center, where thousands had assembled over the preceding two days but which, as of Thursday evening, still had no visible government presence. A half dozen buses arrived at one point to take a small number of refugees, but no buses had come since, according to the stranded residents and tourists.
The center itself, dark and powerless, was rank with sewage and trash and avoided by most of the crowds, who milled around outside. As many as seven corpses lay out in the open amid wailing babies and other refugees, according to witnesses and news reports, including one dead man covered in a blue tarp in the middle of a street.
Desperate refugees at one point broke into the center's food service area to retrieve water and other goods, and the crowds have been roiled by fights and at least one gunshot, according to interviews. Some food rations finally arrived Thursday, dropped by helicopter.
With no buses in sight earlier Thursday, Nagin gave the refugees permission to march across a nearby bridge to dry ground in search of aid. The mayor also issued a plea for help on CNN: "Right now we are out of resources at the convention center and don't anticipate enough buses. We need buses. Currently the convention center is unsanitary and unsafe, and we're running out of supplies."
Later in the day, thousands remained at the center while hundreds more wandered roadways looking for a way out. Some were lucky enough to be picked up by National Guard trucks.
"This is a horrible tragedy and an unconscionable way to treat human beings," said Davonna Good, of Sacramento, who spent two days at the convention center site.
Throughout the ravaged city, frustrated residents complained that no one seemed to be in charge.
Amid signs of growing lawlessness, with looters roaming the city with impunity, heavily armed state and local police made a show of force in some places. Police in body armor and carrying shotguns and assault rifles were posted in the French Quarter and other parts of downtown to try to keep order.
Angry crowds have repeatedly shot at rescue personnel. Pilots with a private rescue service were fired on when they tried to airdrop supplies at Kenner Memorial Hospital on Wednesday evening.
Ninety miles away in Baton Rouge, officials scrambled to accomodate hundreds of thousands of refugees that are predicted to eventually make their way to Louisiana's capital. Police already have implemented a 10 p.m. curfew for fuel purchases amid reports of attempted carjackings at gas stations. Meanwhile, local officials struggle with widespread power outages and water shortages from the storm.
In Texas, officials announced they could accommodate up to 75,000 refugees from Katrina, including thousands being bused to Houston from New Orleans' Superdome and others to be housed in Dallas and San Antonio.
Compiled from reports by the Washington Post, Knight Ridder Newspapers and the Associated Press.
No special plans set to bring units home
Hurricane relief may do without Guard members
Sept. 2, 2005 12:00 AM
BAGHDAD - The 3,700 Louisiana National Guard members in Iraq will begin heading home within about a week as part of normal troop rotations, but there are no mass Guard movements back to the United States planned to aid hurricane relief, U.S. military officials in Baghdad said Thursday.
"Everyone we have here, and every piece of equipment we have here, is needed here," said Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, senior spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq.
Exceptions will be made on a case-by-case humanitarian basis to allow Guard members whose families have been hit especially hard by Hurricane Katrina to return, Lynch said.
With thousands of National Guard troops serving tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and the guard retaining fewer members at home, officials in the United States have acknowledged that the scale of the destruction along the Gulf Coast is stretching their stateside manpower. Wisconsin agreed Wednesday to send 500 Guard troops to Louisiana to help make up for the shortfall.
After nearly a year in Baghdad, Louisiana's 256th Mechanized Infantry Brigade is due to return fully to the United States by November, military officials said.
A National Guard brigade from Mississippi, the other state hit hardest by Katrina, has served since January in the region south of Baghdad. The area was known in 2004 as the Triangle of Death, because of the frequency of insurgent attacks there.
The Iraq deployments have taken more than a third of the Guard members of both states, officials said.
Military officials here acknowledged the Louisiana Guard members faced the prospect of returning from draining, dangerous duty in Iraq and launching quickly into a hurricane relief effort that is expected to last for months.
The first Louisiana Guard members are expected to return "within a week or so," said Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, another U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad. Their availability for disaster relief would be at the discretion of Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, Boylan told the Associated Press.
Louisiana Guard members in Baghdad were trading news on their hometowns and their families, sharing it by word-of-mouth as soon as they received it, said 1st Sgt. Errol Williams, whose home is just outside New Orleans. Word was reaching Guard members by Red Cross messages, and by Internet and cellphones when the state of communication in storm-devastated Louisiana and war-devastated Baghdad allowed, Williams said.
Williams said his wife evacuated to North Carolina ahead of Katrina with their 10-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter. The rest of his family found shelter with relatives in Texas, he said.
Word from neighbors in Louisiana led Williams to believe he had about 4 feet of water in his home, he said. But a Web camera in his wife's temporary storm home enabled him to wave to his children on Wednesday night, he said.
The 3-year-old is "ready for Daddy to come home," Williams said Thursday night in Baghdad, "wherever home is."
dont these cops have any real crimes to solve????
Posted on Wed, Aug. 31, 2005
State fires liquor agents who used woman's ID in strip club sting
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The state fired two liquor control agents who gave another woman's identity to a nude dancer in an undercover investigation at a strip club and another agent who had been reprimanded for botching an underage tobacco sting.
Chad Fannin, 33, of Urbana, and Gavin Stanton, 34, of West Milton, were notified July 27 that they were fired for conduct unbecoming officers and failure to perform their duties. Timothy Gales, 50, of Whitehall, was fired in August for conduct unbecoming an officer.
The Ohio Department of Public Safety released the records on the strip club officers last week, but won't issue specifics on the conduct or duties, and on Gales on Tuesday.
None has a listed telephone number. The three have filed grievances through their union, and the Fraternal Order of Police is seeking their reinstatement with back pay, union representative Joel Barden said.
Fannin and Stanton gave the driver's license and Social Security number of a Cincinnati woman to Troy police, who gave them to another woman so she could get a job as a stripper as part of a sting operation at the club, which is now closed.
Miami County prosecutors defended the tactic because it was legal under Ohio law. The Legislature then changed the law to require law enforcement to obtain permission before using a living person's identity in an investigation.
The county later appointed a special prosecutor from nearby Montgomery County to determine if any criminal charges should be filed against the investigators. The case could go to a grand jury next month, spokesman Greg Flannagan said.
The department said it fired Gales because he was charged in July with selling more than five cars in a year without a dealer's permit. He was convicted in 2002 of the same offense.
This spring, Gales was ordered to work five days without pay after a boy hired to try to buy tobacco at stores reported that Gales would remind clerks to check his ID. Earlier, he had been docked a day's pay, after he and another agent handcuffed a Columbus parking-lot attendant who asked them to pay a $5 parking fee. They forced the attendant into their car and drove him around for a half-hour before releasing him.
Officer in Meeks stop exonerated for pulling gun
By David Heinzmann
Tribune staff reporter
Published September 1, 2005, 9:25 PM CDT
The Chicago police sergeant who pulled over a car carrying state Sen. James Meeks acted appropriately when he pointed a gun at the minister and legislator, Police Supt. Philip Cline said Thursday.
The sergeant was reprimanded, however, for using profanity during the July 13 traffic incident, Cline said.
In announcing the decision, Cline said the investigation by the Office of Professional Standards found the officer was justified in pulling his gun because Meeks repeatedly refused orders to get back in the car. But Cline was careful to stress that he understands many African-American Chicagoans feel the police treat them more harshly than other citizens.
Meeks, pastor of House of Hope Church on the South Side, said he disagrees with the decision. He said he got out of the car expecting the sergeant to extend him "professional courtesy" because of his status as an elected official and a well-known clergyman. He responded Thursday by demanding that a new outside body be created to handle investigation of misconduct by police.
Cline said the decision was based on a sequence of events during the stop that all witnesses agreed was correct.
The sergeant had stopped his patrol car to read a message on the computer screen when the car Meeks was riding in, an Oldsmobile, pulled around him, rolled through a stop sign and made an illegal turn, Cline said. The sergeant stopped the car immediately, and as he was getting out of his car, Meeks exited the Oldsmobile and started walking toward him. Cline said the officer told him to return to the car, but Meeks kept coming. The officer drew his gun and repeated the demand, but Meeks kept approaching him, and the officer pointed the gun at Meeks and told him to "get back in the [expletive] car."
Meeks returned to the car, and the sergeant approached the driver--an off-duty police officer--and issued him four tickets. Last week, the driver was convicted of failure to stop at a stop sign, turning into oncoming traffic, failure to wear a seat belt and not having a valid insurance card.
Cline said he made the details of the investigation public "to help the department and the community move forward" after a great deal of public debate and media attention caused by the case.
Meeks, who is black, has accused the sergeant, who is white, of racial insensitivity.
"The guy who was driving me that night was driving a '93 Oldsmobile with spinning rims," Meeks said Thursday. "Whenever a guy with spinning rims goes around a police officer, police automatically reject that. There is a climate in our society."
The incident happened less than two weeks after a state report showed there was no pattern of racial profiling among Chicago police officers.
Meeks said it would be "fruitless" to challenge the decision. Instead, he vowed to register 200,000 new voters in Chicago by the next city election in order to support leaders who will reshape the way internal investigations are conducted.
Chicago Sgt. Cleared in Racial Profiling
By DON BABWIN
The Associated Press
Thursday, September 1, 2005; 10:13 PM
CHICAGO -- A white police sergeant who pointed a gun at a black state senator during a traffic stop should not have used profanity but otherwise acted properly, Chicago Police Superintendent Philip Cline said Thursday.
Cline said the sergeant was reprimanded for using profanity during the July 13 incident, but that he was justified in pulling his gun because State Sen. James Meeks twice ignored orders to stop approaching and return to his vehicle.
Meeks, the minister of a megachurch on the city's South Side and head of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, disputed Cline's version of events.
The sergeant "did not tell me two times" to stop approaching, Meeks said at a news conference. "He started with profanity and his weapon drawn from the moment I got out of the car."
Meeks also reiterated his contention that he was a victim of racial profiling. He said the stop was triggered in part because the car his driver was operating is popular with blacks "and he went around the police and the police didn't like it and the police stopped him. End of story."
Cline said the department's investigation determined that the sergeant pulled the car over because he witnessed a traffic violation.
Meeks said he would push for legislation to create a civilian review board to investigate such allegations rather than leaving it to the police themselves.
He said he also will push for the police department to equip all its squad cars with cameras, a suggestion Cline said the department is exploring.
Chicago officers charged with shoplifting suspects' battery
Thursday, August 18, 2005; Posted: 2:56 p.m. EDT (18:56 GMT)
(AP) -- Two Chicago police officers have been charged with battery and official misconduct for allegedly roughing up two shoplifting suspects, the police superintendent said Wednesday.
One officer is accused of punching a suspect, and the other of yanking a 14-year-old girl's ponytail during questioning. Their actions allegedly were caught on store surveillance cameras, Police Superintendent Philip Cline said.
"Based on what I saw, the offender posed no immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others in the room," Cline said, calling the officers' behavior "unacceptable."
Larry Guy and Alexandra Martinez, both 11-year veterans of the department, were charged Tuesday. Guy also was charged with attempting to obstruct justice.
Martinez allegedly slapped and pulled the ponytail of the teenage girl suspected of shoplifting at a J.C. Penney store in April. Guy allegedly punched and shoved a 21-year-old man suspected of shoplifting at a Target store in June.
The officers could not be reached for comment.
Neither shoplifting suspect filed a formal complaint, officials said. Instead, in both cases, store officials turned the tapes over to police supervisors at district stations. The department did not publicly release the tapes.
The misconduct charge is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison, and the other charges are misdemeanors, each punishable by up to a year in prison.
Cline has also started proceedings to fire the two officers.
"Wearing a police badge gives an officer tremendous power and tremendous responsibility," Cook County State's Attorney Richard Devine said. "Twice in recent months, two Chicago police officers have abused that power and shirked their responsibility."
Two other officers who witnessed the incidents but did not report them have been removed from street duty, officials said. Police rules require officers who witness misconduct to report it to supervisors.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
2 cops face charges in beating of suspects
By Tonya Maxwell
Tribune staff reporter
Published August 18, 2005
After an announcement Wednesday that two Chicago police officers have been indicted for hitting shoplifting suspects in unrelated incidents, one of the victims said the female officer pummeled her in the head and left her with a bloody nose.
"My head was banging, and I could tell my wrist was swollen" from the handcuffs, said Michel'le Hutchison, 14.
A grand jury has indicted Officers Alexandra Martinez and Larry Guy Jr., both 11-year veterans of the Chicago Police Department, on charges of hitting shoplifting suspects.
Both incidents were caught on department-store video cameras, Police Supt. Philip Cline said as he announced the indictments Wednesday. Cline expressed disappointment at police misconduct he saw on the tapes, but he would not release them publicly, saying they would be evidence.
Hutchison said Wednesday she was unaware she was being videotaped. "I didn't know. I guess [Martinez] didn't know either."
Both officers have been stripped of police powers, assigned to desk duty and are in the process of being fired, Cline said.
In the case that carries the more-serious charges, grand jurors indicted Martinez, assigned to the Chicago Lawn District, on two counts of felony official misconduct and one count of battery after finding she hit the 14-year-old girl in the head. Official misconduct is punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
Guy, of the Albany Park District, was indicted on one count of battery and one count of attempting to obstruct justice, both misdemeanors punishable by up to 1 year, in a June 15 case at a Target store on Chicago's Northwest Side.
In both cases, the partners of those officers watched what happened, but they never reported possible misconduct, Cline said. Those officers also are on administrative duty, and an internal investigation into their actions continues, he said.
Martinez and Guy could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Dan Herbert, an attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police, said he has talked with both officers about the investigation, but he declined further comment.
The Martinez case began when police were called to the JCPenney Store at 7601 S. Cicero Ave. on April 11. Store security officers were holding the girl, who was suspected of shoplifting.
In her attorney's office Wednesday afternoon, Hutchison gave her version of what happened after Martinez and a male officer arrived.
An office desk separated her from the police, said Hutchison, a 9th-grader at South Shore High School. The female officer first taunted her, saying that when she was young and stole things, she didn't get caught, Hutchison said.
Then Hutchison asked the female officer why she was picking on her: "I asked if it was because I was black."
The female officer came around the desk and began jabbing her finger in Hutchison's forehead and repeating, "What did you say? What did you say?" according to the girl.
Hutchison said the officer knocked her head backward into a wall with enough force to leave a knot. That officer then hit Hutchison in the head several more times, according to the girl, who said she put her hands up to try and fend off an attack.
Hutchison said the female officer threw her across the desk and roughly handcuffed her. The male officer, who she said stood by passively during the exchange, helped put handcuffs on her.
Hutchison said she realized her nose was bloodied after the handcuffs were removed at a police station.
Hutchison's mother, Catherine Hutchison, said she later picked up her daughter at the station. No charges were filed, but the mother said she was angry her daughter had been at Penney's and didn't want to talk with her that evening.
The next day, Catherine Hutchison said, her daughter told her a police officer had hurt her. But the mother made no complaint, saying she didn't know where to go or what to do.
Michel'le Hutchison said she was left with nightmares and an unease about police, that they'll "try to beat you for no reason like they did me."
A few weeks later, law enforcement officials notified both the mother and daughter that they would need to testify in front of a grand jury and later showed the mother the tape.
Catherine Hutchison was horrified and cried, she said, as she watched the black and white video. The officer hit her daughter more than a half-dozen times, she said, and pulled the white ribbon around her daughter's ponytail from her head.
"I just couldn't believe this was happening to my daughter," she said. "If she did [it to] her, she had to do [it to] someone else."
The family's attorney, Jeffrey Granich, said he plans to file a federal lawsuit by Friday and hopes the case begins a citywide dialogue about police brutality. Without the videotape, he said, the case would likely have never come to light and the officers would have gone unpunished.
In the second case, Guy is accused of hitting a 21-year-old man, who could not be found Wednesday.
In the Target store at 2939 W. Addison St., security officers there held a shoplifting suspect and called police, Cline said Wednesday.
The man, identified in the indictment as Amando Lucas, was handcuffed and not a threat when the officer punched him and shoved him violently back into the chair, Cline said, describing the videotape.
Lucas was first charged with retail theft, a charge that was dropped at the end of July.
Guy also faces one count of attempted obstruction of justice after jurors determined he tried to have the videotape erased.
Both stores came to police with the videotapes, Cline said, and officers turned them over to the Office of Professional Standards.
That investigation led Chicago's police union to warn its rank and file to be cautious of responding to shoplifting calls at Penney and Target stores.
"On two occasions these stores have sent copies of the videotapes to the department and officers are now facing discipline because of their actions. These stores are not your friends," the Fraternal Order of Police said in a newsletter.
Union officials declined to comment on that earlier announcement, but President Mark Donahue said Wednesday that both officers should be presumed innocent.
Donahue's one-paragraph release, coming after Cline's news conference, was critical of law enforcement leaders who convict people in the media before a court trial.
Target officials could not be reached for comment, but Tim Lyons of JCPenny Company, based in Plano, Texas, said those stores remain on good terms with police.
"We've been assured by the Police Department that we have their support, and from the comments I've heard, they have been supportive of our actions in this incident," he said.
Martinez is to appear in court on Sept. 6; Guy on Aug. 31
government idiots again screw up things with stupid regulations!!!!
p 3, 4:04 PM EDT
States suspend gas-pump price rules due to rise in fuel prices
By BETH DeFALCO
Associated Press Writer
PHOENIX (AP) -- State regulators across the country are being asked to make concessions for service stations with older gas pumps that weren't built to compute gas prices above $2.99 a gallon.
With gas prices seeing a rapid rise in recent weeks, gas station owners say they were caught off-guard and didn't have a chance to upgrade their pumps in time.
To remedy the problem, several states have agreed to temporarily allow gas to be sold by the half-gallon - something that's normally illegal - until new parts can be ordered to allow pumps to compute higher prices.
Regulators say they are allowing the quick fixes because many of the older pumps are in rural areas or owned by mom-and-pop shops that would be forced to close until retrofit parts arrived.
"If we did not implement the half-price exemption, these stations might shut down and force consumers in rural areas to drive farther to fill up," Ohio Agriculture Director Fred Dailey said in a news release. "The only thing worse than high gas prices is no gas at all."
Most of the problem-plagued pumps are analog - the kind that use wheels to display the price per gallon. When those were built, the dollar wheel only had three digits: 0, 1 and 2.
Regulators said some digital pumps also experienced glitches with $3 gas prices and will have to be reprogrammed.
Station owner Tracy Van Wormer, who owns the Meadview Market near Lake Mead in rural northwest Arizona, said she was grateful that Arizona authorities are allowing her to sell by the half-gallon until new parts arrive.
"I was so panicked and I didn't know what to do," she said. "It would be have been a disaster for our community if they hadn't."
Van Wormer said area ambulances and fire trucks all fill up at her station, because the closest station to hers selling diesel fuel is 70 miles away.
"It's not really feasible for them to make a 140-mile round trip for gas," Van Wormer said.
Nearly all states allowing gas to be sold by the half-gallon are granting permission on a case-by-case basis and will require the stations to prove that they have ordered the upgrading parts.
Some states have limited their price display concession for 60 days.
Van Wormer said she expected the new parts to take anywhere from two to six weeks to arrive. Each of her three pumps will cost about $800 to upgrade, she said.
Other restrictions also apply for station owners.
"They still have to advertise by the full gallon so that it's not misleading," said Jessica Chittenden, spokeswoman for the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Chittenden estimated that less than 1 percent of all stations in New York, about 900, will be affected.
In Nebraska, as many as 2,000 to 3,000 pumps could require upgrading, officials said.
"It's more prominent in the Midwest because we have more rural areas," said Steven Malone, director of the division of weights and measures for Nebraska's Department of Agriculture.
However, not all states are cutting station owners some slack. In Kentucky, regulators sent a memo reminding retailers that "half-gallon pricing is against the law" and said any devices found to be in violation would be taken out of service.
Besides New York, Maine and Nebraska, other states that have allowed concessions include Arizona, Ohio, Alabama and Michigan.
f*ck the 1st!!! las vegas thinks it owns these words
Fight rages over Vegas sinful slogan
Sam Howe Verhovek
Los Angeles Times
Sept. 4, 2005 12:00 AM
LAS VEGAS - The five-word slogan turned out to be a marketing masterpiece, a mantra that marked the unceremonious end of Las Vegas' family-friendly era and the full-scale resurrection of Sin City: "What Happens Here Stays Here."
But keeping those words in Las Vegas has become a contentious matter.
A potentially high-stakes lawsuit is unfolding in federal court in Reno over trademark rights to the famous phrase.
And in Las Vegas, the slogan has managed to spark a political dispute as well.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which says it spent $85 million in the past three years to link Las Vegas with the slogan, wants licensing rights to the phrase and its many variants.
The authority is seeking a cease-and-desist order against a California-based clothier that sells racy underwear, as well as baseball caps and sweatpants, reading "What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas!" in hotels and stores.
The clothing company, acting without permission from the tourism authority, managed to get federal trademark approval for the phrase earlier this year.
The manufacturer, Pure Pleasure of Placerville, plans to sell clothes carrying variations on the phrase, such as "What Happens on Spring Break Stays on Spring Break!"
Las Vegas wants to put a stop to it. But with licensing rights worth potentially millions of dollars on the line, the clothing company is fighting back in court, arguing that Las Vegas is hardly the first place in the world where people have promised to look the other way.
There's that old saying among traveling salesmen: "What happens on the road stays on the road."
And the one from Alcoholics Anonymous meetings: "What you see here, what you hear here, whom you see here, stays here."
The clothing company's lawyers also cite a sign in a now-defunct Cambridge, Mass., tavern that declared, "What Happens Here, Stays Here." That was 10 years before Las Vegas launched its ad campaign.
Finally, there are all the variations on the phrase used in Las Vegas itself, such as the pitch used by one major resort-casino: "What Happens at the Palms Never Happened."
As zany as the legal arguments might seem, the case is a powerful indication of just how valuable the phrase has become since Las Vegas launched the campaign in late 2002. It is widely seen as a chief reason Las Vegas hit an all-time record of 37.4 million visitors last year, and is projected to reach 38.2 million in 2005.
"It's only a few years old, but it's basically considered one of the most effective slogans for tourism ever," said Daniel R. Fesenmaier, a professor at Temple University's School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, who evaluates the effectiveness of tourism advertising.
"The beauty of it is that it's a definitive statement of what Vegas is all about, but it also leaves something to the individual's imagination as to what exactly it means," Fesenmaier said.
When Las Vegas' effort in the 1990s to market itself as family-friendly produced less than a bonanza, the new slogan became "a very effective way of announcing to the world, 'Hey, we're Vegas, and let's go back to who we really are,' " Fesenmaier said.
Many people regard Las Vegas' campaign as a stroke of genius.
Even the clothing company's lawyer, Daniel Ballard, said the "What Happens Here" ads are "absolutely fabulous."
But Ballard said in a telephone interview from Sacramento that the success of the television campaign was insufficient grounds to justify stopping his client from using its version of the phrase.
No one seems to know the origin of "What Happens Here Stays Here," and that question probably won't be answered in court. The phrase might be centuries old, and no doubt has its parallels in dozens of languages.
But can it be trademarked?
Absolutely, say officials for the tourism authority and R&R Partners, the Las Vegas advertising agency that came up with the campaign.
Just as slogans popularized by Nike ("Just Do It") and Burger King ("Have It Your Way") are "service marks," the technical term for a federally trademarked phrase or slogan, Las Vegas deserves to hold rights to "What Happens Here Stays Here," lawyers for the ad company and the tourism authority say.
But Pure Pleasure, which started the clothing line a few months after the tourism authority began its campaign, said it got to the trademark office first.
Pure Pleasure's owner, Dorothy Tovar, applied for a clothing trademark in February 2003 for "What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas" and received approval in March from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The lawsuit in Reno seeks to reverse that approval.
Some trademark experts said Las Vegas authorities, once they sort out that issue, could have a valid claim in court, even if the phrase was used in other contexts before it became associated with Las Vegas.
If the plaintiffs can show that their advertising campaign succeeded in getting people to associate "What Happens Here Stays Here" with Las Vegas, they could succeed in establishing trademark rights to the phrase.
"If they can show that with all this advertising, all this effort, they've established a clear link in people's minds, that's important," said Jerome Gilson, a Chicago-based attorney specializing in trademark and unfair-competition law.
"And I'd venture to say that if they hired a reputable survey company and went out on the streets and asked a thousand people, 'What does this phrase suggest to you?' a big percentage would identify with Las Vegas," Gilson said.
if your car gets stolen you have to sign a statement swearing your not lying when you report it to the phoenix cops! heil hitler the police state has been here a long time!
Auto-theft reports are often faked, police say
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 4, 2005 12:00 AM
A troubling number of auto thefts reported to police each year actually may be bogus, jacking up the state's auto-theft rankings undeservedly and ultimately causing higher insurance premiums for all drivers.
Some Valley police estimate as many as 25 percent of auto-theft reports are fake, a trend fueled by more than a decade of allowing victims to report their losses over the phone virtually unchecked.
Police say it's not uncommon to see an owner who can't afford payments either sell his car to a chop shop, hire someone to steal it or simply abandon it, then report it stolen. Other "victims" lend the car to someone who doesn't return it on time, or ditch it after an accident, then report it stolen. advertisement
As a result, Valley police agencies are beginning to revert back to the old way of dispatching officers to investigate every auto-theft report in person. The shift comes amidst a myriad of successful Valley-wide efforts to squelch a burgeoning auto-theft problem but is aimed specifically at weeding out the unsettling number of fraudulent theft reports.
"It's very hard to judge someone's truthfulness over the phone," said Phoenix police Sgt. Matt Giordano, who works auto thefts. "When you're looking at them face to face, it's much easier to identify indicators of deception."
Frank Scafidi of the National Insurance Crime Bureau said in cities across the country where auto-theft reports are taken in person, "the numbers are just falling off precipitously."
Exact fraud numbers are hard to come by, but national estimates from the Insurance Research Council put the figure as high as 40 percent of auto-theft claims. Since its inception in 1997, the Arizona Vehicle Theft Task Force has investigated more than 300 fraud cases.In Arizona, fraud adds an estimated $180 to the annual premium for the average family, according to the Arizona Automobile Theft Authority.
In the Valley, the Phoenix Police Department is the largest law enforcement agency to switch to in-person reporting. Ann Armstrong, the theft authority's spokeswoman, said other agencies are "looking to Phoenix" to see how their numbers fall before following suit.
"Obviously Phoenix getting away from (in-person reporting) had a really big impact," Armstrong said. "It just kind of left the door wide open for thieves, and crafty thieves, to do things without having too many questions asked. It's a lot easier to pick up the phone and tell a little white lie than if you have a uniformed officer in your living room."
Phoenix piloted its program in the Cactus Park Precinct in northwest Phoenix in March 2004, and the last of the city's six precincts came online Aug. 1. Citywide, the number of auto-theft reports already is tumbling. Phoenix also require those reporting auto thefts to sign an agreement that they are telling the truth and acknowledging they can be prosecuted if police find out they lied.
"This agreement idea isn't new," said Phoenix police Lt. Lisa Messina, who oversees the auto-theft detail. "This is the way we did business 15 years ago. . . . It's obviously been successful in eliminating these reports. It just makes sense. It's not rocket science. It's just doing investigations."
Other agencies have at least tried similar programs. Tempe police now take all auto-theft reports in person, although officers do not require victims to sign an agreement. Glendale moved to in-person reporting for about six months and even though auto-theft reports initially dipped, officers abandoned the program recently because response times were too long. Glendale police still require auto-theft victims to sign the agreement.
Police say the programs already are making a difference. Consider:
• In Phoenix's Cactus Park Precinct, auto-theft reports fell 12.7 percent in a one-year period that ended in May. Other precincts that phased in the program also have seen reports drop significantly.
• Auto thefts in Tempe fell 25 percent between 2002 and 2004. The city began in-person reporting in 2003.
• In 2002, the Phoenix metropolitan area was the nation's top hot spot for auto theft. The following year, the area fell to second place, and in 2004, it ranked fourth, a drop at least partially attributed to in-person reporting.
"Those areas that do over-the-phone (reporting) see a lot higher incidence of fraud," Scafidi said. "When people have to walk into a police department or face an officer to make a claim, that's going to deter a lot of those things.
"A person might not be inclined to go forward with a conspiracy if they have to go face to face with an officer."
Telephone reporting became popular more than a decade ago when agencies across the Valley saw a drastic increase in calls for service. Handling crimes like burglary and car theft over the phone freed up officers to respond more quickly to emergencies.
"The thought was when you go out there, there was nothing to investigate. The car was stolen. The crime scene was gone," said Tempe police Sgt. Joe Brosius.
But auto thefts skyrocketed, and cities have been scrambling for years to rein in the numbers. They are snaring thieves with bait cars, etching vehicle identification numbers on windshields and educating the public. In-person reporting now is seen as a way to further chip away at auto theft.
"You go out and talk to somebody and you realize that sucker's lying to me," Brosius said. "You pick up on those things. . . . We don't get a whole lot of false reports anymore."
On a recent morning, the primary job of Phoenix police Officer Chris Olson was to respond to auto-theft calls. Olson said some stories are obviously true while others quickly raise "red flags" that might not be caught over the phone. In person, Olson said, he's more likely to pick up on inconsistencies in a story or to notice that a person won't look him in the eye.
"It's important to be in person," Olson said. "You see the person. You understand what the situation is a little better. It's easier for me to tell when they're lying.
"On the phone, they could tell one story and nobody's going to question them. I definitely think it's more effective being out here live."
when it gets down to the bottom line of fighting crime it seems like many cops are cowards!
Overwhelmed officers quit the force; 2 kill themselves
Joseph B. Treaster
New York Times
Sept. 4, 2005 12:00 AM
NEW ORLEANS - Reeling from the chaos of this overwhelmed city, at least 200 New Orleans police officers have left their jobs, and two have committed suicide, police officials said Saturday.
Some officers officially told their superiors they were leaving, police officials said. Others worked for a while and then stopped showing up. Still others never made it in after the storm.
The absences come during a period of extraordinary stress for the Police Department. For nearly a week, many of its 1,500 members have had to work around the clock, trying to cope with flooding, an overwhelming crush of refugees, looters and occasional snipers.
Police Superintendent P. Edwin Compass III said most of his officers were staying at their posts. But in an unusual note of sympathy for a top police official, he said that it was understandable that many were frustrated. He said morale was "not very good" after nearly a week of deprivation and danger.
Fire Department officials said they did not know of any firefighters who had quit, and that there had not been any suicides. But they, too, were more sympathetic than critical of emergency services workers breaking under the pressure.
Police officials did not identify the officers who took their lives, one Saturday and one Friday. But they said one had been a patrol officer, who a senior officer said "was absolutely outstanding." The other was an aide to Compass, who said the aide had lost his home in the hurricane and had been unable to find his family.
this article slanders homeless people and makes them out to be mentally ill. schizophrenia is a genetic illness you get from your parents. it is not a sickness that homeless people catch from the schizophrenia virus! also the republic article seems to support the odd idea that homeless people are vermin that should not be allowed to use parks. the government shakes down homeless people for taxes and thus the homeless people have every right to use parks that they are taxed to build and maintain.
'All our problem now'
Mentally ill homeless cost the Valley's cities on many levels, from ERs to parks to jails
Sept. 4, 2005 12:00 AM
The mentally ill homeless, a problem once concentrated in central Phoenix, is now a Valleywide concern.
That fact has been driven home this summer by the heat-related deaths of at least 32 homeless people throughout the Valley. Many of them had serious mental disorders and were too disoriented and confused to know to come in out of the terrible heat, police say.
From Mesa to Peoria, Queen Creek to Cave Creek and all points in between, there are now 3,000 to 4,500 chronically homeless people who suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or other serious mental diseases, according to estimates by people in the public and non-profit sectors who work with the homeless. They account for about 25 to 35 percent of the Valley's 12,000 homeless and are the hardest to help.
In recent months, The Arizona Republic has examined the impact of these unfortunate people on communities throughout the Valley and what progress, if any, has been made in helping them. Our findings: The impact is broader and much more expensive than is generally realized.
However, a promising new approach recently introduced in Phoenix could save tens of millions of dollars and finally provide lasting help to the mentally ill homeless.
The Republic found that the annual cost of treating the Valley's mentally ill homeless in emergency rooms, sheltering them and continually cycling them through the legal system averages $30,000 to $40,000 per person. For the entire Valley, that amounts to $90 million to $180 million per year.
Studies conducted in other parts of the country suggest the cost could be substantially higher, especially when "hidden costs" are taken into account, such as the sales that businesses lose and the parks that are underused because of the presence of the mentally ill homeless.
These individuals affect communities at many levels:
• They account for so many crimes that Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Gilbert and Chandler have about 520 officers specially trained to deal with them.
• Phoenix and Tempe each has established a Mental Health Court whose main job is to deal with crimes the mentally ill homeless typically commit, such as burglary, theft, trespassing, breaking and entry, disorderly conduct and public urination.
• At any given time, Maricopa County jails house an average of about 1,100 people with serious mental illnesses who otherwise would be homeless. The estimated annual cost is about $20 million. These people account for about half of the county's mentally ill inmates and were a major reason the county built a new psychiatric unit in the complex on Lower Buckeye Road in west Phoenix. The unit, which just opened and can house 240 inmates, will cost $13 million annually to operate.
• The mentally ill homeless, who have a high incidence of communicable diseases, especially sexually transmitted diseases, depend on hospital emergency rooms throughout the Valley for primary medical care, often causing other patients to wait for hours. A conservative estimate of the annual cost of treating these difficult cases in emergency rooms: about $22 million.
• Scores of Valley parks have been made almost unusable by the mentally ill homeless, who sleep on benches, wash in the bathrooms and frighten families with their unfortunate appearance and often bizarre behavior. The parks most affected include Pioneer and Kleinman in Mesa; Daley Park in Tempe; Encanto and Margaret T. Hance parks and Patriots Square in Phoenix; and Bonsall Park in Glendale.
Of course, the impact of the mentally ill homeless on the Valley cannot just be measured in terms of dollars, crime and inconvenience. The biggest cost is their lost lives. These people are not bums who don't want to work. Many had families and held jobs before mental illness destroyed them.
How we got here
Thousands of mentally ill homeless did not always wander Valley streets. Until about 40 years ago, most of the mentally ill, if relatives weren't caring for them, were in mental hospitals.
During the 1950s, an average of about 700,000 adults, or about 468 of every 100,000 adults in the United States, were in state mental hospitals, according to The Homeless, a landmark book published in 1994 and written by Christopher Jencks, a Harvard professor of social policy.
But conditions in those hospitals were sometimes appalling, and advocates for the mentally ill began to call for other approaches.
"Deinstitutionalization" began in the early 1960s, when many of the mentally ill were moved out of state hospitals and sent back to their families, placed in smaller facilities with lower-quality staffs, given short-term psychiatric care in general hospitals or just released onto the streets.
With the establishment of Medicaid in 1965 and Supplemental Security Income in 1972, both of which provided financial aid to the poor, deinstitutionalization accelerated. The rationale was that government aid could pay for their housing; whether they would stay in that housing was another matter. By the end of 1975, only 119 of every 100,000 adults were in state mental hospitals.
That same year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in O'Connor vs. Donaldson that mental illness alone wasn't sufficient justification for involuntary commitment. It became illegal to lock up people in a mental ward unless they were a demonstrable danger to themselves or others.
Now, only about 31 per 100,000 adults in the United States are in mental wards, a 93 percent decline from the 1950s. More telling, the 250,000 homeless people in the country with schizophrenia, manic depression or other serious mental illnesses dwarf the 90,000 in mental hospitals and the mental wards of general hospitals, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group.
About 1,500 patients on average were in the Arizona State Hospital for the mentally ill during the 1960s, when the state's population was less than 2 million. Today, with the population approaching 6 million, the hospital has 258 adult patients. Thousands who would have been in a hospital setting 40 years ago now live on the streets.
Until the late 1980s, most of the mentally ill homeless tended to congregate in downtown Phoenix, near emergency shelters and soup kitchens.
But their numbers outside central Phoenix naturally grew, experts say, as the populations of outlying communities soared and places like parks, shopping centers and freeway entrances where the homeless could beg a living and seek shelter spread throughout the Valley.
Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, mayor of Phoenix from 1984 to 1990, recalls getting a call toward the end of his last term from an East Valley mayor.
"He said, 'Terry, we've got some of your homeless people in our town. Could you send someone to pick them up?' " Goddard said. "I told him they were all of our problem now, and that maybe it was time we worked together to solve it."
In the past 15 years, state, county and local governments and private organizations have made progress in coordinating efforts to help the homeless, including the mentally ill, and increasing funding. Undoubtedly, the number of mentally ill homeless would be greater and their conditions would be worse without the efforts to provide clinics, group homes, shelters and counseling services.
ValueOptions, a firm contracted by the state to provide mental-health care, housing and other services to the mentally ill poor in Maricopa County, has been under attack by a county court, state agencies and the Legislature for delivering inadequate care. There is scant evidence, however, that these issues have aggravated the plight of the mentally ill homeless.
Blame aside, an examination of how the mentally ill homeless are affecting emergency rooms, crime and jails, and parks throughout the Valley makes it clear that the problem is still growing and many institutions are struggling to cope.
Many of the Valley's mentally ill homeless use emergency rooms as their only medical care provider, costing hospitals millions in unpaid bills and sometimes causing disruptions and long waits. Although many of the homeless with serious mental illnesses qualify for state or federal benefits, getting them enrolled in those programs, or even determining if they are already enrolled, is challenging and time-consuming.
Emergency rooms are required by the law to treat everyone. The homeless know they can always just walk into an emergency room and receive treatment, ER officials say. Hospitals serving established city centers - such as John C. Lincoln, Saint Joseph's, Phoenix Baptist, Tempe Saint Luke's and Maricopa Medical Center - see the largest number of homeless mentally ill people. Hospitals in the outlying reaches of the Valley, such as Chandler Regional Hospital or Boswell Memorial Hospital in Sun City, see fewer, but all see some.
The experiences of John C. Lincoln's emergency room illustrate the problems many ERs face. On a typical day, one or two mentally ill homeless come to the ER, and nurses, doctors and social workers give them the same attention they would give anyone else. Lincoln officials say handling one or two of these folks isn't too difficult. When, say, four or five come in or are brought in by the police, however, the impact is great: The delays for everyone else stretch to many hours.
"Some days those folks are using every other bed. Sometimes they stay eight to 12 hours, and we have people waiting and waiting," said Joseph Gieber, a social worker in Lincoln's emergency room.
Many of the homeless patients with serious mental illnesses exhibit a state of panic, hallucinations or outright psychosis, and most have physical afflictions too, Gieber said.
Many have sexually transmitted diseases.
"And since many walk around barefoot on the broiling pavement in the summer, we see terrible blisters, often infected, broken open, unbelievable; the whole bottom of the foot is a blister," he added.
In addition to treating physical injuries and diseases, the emergency-room staff conducts a psychological and social assessment. For example, is the person suicidal? Is there a medical cause for his or her mental state?
"Often they're not taking their meds, not going to their (psychiatric) appointments," Gieber said.
The staff also frequently arranges for psychiatric care. This involves trying to determine if the patient is or could be a client of ValueOptions, the private firm that provides services to the county's mentally ill poor.
At the emergency room of St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, Matt Boettcher says the mentally ill homeless "are just a fact of our lives."
Boettcher, who supervises the social workers in the ER, said doctors and nurses must spend hours treating a homeless mentally ill patient. Then a social worker must spend additional hours evaluating the patient for possible psychiatric care and trying to determine whether he or she is eligible for veterans' or state health-care benefits.
Hospital officials say the average ER visit results in about $2,000 in services. This means that if each of the Valley's 30 emergency rooms sees an average of one homeless, mentally ill person per day (a conservative estimate, which takes into account that some see more and some see less), the total annual cost of treating them is about $22 million. Medicaid covers some of these costs, but hospital officials say their institutions must absorb most of the cost.
Some studies show that the medical costs generated by the chronically homeless can be much higher. A study of 15 chronically homeless people conducted by the University of California-San Diego Medical Center from 2000 to 2004 found that each consumed an average of $69,820 per year in public medical services.
Crime and jails
For their small numbers, the mentally ill homeless account for a large number of crimes in Maricopa County. Few of the crimes they commit, however, are violent; rarely do they hurt people. Most are misdemeanors such as trespassing, public indecency, minor drug offenses, prostitution and theft.
At any given time, about 1,100 mentally ill homeless are in Maricopa County's jails, where they account for about 11 percent of the total jail population. Most of these people are housed with the general prison population at a cost per person of about $43 per day, or a total of about $16.5 million a year.
Approximately 50 to 60 homeless mentally ill inmates are so severely afflicted or are so violent that they have to be kept in the psychiatric units of the jails. In these facilities, the cost per inmate, including medications, averages $150 a day, or $54,750 annually.
A county commission was formed late last year to explore possible ways to keep the mentally ill out of jail and help them deal with substance-abuse problems, find housing and, perhaps, get jobs. Its members, who include politicians, judges, prosecutors and agencies that help the homeless, are studying successful efforts in California.
A California pilot program in a Los Angeles County jail reduced the number of mentally ill inmates to 92 from 307 in three years.
"So many of these people don't belong in jail but need the right kind of services," said Don Stapley, a Maricopa County supervisor and head of the new commission. "We need to divert people from jail, get them on the right medications, help them find housing and jobs. (We need to) help them have lives."
In the past 10 to 15 years, the number of parks frequented by the mentally ill homeless throughout the Valley has grown. The parks in central Phoenix still have the biggest concentration. Patriots Square, Margaret T. Hance and Encanto parks each has anywhere from 10 to 20 on any given day.
But these poor people have also become a regular sight at many other Phoenix parks, including North Mountain Preserve and South Mountain Park, Maryvale Park in west Phoenix and Arcadia Park in east Phoenix.
"We deal with mentally ill people in our parks all over town every day," said Rene Vera, a Phoenix Parks supervisor who oversees the 62 rangers who patrol Phoenix's 200 parks and its mountain preserves.
And the mentally ill homeless have become a major concern of visitors to Pioneer and Kleinman parks in Mesa, Daley Park in Tempe and Bonsall Park in Glendale.
Most of these parks are in middle-income neighborhoods. For example, there is a large homeless camp near Bonsall Park at 59th Avenue and Bethany Home Road, and the park is a favorite spot to spend the day.
"Some of them are just down on their luck, but a lot are mentally ill," said Andrew Stuart, a civilian crime-prevention specialist with the Glendale Community Action Team.
"Most can't afford their medication and have reverted back to exhibiting mentally unstable tendencies," said Stuart, who often has gone to parks with police to deal with complaints about homeless people.
Stuart and other Glendale officials say that although homeless people have been a fact of life in Glendale for at least 10 years, their numbers seem to have grown in recent years.
Although it's no secret that the parks are favorite haunts of the mentally ill homeless, what is a mystery to many Valley residents is why the authorities don't do something about their presence. Why aren't they removed so "normal people" can use the parks for recreation? Why isn't somebody helping these unfortunates?
The answer is a complicated one.
The mentally ill homeless have civil rights. So unless they are breaking a law, they have just as much right to be in the parks as anyone else.
And persuading those who pose no clear threat to themselves or others to accept assistance and perhaps go to a day center or shelter often can be extremely difficult and requires training.
The larger communities in the Valley - Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Gilbert and Chandler - have had ValueOptions train 520 police officers to deal with the mentally ill homeless. The 40-hour program teaches officers to recognize the signs of mental illness and learn non-threatening, even soothing, ways to deal with such homeless people.
"We set up real-life scenarios the officers typically will face and use people trained to play the role of a mentally ill person," said James Stringham, ValueOptions' director of training.
Stringham said that sometimes officers must take violent homeless mentally ill people to jail, but others can be taken to the ValueOptions Psychiatric Recovery Center at the Maricopa Medical Center.
"The police have to make a call as to where the person should go," Stringham said. "Our training helps them make that call."
The police sometimes help park rangers deal with the mentally ill homeless, but there is a demand for these specially trained officers throughout their communities. And it's not uncommon for a ranger to feel overwhelmed.
When a ranger goes to a place like Hance Park and sees 10 to 30 homeless people, most mentally ill, sleeping on benches and the lawns, "it's impossible to help them all," said Vera, the Phoenix Parks supervisor.
Vera added, "I've seen people just being nuts out there. You are polite, but some of them are so sick, just disoriented, that dealing with them is stressful . . . for me and for all of us."
A new approach
Plenty of people - police who struggle to deal with homeless mentally ill, citizens who can't use parks, the sick who wait hours in emergency rooms, everyone with a conscience dismayed by the sight of helpless, vulnerable human beings living a miserable life on the streets - say the current situation is untenable.
But it's far from hopeless. A new approach pioneered in California and recently introduced in Phoenix is proving effective in helping the mentally ill homeless build new lives.
In another effort of "encouragement," a Louisiana State Police SWAT team armed with rifles confronted two brothers at their home in the Uptown section of New Orleans, leaving one sobbing.
"I thought they were going to shoot me," 23-year-old Leonard Thomas said, weeping on his front porch. "That dude came and stuck the gun dead at my head."
Signs of progress
Levee breach plugged; floodwaters receding
Sept. 6, 2005 12:00 AM
NEW ORLEANS - A week after Hurricane Katrina struck, engineers on Monday plugged the levee break that swamped much of New Orleans, floodwaters began to recede and residents briefly returned home, but along with the good news came the mayor's direst prediction yet: Perhaps as many as 10,000 dead.
Sheets of metal and repeated helicopter drops of 3,000-pound sandbags along the 17th Street Canal leading to Lake Pontchartrain succeeded Monday in plugging a 200-foot-wide gap, and water was being pumped from the canal back into the lake. State officials and the Army Corps of Engineers say that once the canal level is drawn down 2 feet, Pumping Station 6 can begin pumping water out of the bowl-shaped city.
Some parts of the city already showed slipping floodwaters as the repair neared completion, with the low-lying Ninth Ward dropping more than a foot. In downtown New Orleans, some streets were merely wet rather than swamped.
"We're starting to make the kind of progress that I kind of expected earlier," New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said of the work on the break, which opened at the height of the hurricane and flooded 80 percent of the city up to 20 feet deep.
In New Orleans, Nagin upped his estimate of the probable death toll in his city from merely thousands, telling NBC's Today show, "It wouldn't be unreasonable to have 10,000," though he didn't cite the basis for that statement.
Biloxi, Miss., Mayor A.J. Holloway said he expected the death toll in his Mississippi city to exceed that of Hurricane Camille, which killed 200 people in 1969.
As law enforcement officers and even bands of civilians, including actor Sean Penn, launched door-to-door searches of the city for survivors, they were running up against a familiar obstacle: People who had been trapped more than a week in damaged homes yet refused to leave.
"We have advised people that this city has been destroyed," said Deputy Police Superintendent W.J. Riley. "There is nothing here for them and no reason for them to stay, no food, no jobs, nothing."
Riley, who estimated fewer than 10,000 people were left in the city, said some simply did not want to leave their homes - while others were hanging back to engage in criminal activities, such as looting.
Nagin said the city had the authority to force residents to evacuate but didn't say if it was taking that step. He did, however, detail one heavy-handed tactic: Water will no longer be handed out to people who refuse to leave.
In another effort of "encouragement," a Louisiana State Police SWAT team armed with rifles confronted two brothers at their home in the Uptown section of New Orleans, leaving one sobbing.
"I thought they were going to shoot me," 23-year-old Leonard Thomas said, weeping on his front porch. "That dude came and stuck the gun dead at my head."
One officer, who did not give his name, said his team tried to make sure that the two men understood that food and water were becoming scarce and disease could begin spreading.
Many of the 460,000 residents of suburban Jefferson Parish waited in a line of cars that stretched for miles to briefly see their flooded homes, and to scoop up soaked wedding pictures, baby shoes and other cherished mementoes.
"A lot of these people built these houses anticipating some floodwater but nobody imagined this," sobbed Diane Dempsey, a 59-year-old retired Army lieutenant colonel who could get no closer than the water line a mile from her Metairie home. "I'm going to pay someone to get me back there, anything I have to do."
"I won't be getting inside today unless I get some scuba gear," added Jack Rabito, a 61-year-old bar owner who waited for a ride to visit his one-story home that had water lapping to the gutters.
With almost a third of New Orleans' police force missing in action, a caravan of law enforcement vehicles, emblazoned with emblems from across the nation and blue lights flashing, poured into the city to help establish order on the city's anarchic streets.
Four hundred to 500 officers on New Orleans' 1,600-member force were unaccounted for. Some lost their homes. Some were looking for families. "Some simply left because they said they could not deal with the catastrophe," Riley said. Officers were being cycled off duty and given five-day vacations in Las Vegas and Atlanta, where they would also receive counseling.
Nagin, the New Orleans mayor, said Sunday that all uniformed New Orleans officers would be pulled off the streets and sent for evaluation and counseling, but Riley offered no such indication Monday.
"We feel the city is very secure," Riley said, though he reminded everyone of the magnitude of the challenge and the scale of the work that remained. "This was probably the greatest catastrophe in an American city."
At a news conference in Baton Rouge, police Superintendent Eddie Compass denied officers deserted in droves, acknowledging some officers abandoned their jobs but saying he didn't know how many.
Two police officers killed themselves. Another was shot in the head. Compass said 150 had to be rescued from 8 feet of water and others had gotten infections from walking through the murky soup of chemicals and pollutants in flooded areas.
"No police department in the history of the world was asked to do what we were asked," Compass said.
The leader of National Guard troops patrolling New Orleans declared the city largely free of the lawlessness that plagued it in the days just after the hurricane. And he angrily lashed out at a reporter who suggested search-and-rescue operations were being stymied by random gunfire and lawlessness.
"Go on the streets of New Orleans, it's secure," said Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore. "Have you been to New Orleans? Did anybody accost you?"
Hopeful signs of recovery were accompanied by President Bush's second visit to Louisiana that exposed a continued rift between state and federal officials over the slowness of a relief effort. The first significant convoy of food, water and medicine didn't arrive in New Orleans until four full days after the hurricane, and the mayor and others said some survivors died awaiting relief.
The Times-Picayune, Louisiana's largest newspaper, published an open letter to Bush, called for the firing of every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
In Texas, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt declared a public health emergency for that state, saying it would speed up federal assistance to help almost 240,000 storm evacuees - the most of any state.
The Associated Press, Cox News Service and Knight Ridder Newspapers
finger pointing federal, state, and city government bueorcrat blame each other for the mess in new orleans.
Bush, La. governor console evacuees, reveal tensions
Sept. 6, 2005 12:00 AM
BATON ROUGE, La. - Like estranged in-laws at a holiday gathering, President Bush and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco kept their distance as both toured a relief center for storm victims Monday. At their next stop, the Republican president kissed the Democratic governor on the cheek, but it wasn't clear whether they had made up.
State and federal officials are all facing public criticism for a slow response to the crisis. Behind the scenes, each suggests the other is to blame.
In front of the cameras during Bush's visit to the Gulf Coast states on Monday, the president and Blanco said little to each other, focusing instead on thanking relief workers.
"I know I don't need to make any other introduction other than 'Mr. President,' " Blanco said tersely, turning the microphone over to Bush after praising emergency management officials during a stop with Bush at an emergency operations center.
"This is one of these disasters that will test our soul and test our spirit, but we're going to show the world once again that not only can we survive but we will be stronger and better for it," Bush said after taking the microphone.
Blanco late Monday sought to tone down suggestions of a rift.
"We'd like to stop the voices out there trying to create a divide," she said. "There is no divide. We're all in this together. Every leader in this nation wants to see this problem solved."
Bush echoed Blanco's praise for rescue workers. "I hope that makes you feel good to know you have saved lives," Bush said, promising state, local and federal officials that he would fix anything that isn't going right. "This is just the beginning of a huge effort," he said.
The president, looking choked up as he finished his brief remarks, nodded at Blanco and kissed her on the cheek. She nodded back and both left the podium, headed for separate spots in the crowd.
Blanco has refused to sign over control of the National Guard to the federal government and has turned to a Clinton administration official, former Federal Emergency Management Agency chief James Lee Witt, to help run relief efforts.
Blanco was not told when Bush would visit the state, nor was she immediately invited to meet him or travel with him. Blanco's office didn't know Bush was coming until told by reporters. Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said the White House reached out to Blanco's office on Sunday, but didn't hear back. White House staff in Louisiana spoke with Blanco early Monday, he said.
Making his third visit to the Hurricane Katrina-ravaged states, Bush stopped first at the Bethany World Prayer Center, a huge hall half covered with pallets and half filled with dining tables. Blanco visited at the same time, but she and Bush kept apart as they walked around talking to people.
During his stop at Bethany, several people ran up to meet Bush and get autographs as he and first lady Laura Bush wandered around the room. But just as many hung back and looked on.
"I need answers," said Mildred Brown, who has been there since last Tuesday with her husband, mother-in-law and cousin.
"I'm not interested in handshaking. I'm not interested in photo ops. This is going to take a lot of money."
Bush hasn't gone a day without a public event devoted to the storm and its aftermath. But none of those trips, nor appearances by several Cabinet members in the region, has quieted complaints that Washington's response to the disaster has been sluggish. Congress already plans hearings on the response.
maybe the motto of the police should be changed from to "serve and protect" to "rob, loot, and rape"?
Sheriff's officers lament New Orleans police actions
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 7, 2005 12:00 AM
On their final day in Louisiana, some Maricopa County sheriff's deputies met with their supervisors to discuss a number of disturbing events they saw while patrolling the streets of New Orleans.
They watched New Orleans police officers loading their patrol cars with items taken from various businesses, including a Wal-Mart, a couple of pharmacies, a hardware store, an auto-parts store and a grocery store.
Whether it was looting or a necessary act of survival, the deputies didn't like it.
"There were a lot of guys seeing things they thought were very wrong. That was the perception," sheriff's Detective Gary McGuire said.
So Tuesday morning, Larry Black, chief of enforcement for the Sheriff's Office, gathered his men and women at the Lamar-Dixon Exhibition Grounds, their base camp for the past few days, to discuss what they saw.
Black first reminded his officers that the New Orleans police had been working for days without sleep, without being resupplied, without power, without gas and, in some cases, even without food.
Black said that he was told by the New Orleans police captain in Algiers, a New Orleans district on the western bank of the Mississippi River where sheriff's deputies spent the past few days on patrol, that officials from Wal-Mart and other stores gave officers permission to take items they needed.
"The worst thing we could do is judge what happened," he said. "They were besieged."
Since Hurricane Katrina struck, media reports say up to 500 New Orleans officers, a third of the force, have stopped reporting for duty, and two have committed suicide.
Several New Orleans police officials declined to comment for this story.
"My officers on duty at the Wal-Mart were concerned when they saw New Orleans police taking things from the store," Lt. Randy Brice said. "I also saw things going out of the store. But I also saw New Orleans officers writing down the bar codes of what was being taken out."
Black told his staff the New Orleans police ran out of everything and desperately needed things like batteries, flashlights, clothing, some auto parts and some food.
"I think there will be investigations, but we aren't judging this," Black said.
Sgt. J.D. Sidebottom of the Kennedale Police Department near Fort Worth, which has been assisting police in New Orleans, also declined to judge the New Orleans police.
"When you have the kind of need they had, what are you going to do?" he asked. "When you're a police officer in that situation, you do what you have to do to survive."
After the meeting, the sheriff's convoy had just begun its return trip to Phoenix when a sheriff's detective shot a man in the eye with a beanbag round during a confrontation along Interstate 10. The incident occurred about 8 a.m. outside Gonzales, La., the town south of Baton Rouge where a 100-person contingent from the Sheriff's Office has been staying.
Officials at the scene said the driver pulled alongside the convoy and began driving erratically. He pulled in front of some sheriff's vehicles and began hitting his brakes. After initially refusing to stop, he finally pulled over and began threatening sheriff's Detective Jason Lier and Sgt. Aaron Brown, who showed their badges and asked him to stop, officials said. When he continued to threaten them and advanced toward them, officials say Lier, a member of the sheriff's SWAT team, shot him with a beanbag round that hit him in the left eye.
"What happened this morning was two well-trained deputies made a decision not to fire ammunition at this guy, but to use a 40-millimeter rubber round," Sheriff Joe Arpaio said.
The motorist, whose name was unavailable, was hospitalized with severe trauma to his eye.
Staff reporter Emily Bittner and the New York Times contributed to this article.
oxygen an illegal drug???? dont breath with out getting permission from the FDA
State Fair oxygen bar owner issued order
By the Lincoln Journal Star
The owner of a popular oxygen bar at the Nebraska State Fair that health officials had deemed illegal was issued a cease and desist order last week.
Marla Augustine, spokeswoman for the Nebraska Health and Human Services System, said the state Board of Medicine and Surgery issued the order to Drew Norris Friday afternoon.
By Friday evening, Norris, of Hutchinson, Kan., had loaded up his Third Eye Oxygen Bar and left the fairgrounds, said Joe McDermott, the fair’s assistant executive director.
Norris could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Pure oxygen is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is considered a “legend drug,” considered a step below a controlled substance. A prescription is required to dispense pure oxygen.
Augustine said the cease and desist order only prevents Norris from selling oxygen in Nebraska.
Norris had described his operation as “entertainment.” Customers choose a blend of pure oxygen and aromatherapy, which is administered into nostrils through tubes.
Zookeepers Try To Get Chimp To Quit Smoking
Habit Has Lasted 15 Years
POSTED: 8:49 am PDT August 26, 2005
UPDATED: 8:56 am PDT August 26, 2005
XI'AN, China -- The handlers of a smoking chimpanzee in a zoo in northwest China are trying to get her to kick the habit.
Chimp Tries To Quit Smoking
The 26-year-old female chimp has been smoking for 15 years. Her mate died recently, which caused her to smoke even more.
Now, the chimp's keepers are worried about her health as a result of her intense smoking. So, they're trying to give her milk instead of cigarettes.
The chimp got hooked on cigarettes by picking up cigarette butts left by tourists.
In April, South Africa's Bloemfontein Zoo announced that it wanted its smoking chimp to go cold turkey.
Keepers said Charlie also picked up the habit by watching smoking visitors. People tossed him the smokes and he puffed away. A zoo official said that Charlie "acts like a naughty schoolboy" and hides his cigarettes when workers are around.
New Orleans police came through commandeering drivable vehicles and siphoning gas. Officials took over a hotel and ejected the guests.
hmmm.... sounds like the government criminals are worse then the common criminals. at least common criminals know what they do is wrong!
French Quarter 'tribes' take charge
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEW ORLEANS - In the absence of information and outside assistance, groups of rich and poor banded together in the French Quarter, forming "tribes" and dividing up the labor.
As some went down to the river to do the wash, others remained behind to protect property. In a bar, a bartender put near-perfect stitches into the torn ear of a robbery victim.
While mold and contagion grew in the muck that engulfed most of the city, something else sprouted in this most decadent of American neighborhoods - humanity.
"Some people became animals," Vasilioas Tryphonas said Sunday morning as he sipped a hot beer in Johnny White's Sports Bar on Bourbon Street. "We became more civilized."
While hundreds of thousands fled the below-sea-level city before the storm, many refused to leave the Vieux Carre, or old quarter. Built on some of the highest ground around and equipped with underground power lines, residents considered it the safest place to be.
Katrina blew off roof slates and knocked down some already-unstable buildings but otherwise left the 18th and 19th century homes with their trademark iron balconies intact. Even without water and power, most preferred it to the squalor and death in the emergency shelters set up at the Superdome and convention center.
But what had been a refuge soon became an ornate prison.
Police came through commandeering drivable vehicles and siphoning gas. Officials took over a hotel and ejected the guests.
Many in outlying areas consider the Quarter a playground for the rich and complain that the place gets special attention.
Yes, wealthy people feasted on steak and quaffed warm champagne in the days after the storm. But many who stayed behind were the working poor - residents of the cramped spaces above the restaurants and shops.
Tired of waiting for trucks to come with food and water, residents turned to each other.
Johnny White's never closes, even during a hurricane. The doors don't even have locks.
Since the storm, it has become more than a bar. Along with the warm beer and shots, the bartenders passed out scrounged military Meals Ready to Eat and bottled water to the people who drive the mule carts, bus the tables and hawk the T-shirts that keep the Quarter's economy humming.
For some, the bar has also become a hospital.
Tryphonas, who restores buildings in the Quarter, left the neighborhood briefly Saturday. Someone hit him in the head with a 2-by-4 and stole his last $5.
When Tryphonas showed up at Johnny White's with his left ear split in two, Joe Bellomy - a customer pressed into service as a bartender - put a wooden spoon between Tryphonas' teeth and used a needle and thread to sew it up. Military medics who later looked at Bellomy's handiwork decided to simply bandage the ear.
yes the police do own YOUR home. well they THINK they own your home. and they probably will kill people who dont obey them and leave their homes
Sep 7, 9:41 PM EDT
Police, Soldiers Work to Empty New Orleans
By SHARON COHEN
AP National Writer
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Using the unmistakable threat of force, police and soldiers went house to house Wednesday to try to coax the last 10,000 or so stubborn holdouts to leave storm-shattered New Orleans because of the risk of disease from the putrid, sewage-laden floodwaters.
"A large group of young armed men armed with M-16s just arrived at my door and told me that I have to leave," said Patrick McCarty, who owns several buildings and lives in one of them in the city's Lower Garden District. "While not saying they would arrest you, the inference is clear."
A frail-looking 86-year-old Anthony Charbonnet grumbled as he locked his front door and walked slowly backward down the steps of the house where he had lived since 1955.
"I haven't left my house in my life," he said as soldiers took him to a helicopter. "I don't want to leave."
Mayor C. Ray Nagin ordered law officers and the military late Tuesday to evacuate all holdouts - by force if necessary. He warned that the combination of fetid water, fires and natural gas leaks after Hurricane Katrina made it too dangerous to stay.
In fact, the first government tests confirmed Wednesday that the amount of sewage-related bacteria in the floodwaters is at least 10 times higher than acceptable safety levels. Dr. Julie Gerberding, chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned stragglers not to even touch the water and pleaded: "If you haven't left the city yet, you must do so."
As of midday, there were no reports of anyone being removed by force. And it was not clear how the order would be carried out.
Active-military troops said they had no plans to use force. National Guard officers said they do not take orders from the mayor. And even the police said they were not ready to use force just yet. It appeared that the mere threat of force would be the first option.
Walker says her family is running out of money and needs a place to stay.
"We have thousands of people who want to voluntarily evacuate at this time," Police Chief Eddie Compass said. "Once they are all out, then we'll concentrate our forces on mandatory evacuation."
Mindful of the bad publicity that could result from images of weary residents dragged out of their homes at gunpoint, Compass said that when his officers start using force, it will be the minimum amount necessary.
"If you are somebody who is 350 pounds, it will obviously take more force to move you than if you are 150 pounds," the chief said.
The stepped-up evacuation came as workers trying to get into the city to restart essential services came under sniper fire. More than 100 officers and seven armored personnel carriers captured a suspect in a housing project who had been firing on workers trying to restore cell phone towers, authorities said.
"These cell teams are getting fire on almost a daily basis, so we needed to get in here and clean this thing up," said Capt. Jeff Winn, commander of the police SWAT team. "We're putting a lot of people on the street right now and I think that we are bringing it under control. Eight days ago this was a mess. Every day is getting a little bit better."
The police chief boasted that 7,000 more military, police and other law officers on the streets had made New Orleans "probably the safest city in America right now."
Across miles of ravaged neighborhoods of clapboard houses, grand estates and housing projects, workers struggled to find and count corpses sniffed out by cadaver dogs in the 90-degree heat. The mayor has said New Orleans' death toll could reach 10,000. Already, a temporary warehouse morgue in rural St. Gabriel that had been prepared to take 1,000 bodies was being readied to handle 5,000.
Bob Johannessen, spokesman for the state Department of Health and Hospitals, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has 25,000 body bags on hand in Louisiana.
Asked if authorities expected as many as 25,000 bodies, he said: "We don't know what to expect."
"It means we're prepared," Johannessen said.
The enormity of the disaster came ever-clearer in neighboring St. Bernard Parish, which was hit by a levee break that brought a wall of water up to 20 feet high. State Rep. Nita Hutter said 30 people died at a flooded nursing home in Chalmette when the staff left the elderly residents behind in their beds. And Rep. Charlie Melancon said more than 100 people died at a dockside warehouse while they waited for rescuers to ferry them to safety.
The floodwaters continued to recede, though slowly, with only 23 of the city's normal contingent of 148 pumps in operation, along with three portable pumps. The water in St. Bernard Parish had fallen 5 feet.
Because of the standing water, doctors were being urged to watch for diarrheal illnesses caused by such things as E. coli bacteria, certain viruses, and a type of cholera-like bacteria common along the warm Gulf Coast.
Given the extent of the misery, Louisiana's two U.S. senators - Democrat Mary Landrieu and Republican David Vitter - wrote a letter to Senate leaders Wednesday urging them to put aside partisan bickering in assigning blame over the federal response and focus on providing for victims.
"Please do not make the citizens of Louisiana a victim once again by allowing our immediate needs to be delayed by partisanship," they wrote.
In Washington, the Bush administration announced Wednesday that dispossessed victims of Hurricane Katrina would receive debit cards good for $2,000 to spend on clothing and other immediate needs. The plan was to quickly begin distributing the cards, starting with people in major evacuation centers such as the Houston Astrodome.
Patricia Kelly was driven out of her home by flooding in the low-lying Ninth Ward and took up residence under a tattered, dirty green-and-white-striped patio umbrella in front of an abandoned barber shop. Despite the warnings, she refused to leave.
"We're surviving every day, trying to tolerate the situation by the grace of God. He's keeping us holding on just one day at a time," she said. "I'm going to stay as long as the Lord says so. If they come with a court order, then we'll leave."
Sgt. Joseph Boarman of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, whose soldiers helped coax people from their homes, said he could almost understand the reluctance to leave: "It's their home. You know how hard it is to leave home, no matter what condition it's in."
Dolores Devron lashed out in anger as soldiers led her and her husband, Forcell, out of their flooded home.
"There are dead babies tied to poles and they're dragging us out and leaving the dead babies. That ain't right!" she screamed, waving her arms as she was directed onto a troop carrier truck.
In the high and dry French Quarter, 48-year-old Jack Jones said he would resist if authorities tried to force him out of the home where he has lived since the 1970s.
While the streets were strewn with garbage, rotting food and downed power lines, Jones kept his block pristine, sweeping daily, spraying for mosquitoes and even pouring bleach down drains to kill germs.
Jones said the sick, the elderly and people who lack supplies should be evacuated - but not folks like him. He has 15 cases of drinking water, a generator, canned ravioli, wine, coffee and three cartons of Marlboros.
"I've got everything I need," he said. "I just want to be left alone."
2nd amendment is null and void in new orleans. the police are stealing guns from civilians and only allowing police and military thugs to have guns
Police fearing deadly confrontations with
jittery residents enforced a new order that
bars homeowners from owning guns. That order
apparently does not apply to the hundreds of
M-16-toting private security guards hired
to protect businesses and wealthy property
how are civilians supposed to protect themselfs from government thugs?????
Fewer bodies than expected in New Orleans
Sept. 9, 2005 04:40 PM
NEW ORLEANS - Alarming predictions of as many as 10,000 dead in New Orleans may have been greatly exaggerated, with authorities saying Friday that the first street-by-street sweep of the swamped city revealed far fewer corpses than feared.
"Some of the catastrophic deaths that some people predicted may not have occurred," said Col. Terry Ebbert, the city's homeland security chief.
He declined to give a revised estimate. But he added: "Numbers so far are relatively minor as compared to the dire projections of 10,000."
The encouraging news came as workers repairing New Orlean's system of levies and water pumps projected Friday that it will take a month to dry out the city ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.
Authorities officially shifted most of their attention to counting and removing the dead after spending days cajoling, persuading and all but strong-arming the living into leaving the city because of the danger of fires and disease from the fetid floodwaters.
Ever since the hurricane struck Aug. 29, residents, rescuers and cadaver-sniffing dogs have found bodies floating in the waters, trapped in attics or left lying on broken highways. Some were dropped off at hospital doorsteps or left slumped in wheelchairs out in the open.
Mayor Ray Nagin suggested last weekend that "it wouldn't be unreasonable to have 10,000" dead, and authorities ordered 25,000 body bags. But soldiers who had been brought in over the past few days to help in the search were not seeing that kind of toll.
"There's nothing at all in the magnitude we anticipated," said Maj. Gen. Bill Caldwell, commander of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division.
Ebbert said the search for the dead will be done systematically, block-by-block, with dignity and with no news media allowed to follow along. "You can imagine sitting in Houston and watching somebody removed from your parents' property. We don't think that's proper," he said.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said most of the city could be drained by Oct. 2, but some of the eastern areas of New Orleans and the hard-hit community of Chalmette, across the Mississippi River, could be under water until Oct. 8. Plaquemines Parish, which suffered a storm surge from the coast, could take another 10 days to drain.
The Corps had previously said it could take up to 80 days to drain the city. Friday marked the first time engineers offered detailed time tables.
The effort to get water out of the city, which had been 80 percent covered following the storm and levee breaches, was helped by dry weather and gaps blown in the levies to allow floodwaters to drain out.
Over the past few days, police and soldiers trying to rescue the living marked houses where corpses were found, or noted their location with global positioning devices, so that the bodies could be collected later.
A dozen boats awaiting calls to retrieve bodies were lined up early Friday on an interstate ramp that was being used as a makeshift boat launch. Soldiers also hauled the last of the bodies out of the convention center, which became an increasingly violent and chaotic place before the evacuees were finally removed a week ago.
Still, thousands of stubborn holdouts were believed to staying put in the city, and authorities continued trying to clear them out.
Police fearing deadly confrontations with jittery residents enforced a new order that bars homeowners from owning guns. That order apparently does not apply to the hundreds of M-16-toting private security guards hired to protect businesses and wealthy property owners.
But there were still no reports of anyone being taken out by force under a three-day-old order from the mayor, and there were growing indications that that was little more than an empty threat.
"We're trying our best to persuasively negotiate and we are not using force at this time - I cannot speak to the future," said city attorney Sherry Landry. "If we find it necessary we will do so. ... We would like to make this a last resort."
In a shift, the military began providing cages to homeowners to allow them to evacuate with their pets. "We got the capacity, and it seemed like the right thing to do," said Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore.
Across the city, there were signs of hope.
The floodwaters continued to recede, with about three dozen of the 174 pumps in the area working and an additional 17 portable pumps in place. While 350,000 people in the New Orleans area were still without electricity, utilities said some power has been restored to the central business district.
Authorities said the airport will reopen to commercial flights Sept. 19. Firefighters were heartened to learn that water pressure has begun to return, though the water is still not safe to drink.
Residents of St. Tammany Parish, just across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, were allowed to return to their homes to see the damage and clean up. The Postal Service opened 37 offices in several parishes south of the city, though deliveries were still impossible along flooded streets.
The developments in New Orleans came against an increasingly stormy backdrop in Washington, where Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown was relieved of his command of the onsite relief efforts amid increasing criticism over the sluggishness of the agency's response and questions over his background.
Asked if he was being made a scapegoat, Brown told The Associated Press: "By the press, yes. By the president, No."
Meanwhile, scores of Louisiana National Guardsmen began arriving home from Iraq. About 800 members of Louisiana's 256th Brigade Combat Team volunteered to join the relief effort, while about 1,500 will return to their civilian jobs, if any of those positions are left.
For Spc. Nathan Faust of Chalmette in neighboring St. Bernard Parish, it is a total loss. His family home is flooded to the peak of the roof.
"All my stuff, all my family, everyone's homeless," said Faust, 23. "I want to move out of the city and start over someplace else. I can't put my life on hold for two years and wait for the city to get back on its feet."
police tyrants stealing guns from civilians in new orleans. again proof the government only picks on people who cant defend themselfs. the police are not even attempting to steal guns from private security firms who are armed with m-16 machine guns.
New Orleans Begins Confiscating Firearms as Water Recedes
By ALEX BERENSON and TIMOTHY WILLIAMS
Published: September 8, 2005
NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 8 - Waters were receding across this flood-beaten city today as police officers began confiscating weapons, including legally registered firearms, from civilians in preparation for a mass forced evacuation of the residents still living here.
No civilians in New Orleans will be allowed to carry pistols, shotguns or other firearms, said P. Edwin Compass III, the superintendent of police. "Only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons," he said.
But that order apparently does not apply to hundreds of security guards hired by businesses and some wealthy individuals to protect property. The guards, employees of private security companies like Blackwater, openly carry M-16's and other assault rifles. Mr. Compass said that he was aware of the private guards, but that the police had no plans to make them give up their weapons.
Nearly two weeks after the floods began, New Orleans has turned into an armed camp, patrolled by thousands of local, state, and federal law enforcement officers, as well as National Guard troops and active-duty soldiers. While armed looters roamed unchecked last week, the city is now calm. No arrests were made on Wednesday night or this morning, and the police received only 10 calls for service, a police spokesman said.
The city's slow recovery is continuing on other fronts as well, local officials said at a news conference. Pumping stations are now operating across much of the city, and many taps and fire hydrants have water pressure. Tests have shown no evidence of cholera or other dangerous diseases in flooded areas, though health officials have said the waters contain unsafe levels of E. coli bacteria and lead.
Efforts to recover corpses have also started.
But there were still signs of confusion and uncertainty over government plans. FEMA's director, Michael D. Brown, had said his agency would begin issuing debit cards, worth at least $2,000 each, to allow hurricane victims to buy supplies for immediate needs. More than 319,000 people have already applied for federal disaster relief, and many evacuees began lining up at the Astrodome, in Houston, early today in hope of getting cards.
"The concept is to get them some cash in hand," Mr. Brown had said, "which allows them, empowers them, to make their own decisions about what they need to have to restart their lives."
But this afternoon, FEMA announced that it no longer planned to issue the cards. An agency spokesman, David G. Passey, said that he did not know why the program was scrapped but that now "we believe that our normal methods of delivery - checks and electronic funds transfer - will suffice."
In Washington, the House an Senate overwhelmingly approved $51.8 billion for relief efforts, the second disbursement since the storm devastated the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29. The funds include $50 billion for FEMA, $1.4 billion for the Department of Defense and an additional $400 million for the Army Corps of Engineers. The request follows a $10.5 billion package that President Bush signed on Friday and that is intended to address the immediate needs of survivors.
Hundreds of miles to the east, Ophelia, a tropical storm off the Florida coast, was upgraded to hurricane status this afternoon after its winds reached speeds of 75 miles per hour. Forecasters have predicted that Ophelia will turn east into the Atlantic Ocean during the next few days, although its path remains unclear.
With pumps running and the weather here remaining hot and dry, water has receded across much of New Orleans. Formerly flooded streets are now passable, although covered with leaves, tree branches and mud.
A spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, Dan Hitchings, said 37 of the city's 174 permanent pumps were working this afternoon, removing about 11,000 cubic feet of flood water per second. The city's 174 pumps have the capacity to remove about 81,000 cubic feet of water each second when they are all operational.
While Mr. Hitchings would not try to quantify how much the water level in the city had dropped, he did say that "it's going down."
The Army Corps of Engineers continues to try to plug two levee breaks, Mr. Hitchings said, on London Avenue, and at the end of the Harbor Navigation Canal.
Many neighborhoods in the northern half of New Orleans remain under 10 feet of water, and Mr. Compass said today that the city's plans for a forced evacuation remained in effect because of the danger of disease and fires.
Betty Bates carried some of her belongings, including a photograph of her daughter and grandson, to a pickup that her husband, Clarence Burton, was loading. The couple were told on Wednesday to evacuate their home in New Orleans.
Mr. Compass said he could not disclose when New Orleans residents might be forced to leave en masse, but other police officers and law enforcement officials said the city planned to start as early as tonight.
The city's Police Department and federal law enforcement officers from agencies like the United States Marshals Service will lead the evacuation, Mr. Compass said. Officers will search houses in both dry and flooded neighborhoods, and no one will be allowed to stay, he said.
Many of the residents still in the city said they did not understand why the city remained intent on forcing them out.
"I know the risks," said Renee de Pontchieux, as she sat on a stool outside Kajun's Pub in the working-class Bywater neighborhood east of downtown. "We used to think we lived in America - now we're not so sure. Why should we allow this government to chase us out and allow people from outside to rebuild our homes? We want to rebuild our homes."
But Ms. De Pontchieux said she was resigned to being evacuated if the police insisted. "It would be foolish" to fight, she said.
This afternoon, President Bush announced a series of measures intended to make it easier for evacuees to receive state and federal assistance, like Medicaid and food stamps, to make the aid as "simple as possible to collect."
"There will be many difficult days ahead, especially as we recover those who did not survive the storm," he said, adding that he was declaring Sept. 16, next Friday, a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance.
Vice President Dick Cheney, accompanied by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the secretary of homeland security, Michael Chertoff, surveyed damaged neighborhoods in the Gulf Coast region today, and pledged that the federal government would help rebuild the devastated area.
Mr. Cheney visited Gulfport, Miss., and New Orleans, where flood waters are growing increasingly fetid and thousands of people are still insisting on staying, despite the evacuation order.
"The president asked me to come down to take a look at things, and to begin to focus on the longer term, in terms of making certain obviously that we're getting the search-and-rescue missions done and all those other immediate things," Mr. Cheney said after touring a neighborhood in Gulfport. "The progress we're making is significant."
Mr. Cheney's visit follows a visit earlier this week by President Bush, his second since the storm hit, following much criticism last week that the administration and federal agencies had been slow in responding to the disaster.
An estimated 5,000 to 10,000 people remain inside New Orleans more than a week after Hurricane Katrina hit, many in neighborhoods that are on high ground near the Mississippi River.
But the number of dead still remained a looming and disturbing question.
In the first indication of how many deaths Louisiana alone might expect, a spokesman for the State Department of Health and Hospitals, Robert Johannessen, said on Wednesday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had ordered 25,000 body bags. The official death toll remains under 100.
In Washington, House and Senate leaders announced a joint investigation into the government's response to the crisis. "Americans deserve answers," said a statement by the two top-ranking Republicans, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader. "We must do all we can to learn from this tragedy, improve the system and protect all of our citizens."
Democratic leaders, however, said they would not participate, citing a preference for an independent inquiry.
The government continued its efforts to help evacuees. At the Astrodome in Houston, where an estimated 15,000 New Orleans evacuees found shelter over the weekend, the number had dwindled to only about 3,000 on Wednesday as people were rapidly placed in apartments, volunteers' homes and hotels that had been promised reimbursement by FEMA.
With the overall death toll highly uncertain, Mr. Brown, the FEMA director, said in Baton Rouge that the formal house-to-house search for bodies had begun at midmorning. He said the temporary mortuary set up in St. Gabriel, La., was prepared to receive 500 to 1,000 bodies a day, with refrigeration trucks on site to hold the corpses.
"They will be processed as rapidly as possible," Mr. Brown said.
As it worked to remove the water inundating the city, the Corps of Engineers said that one additional pumping station, No. 6, at the head of the 17th Street Canal, had started up, and that about 10 percent of the city's total pumping capacity was in operation. But the corps added that it was dealing with a new problem: how to prevent corpses from being sucked to the grates at the pump inlets.
Officials emphasized that as testing of the flood waters continued, substances in addition to E. coli bacteria and lead were likely to be found at harmful levels, especially from water taken near industrial sites.
"Human contact with the floodwater should be avoided as much as possible," the environmental agency's administrator, Stephen L. Johnson, said.
A spokesman for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said state and local officials had reported three deaths in Mississippi and one in Texas from exposure to Vibrio vulnificus, a choleralike bacterium found in salt water, which poses special risks for people with chronic liver problems.
At a news conference this morning, officials in New Orleans cautioned people to decontaminate themselves as best as possible when entering homes after wading through the floodwater.
Among the authorities, though, some confusion lingered about how a widespread evacuation by force would work, and how much support it would get at the federal and state level. Mayor C. Ray Nagin told the police and the military on Tuesday to remove all residents for their own safety, and on Wednesday, the police superintendent, Mr. Compass, said state laws give the mayor the authority to declare martial law and order the evacuations.
"There's a martial law declaration in place that gives us legal authority for mandatory evacuations," Mr. Compass said. "We'll use the minimum amount of force necessary."
But because the New Orleans Police Department has only about 1,000 working officers, the city is largely in the hands of National Guard troops and active-duty soldiers.
State officials said Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco could tell the Guard to carry out the forced removals, but they stopped short of a commitment to do so. In Washington, Lt. Gen. Joseph R. Inge, deputy commander of the United States Northern Command, said regular troops "would not be used" in any forced evacuation.
The state disaster law does not supersede either the state or federal Constitutions, said Kenneth M. Murchison, a law professor at Louisiana State University. But even so, Mr. Nagin's decision could be a smart strategy that does not violate fundamental rights, Professor Murchison said.
When police officers came to Billie Moore's 3,000 square foot Victorian to warn her of the health risks of remaining in the city, she pushed her identification tag from the hospital where she works as a nurse through slats in the door.
"I guess you know the health risks then," the officer said as he walked away.
Ms. Moore and her husband, Richard Robinson, who do not drive and use bicycles for the 5-mile ride to their jobs at the still-functioning Ochsner Hospital in suburban Jefferson Parish, have no plans to leave. Their circa-1895 home, on the city's southwest flank, suffered virtually no damage in the hurricane or its aftermath. They have been lighting an old gas stove with a match to cook pasta and rice, dumping cans of peas on top for flavor.
"We try to be normal and sit down and eat," Ms. Moore, 52, explained as she showed off the expansive, well-kept home where they have lived for 10 years. "I think that's how we'll stay healthy is if I keep the house clean."
Ms. Moore said she had not worked since the hurricane because there are few babies left at the hospital, but that she remains on standby; her husband has been on duty the past five days.
"I don't want to go, I don't want to lose my job," she said. "Who's going to take care of the patients if all the nurses go away?"
police thugs to use force to kick people out of their homes in new orleans!!!
Police prepare to use force
Officers scour New Orleans, taking holdouts' weapons
Alex Berenson and John M. Broder
New York Times
Sept. 9, 2005 12:00 AM
NEW ORLEANS - Local police officers began confiscating weapons from civilians Thursday in preparation for a forced evacuation of the last holdouts still living here, as President Bush steeled the nation for the grisly scenes of recovering the dead that will unfold in coming days.
Police officers and military troops carrying assault rifles went door to door through New Orleans seeking those who have holed up to avoid forcible eviction or those too dazed to know that the waters that still cover much of the city contain a poisonous mix of germs and chemicals.
"Individuals are at risk of dying," said P. Edwin Compass III, superintendent of the New Orleans police. "There's nothing more important than the preservation of human life."
Although it appeared Wednesday night that forced evacuations were beginning, on Thursday the authorities were still looking for those willing to leave voluntarily. The police said that the search was about 80 percent done and that afterward they would begin enforcing Mayor C. Ray Nagin's order to forcibly remove residents.
Storm aid coming in
Bush, in Washington, urged the nearly 1 million people displaced by the storm to contact federal agencies to apply for aid. He praised the outpouring of private charity to the displaced but said the costs of restoring lives will affect all Americans, as will the horror of the storm's carnage.
"The responsibility of caring for hundreds of thousands of citizens who no longer have homes is going to place many demands on our nation," Bush said in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. "We have many difficult days ahead, especially as we recover those who did not survive the storm."
While Bush spoke, Vice President Dick Cheney was touring Mississippi and Louisiana, in part as an answer to the critics who have charged that the administration responded too slowly and timidly to the epic disaster. At a stop in Gulfport, Miss., a heckler shouted an obscenity at the vice president. Cheney shrugged it off, saying it was the first such abuse he had heard.
Also Thursday, Congress approved a $51.8 billion package of storm aid, bringing the total to more than $62 billion in a week. The government is now spending $2 billion a day to respond to the disaster.
Recovery of corpses
The confirmed death toll in Louisiana remained at 83 on Thursday. Efforts to recover corpses are beginning, although only a few bodies have been recovered so far. Official estimates of the death toll in New Orleans are still vague, but 10,000 remains a common figure.
As the floodwaters drain from the streets, the city is giving up its dead.
Bodies are found tied together and attached to trees, bridge abutments, fences, put there by passers-by to keep them from washing away. Going house to house, with Vicks VapoRub under their nostrils to block the stench, rescue workers mark houses that hold bodies and enter the spots on a global positioning system. Specialists will come later to collect the dead.
Mississippi officials said they had confirmed 204 dead as of Thursday, although Gov. Haley Barbour said he expected the toll to go higher.
He also said that electricity will be restored by Sunday to most homes and businesses in the state that can receive it.
No one would venture a prediction about when the lights would come back on in New Orleans.
The water continued to recede slowly in this flood-beaten city 10 days after Hurricane Katrina swept ashore and levees failed at several points, inundating the basin New Orleans sits in.
The Army Corps of Engineers has restored to operation 37 of the city's 174 permanent pumps, allowing them to drain 11,000 cubic feet of water per second from the drenched basin. When all the pumps are working, they can remove 81,000 cfs, said Dan Hitchings of the corps. The corps said the city was still about 60 percent flooded, down from as much as 80 percent last week.
Across New Orleans, soldiers, National Guard troops and local law enforcement officers from across the country continued door-to-door searches by patrol car, Humvee, helicopter and boat, urging remaining residents to leave.
Maj. Gen. James Ron Mason of the Kansas National Guard, who commands about 25,000 Guard troops in and around New Orleans, said his forces had rescued 687 residents by helicopter, boat and high-wheeled truck in the past 24 hours.
He said that National Guard troops, although carrying M-16 rifles, will not use force to evict recalcitrant residents. That, he said, is a job for the police, not the Guard.
Compass, the police superintendent, said that after a week of near-anarchy in the city, no civilians in New Orleans will be allowed to carry pistols, shotguns or other firearms of any kind.
"Only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons," he said.
But that order apparently does not apply to the hundreds of security guards whom businesses and some wealthy individuals have hired to protect their property. The guards, who are civilians working for private security firms like Blackwater, are openly carrying M-16s and other assault rifles.
Compass said that he is aware of the private guards but that the police have no plans to make them give up their weapons.
Nearly two weeks after the floods began, New Orleans has turned into an armed camp, patrolled by thousands of local, state, and federal law enforcement officers, as well as National Guard troops and active-duty soldiers. Although armed looters roamed unchecked last week, the city is now calm. The city's slow recovery is continuing on other fronts as well, local officials said at a late-morning news conference.
Knight Ridder Newspapers and the Associated Press contributed to this article.
phoenix punishes its own employees with a slap on the wrist for looking at porn at work. of course the state of arizona has jailed a number of adults for over 10 years in prison for looking at kiddie porn.
Firefighters disciplined over porn e-mail
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 9, 2005 12:00 AM
More than three dozen Phoenix firefighters have been disciplined for inappropriately using the city's e-mail system to forward adult pornography and chain letters, officials said Thursday.
The firefighters, assigned to stations across the city, received the e-mails at work, viewed them and forwarded them to others outside the city, Assistant Fire Chief Bob Khan said. One battalion chief also was disciplined.
"The fire chief feels that this type of behavior is unacceptable and unprofessional," Khan said, "and it won't be tolerated in the department."
Discipline ranged from written reprimands to three-shift suspensions without pay.
More than two dozen of the 37 firefighters were involved in viewing and forwarding pornography. Those firefighters received the harshest discipline, Khan said. The others forwarded chain letters. The city's e-mail policy says the system is only for city-related business. The investigation into the firefighters' actions began around March when "checks and balances in the city's e-mail system" revealed possible indiscretions, Deputy Fire Chief Mark Angle said.
Suspensions will be served over the next month.
"We live in these fire stations. We sleep there. We cook our meals there. It's really our home for those 24 hours," said Billy Shields, president of the United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association. "Sometimes we get a little complacent that the equipment is the city's. . . . We need to be careful what we use it for."
Shields said all the firefighters involved felt bad about what they did.
"Just the fact that these guys were embarrassed by this whole incident will keep them from doing it again," he said.
highly paid government employees at work wasting our tax dollars!!!
Firefighters disciplined for ribald clowning
8 on probation for pranks played on visiting recruits
By Becky Pallack
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Eight firefighters, including some ranking officers, are on probation for a year as punishment for pranks played on two recruits who visited fire stations for the first time in July.
The tricks went "beyond the bounds of good taste and department standards," said Capt. Paul McDonough, a Tucson Fire Department spokes-man.
At Station 1 Downtown, a recruit was left strapped to a board for a "spine precautions" drill after the rest of the crew left to answer a fake dispatch, according to internal Tucson Fire Department documents released to the Arizona Daily Star this week.
The recruit also saw a firefighter in the kitchen wearing only boots and an apron, with a red heart marked on his buttocks. And he was introduced to two firefighters who'd covered themselves with cooking spray before lifting weights. One firefighter appeared to be wearing only a towel, although he was wearing underwear, and another was massaging his knee and asked the recruit to finish the massage before telling him it was all a joke.
Later, his captain welcomed the recruit, introduced him to the staff and talked to him about expectations, according to the reports.
At Station 8, on the North Side, another recruit was greeted at the door by a firefighter wearing only boxer shorts and boots. In the kitchen, he saw an engineer wearing a novelty apron with an attached phallus. The recruit spent the rest of the day in regular orientation activities. The station captain told the recruit the jokes were "welcoming rites," the reports said.
The recruits, who are called "boots," never complained and said the "welcome" wasn't as bad as they'd expected. But some training captains overheard them sharing stories and decided the issue of pranks needed to be addressed, Assistant Chief Randy Ogden said.
Fire Chief Dan Newburn ordered a board of inquiry to interview everyone involved and determine if rules were broken in the incidents, which did not occur in front of female firefighters. It was the first time such a board convened for an issue relating to recruits, Ogden said.
The board included an assistant chief and a deputy chief from the Fire Department, as well as a Tucson Police Department captain. Another fire captain sat in as an observer for the Tucson Firefighters Association, a labor union that represents local firefighters.
The board met several times in July and August, and decided the firefighters "seemed to have innocent motives, albeit questionable judgment," according to an executive summary of its findings.
Several firefighters defended their actions, according to that report, saying the station is like their home. But the board argued that fire stations are publicly funded workplaces.
The board said the stunts were a huge risk because the staff didn't know how the recruits would react to possibly offensive jokes with sexual themes. Recruits who were offended might fear retaliation for speaking up, the report said. The board said the pranks left the agency open to allegations of discrimination or a hostile work environment.
"While the board chose to limit its scope to just these two initial visits, these situations are symptoms of a more pervasive cultural reality," said the board's executive summary.
What is a joke to some can be harassment to others, said Don Awerkamp, an attorney who has represented firefighters in a variety of employment claims.
"They don't realize the implications of their actions because they think it's funny and don't think about what the consequences are," he said.
"I would hope that the Fire Department corrects the behavior, but if they've allowed it to happen, they shouldn't be punishing the firefighters who thought it was OK."
The board suggested a structured agenda for recruits' first visits may curtail future problems. It also recommended more ethics training for fire crews. The chief will review those recommendations, McDonough said.
"The department has stepped up and done the right thing" to preserve its high standards, he said.
Eight firefighters were placed on probation for one year, which means they are working under extra scrutiny and are not eligible for a raise or promotion. They also received a written reprimand and two days' leave without pay, Ogden said.
They are: Battalion Chief Rich Hyatt, a 25-year veteran; Capt. Chris Anderson, a 12-year veteran; Capt. Ken Ramsden, a 20-year veteran; Capt. Ed Hackett, a 10-year veteran; engineer Matt Redding, a seven-year veteran; firefighter Will Motto, a five-year veteran; firefighter Jimmy Hinrichs, a five-year veteran; and firefighter Brett Bradshaw, a two-year veteran. Ogden said none of the firefighters involved had a previous disciplinary action.
"I don't think they meant to be mean or intimidating," he said. "I just think they crossed the line."
The fire crews might have been inspired to play the tricks by the 2004 movie "Ladder 49," Ogden said. The movie, which depicts a firefighting career, shows a captain pretending to sleep in his chair when a rookie arrives. The captain, played by John Travolta, also drinks and smokes a cigar and wears boxer shorts with no pants.
The disciplinary actions are a sign of changing times, said Capt. Brian Delfs, president of the Tucson Firefighters Association, in a message McDonough relayed.
"The Tucson Fire Department has a 125-year history of playing good-natured pranks," he said, and no one in these incidents had malicious intent.
Crew members at Station 1 said they could not comment for this story. The crew at Station 8 was off-duty on Thursday.
● Contact reporter Becky Pallack at 629-9412 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
being a cop can do wonders for your sex life
Posted on Fri, Sep. 09, 2005
Police officer who was on leave is arraigned
By Eric Kurhi
The attorney for an Oakland police officer suspected of illegally and inappropriately stopping female Asian motorists entered not guilty pleas to seven charges at an arraignment Thursday.
Charges were filed last month against Officer Richard Valerga, 51, following a joint, three-month investigation conducted by the Oakland Police Department and the Alameda County District Attorney's Office.
During the investigation, it was determined that Valerga illegally pulled over a number of Asian women between January and April 2005, according to police spokeswoman Officer Danielle Ashford. Most of the women were recent immigrants.
Court documents show the charges involve six women in separate incidents between January and April. The women were "pulled over for no police purpose" and "detained in Officer Valerga's police vehicle, after requesting to leave." His behavior included "patting" and kissing some of the women, who ranged in age from teens to women in their mid 40s and are described as "attractive," police said.
Valerga is facing five misdemeanor counts of violating civil rights and two misdemeanor counts of false imprisonment. Because all the charges are misdemeanors, he was not required to be in court on Thursday.
Valerga, who has been with OPD for six years, was placed on administrative leave in May when the current allegations surfaced. His patrol area included parts of the Oakland hills, the Dimond and Laurel districts and the area east of Lake Merritt.
Police said there might be victims they do not know about, and ask anyone with information call 510-238-3821.
Valerga will return to Alameda County Superior Court for a preliminary hearing on Oct. 13.
Eric Kurhi can be reached at 510-748-1686 or e-mail email@example.com.
Oakland Police Officer Charged With Illegally Stopping Asian Women
POSTED: 11:31 am PDT September 8, 2005
OAKLAND -- An Oakland police officer was arraigned Thursday on multiple counts of misdemeanor interference with civil rights and false imprisonment for allegedly making illegal vehicle stops on Asian women.
Richard Valerga, 51, didn't attend his brief hearing in Alameda County Superior Court because his presence was not required to face misdemeanor charges.
The next hearing in the case will be on Oct. 13, when a preliminary hearing date is to be set.
Valerga was charged two weeks ago following a joint three-month investigation by the Oakland Police Department and the Alameda County district attorney's office.
Investigators determined that Valerga made illegal vehicle stops on Asian women between January and April.
During the course of the investigation, it was determined that most of the women recently immigrated to the United States and were illegally detained by Valerga, according to Oakland police.
Deputy Police Chief Michael Holland said two weeks ago that there were multiple alleged victims but declined to be specific, except to say there were fewer than 10. However, the investigation is ongoing and it's possible that more victims could come forward, Holland said.
Holland said Valerga was placed on paid administrative leave in May when allegations were first brought to the attention of the department's command staff.
Valerga will remain on administrative leave for the duration of the criminal case against him and an internal administrative investigation being conducted by Oakland police, Holland said.
Valerga is charged with five counts of interference of civil rights and two counts of false imprisonment.
The officer has been a member of the Oakland Police Department for six years and had been working in the patrol division since 1999.
According to his attorney, Paul Brennan, Valerga began his career as a police officer at a late age because he previously had a long career with the U.S. Navy.
Copyright 2005 by KTVU.com and Bay City News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Wednesday, September 7, 2005 · Last updated 8:47 p.m. PT
Local Pa. treasurer accused of stealing
By JOE MANDAK
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
ELLWOOD CITY, Pa. -- A county treasurer pocketed more than $47,000 in tax payments, and stole other money from his office to buy a van, rent hotel rooms and pay his own delinquent property taxes, officials charged Wednesday.
Lawrence County Treasurer Gary Felasco was arraigned Wednesday afternoon on charges of theft, embezzlement and conflict of interest, the state Attorney General's office said.
Felasco posted $25,000 bail and didn't comment as he left district court. A preliminary hearing was set for Sept. 14.
Authorities allege Felasco pocketed cash payments for taxes and deposited payments made by check in such a way as to cover the cash he took. Felasco allegedly deleted the names of people who paid taxes by check from delinquent rolls, so they wouldn't get past-due notices.
Felasco, 38, a former auto mechanic, was elected in 2003 to his third four-year term as treasurer of Lawrence County, a rural area on the Ohio line.
Some residents and the county commissioners have called for him to resign since a newspaper investigation tied Felasco to a Web site promoting sex parties.
During Wednesday's arraignment, Deputy Attorney General Anthony Krastek asked the judge that Felasco be barred from the treasurer's office as a condition of his bail. The judge, however, refused.
James Ross, one of Felasco's attorneys, said Felasco planned to continue his work for the county. "At this point, he has no intention to resign. We'll just have to evaluate that day to day," Ross said.
For more than a year, state officials have been investigating the treasurer's office and tax claims bureau, which Felasco also headed until last year.
The alleged scheme unraveled when county officials removed Felasco as head of the tax claim bureau after finding that 39 properties owned by Felasco, staffers or friends had been kept from sheriff's sale even though their taxes were delinquent.
The sex club wasn't referenced directly in Wednesday's charges. But police allege Felasco used some of the money he took to rent more than $2,500 worth of hotel rooms where officials have gotten complaints about the club's parties.
government always knows better. phoenix building codes have cause a number of people to be sucked to the bottom of swimming pools where they drowned! remember government is always smarter and brighter then you civilian serf!!!!
Phoenix building codes revised in 3 main areas
City's seminar this month will help explain changes
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 8, 2005 12:00 AM
Phoenix officials have revised the city's building codes, and they plan to offer a seminar summarizing the changes later this month.
According to Bob Goodhue, deputy development-services director for the city, who works closely with home builders and construction companies, the changes fall into three key areas:
• Phoenix has adopted the International Energy Conservation Code. The city never enforced an energy code before but adopted a version of the international standards that addresses the desert environment of Phoenix. advertisement
"We will be reviewing to ensure the minimum insulation values, energy-efficient windows and allowable window areas are going to be installed in all buildings," Goodhue said.
• Phoenix has adopted swimming pool entrapment standards. Suction from pool pumps has trapped people underwater, causing drownings, Goodhue said. The new standards will regulate placement of suction grates and power of the suction.
• New home construction codes are now in a separate codebook. This change simplifies compliance for builders.
Most of what is reflected in the revisions already is in practice among home builders, who are competing for sales. The builders and industry groups helped the city devise the updated code.
The changes will be explained in a seminar Sept. 21 at Phoenix Civic Plaza. For information, call (602) 534-6333. The session costs $75 per person.
Goodhue explained that a building code reflects only the minimum standards for home construction, governing everything from the electrical and plumbing systems to materials that are used. A state agency, the Registrar of Contractors, steps in when there is shoddy workman- ship.
"We look at a properly functioning house," Goodhue said.
Many of the adjustments in the Phoenix code, which is based on international standards, have to do with the climate.
Goodhue said that besides windows and doors, the heat and dry air of Phoenix can have an effect on wood used in houses, requiring regulators to govern how the pieces of a house are put together.
the police state wont let you smile on your internal passport
Smiling pictures now frowned on for Brits' passports
By Shelley Emling
COX NEWS SERVICE
LONDON - Remove your glasses and don't raise your eyebrows. Pin back the hair from your face and take off your head covering. Most important, keep that stiff upper lip.
In other words, don't smile.
Why? Ongoing concerns over terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001, have pushed Britain to implement new guidelines that take effect Monday for passport pictures.
They are made necessary by biometrics - a technology increasingly being turned to as a way of fighting fraud and bolstering security.
The U.K. Passport Service plans to introduce the biometric passports early next year. Each will contain a chip storing a biometric of a facial image that's obtained by scanning the applicant's photo.
"The photo can't be scanned properly if a person is smiling," said Peter Wilson, a spokesman for the passport service.
He said an applicant must display "a neutral expression" and pose against an off-white, cream or light gray background.
Only head coverings worn for religious or medical reasons will be allowed.
"The standards will allow passports to be read by border control equipment so that automated controls at international borders are faster but more secure," said Bernard Herdan, chief executive of the passport service.
The British media have mostly poked fun at the idea of banning smiles.
The Daily Mirror newspaper grumbled that approved pictures look too much like police mug shots.
But so far, few citizens appear to be balking at the new guidelines.
"They will do what they have to do to tighten security," said Carol Waldeck, a mother of two. "And big, smiling faces don't really look like a lot of the people I see traveling at the airport these days."
In the United States, State Department officials plan to start issuing high-tech electronic passports as early as December. The new passport will contain a small computer chip holding a digital photo plus other information such as the owner's name, gender and date of birth.
By October 2006, all U.S. passport agencies will issue the electronic passports.
These new passports will look about the same but will be a bit thicker. They also are likely to cost about $12 more than the old passports.
U.S. officials also frown on toothy smiles for passport photos, though the State Department's Web site does not officially outlaw grins. The U.S. guidelines stipulate that photos must have been taken within the last six months and that applicants can't wear hats or headgear that obscures the hair or hairline.
In Britain, by 2008 the UK Passport Service hopes fingerprint identification will be implemented in passports.
And a bill currently before Parliament and backed by Prime Minister Tony Blair would create a national ID smart card storing up to three biometric identifiers - fingerprint, iris pattern, and digital face measurements.
bad bad bad piggies!!!!!
Suburban police blocked evacuees, witnesses say
New York Times
Sept. 10, 2005 12:00 AM
Police agencies to the south of New Orleans were so fearful of the crowds attempting to leave the city after Hurricane Katrina that they sealed a crucial bridge over the Mississippi River and turned back hundreds of desperate evacuees, according to two paramedics who were in the crowd.
The paramedics and two other witnesses said officers sometimes shot guns over the heads of fleeing people, who, instead of complying immediately with orders to leave the bridge, pleaded to be let through, according to the paramedics and two other witnesses. The witnesses said that they had been told by New Orleans police to cross this same bridge because buses were waiting for them there.
Instead, a suburban police officer angrily ordered about 200 people to abandon an encampment between the highways near the bridge. The officer then confiscated their food and water, the four witnesses said. The incidents took place in the first days after the storm last week, they said.
The police kept saying, 'We don't want another Superdome,' and 'This isn't New Orleans,' " said Larry Bradshaw, a San Francisco paramedic who was among those fleeing.
Arthur Lawson, chief of the Gretna, La., Police Department, confirmed that his officers, along with those from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office and the Crescent City Connection Police, sealed the bridge.
"There was no place for them to come on our side," Lawson said.
He said that he had been asked by reporters about officers threatening evacuees with guns or shooting over their heads, but he said that he had not yet asked his officers about that.
"As soon as things calm down, we will do an inquiry," he said.
The lawlessness that erupted in New Orleans soon after the hurricane terrified officials throughout Louisiana, and a week later, law enforcement officers rarely entered the city without weaponry.
Bradshaw and his partner, Lorrie Beth Slonsky, wrote an account about their experiences that has been widely e-mailed and was first printed in the Socialist Worker.
Cathey Golden, a 51-year-old from Boston, and her 13-year-old son, Ramon Golden, on Friday confirmed the account.
Nearly 200 guests at the Hotel Monteleone gathered to make their way to the Convention Center together, the four said. But on the way, they heard that the Convention Center had become a dangerous pit from which no one was being evacuated. So they stopped in front of a police command post near Harrah's casino on Canal Street.
A New Orleans police commander whom none of the four could identify told the crowd that they could not stay there and later told them that buses were being brought to the Crescent City Connection, a nearby bridge to Jefferson Parish, to carry them to safety.
The crowd cheered and began to move. Suspicious, Bradshaw said that he asked the commander if he was sure that buses would be there for them. "We'd had so much misinformation by that point," Bradshaw said.
"He looked all of us in the eye and said, 'I swear to you, there are buses waiting across the bridge,' " Bradshaw said.
But on the bridge there were four police cruisers parked across some lanes. Between six and eight officers stood with shotguns in their hands, the witnesses said. As the crowd approached, the officers shot over the heads of the crowd, most of whom retreated immediately, Bradshaw, Slonsky and Golden and her son said.
you will be punished if you bad mouth government rulers!!!
Woman fired; spoke to reporter
Michael E. Ruane
Sept. 10, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - A staff attorney with the Texas secretary of state said Friday that she was fired this week for violating press protocols when she spoke to a Washington Post reporter who was working on a story about presidential adviser Karl Rove.
Elizabeth Reyes, 30, of Austin, said she was fired Tuesday after she was quoted in a Post story that ran Sept. 3 about tax deductions on Rove's homes in Washington and in Texas.
Scott Haywood, a spokesman for Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams, confirmed Friday that Reyes is no longer employed, but he declined to provide details, saying it was a personnel matter. Haywood had said late Sept. 3 that Reyes "was not authorized to speak on behalf of the agency."
The Post's story reported that Rove inadvertently received a District of Columbia homestead tax deduction on his Washington home, even though he had not been eligible for the benefit for more than three years. Rove was eligible for the deduction when he bought the home in 2001, the story said, but a change in the tax law in 2002 made the deduction available only to property owners who do not vote elsewhere. Rove is registered to vote in Texas.
Washington's Office of Tax and Revenue accepted blame for the mistake in a letter to Rove. Rove agreed to reimburse the city an estimated $3,400 in back taxes, and a White House spokeswoman said it had been an innocent misunderstanding.
Rove is registered to vote in Kerr County, Texas, the story said, and he and his wife own two rental cottages there that Rove claims as his residence. But two residents said they had never seen Rove there.
When Post reporter Lori Montgomery telephoned the press office of the Texas secretary of state, the press officer was on vacation, and Montgomery was transferred to Reyes. The attorney, who spoke in two telephone calls, told Montgomery that it was potential vote fraud in Texas to register in a place where you don't actually live, and she was quoted as saying Rove's cottages don't "sound like a residence to me, because it's not a fixed place of habitation."
Reyes said Friday that she was not aware that she was talking to a reporter, that she was not aware the discussion was about Rove, and that she had explained in the interviews that an individual's intent to return to Texas is a primary factor in qualifying for residency.
In response to the Post's story, Haywood called the paper to say that Rove could register to vote in Texas as long as he intended to return.
Last Saturday, the Post ran a correction stating that Reyes had not been asked about Rove by name and that the story should have mentioned Reyes' explanation about the intent to return.
Solving problems: The way it's done by D.C. politicians
Sept. 10, 2005 12:00 AM
This just in from Washington: Now is not the time to play the blame game.
Don't point fingers. Don't rush to judgment and for God's sake, don't ask if anyone is being held accountable for the biggest screw-up in American history.
This, from the city where dodgeball is a way of life. Where hide and seek is the game of choice, only nobody is ever "it."
"I think one of the things that people want us to do is to play a blame game," President Bush said Tuesday when asked whether his administration was slow to respond to Hurricane Katrina. "We've got to solve problems. We're problem solvers."
Which is why you might want to figure out what went wrong, so you can find the nitwits responsible and kick their sorry hind parts to the curb before LA falls into the ocean or San Francisco slips into the Earth's core, but I digress.
As I think on it, it's probably not a good idea just now to engage in the blame game. To do so would only transform the corridors of power in Washington and Louisiana into echo chambers, given the breathtaking depths of incompetence shown at every level of government, from the New Orleans mayor who had no plan of evacuation for the poor, to the Louisiana governor who waited days before calling in the National Guard, to the feds who delivered an Abbott and Costello "Who's on First?" routine rather than a rescue operation. Then there's Congress. Who do you think created some of those "bureaucratic impediments" we keep hearing about?
And so I agree. Let's not play the blame game just now. Let's instead play:
Pass the Pigs. A new twist on an age-old congressional game in which our leaders dream up new ways to spend our money, slathering sizable chunks of lard onto anything within their reach. The recently approved transportation bill, for example, included $24 billion in pork for 6,371 projects that have nothing to do with building the nation's transportation network and everything to do with building these porkers' re-election chances. So let's change the rules. Instead of passing our money to the pigs - spending $223 million on a bridge in Alaska to spare residents a seven-minute ferry ride, spending $2 million on a parking garage for a Catholic college in San Antonio, spending $2.4 million on a pedestrian bridge over an artificial lake in Tempe, ad infinitum, ad nauseam - let's put it toward the astronomical bill for rebuilding Louisiana and Mississippi.
The Price is Right - Or Maybe Not. If we're not going to put a stop to the pork then let's slash the 18.4 cent-a-gallon federal gas tax that pays for it.
Talking Fib Finder. Handy little device that will get at the truth of how gas prices can rise 30 cents a gallon in a few hours. Especially when you consider that our gas comes from California, not Louisiana.
Duck Duck Goose. It may look like a children's party game but really it's a new human relations procedure in which we tap personnel for top echelons of government using the time-tested duck duck goose method. Sound crazy? At present, the guy in charge of the nation's emergency management used to run an Arabian horse association. What have we got to lose?
Red Light, Green Light. Green light: Helping an American city and, more importantly, its citizens to their feet. Red light: Sen. Jon Kyl's bill to repeal a federal death tax on multimillionaires, a tax he says is unfair and economically unsound.
Pin the Tail on the Donkey. And on the Elephant. And on everyone trying to make political hay out of tragedy. Once we nail them all to the wall, maybe we can actually find a way out of this mess.
Reach Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org or (602) 444-8635.
U.S. military feeding 13 Guantanamo hunger strikers by tube
Sept. 10, 2005 12:00 AM
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - The U.S. military is tube-feeding more than a dozen of the 89 terror suspects on hunger strike at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, a spokesman said Friday.
Some of the 89 striking detainees at Guantanamo have not eaten for a month, said Sgt. Justin Behrens, a Guantanamo detention mission spokesman. The others have refused at least nine consecutive meals, he said.
Fifteen have been hospitalized and 13 of those were being fed through tubes, Behrens said in a written response to questions from the Associated Press. Medics are monitoring all 89 and checking their vital signs daily, he added.
Previously, the military has said that 76 inmates were participating in the hunger strike.
British lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith, who represents one of the hunger strikers - Briton Omar Deghayes, 36 - warned Friday that some of the inmates are willing to starve themselves to death.
"People are desperate. They have been there three years. They were promised that the Geneva Conventions would be respected and various changes would happen and, unfortunately, the (U.S.) government reneged on that," Stafford-Smith said.
"Sadly, it is very hard to see how a very obstinate military and a very desperate group of prisoners are ever going to come to an agreement."
Maj. Jeff Weir, a Guantanamo prison spokesman, said the military will not allow the detainees' conditions to become life-threatening.
"Basically, if you stop eating and wait several weeks or months, it is a slow form of suicide," Weir told British Broadcasting Corp. radio and television. "No detention facility in the world will deliberately let their people commit suicide, so we can't let that happen."
Weir said he did not know the reason behind the strike.
"As far as their reasons for hunger striking, it seems to be a myriad of different reasons that they all have, the largest one seems to be like they want to protest their continued (detention)," he said. "Their future is uncertain from a legal point view so they are trying to find out exactly what their future entails."
The prison at Guantanamo opened in January 2002 and now holds about 520 prisoners from 40 countries; more than 230 others have been released or transferred to the custody of their home governments. Many were captured during the U.S. war in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks.
"It's a dire situation because the military is refusing reasonable negotiation," Stafford-Smith said. "It is incredible that the U.S. government is denying these inmates fair trials even if the alternative is that they could die of starvation."
Stafford-Smith said the military refused to let him see one fasting client and threatened to arrest him for being a hunger-strike ringleader, which he denies, when he visited Guantanamo in mid-August.
The detainees' statements paint a scene of gruesome desperation during the previous hunger strike, with prisoners vomiting blood or collapsing in their cells. The military has not declassified most detainees' statements about the strike.
Newsday contributed to this article.
that bill of rights thingy is just a worthless piece of paper that doesnt matter any more.
Court: Bomb suspect can be held indefinitely
Sept. 10, 2005 12:00 AM
RICHMOND, Va. - A federal appeals court ruled Friday that the government can continue to hold indefinitely an American accused of plotting to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb."
A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously to reverse a judge's order that the government either charge or free Jose Padilla, who has been in custody for more than three years.
"The exceedingly important question before us is whether the president of the United States possesses the authority to detain militarily a citizen of this country who is closely associated with al-Qaida," Judge J. Michael Luttig wrote. "We conclude that the president does possess such authority."
Andrew Patel, Padilla's attorney, said his client will probably appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"What it could mean is that the president conceivably could sign a piece of paper when he has hearsay information that somebody has done something he doesn't like and send them to jail without a hearing (or) a trial," Patel said.
military says f*ck that 1st amendment
Academy chaplains a problem, team says
Sept. 10, 2005 12:00 AM
DENVER - A team from the Yale Divinity School says it has found lingering problems among chaplains at the Air Force Academy, where commanders face allegations that evangelical Christians wield too much influence among cadets and staff.
A new report Friday says the chaplains' activities may conflict with the goals of school leaders and the Air Force overall.
"These inconsistencies confuse expectations and may encourage inappropriate pastoral reactions," the Yale group said.
The report was based on a visit to the school in July, a month before the Air Force issued new guidelines on religious tolerance.
Watchdog groups have accused the academy of allowing evangelical Christians to harass cadets of different faiths. Americans United for the Separation of Church and State said its investigation revealed that the school required cadets to pray at certain functions and that some chaplains had pressured cadets to become born-again Christians.
An Air Force task force said in June that it found no overt religious discrimination but observed a lack of sensitivity among some and confusion over what is permissible in sharing one's faith.
Last year, the academy, recovering from a sexual-assault scandal, asked the Yale team to review how the school's chaplains served cadets.
The Rev. Kristen Leslie, leader of the group, said the academy invited the team to return in July, but school officials controlled members' activities so tightly that they didn't get to see many examples of chaplains in action.
An academy spokesman said that top academy staff had been briefed on the new report and that the chaplain staff was reviewing it.
ASU religious groups allowed to exclude non-believers
Pact keeps ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation intact
Sept. 8, 2005 12:00 AM
Religious student groups at Arizona State University can discriminate against those who don't share their religious beliefs, according to the settlement of a lawsuit against the school by a Christian legal organization.
But the settlement says religious organizations at the university cannot exclude students from membership on the basis of sexual orientation.
In its lawsuit, the university chapter of the Christian Legal Society had sought a court order to allow the group to discriminate on both religious and sexual-orientation grounds.
The university said it had previously denied the group a waiver from its ban on discrimination on both grounds.
Both sides touted the settlement, announced last week, as a way of preserving protections for students.
Casey Mattox, a lawyer for the Christian Legal Society, said Wednesday that the group can exclude from its membership all people who have sex - whether homosexual or heterosexual - outside marriage because that conflicts with the organization's principles.
Mattox said students whose beliefs conflict with the group's principles can still attend the organization's meetings but cannot be allowed to become members or take leadership positions in the group.
University spokeswoman Terri Shafer said the agreement kept in place the school's bans on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
The school agreed to the settlement because there's room in the law that allows religious groups to exert some type of discrimination on religious grounds, Shafer said.
Shafer said the university could have spent millions of taxpayer dollars pressing its point and ended up with the same result as the settlement.
"It's a limited concession that they have won, and it has cost them a good bit of time and money," Shafer said.
Non-religious student groups still cannot discriminate on the basis of religious beliefs, Shafer said.
Sep 10, 5:38 PM EDT
Army Kept Truth of GI's Death From Family
By ROBERT BURNS
AP Military Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Army said Saturday it knew for more than a year after 1st Lt. Kenneth Ballard's death in Iraq in May 2004 that he was not killed in action, as it initially reported. The family was not told the truth until Friday.
Ballard's mother, Karen Meredith, of Mountain View, Calif., said in a telephone interview that she is angry and will press for a full explanation. She is a public critic of the war and has attended anti-war protests in Crawford, Texas, outside President Bush's ranch, with grieving mother and peace activist Cindy Sheehan.
Meredith said she blames the Army's error on official incompetence, not an intent to cover up the truth.
"This news is stunning to me," she said. "People in the Army knew this news for 15 months, and why they couldn't be bothered to tell me the truth when this first happened and to have me go through this pain 15 months later is unconscionable on the part of the Army. It's a betrayal to my son's service," she said.
A letter from Army Secretary Francis Harvey was hand-delivered to her Friday in Mountain View. She said Harvey wrote, "I sincerely apologize to you for the unfortunate series of events that resulted in your not being informed."
Army officials said the failure to notify the family of the true cause of Ballard's death was an oversight. The military sometimes incorrectly categorizes the cause of war deaths. What is so unusual about the Ballard case is that the error was recognized early but not reported to the family for more than a year.
On Memorial Day in 2004, the day after Kenneth Ballard died, the Army informed his family that he had been killed by enemy fire while on a combat mission in the south-central Iraqi city of Najaf. In a casualty announcement from June 1, the Pentagon said Ballard died "during a firefight with insurgents."
The Army disclosed on Saturday that Ballard, 26, actually died of wounds from the accidental discharge of a M240 machine gun on his tank after his platoon had returned from battling insurgents in Najaf.
He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery last Oct. 22.
An Army spokesman, Col. Joseph Curtin, said in an interview that separate investigations by the local commander and by the Army's Criminal Investigation Division concluded days after Ballard's death that it was an accident.
The tank accidentally backed into a tree and a branch hit the mounted, unmanned machine gun, causing it to fire, Curtin said. Ballard was struck at close range and died of his wounds, he added.
For reasons that are not clear, the Army did not correct the public record and inform the family until Friday.
Last spring, it was disclosed that the Army had delayed in telling the family of ex-pro football player Pat Tillman that his death in Afghanistan in April 2004 was caused by gunfire from his fellow Rangers and not enemy forces, as the Army initially reported. The Tillman case is being reviewed by the Pentagon inspector general's office.
Curtin said the Ballard matter was a regrettable mistake and that Harvey, the Army secretary, has ordered a review of procedures in reporting accidental deaths.
"Furthermore, the Army regrets that the initial casualty report from the field was in error as well as the time that it has taken to correct the report and to inform his family," Curtin said in a statement issued Friday night.
Ballard was a platoon leader in 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, 1st Armored Division. During the Najaf fighting he was attached to a unit of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment.
On May 22, approaching the one-year anniversary of her son's death, Meredith wrote in a Web posting, "One year ago you were killed by a snipers bullet. They said you were killed instantly. There is not a minute that goes by that I do not remember answering the phone and hearing I regret to inform you."
The 1st Armored Division, which also investigated the death, said in a written statement from its post in Wiesbaden, Germany, on Friday night that investigations had "revealed additional information of the cause" of Ballard's death. It did not mention that the investigations were conducted more than a year ago.
On the Net:
Defense Department: http://www.defenselink.mil/
Lt. Kenneth Ballard site: http://www.ltkenballard.com/
government the cause of the problem, not the solution!!!
Sep 10, 11:19 AM EDT
German Plane With Katrina Aid Turned Back
By CLAUDIA KEMMER
Associated Press Writer
BERLIN (AP) -- A German military plane carrying 15 tons of military rations for survivors of Hurricane Katrina was sent back by U.S. authorities, officials said Saturday.
The plane was turned away Thursday because it did not have the required authorization, a German government spokesman said.
The spokesman, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, declined to comment on a report in the German news magazine Der Spiegel that U.S. authorities refused the delivery on the grounds that the NATO military rations could carry mad cow disease.
The spokesman said U.S. authorities had since given approval for future aid flights, but it was unclear whether the German military would try again to deliver the rations.
Since Hurricane Katrina struck the United States, many international donors have complained of frustration that bureaucratic entanglements have hindered shipments to the United States.
A U.S. Embassy official, who agreed to discuss the matter only if not quoted by name, blamed the German flight's rejection on temporary technical and logistical problems that have accompanied recovery operations in the devastated region.
German military planes have flown several loads of rations to the Gulf Coast. Berlin is also sending teams equipped with high-capacity pumps to help clear floodwaters.
will bush nuke iran?????
Nuclear doctrine adds pre-emptive strike
Pentagon revises rules for when to use weapons
Sept. 11, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon has drafted a revised doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons that envisions commanders requesting presidential approval to pre-empt an attack by a nation or terror group using weapons of mass destruction.
The draft also includes the option of using nuclear arms to destroy known enemy stockpiles of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.
The document, written by the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs staff but not yet finally approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, would update rules and procedures governing use of nuclear weapons to reflect a pre-emption strategy first announced by the Bush White House in December 2002.
The strategy was outlined in more detail at the time in classified national security directives.
At a White House briefing that year, a spokesman said the United States would "respond with overwhelming force" to the use of weapons of mass destruction against the United States, its forces or allies, and said "all options" would be available to the president.
The draft, dated March 15, would provide authoritative guidance for commanders to request presidential approval for using nuclear weapons, and represents the Pentagon's first attempt to revise procedures to reflect the Bush pre-emption doctrine.
A previous version, completed in 1995 during the Clinton administration, contains no mention of using nuclear weapons pre-emptively or specifically against WMD threats.
Titled "Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations" and written under the direction of Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the draft document is unclassified and available on a Pentagon Web site.
It is expected to be signed within a few weeks by Air Force Lt. Gen. Norton Schwartz, director of the Joint Staff, according to Navy Cmdr. Dawn Cutler, a public-affairs officer in Myers' office. Meanwhile, the draft is going through final coordination with the military services, the combatant commanders, Pentagon legal authorities and Rumsfeld's office, Cutler said in a written statement.
A "summary of changes" included in the draft identifies differences from the 1995 doctrine, and says the new document "revises the discussion of nuclear weapons use across the range of military operations."
The first example for potential nuclear weapon use listed in the draft is against an enemy that is using "or intending to use WMD" against U.S. or allied, multinational military forces or civilian populations.
Arizona government buerocrats say f*ck the public record laws im a royal ruler and you cant have any public information unless i decide you can.
Residents empowered by Public Records Law
Sept. 11, 2005 12:00 AM
"Send me a request telling me what you want and why you want it, and I'll decide what you can have and when you can have it."
That's what a bureaucrat at the Arizona Department of Transportation once told me when I requested public documents pertaining to the way they were spending $6 billion of our freeway tax dollars.
That bureaucrat was breaking the law. He knew it and didn't care. He knew I was a lone citizen with little power.
Two things are wrong with his response: (1) Citizens requesting public records do not have to explain why they want them, and a bureaucrat doesn't have the right to ask. (2) That bureaucrat is not the one to decide. State law clearly defines the rare exceptions to disclosure. My request was not one of those exceptions.
Sadly, it was not an unusual reaction. In my 12 years as a political activist trying to find out where billions in freeway tax money was being spent, I encountered the same blank bureaucratic wall many times.
Politicians and bureaucrats often try to hide anything that might embarrass them or subject them to criticism. ADOT in particular had its nasty tricks to avoid letting the public know what it was doing, such as charging outrageous fees. The director once billed me $126 for records even though my request had specifically stated to "examine," not "copy." They backed off but only because I made a stink.
Another dirty trick is for government agencies to claim their lawyers said the records are confidential. There is no way to check the truth of that statement. I know for a fact that ADOT often used that lie as a last resort, and its lawyers in the Attorney General's Office went along because government lawyers represent the government, not the people.
Once, in response to a request, ADOT led us into a huge room stacked floor to ceiling with boxes of papers with no way of telling where the one document we wanted might be hidden.
Their favorite tactic was delay, delay, delay, trying to wear us down.
All these things really happened and more.
It takes an enormous amount of energy to wrest documents from an unwilling bureaucracy. A mother lioness does not protect her cubs with the ferocity of a government agency protecting itself from public exposure.
There was a bill in the past session of the Legislature that would have created a public records counselor who would mediate such conflicts. Sadly, cities and other governments killed the bill. The last thing they want is accountability, and this bill would have provided it.
But why does it matter?
As they were starting the freeway-building program in the late '80s, ADOT, the Maricopa Association of Governments and the cities were throwing money around with wild abandon. There was no consideration of cost, impact on the public, hardships on homeowners who were being condemned or anything else. It was obvious to those following the issue that they would soon run out of money with only a few miles of freeway built.
The entire program was shrouded in secrecy with predictable results. Sweetheart deals were cut with those in favor; money was wasted on inane and expensive gold plating; rights of way were purchased at outrageous prices; interchanges were located to reward certain developers and city councils. All these things happened because ADOT and MAG did not fear exposure. They were confident they could stonewall any attempts at prying open the records.
The Public Records Law was our only weapon to expose what was going on. Even without much cooperation, we were able to show and publicize what was happening, which caused the various governmental agencies to slow their profligate spending.
It's a constant pull and tug between governments who try to hide their activities and citizens who have a strong need to know. So far, the government wins most of the battles simply because it has inertia on its side. It wears us out with delaying tactics.
It is a misconception that only the media care about access to public records. All citizens have a right to request public documents, and the government is required to honor their requests. Sunshine is the best antiseptic, and your governments must be forced to let us know what they are doing. Otherwise there is no accountability.
Jane White is a Scottsdale citizen activist.
nothing like selectively enforcing the law!
Refugee aid violates Prop. 200
Sept. 12, 2005 12:00 AM
Last week, the state of Arizona started giving out welfare money to people who can't prove their citizenship. It was a show of goodwill to victims of Hurricane Katrina. It's also a clear violation of a recently passed state law.
But Randy Pullen, one of the people behind the ballot initiative known as Protect Arizona Now, is not concerned. Because he meant Proposition 200 to target undocumented immigrants from Mexico, not evacuees from a hurricane in New Orleans.
The vast majority of the hundreds temporarily housed at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix are literally undocumented. For many, their only identity is a badge handed out by the American Red Cross. The name on that badge, in most cases, was provided by the evacuee, with no verification.
Unfortunately, under the new state law, that is not good enough. Meaning a portion of the aid being distributed is technically illegal. The state employees could be found guilty of misdemeanors. Someone could halt the state's "Operation Good Neighbor" by filing a civil court case.
Pullen already has the state in court in a battle to expand the scope of the initiative. And he has threatened to sue individual agencies that he feels are violating the law. But the evacuee center will not be his first case. "It doesn't even come close to what you would be looking for," he said.
Hard to see why not.
The law is clear. Each state agency or local government must verify the identity and immigration status of everyone who applies for benefits. The law also states it "shall be enforced without regard to race, religion, gender, ethnicity or national origin."
There is no provision for emergencies. There is no provision for compassion.
As interpreted by Attorney General Terry Goddard, the law only applies to a handful of state welfare programs. One of those is the general-assistance program, a stopgap measure for those waiting for their federal disability checks to start arriving.
Some evacuees are receiving aid from that program, said Liz Barker, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Economic Security. State workers are asking the evacuees to swear they are U.S. citizens, she said, the same method they were using before the passage of Proposition 200.
That's the method that Pullen and other supporters of the initiative argued was open to fraud. Pullen still believes untold numbers of undocumented immigrants are illegally on the state's welfare rolls. And he's gone to court, hoping to expand the definition of the law to include several other aid programs.
If his interpretation of the law were in place, Arizona would not have been legally able to hold last week's job fair that matched willing employers with evacuees. Nor would it have been able to help find subsidized or donated housing. Meaning the steady stream of people leaving the Coliseum might be a trickle instead. Folks like Fred Smittick, 47, would have to be content with a cot in an arena, rather than making plans for moving out.
"That's all I've been talking about all week; I want to get a job," Smittick said Thursday after getting hired by Sundt Construction. The former New Orleans resident planned to start this morning. He was also looking into getting help with housing. "Being in that place too long, it starts to get small," he said, walking back toward the Coliseum. "Pretty soon, you've got to leave the nest."
Pullen said it's obvious the initiative was not meant to target disaster relief efforts such as this. He does not think the state government is doing anything wrong by helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina. He does not think Arizona is violating the spirit of Proposition 200.
"Most of (the evacuees) are citizens," he said. "They're not coming here with the idea of living here to take advantage of the services here. It's an emergency situation."
Pullen said one answer would be to amend the law to clearly state that it doesn't apply in emergencies. But voter-approved laws are difficult to change. The Legislature must approve modifications by a three-fourths majority.
Even if voters weren't clear what they were voting about.
A poll released last month by the non-partisan research group thinkAZ found most people who voted for Proposition 200 did so to send a message about illegal immigration. The particulars of the law didn't matter so much.
"Most of the time these things are very esoteric," Pullen said, "and people don't understand it or get bored, and you don't get very far into it. There has to be an emotional appeal to it."
In this case, the emotional appeal was about illegal immigration, even though nothing in the law stated that.
Pullen said he wasn't sure why the provision about the law applying regardless of race or national origin was included in the measure. "Some legal reason," he said.
Because its target was clear: people from Mexico and Central America who crossed the border illegally. Pullen said it was a shame that couldn't have been made clear in the proposition. "That's hard to do," he said.
Reach Ruelas at (602) 444-8473 or email@example.com.
bad capital piggies
Capitol Police officers file sex harassment suit
By Kristina Davis, Tribune
September 12, 2005
Two female former Capitol Police officers say their work environment turned hostile after they reported sexual harassment by a sergeant.
They told the former police chief, governor’s office, Arizona Department of Administration and Arizona Department of Public Safety in hopes that something would change.
That was three years ago, and still, Bobbie Golden and Shelley Hebets have heard nothing.
Now, Golden and Hebets are suing Capitol Police, former Police Chief Andrew Staubitz and the state, saying they failed to investigate and act on the claims.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court, also names the man they said harassed them: Wayne Corcoran, who retired before an investigation could be launched.
And in a twist to the legal battle, Brian Neus of Mesa, a Capitol Police internal affairs sergeant who supported the women, was fired and has filed a lawsuit against the state.
The allegations add to the continued turmoil surrounding the police agency, which patrols a small area of downtown Phoenix around the state Capitol and provides security to state lawmakers.
"There was no investigation done for Shelley or I," Golden said. "We were never talked to, never interviewed, even though we went beyond what was needed to report it. Police agencies are obligated to conduct investigations and have closure to it. We were humiliated and yet no one seemed to care."
Attorneys for Corcoran and the state declined to comment.
Staubitz’s attorney Steve Biddle said all the defendants have asked the judge to dismiss the case because it lacks merit.
Corcoran measured Golden and Hebets for ballistic vests in 2002, even though the chief directed him to have a female officer measure them, the suit says.
Corcoran is also accused of making a quip about Golden’s breast size.
Hebets said she complied with the measurements because he outranked her, but she immediately reported the incident to Neus.
Hebets also says that Corcoran pulled her shorts up high on her thigh at a training class, asking her, "Is this the uniform of the day?"
In depositions, Corcoran defends his actions, saying he was never directed to not measure female officers.
He "did so in a professional and appropriate way and that neither Golden or Hebets expressed discomfort with his actions in any way," Corcoran’s attorneys say. Corcoran also denies commenting about Golden’s breast size.
Neus sent a memo to the chief detailing the women’s claims, and Corcoran was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.
Corcoran testified in a deposition that he was never informed of the sexual harassment allegations, but he decided to retire days later before the investigation got under way. Despite the allegations, Staubitz wrote Corcoran a letter of recommendation, and Corcoran was hired as a lieutenant with the Maricopa County Parks Department. He later transferred to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Trails Division, which is now responsible for patrolling the county’s wilderness and recreation areas.
That was the last either woman heard of her complaints.
Golden said that once Corcoran left, she and Hebets were alienated by their peers, and the work environment grew increasingly hostile.
"After we filed, we were scrutinized," she said. "Everything we did was looked at under a microscope.
"They would mess with my schedule instead of letting me be on patrol. It was little things, but when put all together, it was tiring being messed with on a constant basis. Someone else could do the exact same thing, and they weren’t talked to."
Hebets requested that DPS conduct an internal investigation into how the chief handled the harassment claims and retaliation, but there were never any findings, the lawsuit states.
The DPS investigator, Wendell Grasse, became the Capitol Police chief a year later, and Staubitz was demoted to captain.
The women also contacted Department of Administration director Betsey Bayless, who had a risk management investigator look into the allegations. In a deposition, risk management investigator Jon Vella agrees that the women were working in a hostile environment and said the sexual harassment allegations were plausible. He reported his findings to Bayless, but the women said they never heard what the conclusion was.
Vella admitted he took very few notes during his investigation, and later threw them away because he didn’t think he would need them anymore.
The governor’s chief of staff Dennis Burke was also informed of the allegations and he told his staff that he was working on it, a staff member testified. But the women never received any results of an investigation, and the workplace hostility continued, they said.
Golden and Hebets quit the force in December, saying the stress had grown too much and was affecting their health.
Meanwhile, Neus, who reported the women’s sexual harassment complaints, said he faced retaliation for supporting the women in their legal fight.
Neus said internal investigations were launched against him, including claims that he unholstered a gun in a stairwell, which he denies, and talked about another internal investigation to co-workers when he wasn’t supposed to.
"People don’t get fired for discussing an investigation," said Neus, a 10-year veteran of the agency. "They may get reprimanded."
He was fired in March 2004 a day after he filed a whistleblower letter against the chief and other officers at the agency. In March, he filed a wrongful-termination lawsuit against the state, Staubitz and Grasse.
Contact Kristina Davis by email, or phone (480)-898-6446
bible bashing scottsdale rulers want to chase topless dances out of town
Police keep the heat on strip clubs
By Ryan Gabrielson, Tribune
September 11, 2005
Scottsdale police are investigating the city’s two topless bars for possible violations of an ordinance banning lap dances and restricting where strippers can perform, police expense reports show.
The investigation is taking place as city leaders explore ways to close down the strip clubs.
Undercover officers have visited the clubs multiple times during the past three weeks, more than at any other time during the past seven years, the reports show. Police did not submit any expense reports in 2004 for undercover work at Babe’s Cabaret, 2011 N. Scottsdale Road, and Skin Cabaret, 1137 N. Scottsdale Road.
It is unclear exactly how many times officers have gone to the clubs, as the city blacked out the dates of when expenses were turned in to protect information about the police department’s investigative methods.
In all, undercover officers spent nearly $350 at the clubs this year, the reports show. Pat Dodds, a Scottsdale spokesman, said all the expenses were incurred after Aug. 19.
"The police department is proceeding with an investigation of the sexually oriented businesses in Scottsdale," Dodds said. "And they are proceeding in concert with the city attorney’s office and making a determination whether to take any additional action."
Police Chief Alan Rodbell and interim City Attorney Deborah Robberson did not return calls for comment.
The bars have come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks following news reports that porn star Jenna Jameson, a Paradise Valley resident, purchased a share of Babe’s.
Both Skin and Babe’s are located in south Scottsdale, an area the city has committed to revitalizing as its neighborhoods age. Jameson’s purchase has reminded neighborhood activists that check-cashing stores and strip clubs, which they deem undesirable, have chosen their side of the city.
Mayor Mary Manross and several City Council members pledged to block Babe’s from continuing to operate.
However, the Tribune found that police and prosecutors had ignored violations of the city’s Sexually Oriented Business Ordinance — which bans lap dances — for more than two years. Former City Attorney David Pennartz, fearing the ordinance might not be upheld in federal court, instructed Scottsdale’s police and prosecutors to stop enforcing the regulations in August 2003.
Following Tribune inquiries about the enforcement lapse, police again began monitoring the clubs, Dodds said. It is unclear whether officers have cited the clubs for violations.
The Tribune found that performers at both bars offer lap dances and violate several other sections of the city ordinance.
Babe’s manager Rigoberto Durazo said he is not aware of any citations, or of his bar breaking any rules. "If (the police are) doing something, they’re not telling me or they’re not notifying us that we are doing something wrong," he said.
A U.S. Court of Appeals ruling late last year might force Scottsdale to alter its ordinance. While the city attorney’s office has argued most of the regulations will remain intact, it has refused to disclose which are being enforced.
The council is slated to discuss the ordinance in a closed-door meeting Tuesday.
Contact Ryan Gabrielson by email, or phone (480)-898-2341
messy yard cops at work. but they ignore the water that builds up in the flood control ditch along the arizona canal. of course its selective enforce maricopa county owns and operates that ditch.
Dirty pools lead to more misdemeanor charges
Sept. 13, 2005 03:26 PM
Charges have been filed against owners of dozens of pools in the Phoenix area who failed to clean them up to stop the spread of West Nile virus.
Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas' office filed the misdemeanor charges after the pool owners allegedly ignored warnings and citations from health officials to clean up their pools.
Stagnant, dirty pools can become breeding grounds for mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus.
Thomas said most pool owners clean up their green pools once warned, but the 49 people charged this week in 40 separate cases ignored them. Ten additional cases are pending.
if you take the first letter of each paragraph it will spell out sheriff joe arpaio
Answering the complaints of an unnamed politician
Sept. 13, 2005 12:00 AM
Sometimes, an elected official becomes so upset with the media that he or one of his underlings writes a long angry letter complaining about the coverage that he is getting. Or, as happened recently with a politician here, not getting.
Human beings behave in odd and unflattering ways when in positions of authority. Over time, a successful politician can allow his ego and sense of self-importance to get the better of him.
Even a man whose name appears in print and on TV with more regularity than those in positions of much greater authority can go off the deep end, as was the case with the head of a local law enforcement body.
Recriminations from this politician are not unusual. I've received them myself, sometimes in the form of an anchovy-covered pizza sent to me by the man as a way of expressing his disdain.
It surprised me, however, when the man's spokeswoman released a letter denouncing The Arizona Republic for not featuring the politician's name in articles describing the work his deputies were doing in New Orleans.
For those of you who didn't see it, the letter was published in Monday's Republic. It criticized the newspaper, saying that The Republic "failed to credit" this politician by name in articles about the Hurricane Katrina disaster effort.
Frustrated by what the PR flak believed to be this "mean-spirited" slap in the face, the letter went on to claim that "only when it's bad news do you (happily) print his name."
This is not true, of course. Each time this particular politician stages a publicity stunt, all of the newspapers and TV stations in town provide coverage.
Just when you think there is a lull in the media frenzy over him, he will decide, for example, to surround the county with roadblocks to try to stop drugs from coming in.
Or he will put inmates in pink underwear, or establish a chain gang for men, and then one for woman, and then one for children.
Even the lawsuits that have cost the county's insurers millions of dollars seem only to serve as a way to keep his name in the media.
And if that's not enough, his name is splashed all over the jails, on patrol cars, on stationery, on his Web site.
Anyone who has lived in Arizona for more than a week knows whom I'm talking about. This politician's name recognition is higher than anyone except Sen. John McCain.
Recently, he bragged to me about the "1,500 shows, national and international" that have featured his name. As well as the thousands of newspaper and magazine articles.
Politicians would do anything for that type of publicity. And he has. Putting inmates in striped suits. Building tent cities. Posing with a machine gun. Housing stray pets in an air-conditioned jail.
After a dozen years on the job, you'd hope that he is secure enough in his popularity to share the attention, rather than allowing underlings to write silly letters that merit silly responses.
Instead of complaining about the lack or personal recognition, he might have sent the paper a thank-you note for covering the fine work that Maricopa County deputies did in New Orleans.
Only he didn't. To him, the world is only a collection of mirrors. He sees himself everywhere. Even in an article that doesn't mention his name.
Reach Montini at firstname.lastname@example.org or (602) 444-8978.
state of arizona decides to flush prop 200 down the toilet!!!!
September 7, 2005
AZ to give provisional ballot to voters without ID
The Associated Press
PHOENIX - Arizona officials agreed Wednesday to let voters without identification cast provisional ballots but not to count those ballots unless voters later produce identification.
Gov. Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Terry Goddard, who are both Democrats, accepted a revised elections procedure approved previously by Republican Secretary of State Jan Brewer to implement a voter identification provision in a voter-approved law that appeared on the state's 2004 ballot as Proposition 200.
Brewer's revised procedure was a reaction to the U.S. Justice Department's recent decision to revise its earlier position on the voter ID issue.
The department had said in April that the state could implement the Proposition 200 requirement that voters produce identification at polling places. However, a clarification issued last week said the federal Help America Voter Act of 2002 required that a person claiming to be an eligible voter and willing to sign a statement to that effect be given at least a provisional ballot.
The clarification in a letter signed by acting Assistant Attorney General Bradley J. Schlozman also said it's up to states to decide whether a person who casts a provisional ballot is actually eligible to vote and therefore whether a provisional ballot should be counted.
Brewer, who had wrangled with Goddard and Napolitano for months on the implementation of Proposition 200's voter ID requirement, then proposed the revised procedure.
"Throughout this long process, I have stood firm on implementing an ID requirement when voting at the poll places, just as the voters called for in Proposition 200," Brewer said in a statement after Napolitano and Goddard accepted the change Friday.
Arizona is required to obtain Justice Department clearance of election laws and procedures under the federal Voting Rights Act, and Goddard said he would revise the state's pending request for clearance to incorporate to the new change.
The voter ID requirement, a step which supporters said would help deter voter fraud but which critics said would hinder voter participation, is one of two major election-related provisions in Proposition 200. The second requires that people prove citizenship when registering to vote, has not been challenged.
Separate, non-election provisions of the law are aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from benefiting from certain government services and programs.
FBI violating informant guidelines
Inspector general finds 87 failure rate
By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff | September 13, 2005
The US Department of Justice announced yesterday that the FBI has continued to violate informant guidelines adopted several years ago amid public condemnation over its mishandling of notorious Boston gangsters James ''Whitey" Bulger and Stephen ''The Rifleman" Flemmi.
A review of 120 confidential informant files at a dozen of the nation's FBI offices, including Boston's, found that agents failed to follow the rules in 87 percent of the cases, according to a 301-page report by Glenn A. Fine, the Justice Department's inspector general. The review was conducted between June and August 2004.
'These numbers are just extraordinary, and they're damning," said US Representative William D. Delahunt, a Quincy Democrat who participated in Congressional hearings investigating the FBI's relationship with Bulger and Flemmi.
''I think what they mean is legislation is now required to ensure compliance," Delahunt said yesterday. He said that he and US Representative Daniel E. Lungren, a California Republican and a fellow member of the House Judiciary Committee, will file a bill mandating that the FBI follow the guidelines and include sanctions for agents who do not.
The report cited agents' failure to report illegal activity by informants; failure to obtain authority to let informants engage in illegal activity such as buying drugs during investigations; failure to evaluate informants for suitability to work with the FBI; and failure to document when informants were deactivated, the report said.
Fine concluded that the violations were caused by inadequate training, a lack of administrative support for agents, and a failure of management to hold supervisors accountable for lack of proper oversight to handling agents.
According to the report, FBI director Robert S. Mueller III ''told us that he frequently hears agents complain about the burdensome procedures for opening and operating informants."
The report also cited ''lingering differences" between the FBI and the Department of Justice over how informants should be handled.
Tougher guidelines adopted in May 2002 -- aimed at preventing the cozy relationship that developed among Bulger, Flemmi, and their FBI handlers -- required the FBI to share information on informants with other agencies, including federal prosecutors.
The FBI in Washington released a statement yesterday saying that many of the recommendations in Fine's report have already been adopted or are under review as part of a project launched several months ago between the FBI and the Justice Department to revise its Confidential Human Source Program.
The project aims to simplify and standardize administrative procedures, clarify compliance requirements, and improve compliance with the attorney general's informant guidelines, according to the statement.
Delahunt said he will push for legislation that goes even further than the current informant guidelines, to include a provision that requires the FBI to notify state and local law enforcement officials if they learn that an informant is involved in criminal activity.
Retired FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. was convicted in US District Court in Boston in May 2002 of racketeering, obstruction of justice, and related charges for warning his longtime informants, Bulger and Flemmi, to flee just before they were indicted on federal racketeering charges in January 1995. Bulger, who has since been charged with killing 19 people, remains a fugitive.
Connolly, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison on the federal charges, was indicted earlier this year on state murder charges in Miami in allegedly plotting with Bulger and Flemmi in 1982 to kill a potential witness against them, John Callahan, a Boston financier with ties to Bulger's gang. Connolly is awaiting trial.
Flemmi, who pleaded guilty to killing 10 people and is serving a life sentence, is now cooperating with the government and is slated to testify against Connolly in Florida.
The FBI's relationship with Bulger and Flemmi was exposed during pretrial hearings in US District Court in 1998, which led to Congressional hearings and the overhaul of the informant guidelines.
Former US attorney Donald K. Stern, who helped US Attorney General Janet Reno revamp the older guidelines, said yesterday he was disappointed by the number of violations cited in the report by Fine, the Justice Department's internal watchdog. ''It was clear from the efforts to get the guidelines changed that this was to some degree a significant shift in attitude and culture that would be required at the FBI," Stern said, ''because for so long the handling of informants was their domain, and they didn't have to share the responsibility or get any oversight outside."
But he said it is important to give the FBI the training and oversight it needs to comply with the guidelines because the previous system did not work.
''If you just assume that everything is OK because the line agent or the immediate supervisor says it is, you're going to have problems," Stern said. ''And as we've learned from the Bulger and Flemmi case, those problems could have disastrous consequences."
© Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.
Court sets limits on how much the City of Tempe can steal.
Court: Land can't be seized for shopping center
By Dennis Welch, Tribune
September 13, 2005
A Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday that Tempe cannot force a group of property owners off their land to make way for a planned $200 million shopping center.
Judge Kenneth Fields ruled that the city was attempting to condemn the property for a private development in which there were no public benefits.
“The Arizona courts have stepped up and drawn a line in the sand by not allowing private property to be taken for economic development,” said Jennifer Barnett, a staff attorney for the Arizona chapter of the Institute for Justice.
The institute successfully defended Mesa brake shop owner Randy Bailey in 2003 against that city’s attempts to condemn his business for private development.
Contact Dennis Welch by email, or phone (480) 898-6573
dont these pigs have any real criminals to chase???
Chandler deters day laborers
By Chris Markham, Tribune
September 13, 2005
A push to drive day laborers and the contractors who hire them off downtown Chandler streets began Monday with lukewarm results.
City workers posted nearly 100 "no-parking" and "nostopping" signs, and specially assigned police officers issued warnings to drivers who stopped.
But still, at least 100 day laborers lined Arizona Avenue and adjacent streets between Chandler Boulevard and Pecos Road on Monday morning waiting for work instead of going to a nearby day labor center city officials encourage them to use.
"It appeared like there were less people," said Leah Powell, the city’s liaison to the Human Relations Commission. "But it’s hard to say this early."
It wasn’t hard for Pastor Jose Gonzalez to say. He runs the church-sponsored Light and Life Day Labor Center barely a block away from where many workers congregate.
"It’s about the same today," he said. "Not real different."
The parking restrictions are part of an effort to rid downtown of the day labor practice as city and business leaders have plans for redeveloping the area now that Loop 202 connects Arizona Avenue to the Valley’s freeway system to the south.
Early this year, the Chandler Human Relations Commission presented a report to the City Council that included a list of recommendations on how to alleviate the day labor problem downtown.
The recommendations revolved around encouraging workers and employers to use the day labor center, and one way to accomplish that goal was to prohibit motorists from stopping on Arizona Avenue.
Chandler is spending nearly $30,000 to start the campaign.
The no-stopping and noparking signs cost about $15,000, and two police officers assigned to the area from 4 to 9 a.m., six days a week, costs another $14,000 per month.
Police and city workers are also handing out fliers that explain the new restrictions and advertise the day labor center.
On Monday, police issued warnings to at least 25 people who stopped or parked along the avenue looking to hire workers.
"I think it’s going to take some time for people to get adjusted," Powell said.
She told the City Council last month that the restrictions would likely push some workers to other areas of town but expected the day labor center’s proximity to offset that.
Juan Hurta, 46, was using the day labor center Monday morning.
But Hurta said he was directed to the center by some people on Arizona Avenue after arriving from Mexico about six weeks ago.
He said he’s been using the center almost daily to find jobs on construction sites.
Many more workers preferred standing along the streets downtown, and trucks towing landscaping equipment could be seen picking up workers in a city-owned parking lot.
One man who declined to identify himself said he was waiting for a contractor he’s been working for for two years.
Their typical meeting spot is now clearly within the nostopping zone, which left the worker wondering if he would be working Monday.
Contact Chris Markham by email, or phone (480) 898-6486
Report details ex-pastor’s spending
By Amanda Lee Myers, Tribune
September 12, 2005
A former Scottsdale pastor accused of stealing $67,000 from his church spent the money on his own wedding and a large amount of bills, police said.
A 42-page report released last week by Scottsdale police details the month-by-month charges the Rev. Patrick Shetler, 48, drained from a bank account of Glass and Garden Community Church, 8620 E. McDonald Drive.
The charges from 2004 include $5,000 on the wedding, more than $7,000 in electric bills and nearly $2,000 in cell phone expenses, plus car and mortgage payments, the report states.
That same year, Shetler wrote nearly $25,000 in checks to "Patrick" and withdrew nearly $27,000 from ATMs, the report states. Police estimate he spent an average of about $9,200 of the church’s money per month.
Police officials said the total amount of the theft could rise because Shetler opened credit card accounts in his and the church’s names, and some financial documents have not been recovered.
Church officials fired Shetler in July.
"Shetler stated he was having financially difficulty, he was paying child support, he was going to counseling, and his new wife had been ill," wrote Scottsdale police detective Tanya Corder. "Shetler again acknowledged what he did was wrong but advised that he was financially strained."
Shetler filed bankruptcy with his second wife in September 2004, with debts owed to more than 100 companies, U.S. Bankruptcy Court records show.
Scottsdale police have turned the case over to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.
An attorney in the office will determine in the next week whether to file felony theft and fraud charges against Shetler or whether more investigation is needed, said Bill FitzGerald, spokesman for the office.
Right now, Shetler — who was released without bail after his arrest — is focused on getting a job so the church’s governing board can stop paying for his food, rent and other expenses, said the Rev. Richard Koerselman of New Hope Community Church in Gilbert.
"Pat is doing much better — he’s much stronger," Koerselman said.
"He’s feeling ready to go out and apply for work," he said, adding that Shetler will likely be doing some type of landscaping or construction work.
Contact Amanda Lee Myers by telephone at (480) 970-2330.
isnt this nice from both a libertarian and an atheist view point :)
Federal judge declares Pledge unconstitutional
Sept. 14, 2005 12:05 PM
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge declared the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools unconstitutional Wednesday in a case brought by the same atheist whose previous battle against the words "under God" was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court on procedural grounds.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the pledge's reference to one nation "under God" violates school children's right to be "free from a coercive requirement to affirm God."
Karlton said he was bound by precedent of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which in 2002 ruled in favor of Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow that the pledge is unconstitutional when recited in public schools.
The Supreme Court dismissed the case last year, saying Newdow lacked standing because he did not have custody of his elementary school daughter he sued on behalf of.
Newdow, an attorney and a medical doctor, filed an identical case on behalf of three unnamed parents and their children. Karlton said those families have the right to sue.
Karlton, ruling in Sacramento, said he would sign a restraining order preventing the recitation of the pledge at the Elk Grove Unified, Rio Linda and Elverta Joint Elementary school districts, where the plaintiffs' children attend.
The decision sets up another showdown over the pledge in schools, at a time when the makeup of the Supreme Court is in flux.
Wednesday's ruling comes as Supreme Court nominee John Roberts faces day three of his confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He would succeed the late William H. Rehnquist as chief justice.
Sandra Day O'Connor stepped down from the Supreme Court in July.
The Becket Fund, a religious rights group that is a party to the case, said it would immediately appeal the case to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If the court does not change its precedent, the group would go to the Supreme Court.
"It's a way to get this issue to the Supreme Court for a final decision to be made," said fund attorney Jared Leland.
Newdow, reached at his home, was not immediately prepared to comment.
these are the government officials who say they can protect us???
How do we bridge gap between needy, those offering help?
Sept. 14, 2005 12:00 AM
Ann Kurchack called me looking for help, which just goes to show you how desperate some people can be. Josh Asher called, too. Both tried all last week to get in touch with state officials to ask for assistance. Both were seeking guidance on where to go, what to do.
Kurchack never heard back from anyone until Tuesday afternoon, a day after I started making calls to state offices about the silent treatment. Asher, meanwhile, got his answer last Friday: a kiss-off.
"Can you believe it?" Kurchack asked.
Actually, I can't.
It is surprising that these two haven't been able to get the help they need, a shame that we have no system in place to spring into action.
I mean, how often does someone offer to give a family a place to live, rent-free, for a year or more? How often does one stranger offer to so thoroughly help another to his feet?
Apparently, more often than any of us imagined. Kurchack and Asher are just two of thousands of Arizonans last week who flooded state offices with offers of housing for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Our cup runneth over. The problem is, we seem to have no way to saveth the precious spillage before it swirls down the drain.
Kurchack, a Scottsdale resident, said she and her husband, Bruce, decided they had to offer help when they saw the pictures from New Orleans. "I tell my children, you listen when God whispers," she said. "Well, he was screaming this time."
Kurchack called and e-mailed state offices with their offer: They would provide an apartment anywhere in the Valley, covering rent and utilities for a year.
The response? Silence. Until Tuesday's call from a press aid to the governor, who said she would pass along the offer.
Asher, who like Kurchack lives in Scottsdale, also saw pictures: multitudes of people living in armories and convention centers. "I have difficulty envisioning a family trying to live normally on cots surrounded by thousands of people," he said.
His offer: He would buy a house and invite a family to live there rent-free for up to two years, until they can return home.
"Arizonans have offered more than 3,000 housing offers - far more than needed . . . " replied Lou Trammell, of the state Division of Emergency Management, via e-mail. "I will include your information into our housing offer database but understand we have thousands of offers now. Thanks for your compassion and willingness to help."
Well, you might think if there are thousands of offers they might relay a few of them to the folks in Houston. Or to those who work with homeless Arizonans.
If there is one bright spot in this catastrophe, it is that people want to help. Some, like Asher, are now looking outside of Arizona for Katrina victims who need his help. Others, like Kurchack, would be open to helping a local homeless family if the hurricane survivors have been taken care of.
But how to go about finding them? Unfortunately, I couldn't find anybody in the social service sector who could tell me.
"It would be a great opportunity to take some families on the verge (of homelessness), that could really benefit from that offer," said Billie Paulson, director of Family Services at Central Arizona Shelter Services. "But making those matches, that's something I think we need to work on, a way to make those matches. I'm not quite sure what that is."
Maybe they'll figure it out. There is need here. We've always known that. Now, we know that there are people who will fill it.
If only there was a way to fit tab A into slot B.
County judge reverses Tempe condemnation
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 14, 2005 12:00 AM
In a stunning development, a Maricopa County judge ruled in a decision released Tuesday that 13 Tempe property owners don't have to fork over their land to help make way for a $200 million Tempe shopping mall.
"It's a big victory for anybody who owns property," said Troy Valentine, a cabinet shop owner whose life has been on hold since the City Council voted to condemn his property. The mall developer planned to put a movie theater about where his 12-year-old shop sits.
"I can start thinking about growth," he said. "I can finish off a nice showroom." advertisement
The ruling caps a legal struggle that pitted Tempe and mall developers against a cadre of property owners and small businesses, and the case was closely watched in legal circles. The East Valley already is home to Mesa's Bailey brake shop case, a 2003 decision that became a rallying point for property-rights groups. In June, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that could give the government more power to take private property rattled those advocates.
Courts rarely rule in favor of small property owners who fight condemnation, attorneys said.
"This is about out legal system saying the little guy can have a voice and win the battle," said Doug Zimmerman, a lawyer on the property owners' legal team. "This ruling flies in the face of a powerful city and powerful developers."
Mayor Hugh Hallman was "disappointed" by the ruling, and said an appeal is likely.Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Field's decision essentially punishes Tempe for saving taxpayers money, Hallman said.
"It's ironic because we were successful in pushing off all cost of cleanup on the developer," he said.
He said the ruling also could jeopardize millions of federal dollars the city has earmarked for the cleanup.
The ruling follows a two-week hearing in August in which Tempe's lawyers argued that combustible methane and other pollution lurks beneath the former Superfund site near Rio Salado Parkway and McClintock Drive.
The property owners' attorneys, however, argued that the Tempe Marketplace mall site isn't an altruistic civic project,- it's a sales tax generator conceived and bankrolled by developer Mira Vista Holdings.
Fields sided with the landowners and gave little weight to Tempe's assertions that the area was an environmental time bomb.
While the judge agreed that the area should be cleaned up, Fields noted that the state's sole risk assessment of the area concluded that it wasn't a health hazard. The city's documentation about methane hot spots was at least 15 years old, and the methane had probably dissipated since then, the judge wrote. Plus, a developer testified that unstable soil, not environmental hazards, were the biggest problem on the site.
Tempe failed to show that the mall project constituted a "public use," Fields said.
"The private developer Mira Vista Holdings and its principals are the driving forces behind this project not the Plaintiff, City of Tempe," Fields wrote. "Profit, not public improvement, is the motivating force for this redevelopment," he continued.
Field's ruling will toss cold water on cities that may have been emboldened by the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling against New London, Conn., property owners, said Tim Keller executive director of the Institute for Justice's Arizona chapter.
In the New London case, the court ruled that the economic benefits of a private development could outweigh private property rights even if the area wasn't blighted.
In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision, "it will be up to the individual states to protect private property rights," said Keller, whose group represented the Bailey brake shop and the New London owners.
"The battle will shift to the states," he said.
Tempe's mayor and a spokesman for the developer, meanwhile, say that the mall will move forward.
Tempe Marketplace is part of a sweeping plan to redevelop a 214-acre industrial corridor. The city and Mira Vista have a complex agreement that includes plans for Mira Vista to mop up pollution and transform the area. Vestar Development Co. plans to build a mall with big box retailers and a movie theater.
The holdouts have 28 acres of the 120-acre mall site, but environmental cleanup and other work is already under way, said Tom Liddy, a former Institute for Justice lawyer who represents Vestar and Mira Vista.
Liddy was "confident" Tempe would win an appeal.
Steven Hirsch, one of the property owners' lawyers, said he plans to ask the court to make Tempe pay his clients' legal bill
more taxes in tucson!!!!!
Off-airport parking will become pricier
Long-term parking rates
Tucson International Airport Lots:
● Long-term in front of terminal: $8 per day
● Park 'N Save: $4 per day
● Covered parking: $8 per day
● Park-N-Fly (6627 S. Tucson Blvd.): $3.25 per day
● Parking Company of America (6550, 6920 and 6970 S. Tucson Blvd.): $2.99 to $4.50 per day, $6 per day for covered parking
● Trax Transportation (2455 E. Valencia Road): $3.50 per day for self-park, $6.99 per day for valet service
By Thomas Stauffer
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
The Tucson Airport Authority's board approved Tuesday a 7.5 percent fee on the operators of the discount parking lots that line the approach to the airport.
Beginning Nov. 1, the three local operators will pay the Airport Authority about 10 times what they do now to run their businesses.
"I guess I'm going to have to pass the surcharge right on to the customer," said Janette Hunter, owner of Trax Transportation, 2455 E. Valencia Road. "I don't have much of a choice."
The other two local operators said they would also have to raise prices, though all three will still have rates that beat Tucson International Airport's best daily price of $4 per day.
The flat fees now paid by the three operators amount to about $11,000 a year. Revenue from the surcharge on the companies' gross revenues is expected to bring in from $100,000 to $150,000 annually.
It will go toward decreasing landing fees charged to the airlines, fees that are already very low by industry standards, said Joseph Badiei, owner of Parking Company of America, which has three lots near the airport.
"They never even bothered to contact us about this before they decided to force it on us," Badiei said. "Everything is going up - insurance, fuel costs - and now they're giving us a surcharge without telling us. That's the worst part, that they couldn't even bother to contact us about it."
As part of the community, the authority should have informed the operators of the impending vote, said board member Jim Sakrison. Airport Authority staffers also should have considered phasing in the fee rather than instituting it in one swoop, said board member Richard Imwalle.
Board member Ed Biggers said a sudden, 7.5 percent fee could have a considerable effect on many local business owners.
"Some businesses operate at a 7.5 percent margin, so a 7.5 percent surcharge could have a pretty large impact," Biggers said.
Board President Michael J. Harris said an Airport Authority committee favored the fee for three reasons:
● A fee of 2 percent to 10 percent is the industry standard at most airports,
● The fee is consistent with TAA's goal of diversifying income as opposed to solely relying on fees from airlines,
● Case law has supported the concept of charging fees to businesses that derive their income from entities like airports.
The board approved the fee by a vote of 6 to 2. Imwalle and Biggers were the dissenters.
While the fee is a significant increase for the off-airport operators, it's consistent with user fees charged to other businesses, said Bonnie Allin, the Airport Authority's president and CEO.
Parking lot owner Harvey Evenchik said he would have appreciated the chance to at least speak to the board about move before a final vote was taken.
"It's just another case of putting to the little guy," said Evenchik, owner of Park-N-Fly, 6627 S. Tucson Blvd. "What can we do to fight it? Everything is stacked against us."
● Contact reporter Thomas Stauffer at 573-4197 or at email@example.com.
pigs get free guns!!!! well almost free!!!
County will allow retiring deputies to purchase their firearms for $1
By Erica Meltzer
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Pima County sheriff's deputies receive lower pay and fewer medical benefits than Tucson police officers, but they now have one benefit their city counterparts do not.
The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to allow retiring officers with 20 years of service to buy their firearm for a dollar.
Retiring sheriff's deputies previously had to pay the replacement cost to keep their firearms - $427 for a handgun, $359 for a shotgun. Tucson police officers cannot buy their firearms.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Phoenix Police Department also allow retiring officers to buy their firearms for a dollar.
"TPD offers benefits that we can't afford to provide," said Brad Gagnepain, administrative services bureau chief for the Sheriff's Department. "Why not do something we can afford that would be a positive morale booster?"
Gagnepain said the move was part of an ongoing effort to improve morale. Earlier this year, the county board approved pay increases for deputies that ranged from 6 to 27 percent.
Marcia Hancock, chairwoman of the Pima County Deputy Sheriff's Association, said the increases brought deputies closer to city police salaries.
But city police keep their health insurance upon retirement and they get all their pay if they are injured on the job. Deputies get only 66 percent of their pay if injured, she said.
Though buying a firearm for a dollar was not an official demand, it had come up from time to time, Hancock said.
"It's something they can do for us and we appreciate it," she said.
In other business, the board:
● Voted unanimously to approve restrictions on off-road-vehicle facilities. Tracks will be allowed only on lots larger than 10 acres and only when owners meet certain conditions.
● Voted unanimously to raise the hotel tax from 2 percent to 6 percent.
● Contact reporter Erica Meltzer at 807-7790 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deputy charged with DUI, put on leave
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
A Pima County sheriff's deputy is on administrative leave after the department's DUI squad pulled him over early Monday in the Catalina Foothills, officials said.
Karl Kapferer, an 11-year-veteran who patrolled the Foothills area, was charged with driving drunk after he was stopped for a traffic infraction after 2:30 a.m. near East Skyline Drive and North Campbell Avenue, said Deputy Dawn Barkman, a Sheriff's Department spokeswoman.
Kapferer was driving his personal vehicle at the time. He was cited and released and will be on administrative leave pending the outcome of the DUI and internal investigations, she said.
An internal affairs board was reviewing Kapferer for a shooting incident in July 2004. Kapferer fired his gun at Joseph Egan Jr., 33, who tried to run over Deputy John Pollitt.
The deputies were told Egan was suicidal and may have used drugs. He was holding his ex-wife and two other people at knifepoint for two hours, Barkman said at the time. Egan was driving at a high speed into trees, fences and a gas meter and may have hit Pollitt, who was in the path of the vehicle with nowhere to go, she said.
Kapferer fired one shot into the car but didn't hit Egan, who ran his car into another fence and tried running away before the deputies captured him, Barkman said.
over two years ago on Friday, May 2, 2003 bush announced the end of major fighting in the iraqi war. i guess the 165 bombs killed in this attack yesterday is just minor fighting.
Bombs kill 165 in Iraq
Coordinated attacks claimed by al-Qaida wound over 510
Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Robert F. Worth
New York Times
Sept. 15, 2005 12:00 AM
BAGHDAD - Insurgents staged at least a dozen suicide bombings that ripped through Baghdad in rapid succession Wednesday, killing about 150 people and wounding more than 500 in a coordinated assault that left much of the violence-scarred capital paralyzed. Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility for the assault, which inflicted the biggest death toll in Baghdad since the American-led invasion of Iraq toppled Saddam Hussein more than two years ago.
The onslaught continued today with at least 10 policemen and five civilians killed when a suicide bomber drove his car into a convoy of police vehicles in Baghdad's southern Dora district, police said.
Ten others were wounded in the 8 a.m. attack, Lt. Thair Mahmoud said. Three police vehicles were destroyed.
The violence appeared to be retaliation for the weeklong siege of the insurgent stronghold of Tal Afar and included a bombing in a Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad that used a new tactic: luring scores of day laborers to a minivan with promises of work and then blowing it up. At least 112 died in that blast alone, the second-highest death toll from any single terrorist bombing in post-invasion Iraq.
The attacks coincided with the opening of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, attended by top Iraqi leaders and President Bush, who pressed for a resolution calling on all nations to take action against the incitement of terrorism.
Wednesday's attacks demonstrated again how easily insurgents can still stage audacious, well-coordinated attacks, despite a series of highly publicized military offensives like the recent one in Tal Afar, a northern city that has been an important insurgent base.
The explosions struck Shiite civilians, Iraqi security forces and U.S. troops, the favored targets of Iraq's Sunni Arab insurgency. The worst attack singled out workers in the Shiite Kadhimiya neighborhood, with an explosion that tore through a crowded intersection, leaving the facades of nearby shops shattered and puddles of blood on the streets.
"I saw a huge fireball in the air, and I felt the heat and flame on my face," said Kadhum Nasir Malih, 28, who lives in near the blast. "I went outside the hotel, and I was amazed to see the number of bodies. Some were still, and some were groaning with agony, charred and covered with blood, with smoke rising from them."
At least 10 U.S. soldiers were wounded in attacks that the military said struck at least three military convoys, though the military reported no deaths. In Taji, north of Baghdad, gunmen dressed in Iraqi uniforms abducted 17 men and shot them execution-style, according to the Interior Ministry.
Senior military officials interviewed Wednesday said intelligence indicated the bombs and planning for the Baghdad attacks originated from the Euphrates River valley in western Iraq, where Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Jordanian leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, has his base of operations.
"We believe these attacks were spawned in the west, then the bombs migrated from the Euphrates River valley," said a senior U.S. Central Command officer, who spoke anonymously because of the sensitive source of the intelligence. "The heart of Zarqawi's network is not in Baghdad, we're quite confident of that," the officer continued in a telephone interview. "In a corridor from Syria to Baghdad is where he's nested right now."
Hours after the first attack, al-Qaida in Iraq issued a statement calling the strikes revenge for the U.S. and Iraqi assault on Tal Afar. The statement said the bombings signified that "the battle to avenge the Sunni people of Tal Afar has started."
The U.S. military has said it killed more than 150 insurgents in Tal Afar over the past two weeks.
Federal judge declares Pledge unconstitutional
Sept. 14, 2005 12:05 PM
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge declared the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools unconstitutional Wednesday in a case brought by the same atheist whose previous battle against the words "under God" was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court on procedural grounds.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the pledge's reference to one nation "under God" violates school children's right to be "free from a coercive requirement to affirm God."
Karlton said he was bound by precedent of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which in 2002 ruled in favor of Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow that the pledge is unconstitutional when recited in public schools.
The Supreme Court dismissed the case last year, saying Newdow lacked standing because he did not have custody of his elementary school daughter he sued on behalf of.
Newdow, an attorney and a medical doctor, filed an identical case on behalf of three unnamed parents and their children. Karlton said those families have the right to sue.
Karlton, ruling in Sacramento, said he would sign a restraining order preventing the recitation of the pledge at the Elk Grove Unified, Rio Linda and Elverta Joint Elementary school districts, where the plaintiffs' children attend.
The decision sets up another showdown over the pledge in schools, at a time when the makeup of the Supreme Court is in flux.
Wednesday's ruling comes as Supreme Court nominee John Roberts faces day three of his confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He would succeed the late William H. Rehnquist as chief justice.
Sandra Day O'Connor stepped down from the Supreme Court in July.
The Becket Fund, a religious rights group that is a party to the case, said it would immediately appeal the case to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If the court does not change its precedent, the group would go to the Supreme Court.
"It's a way to get this issue to the Supreme Court for a final decision to be made," said fund attorney Jared Leland.
Newdow, reached at his home, was not immediately prepared to comment.
being a government ruler you get special perks if you happen to live thru the new orleans disaster. am i saying we are all not equal under the eyes of the laws and government rulers are special. damn right i am.
Lawmaker escorted to his home, takes items
Sept. 15, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - A Louisiana congressman being escorted by National Guard troops removed personal items from his home in flooded New Orleans while military helicopters and emergency workers raced to save thousands of victims.
Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., said he had planned to check on his house Sept. 2 after traveling with President Bush to survey the damage across the Gulf Coast. He said he accepted the Louisiana Guard escort only after his staff and Capitol police warned him it was unsafe to travel alone because of looting and lawlessness.
After touring the flood-damaged city from the air and visiting evacuees at the Louisiana Superdome and the city's Convention Center, Jefferson said he asked his Guard escorts to drive him to his Uptown neighborhood, several miles from the Superdome.
"I was intending to go to my neighborhood for sure if I could get there. I didn't know what the condition was," Jefferson said Wednesday. "I was curious to know, and everybody in my family was curious to know: What was the condition of our house? Was it underwater? Was it looted?"
While Jefferson was checking out his house, the military truck that took him there got stuck in the mud and a second truck had to be sent to rescue the congressmen and his escort, said Maj. Ed Bush, a spokesman for the Louisiana National Guard.
A Coast Guard helicopter rescuing people stranded on rooftops also spotted the group at the congressman's house and sent a rescue swimmer down to investigate. Jefferson said he and the Guardsmen tried to wave the helicopter off, but the pilot apparently didn't see him and the swimmer ended up kicking in a door and entering his house through a balcony.
Cmdr. Brendan McPherson, a spokesman for the Coast Guard, said the helicopter pilot responded to a distress signal from the National Guardsmen outside Jefferson's house before lowering the rescue swimmer.
Lt. Col. Pete Schneider, a Guard spokesman, said Jefferson was the only official who requested a tour via ground transportation.
Schneider declined to comment when asked if the tour had distracted from the Guard's other duties.
how do you spell $revenue$??? tempe party law over the past 3 weeks will raise $150,000 in revenue. dont these cops have any real criminals to hunt down? having a squad of undercover cops to catch under age drinkers in the asu area seems like a jobs program for the cops and a source of revenue for the city of tempe!!
University, Tempe police targeting young drinkers
Officers claim alcohol brings host of crimes
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 15, 2005 12:00 AM
TEMPE - City and Arizona State University police are cracking down on underage drinking, especially motivated after the alcohol-related death of a freshman before the start of the spring semester.
Plainclothes officers have been circling through Tempe's apartment complexes, ASU's "Greek row" and nearby bar districts, and they're nabbing underage drinkers in droves. A small squad of Tempe officers arrested more than 100 during two recent weekends.
Most were caught near the bars on Eighth Street and in large apartment complexes near campus. Police don't target places just because of the drinking, said Tempe Sgt. James Click, who led recent plainclothes patrols.
"We go out there because of all the other crimes that spawn from drinking," he said. "Fights, drunk-driving accidents, home invasions, rapes almost always blossom from alcohol-related activity."
Police presence also is high in and around dorms for similar reasons. ASU Department of Public Safety officers used to come to the dorms only for prevention presentations or when called. This year, they are much more involved.
Officers are now assigned to each dorm. And for the first time, police aides are being stationed at five of the residence halls on weekend nights to increase police presence, officials said.
"The death last year caught the school by surprise," said Stuart Adams, who coordinates ASU and DPS crime prevention efforts. According to police reports, the student died after downing shot after shot of vodka.
"We can't let it happen again," Adams said. "We need to get the message out right away (that) our res halls are dry."
ASU bans alcohol in school residence halls.
Partiers may have run-ins with police off campus. Tempe Police's Party Patrol is out warning party-givers about the city's Loud-Party Ordinance. It applies to anyone hosting a private party - whether it's a family gathering or a legal-age kegger.
The first time someone gets caught, it means a warning. The second time, they could get hit with a bill of as much as $1,000. Over the last three weekends, more than 150 party citations were issued, police said. They will continue with the party-specific patrols for the rest of the school year.
"You have to feel bad for people actually trying to work or study or do something besides party," said Officer Stan Archer, who drove around handling noise complaints as part of a recent party patrol. "There's no way they can with all the racket these parties make unless they are totally oblivious to the outside world."
Drunken drivers are also being watched. A task force made up of officers from throughout the Valley has been making stops in Tempe. On a recent night, 43 officers from Scottsdale, Peoria, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Mesa and Phoenix joined Tempe police in going after drunken drivers. On a Friday night alone they arrested 90 people in Tempe.
The crackdown will continue throughout the school year.
Pope Urges Exorcists To Keep Up Good Work
POSTED: 9:27 am EDT September 15, 2005
VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI has singled out a particular group of priests for greetings at his public audience -- Italian exorcists holding their national convention. The pope encouraged the exorcists to continue what he called their "important ministry in the service of the church."
Italy has about 400 exorcists.
In 1999, when the Vatican issued its first new guidelines in centuries for casting out demons, it urged priests to take modern psychiatry into account in deciding who should be exorcised.
The Roman Catholic Church as well as Italian authorities have been worried about fascination with Satanism and reports of ritual killings. Next month, a Vatican-recognized university is offering a follow-up course to an introductory one on exorcism given earlier this year.
Exorcists cast off their demons
ORTHODONTISTS have national conventions, as do lawyers and computer salespeople. So why not exorcists?
At the end of his weekly general audience this week the Pope greeted Italian exorcists who, he disclosed, are holding their national convention.
The Pope encouraged them to "carry on their important work in the service of the Church".
But until then few people outside the inner circle knew that a convention of Beelzebub-busters was going on.
And where were they holding it? In a church, a hotel, a graveyard?
"They try to keep these things quiet," said a Catholic professor who has dealings with exorcists.
The Catholic Church has shown growing interest in exorcism in Italy.
In 1999, the Vatican issued its first updated ritual for exorcism since 1614 and warned that the devil is still at work.
The official Catholic exorcism starts with prayers, a blessing and sprinkling of holy water, the laying on of hands on the possessed, and the making of the sign of the cross.
It ends with an "imperative formula" in which the devil is ordered to leave the possessed.
The formula begins: "I order you, Satan . . ." It goes on to denounce Satan as "prince of the world" and "enemy of human salvation". It ends: "Go back, Satan."
A Vatican university said last week that for the second year running it will hold a course on exorcism and Satanism for Catholic priests.
This, a university statement said, was because of great interest after last year's course, which was attended by nearly 130 people.
According to some estimates, as many as 5000 people are thought to be members of Satanic cults in Italy with 17 to 25-year-olds making up three quarters of them.
Last year, Italy was gripped by the story of two teenage members of a heavy metal rock band called the Beasts of Satan who were killed by other band members in a human sacrifice. – REUTERS
sometimes juryies dont rubber stamp the governments statements and convict. if EVERYBODY tooks their chances and demanded a JURY trial like this guy did the criminal justice system would work much better!!! and the people would also quickly become aware of the facts that the cops and government often make up MORE lies then the alleged criminals.
Lemke guilty of theft; mistrial on murder
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 16, 2005 05:25 PM
The trial of the man accused of killing windshield mogul Rick Chance ended in mistrial Friday when a Maricopa County Superior Court jury could not come to a unanimous verdict on the murder count.
Robert Donald Lemke was not even found guilty of armed robbery, the felony that allowed prosecutors to seek a first-degree murder charge and a possible death sentence against him.
Instead Lemke, 27, was found guilty of theft and conspiracy to commit theft. He faces 4½ to 23¼ years in prison for those offenses, which would most likely be added to the 6½ years he's already serving for a heist he committed four months before Chance died.
"There's no guarantee as to what happens next," said Deputy County Attorney Sam Myers. "It's a complicated legal question."
At issue is whether or not Lemke can be retried for first-degree murder or whether the County Attorney's Office can charge him with a lesser offense like second-degree murder or manslaughter.
"Our position is that they can't," said defense attorney Bruce Peterson.
Lemke was originally charged with felony murder, which allows a first-degree murder charge if someone died during the commission of another felony - in this case armed robbery. But the jury of 11 women and one man failed to convict him of armed robbery, leaving the next step open for judicial interpretation.
Chance's younger brother Mike Chance was stoic.
"It was disappointing," he said. "I guess we can look at that as partial justice, but it wasn't what we expected."
"I'm hopeful that there's a chance of a retrial," he said.
But it was never a clear-cut case for the jurors to decide because there were few certain facts, and none of them put Lemke at the scene of the crime. Instead they had to rely on the word of his accomplice, a stripper and escort whose livelihood, by definition, depended on deceit.
On Thursday night, Aug. 8, 2002, a surveillance camera taped Chance as he checked into a Tempe hotel with Brandi Hungerford, who, like Lemke, was a stripper. The next day, a hotel maid found Chance face down and dead on the floor with a bullet in his chest.
Nearly a week later, police arrested Lemke and Hungerford in Tacoma, Wash. Police found one of Chance's watches in Lemke's possession and one of Chance's business cards in his car. Back in Tempe, they found the murder weapon, which Hungerford and Lemke had sold to a friend. And they found the price tags from Chance's jewelry - bearing Hungerford's fingerprints - in the wastebasket of the Tempe apartment where the two had been staying.
There was a hotel surveillance photo of a man who might have been Lemke. And DNA that might have been Lemke's on the murder weapon.
But there was no certainty about which of them fired the shot that killed Chance. And each accused the other.
The case hinged largely on Hungerford's testimony, which was part of the bargain she cut with prosecutors so that she would not be tried for first-degree murder.
She instead pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, armed robbery and conspiracy. She could be sentenced to as few as 10 years, with credit for the three years she's already spent in Maricopa County jails.
Hungerford claimed that at Lemke's urging, she answered a newspaper ad Chance had taken to sell expensive watches. She met with him at a Starbucks, flirted with him and then asked him out for a drink a few days later. After dinner at a Scottsdale restaurant, they went back to Chance's Paradise Valley home, where Hungerford claimed she put sleeping pills in Chance's drink. Lemke was supposed to come to the house to rob Chance after he fell asleep, but Chance, who had fallen for that ruse 10 years earlier, walked Hungerford to her car and said good night.
Chance and Hungerford went on two more dates, she testified. She told Chance that she had a friend interested in buying some of his jewelry. They were to meet the friend at a Tempe restaurant, and while waiting for the meeting, she and Chance checked into the hotel next door under the pretense of having sex.
But before Chance could get too amorous, she left the hotel room and claimed she met Lemke in the hallway. After Lemke entered Chance's room, she heard a shot, she said.
Late in the trial, Lemke took the stand to refute Hungerford's version of events.
Lemke claimed he was at a friend's apartment with another woman when Hungerford called to ask advice. According to Lemke, Hungerford said she had stolen a watch from a client and wanted his help getting rid of it. And she had a gun she wanted to sell. The first he heard of Chance, he claimed, was when he was arrested in Tacoma.
Prosecutor Sam Myers was not allowed to tell the jury that Lemke had already been convicted of using another woman to seduce and drug a man so that Lemke could relieve him of his expensive watch.
And when two jurors told the judge's bailiff that they'd heard a third juror claim to know those details, the juror was dismissed and the jury had to deliberate from start again with an alternate juror.
Nor was Meyers allowed to say that even while Lemke was in jail awaiting trial, he was implicated in a witness-tampering case. According to court records, he had reportedly used his contacts to try to intimidate the victims of a man eventually convicted of raping prostitutes.
But even if jurors did not think Lemke shot Chance, he could still have been found guilty of first-degree felony murder, meaning that someone died during the commission of another felony. All they needed to decide was if Lemke was guilty of robbing Chance at gunpoint. They didn't.
On Thursday evening, after three days of deliberations, the jurors sent a note to the judge saying they had reached an impasse. On Friday morning they said they would try again, and shortly before lunch the judge read them instructions cajoling them to reach a verdict.
But still they could not decide on murder one and came back with a verdict for theft, which cannot serve as a basis for felony murder.
Mike Chance said that although he did not like Hungerford personally, he believed her version of the story.
"If being on the stand and facing tough cross-examination is a test of credibility, you have to side with her," he said. "You have to remember that the most important witness is dead."
hmmmm.... it costs the state of arizona $825,000 a month to train new prison gaurds to replace the 75 goons that quit every month because of low pay or shitty working conditions!!! is this a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing?? of course I am an anarchist and would get rid of the prison, criminal justice and police if i had my way
Prisons plagued by officer vacancies
Department has over 1,300 jobs
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 16, 2005 12:00 AM
More than 1½ years after a 15-day hostage standoff at a prison in Buckeye, pay levels for state corrections officers remain so low that the Department of Corrections is struggling to fill more than 1,300 job openings and forcing officers to work overtime to keep inmates safely secured behind bars.
Although officials say public safety has not been jeopardized and assaults on officers actually are down, short staffing and mandatory overtime is blamed for officer burnout and rampant turnover. About 75 officers resign every month. For each one who quits, the state has to pay about $11,000 to train a new one.
After the January 2004 standoff at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis, an investigative panel recommended, among other things, that the department increase staffing and pay to help prevent another crisis.
Last year, Arizona legislators boosted pay $1,400 for corrections officers, on top of a 1.7 percent raise for all state employees, but officer pay remains thousands of dollars below other law enforcement agencies in the Valley.
It all adds up to more job openings in the state prison system than at any point since 1998 and more expense to taxpayers to keep training officers who don't stay. Corrections Director Dora Schriro said she plans to seek additional raises for officers in the next Legislative session.
Right now, though, officials are boosting recruitment efforts, bringing back media advertising campaigns and job fairs that had been suspended in recent years because of budget cuts. The next job fair is Saturday at the Lewis prison, which typically has one of the highest job vacancy rates of any prison in the state.
"It's becoming epic proportions right now. I've never seen it this bad," said Joe Masella, a prison gang investigator who is president of the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association. And, Masella said, "it's getting worse."
Rep. Russell Pearce, who heads the House Appropriations Committee that oversees the state's prison budget, said helping to hire and keep corrections officers will be a "top priority" for lawmakers in the 2006 legislative session. Pearce said that lawmakers improved stipends and raises for the Corrections Department when other state employees' pay did not improve and that the state has set up van pools and other programs to make jobs in prisons outside city limits more attractive. Improving pay is one way to help, Pearce said, but it's not the only answer.
"I'm concerned that we fill these positions with good employees, because it's an officer safety issue," said Pearce, R-Mesa. "Money's not the answer to everything, though. People will work hard if they're appreciated. In every survey that I've seen, money has never been the Number 1 issue for employee retention. It's obviously one of the issues, but it's tough to find where that balance is."
Just about every law enforcement agency in the Valley is struggling to hire enough officers to keep up with growth and an anticipated surge in retirements, leaving the prison system competing for the same pool of candidates but offering far less money.
"The bottom line is we really need to make the salaries competitive," Schriro said.
• Statewide, the job vacancy rate for all prisons is more than 21 percent. Some prisons, like those in Buckeye and Tucson, need in excess of 200 officers. The average vacancy rate increased from 11.4 percent in fiscal 2004 to 18.6 percent in fiscal 2005.
• Starting pay for corrections officers is $26,364 despite last year's pay hike. Top pay is $42,997. By comparison, detention officers at the Maricopa County jails start at $31,179. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for corrections officers and jailers nationwide in 2003 was $33,160.
• In just the past two months, 141 corrections officers have quit. Even incentive pay and stipends at some of the more remote prisons haven't stopped the exodus. Nearly a third of officers who resign cite financial considerations as the reason for their departure. Others cite things like health and family considerations and new career opportunities.
"We continue to lose our best and our brightest because they're going somewhere else that puts more food on the table," said Ivan Bartos, warden of the Lewis prison, where a job fair will be held Saturday.
The job vacancy rate at Lewis has surpassed what it was when inmates Ricky Wassenaar and Steven Coy took two officers hostage in a watchtower in January 2004, Bartos said. Last week, the prison's vacancy rate was 24 percent.
"Of course I'm concerned," Bartos said. "Right now, the staffing issue is the biggest challenge that I have.
"We have a public safety component to what we do. We have to maintain a certain level of staffing. We are continually asking staff to work more."
Prisons are trying to anticipate staffing shortages further in advance to allow officers to volunteer for overtime without affecting their personal lives, but the extra hours still take a toll, Schriro said.
"There are far too few people working far too many hours," she said. "It's exhausting, and it's unfair, and it's at best a short-term strategy."
As a result, the agency is redoubling recruitment efforts. In addition to job fairs, recruiters are touting benefits, like full tuition reimbursement that was reinstated two years ago, and attempting to expose applicants to the array of opportunities in the department, from working on K-9 units, firefighting crews and tactical teams to helping victims. The department also is contacting Valley vocational schools, hoping to build long-term relationships with students, and it is posting jobs on military Web sites to attract veterans. Staff members are compiling a list of 100 reasons why the department is a great place to work.
"Clearly our needs are chronic," Schriro said. "We can't rest until we're at 100 percent.
"Even if we had no vacancies, we would be working very hard to cover all the posts that we have."
Masella said about 80 percent of officers quit in the first two years, and with new jails opening in Maricopa and Pinal counties, it's likely the state will lose even more unless pay improves. "We're in a bad situation," he said.
Staff reporter Robbie Sherwood contributed to this article.
100% caca toro from the president!!!!!
Bush: New Orleans, Gulf Coast, 'city will rise again'
Sept. 15, 2005 07:23 PM
NEW ORLEANS - President Bush promised Thursday night the government will pay most of the costs of rebuilding the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast in one of the largest reconstruction projects the world has ever seen. "There is no way to imagine America without New Orleans, and this great city will rise again," the president said.
Standing in Jackson Square in the heart of the French Quarter, Bush acknowledged his administration had failed to respond adequately to Hurricane Katrina, which killed hundreds of people across five states. The government's costs for rebuilding could reach $200 billion or beyond.
"Four years after the frightening experience of Sept. 11, Americans have every right to expect a more effective response in a time of emergency," the president said. When the government fails to meet such an obligation, Bush said, "I as president am responsible for the problem, and for the solution." a
Bush ordered his Cabinet secretaries to join in a comprehensive review of the government's faulty response. In addition, he told the Department of Homeland Security to undertake an immediate review of emergency plans in every major city in America.
He also said a disaster on the scale of Katrina requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces.
Unusual for a prime-time address, Bush stood tieless in a blue dress shirt. At his back, the famous palm tree-framed St. Louis Cathedral was brightly lit. Elsewhere in the famed city, workers were still pumping out flooded neighborhoods and collecting bodies left behind in the frantic evacuation.
Bush proposed establishment of worker recovery accounts providing up to $5,000 for job training, education and child care during victims' search for employment. He also urged legislation to provide education, small business help and health care. He proposed creation of a Gulf Opportunity Zone in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama offering tax breaks to encourage businesses to stay in the devastated region and new businesses to open.
In the speech, which lasted a bit over 20 minutes, he said he would ask Congress to approve an Urban Homesteading Act in which surplus federal property would be turned over to low-income citizens by means of a lottery to build homes, with mortgages or assistance from charitable organizations.
Other proposals, according to congressional officials briefed by the White House, include:
- A 100 percent reimbursement to states to cover their costs of health care for treating many evacuees through the end of next year.
- $1.9 billion to reimburse states for educating displaced students, including some money that could go to religious schools.
- Six-month forgiveness on student loan interest for affected areas, at an estimated cost of $100 million.
Bush repeated a hotline number, 1-877-568-3317, for people to call to help reunite family members separated during the hurricane. Moments later, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., criticized Bush, saying "Leadership isn't a speech or a toll-free number."
"No American doubts that New Orleans will rise again," Kerry said. "They doubt the competence and commitment of this administration." House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, in a joint statement, said, "We are concerned by Bush administration initiatives this week waiving wage protections, environmental safeguards and protections for veterans, minorities, women and the disabled."
Bush described the hurricane's aftermath as "days of sorrow and outrage," and he said the nation had "witnessed the kind of desperation no citizen of this great and generous nation should ever have to know." He deplored scenes of victims calling out for food and water, criminals who had no mercy, and bodies of the dead lying uncovered in the street.
He said the suffering of victims was tempered by acts of courage and kindness. To the hundreds of thousands of people forced from their homes, Bush said, "You need to know that our whole nation cares about you - and in the journey ahead you are not alone."
Promising better days ahead, Bush said, "The streets of Biloxi and Gulfport will again be filled with lovely homes and the sound of children playing. The churches of Alabama will have their broken steeples mended and their congregations whole.
"And here in New Orleans, the street cars will once again rumble down St. Charles, and the passionate soul of a great city will return."
Bush faced the nation at a vulnerable point in his presidency. Most Americans disapprove of his handling of Katrina, and his job-approval rating has been dragged down to the lowest point of his presidency also because of dissatisfaction with the Iraq war and rising gas prices. He has struggled to demonstrate the same take-charge leadership he displayed after the Sept. 11 terror attacks four years ago.
Across five Gulf Coast states, the death toll from Katrina climbed Thursday to 794, led by 558 in Louisiana.
Faulting the government's response, Bush said that Katrina "was not a normal hurricane - and the normal disaster relief system was not equal to it." State officials have blamed the federal government for failing to respond more quickly, and federal officials have pointed fingers at state and local officials.
Responding to charges that help would have been sent more quickly if most victims had not been poor and black, Bush noted that the persistent poverty, rooted deep in the Gulf region, was broadcast for all Americans to see.
"That poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America," Bush said. "We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action."
Bush said the goal was to get evacuees out of shelters by mid-October and into apartments and other homes, with assistance from the government. He said he would work with Congress to ensure that states were reimbursed for the cost of caring for evacuees.
Bush called for new measures to protect New Orleans from flooding and said the Army Corps of Engineers would work with state and local officials. "Protecting a city that sits lower than the water around it is not easy, but it can and has been done," the president said.
"The work that has begun in the Gulf Coast region will be one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen," Bush said. He praised Americans for giving generously for disaster relief, saying the fund led by former Presidents Bush and Clinton had received pledges of more than $100 million.
Rebuilding across the devastated region is expected to cost $200 billion or more in the near term. The final tab could approach the more than $300 billion spent thus far on U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Congress has already approved $62 billion for the disaster, but that is expected to run out next month.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., speaking after the president's address, said the recovery programs would add to the nation's debt. GOP leaders are open to suggestions from lawmakers to cut government spending elsewhere, he said.
AP Writer Nedra Pickler reported from Pascagoula, Miss., and New Orleans and Terence Hunt reported from Washington.
i guess i should get a drivers license and a social security card from one of these places.
10 arrested in fake ID bust
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 16, 2005 12:00 AM
A multi-agency task force arrested 10 people Thursday in an ongoing attempt to crack down on fake IDs and prevent undocumented immigrants from getting jobs.
Undercover agents were looking for people selling Social Security cards, Arizona driver's licenses, resident alien cards, Mexican driver's licenses and consular identity cards.
Earlier this summer, Gov. Janet Napolitano asked state and local agencies to team up with the federal government to target manufacturers of fake IDs.
A Thursday news conference was the first announcement in what officials said would be a series of busts.
"We have just started," said Leesa Berens Morrison, director of the Department of Liquor Licenses and Control and head of the task force. "We will continue to go after the largest manufacturers and sellers."
One agent bought a so-called "three pack" and had a Social Security card, driver's license and resident alien card made for $140 in less than an hour, Morrison said.
"It is amazing how fast these documents are made," she said.
Those arrested face an array of charges including forgery, identity theft and running criminal enterprises.
bush needs to poop?????
Mr Bush scribbles note in middle of UN meeting
I need a break
September 17, 2005
THE atmosphere was sombre and the topics being discussed were serious.
At one point during the United Nations (UN) meeting, US President Bush picked up a pencil and wrote a short note to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (above, with Mr Bush).
But it was no memo about terrorism or reforming the UN.
Mr Bush had a more pressing worry - the leader of the world's only superpower wanted to go the loo.
The note read: 'I think I may need a bathroom break? Is this possible?'
A photographer with a high-powered zoom managed to capture the moment during Wednesday's UN Security Council meeting, which was held to discuss threats to international peace and security.
It's a situation anyone could find themselves in - having to answer the call of nature in the middle of an important meeting.
But when you are the US president, at a gathering of more than 150 world leaders in Manhattan for the meeting of the UN General Assembly, it is even more tricky.
The photograph, and Mr Bush's apparent request for permission to pee, were widely discussed on a number of satirical websites. Internet pieces include the influential Drudge Report under the title 'Bush needs to go potty'.
Mr Bush was among monarchs, presidents and prime ministers for the opening of the three-day summit, marking the 60th anniversary of the UN. He had issued a call on Wednesday to 'tear down the walls' betwen rich and poor nations. - Reuters.