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September 12th, 2011
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Gun store owner had misgivings about ATF sting
By Richard A. Serrano, Los Angeles Times
September 11, 2011, 9:14 p.m.
Reporting from Glendale and Rio Rico, Ariz.— In the fall of 2009, ATF agents installed a secret phone line and hidden cameras in a ceiling panel and wall at Andre Howard's Lone Wolf gun store. They gave him one basic instruction: Sell guns to every illegal purchaser who walks through the door.
For 15 months, Howard did as he was told. To customers with phony IDs or wads of cash he normally would have turned away, he sold pistols, rifles and semiautomatics. He was assured by the ATF that they would follow the guns, and that the surveillance would lead the agents to the violent Mexican drug cartels on the Southwest border.
When Howard heard nothing about any arrests, he questioned the agents. Keep selling, they told him. So hundreds of thousands of dollars more in weapons, including .50-caliber sniper rifles, walked out of the front door of his store in a Glendale, Ariz., strip mall.
He was making a lot of money. But he also feared somebody was going to get hurt.
"Every passing week, I worried about something like that," he said. "I felt horrible and sick."
Late in the night on Dec. 14, in a canyon west of Rio Rico, Ariz., Border Patrol agents came across Mexican bandits preying on illegal immigrants.
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sauce (better pictures here too)
LA Times' full coverage
Image is of one of those slogan shirts. OP is currently too full of "WTF?" At the moment, she is inclined to agree with the shirt. smh
One person was killed and three were injured in the explosion, following a fire in a storage site for radioactive waste, Le Figaro newspaper said.
The plant is in the Gard region.
It is a major site involved with the decommissioning of nuclear facilities, and operates a pressurised water reactor used to produce tritium
I knew it was a conversation that at some point I would have to indulge; and last night, amid commemorative news coverage of the events of September 11, 2001, it became apparent that the time had come.
Although I had previously discussed the events of that day and the aftermath of those events with our ten-year old (who was only 10 weeks of age when the attacks took place), Rachel, who is 8, had previously been far more oblivious, paying little attention to my prior conversations with Ashton about the subject, or showing little interest if she had been.
But last night, as she watched footage of United Airlines flight 175 violently piercing the South Tower of the World Trade Center (something I, like so many others, had watched live at the time), her interest, and of course fear, was piqued. Though she was trying hard to concentrate on some cute little game on her iTouch, involving a puppy dog of some sort, I would catch her looking up at the television screen from time to time, obviously disturbed by the images she was seeing.
Then came the inevitable questions, and I realized that this would be our youngest daughter’s first real lesson in the global geopolitics of violence.
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As the Andersson family lawyer explained to the Times, James Bradfield, Anderson’s partner, is not a plaintiff in the family’s suit because same-sex partners have no claim in civil actions like the one the family is putting forward in the state of Mississippi. (There is no indication that Anderson’s sexual orientation was a factor in the crime.)
Anderson was violently attacked and then run over by a group of white teens on June 26, 2011. Deryl Dedmon 19, of Brandon, Mississippi is accused of intentionally running over Anderson with his green Ford-250 and is now facing capital murder charges because of evidence that he assaulted and robbed Anderson, according to Hinds County District Attorney
The civil suit accuses the seven white teenagers of deliberately setting out in the early morning hours of June 26 to go to Jackson to “go f*ck with some niggers.”
The New York Times provides a few more details:
The lawsuit makes public for the first time the names of all seven people who had piled into the two vehicles that night, charging that while some were directly responsible for assaulting and killing Mr. Anderson, others were negligent because they acted as lookouts and did not try to help Mr. Anderson. …
The suit did not specify an amount for damages, but it included accusations of negligence as a way to tap into the homeowner’s insurance policies of some of the families of the young people involved, Mr. Dees said.
Anderson leaves behind his partner and a 4-year-old girl they were raising together.
They’ve been accused of rampant thievery, spending billions of dollars like drunken sailors, groping children and little old ladies, and making everyone take off their shoes.
But the real job of the tens of thousands of screeners at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is to protect Americans from a terrorist attack.
Yet a decade after the TSA was created following the September 11 attacks, the author of the legislation that established the massive agency grades its performance at “D-.”
“The whole program has been hijacked by bureaucrats,” said Rep. John Mica (R. -Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation Committee.
“It mushroomed into an army,” Mica said. “It’s gone from a couple-billion-dollar enterprise to close to $9 billion.”
As for keeping the American public safe, Mica says, “They’ve failed to actually detect any threat in 10 years.”
“Everything they have done has been reactive. They take shoes off because of [shoe-bomber] Richard Reid, passengers are patted down because of the diaper bomber, and you can’t pack liquids because the British uncovered a plot using liquids,” Mica said.
“It’s an agency that is always one step out of step,” Mica said.
It cost $1 billion just to train workers, which now number more than 62,000, and “they actually trained more workers than they have on the job,” Mica said.
“The whole thing is a complete fiasco,” Mica said.
In a wide-ranging interview with HUMAN EVENTS just days before the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Mica said screeners should be privatized and the agency dismantled.
Instead, the agency should number no more than 5,000, and carry out his original intent, which was to monitor terrorist threats and collect intelligence.
The fledgling agency was quickly engulfed in its first scandal in 2002 as it rushed to hire 30,000 screeners, and the $104 million awarded to the company to contract workers quickly escalated to more than $740 million.
Federal investigators tracked those cost overruns to recruiting sessions held at swank hotels and resorts in St. Croix, the Virgin Islands, Florida and the Wyndham Peaks Resort and Golden Door Spa in Telluride, Colo.
Charges in the hundreds of thousands of dollars were made for cash withdrawals, valet parking and beverages, plus a $5.4 million salary for one executive for nine months of work.
Other over-the-top expenditures included nearly $2,000 for 20 gallons of Starbucks Coffee, $8,000 for elevator operators at a Manhattan hotel, and $1,500 to rent more than a dozen extension cords for the Colorado recruiting fair.
The agency inadvertently caused security gaps by failing for years to keep track of lost uniforms and passes that lead to restricted areas of airports.
Screeners have also been accused of committing crimes, from smuggling drugs to stealing valuables from passengers' luggage. In 2004, several screeners were arrested and charged with stealing jewelry, computers and cameras, cash, credit cards and other valuables. One of their more notable victims was actress Shirley McClain, who was robbed of jewelry and crystals.
One of the screeners confessed that he was trying to steal enough to sell the items and buy a big-screen television.
In 2006, screeners at Los Angeles and Chicago O'Hare airports failed to find more than 60% of fake explosives during checkpoint security tests.
The sometimes rudder-less agency has gone through five administrators in the past decade, and it took longer than a year for President Obama to put his one man in place. Mica’s bill also blocked collective bargaining rights for screeners, but the Obama administration managed to reverse that provision.
Asked whether the agency should be privatized, Mica answered with a qualified yes.
“They need to get out of the screening business and back into security. Most of the screening they do should be abandoned,” Mica said. "I just don’t have a lot of faith at this point,” Mica said.
Allowing airports to privatize screening was a key element of Mica’s legislation and a report released by the committee in June determined that privatizing those efforts would result in a 40% savings for taxpayers.
“We have thousands of workers trying to do their job. My concern is the bureaucracy we built,” Mica said.
“We are one of the only countries still using this model of security," Mica said, "other than Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, and I think, Libya."
A Decade After 9/11, Police Departments Are Increasingly Militarized
New York magazine reported some telling figures last month on how delayed-notice search warrants -- also known as "sneak-and-peek" warrants -- have been used in recent years. Though passed with the PATRIOT Act and justified as a much-needed weapon in the war on terrorism, the sneak-and-peek was used in a terror investigation just 15 times between 2006 and 2009. In drug investigations, however, it was used more than 1,600 times during the same period.
It's a familiar storyline. In the 10 years since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, the government has claimed a number of new policing powers in the name of protecting the country from terrorism, often at the expense of civil liberties. But once claimed, those powers are overwhelmingly used in the war on drugs. Nowhere is this more clear than in the continuing militarization of America's police departments.
POLICE MILITARIZATION BEFORE SEPTEMBER 11
The trend toward a more militarized domestic police force began well before 9/11. It in fact began in the early 1980s, as the Regan administration added a new dimension of literalness to Richard Nixon's declaration of a "war on drugs." Reagan declared illicit drugs a threat to national security, and once likened America's drug fight to the World War I battle of Verdun. But Reagan was more than just rhetoric. In 1981 he and a compliant Congress passed the Military Cooperation with Law Enforcement Act, which allowed and encouraged the military to give local, state, and federal police access to military bases, research, and equipment. It authorized the military to train civilian police officers to use the newly available equipment, instructed the military to share drug-war–related information with civilian police and authorized the military to take an active role in preventing drugs from entering the country.
A bill passed in 1988 authorized the National Guard to aid local police in drug interdiction, a law that resulted in National Guard troops conducting drug raids on city streets and using helicopters to survey rural areas for pot farms. In 1989, President George Bush enacted a new policy creating regional task forces within the Pentagon to work with local police agencies on anti-drug efforts. Since then, a number of other bills and policies have carved out more ways for the military and domestic police to cooperate in the government's ongoing campaign to prevent Americans from getting high. Then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney declared in 1989, "The detection and countering of the production, trafficking and use of illegal drugs is a high priority national security mission of the Department of Defense."
The problem with this mingling of domestic policing with military operations is that the two institutions have starkly different missions. The military's job is to annihilate a foreign enemy. Cops are charged with keeping the peace, and with protecting the constitutional rights of American citizens and residents. It's dangerous to conflate the two. As former Reagan administration official Lawrence Korb once put it, "Soldiers are trained to vaporize, not Mirandize." That distinction is why the U.S. passed the Posse Comitatus Act more than 130 years ago, a law that explicitly forbids the use of military troops in domestic policing.
Over the last several decades Congress and administrations from both parties have continued to carve holes in that law, or at least find ways around it, mostly in the name of the drug war. And while the policies noted above established new ways to involve the military in domestic policing, the much more widespread and problematic trend has been to make our domestic police departments more like the military.
The main culprit was a 1994 law authorizing the Pentagon to donate surplus military equipment to local police departments. In the 17 years since, literally millions of pieces of equipment designed for use on a foreign battlefield have been handed over for use on U.S. streets, against U.S. citizens. Another law passed in 1997 further streamlined the process. As National Journal reported in 2000, in the first three years after the 1994 law alone, the Pentagon distributed 3,800 M-16s, 2,185 M-14s, 73 grenade launchers, and 112 armored personnel carriers to civilian police agencies across America. Domestic police agencies also got bayonets, tanks, helicopters and even airplanes.
All of that equipment then facilitated a dramatic rise in the number and use of paramilitary police units, more commonly known as SWAT teams. Peter Kraska, a criminologist at the University of Eastern Kentucky, has been studying this trend since the early 1980s. Kraska found that by 1997, 90 percent of cities with populations of 50,000 or more had at least one SWAT team, twice as many as in the mid-1980s. The number of towns with populations between 25,000 and 50,000 with a SWAT team increased 157 percent between 1985 and 1996.
As the number of SWAT teams multiplied, their use expanded as well. Until the 1980s, SWAT teams were used almost exclusively to defuse immediate threats to the public safety, events like hostage takings, mass shootings, escaped fugitives, or bank robberies. The proliferation of SWAT teams that began in the 1980s, along with incentives like federal anti-drug grants and asset forfeiture policies, made it lucrative to use them for drug policing. According to Kraska, by the early 1980s there were 3,000 annual SWAT deployments, by 1996 there were 30,000 and by 2001 there were 40,000. The average police department deployed its SWAT team about once a month in the early 1980s. By 1995, it was seven times a month. Kraska found that 75 to 80 percent of those deployments were to serve search warrants in drug investigations.( Collapse )
1940: Lascaux Cave paintings discovered
1953: Khrushchev elected Soviet leader
1974: Violence in Boston over racial busing
1977: Steve Biko dies in custody
1990: German occupation rights are relinquished
1997: Scots say 'yes' to home rule
2001: US declares war on terror
If you'd like me to add anything, please let me know! Thank you.
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Source - AP News
By LAURAN NEERGAARD - AP Medical Writer
Posted on Mon, Sep. 12, 2011 01:29 PM
As her mother's Alzheimer's worsened over eight long years, so did Doreen Alfaro's bills: The walker, then the wheelchair, then the hospital bed, then the diapers - and the caregivers hired for more and more hours a day so Alfaro could go to work and her elderly father could get some rest.
Alfaro and her husband sold their California house to raise money for her mother's final at-home care. Six years later, the 58-year-old Alfaro wonders if she eventually develops Alzheimer's, too, "what happens to my care? Where will I go?"
Dementia is poised to become a defining disease of the rapidly aging population - and a budget-busting one for Medicare, Medicaid and families. Now the Obama administration is developing the first National Alzheimer's Plan, to combine research aimed at fighting the mind-destroying disease with help that caregivers need to stay afloat.
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Source - AP News (& alternate source)
By JUSTIN POPE - AP Education Writer
Sep 12, 3:39 PM EDT
The number of borrowers defaulting on federal student loans has jumped sharply, the latest indication that rising college tuition costs, low graduation rates and poor job prospects are getting more and more students over their heads in debt.
The national two-year cohort default rate rose to 8.8 percent last year, from 7 percent in fiscal 2008, according to figures released Monday by the Department of Education.
Driving the overall increase was an especially sharp increase among students who borrow from the government to attend for-profit colleges.
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Plans for sweeping changes to English constituency boundaries for the next election are set to be published.
MPs will get their first look later at which seats may disappear and how others may change as overall Commons numbers are cut by 650 to 600 by 2015.
High-profile figures who might be affected include George Osborne, Danny Alexander, Chris Huhne and Ed Balls.
Details for Northern Ireland will also be published. Scotland and Wales will come at a later date.
“Tea Party” Debate a Historical "First" | Republican presidential candidates will challenge each other and common political enemies at Monday night’s CNN/Tea Party Republican debate held in Florida.
CNN LIVE STREAM
By Chris Mooney
"Recent converging studies are showing that liberals tend to have a larger and/or more active anterior cingulate cortex, or ACC—useful in detecting and judging conflict and error—and conservatives are more likely to have an enlarged amygdala, where the development and storage of emotional memories takes place. More than one study has shown these same results, which is why I felt it was worth investigating.
A few questions to keep in mind: If these differences do legitimately exist, how can—or better yet—how should we use this knowledge? How can insight gained from research of this kind prove helpful in the quest for more effective communication across party lines? Can empathy and understanding of personality differences, without judgments or stereotyping, aid in the productivity of political debates around topics such as climate change or evolution?"
Before y'all let the wild rumpus start and/or jump to the conclusion that SCIENCE IS OBVIOUSLY BEING BIASED TOWARD LIBERALS, PSSHT, the researchers did note a few things that obviously need to be taken into account...
"1. The brain is plastic. Meaning, every time we engage in any activity, our brain changes somewhat, even if only to a very small degree. In fact, your brain is a little bit different right now than when you started reading this article. And a little different now. Engaging in any activity excessively or intensely over a long period of time changes your brain even more—such as training for a sport or spending a long time practicing and becoming proficient at a skill. Conversely, if you stop using an area of your brain to a significant degree, it will probably shrink in size due to lack of connectivity, similar to the atrophy of muscles.
2. Not everyone fits into little personality boxes. The world just loves the idea of personality defined by linear spectrums of traits that are the opposite of one another. I’m guilty of this myself at times. We assume everyone occupies one data point on that spectrum, neatly dividing people into categories based on how close they are to one or the other end: thinking vs feeling, introvert vs extrovert, and so on. This may be true for some people, but not everyone.
3. Political affiliation is a choice. One of my pet peeves is hearing people talk about “the conservative gene” or the “liberal gene”. That’s like saying there’s a “rollercoaster affinity gene” or a “Mint-Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Gene” (ßif that exists, I have it) (yes, I’m kidding).
True, certain personality traits, which are heritable, tend to influence dominant thinking, feeling, or processing styles; those personality traits influence behaviors and preferences. A personality type that is defined as “thrill-seeking” is probably more likely to enjoy rollercoasters than a personality type that is anxious in large crowds. But a thrill-seeker doesn’t necessarily love rollercoasters, for any number of reasons.
4. People tend to join networks of peers that are like themselves, regardless of specific political issues. The majority of the population is not terribly well-informed about the current political issues. Yes, a portion of the population is extremely involved and loyal to their party’s mission—but most people are pretty apathetic, and will just go along with what their peers are doing. Sad, but true. When that happens, the party as a whole tends to take on the personality of the dominant leaders at that point in history, and attract people who respond to that type of personality or communication style."
Source is HUNGRY FOR YOUR BRAINS, NAAAAARRGH.
An angry crowd lingering near the Israeli embassy in Cairo after an attack on the building a day earlier turned on journalists reporting the incident Saturday, accusing at least one of being an Israeli spy.
As a CNN crew filmed the embassy from across the street, another crew from American public television -- led by Egyptian television producer Dina Amer -- approached the building.
The crew's Russian cameraman was preparing to film the embassy when a woman in the crowd began hurling insults at the TV team, Amer said.
"There was this older lady who decided to follow me and rally people against me," Amer recalled.
"She said 'you're a spy working with the Americans.' Then they swarmed me and I was a target."
A growing crowd surrounded Amer and her colleagues, as they tried to leave the scene.
Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, a producer working for CNN, rushed to help escort Amer through the angry crowd. But suddenly the two reporters were pinned against the railing of an overpass by young men who were accusing Amer of being an Israeli spy.
Yelling "I'm Egyptian," Fahmy managed to pull Amer another 10 meters down the road, until the pressure from the mob overwhelmed the pair.
Amer screamed as she and Fahmy were knocked to the ground and the crowd started to trample them.
Other CNN journalists tried to reach in to help, but were pushed back by a wall of angry men.
Fahmy lay on top of Amer, shielding her with his body.
"I was thinking, how powerless I was because there was no police to save us," Fahmy said. "I was worried that they were going to rape her."
At that moment, a student bystander named Mohammed el Banna called out to the journalists and pointed out a nearby car.
Somehow, Fahmy managed to carry Amer to the open door of the public television crew's car, where two of her female colleagues were waiting just a few feet away.
The mob pounded on the windows and tried to reach into the vehicle as the panicked reporters fumbled and struggled to get behind the steering wheel.
When Margaret Warner, a correspondent with the PBS program "Newshour" managed to get the vehicle moving away from the crowd, men threw stones at the departing vehicle.
Amer had few words to describe the terrifying ordeal.
"They were animals," she said.
Other Egyptian journalists told CNN they were also attacked Saturday while trying to report near the Israeli embassy.
Ahmed Aleiba, a correspondent with Egyptian state television, said he was pursued by civilians and soldiers.
"I had to run because obviously they were targeting journalists," Aleiba said in a phone call with CNN. "They attacked two other TV crews."
"I was in the car getting ready to film. A soldier knocked on the window with his stick and said 'if you don't leave by midnight your car will be destroyed,"" said Farah Saafan, a video journalist with the English-language newspaper Daily News Egypt.
Journalists have been targeted before in Cairo.
On February 2, dozens of journalists of different nationalities were beaten and pursued around the city while trying to report on pro-Mubarak demonstrations. The day descended into one of brutal street violence, as pro-regime supporters backed by men on horses and camels attacked opposition demonstrators on what became known as the "Battle of the Camel."
And CBS News correspondent Lara Logan suffered a brutal sexual assault in Tahrir Square while covering the celebrations that followed former President Hosni Mubarak's resignation on February 11.
On Saturday, as some journalists ran for their lives from the Israeli Embassy, the interim government was holding crisis talks with Egypt's ruling military council and top intelligence chief.
The emergency session concluded with a pledge to honor Egypt's international treaties and defend foreign embassies. The government also announced plans to re-activate the country's 30-year-old emergency law.
Application of the law had lapsed since the overthrow of Mubarak, according to a senior official in the National Security Directorate, who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity.
One of the five measures announced after Saturday's crisis talks calls on authorities to make "media and political powers accountable for inciting security lapses."
"It's obvious that there is some sort of plan leading to military rule in this country," warned Egyptian state TV's Aleiba. "The next step will be martial law.
Source. Turning the world against the Egyptian protesters, one attack at a time. Is this is going to be the basis of the next military dictatorship? I can't be the only one thinking agent provocateur.
The three passengers who were taken off the plane in handcuffs were released Sunday night, and no charges were filed against them, airport spokesman Scott Wintner said.
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