Archive for May 2010

Suicide Attack Kills 11 People In NW Pakistan

Suicide Attack Kills 11 People In NW Pakistan

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan – A suicide bomber on a bicycle killed 11 people Tuesday when he attacked a police patrol in an area of northwestern Pakistan where many citizens fled last year to escape a large army offensive against the Taliban, police said.
The attack, which killed three police officers and eight civilians, occurred as the patrol vehicle traveled through the town of Dera Ismail Khan, said Gul Afzal Khan, the police chief in the area.
The victims included a senior police officer in the area as well as his guard and driver, Khan said. The civilians who were killed included two schoolchildren, he said. Another 15 people were wounded.
Hundreds of thousands of people fled to Dera Ismail Khan in mid-October when the army launched a big ground offensive against the Pakistani Taliban’s main stronghold in the South Waziristan tribal area.
The displacement added to an already serious problem in Pakistan caused by similar operations launched earlier in the year, especially one in the Swat Valley near the Afghan border.
In total, an estimated 3 million Pakistanis fled to other areas of the country to avoid conflict last year, the highest number of internally displaced people anywhere in the world, according to a U.N.-backed report released Monday.
Around two-thirds were able to return to their homes by the end of the year, but some 1.2 million remained displaced, said the report published by the Norwegian Refugee Council, a non-governmental organization.
That number has grown this year as thousands of people have fled smaller operations the military has launched in the tribal areas against militants who fled the offensive in South Waziristan.
One such operation launched in Orakzai in mid-March has killed hundreds of suspected insurgents and caused more than 200,000 people to flee.

Hopes Raised For Brokered Talks In Thai Chaos

Hopes Raised For Brokered Talks In Thai Chaos

BANGKOK – Hopes rose Tuesday for an end to deadly mayhem in Thailand’s capital as leaders of the protest movement occupying central Bangkok said they would unconditionally accept an offer by the country’s Senate to mediate talks.
The country’s prime minister was scheduled to announce later Tuesday the government’s response to the latest offer aimed at ending the two-month-long political crisis, which has destabilized a country once regarded as one of Southeast Asia’s most stable democracies.
Scattered clashes continued between soldiers and anti-government Red Shirt protesters, though it appeared at a lower level than previous days. At least 37 people were killed over five days of rioting and clashes in downtown sections of this bustling Asian metropolis of 10 million.
The military defended its use of deadly but limited force, saying troops only fired to protect themselves and Bangkok’s citizens and did not pursue pre-emptive attacks.
“If they don’t move close to us, there won’t be any losses,” army spokesman Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd said. He also accused the Red Shirts of using a child of about three years as a human shield, holding him up above a barricade in the streets.
The government also announced that a two-day public holiday was being extended to Friday.
Tuesday’s acceptance of the Senate proposal by the Red Shirt protest leaders was significant because they had previously set conditions for any talks. The government had rejected earlier offers for talks that included demands to withdraw troops and submit to U.N. mediation.
The Red Shirts have for a month occupied a 1-square-mile (3-square-kilometer) chunk of downtown Bangkok’s toniest real estate, camping in the streets next to shuttered five-star hotels and upscale shopping malls.
The protesters, many of whom hail from the impoverished north and northeast, are demanding that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve Parliament and call early elections. They say the current administration came to power through manipulation of the courts and the backing of the powerful military, and that it goes against results of a 2007 election to restore democracy after a military coup.
The standoff deteriorated into street clashes last Thursday after the military surrounded entrances to the protest zone in an attempt to cut off supplies of food and water.
The United Nations urged a negotiated solution, saying Monday that “there is a high risk that the situation could spiral out of control” and urging the military to show restraint and the protesters to “step back from the brink.”
The country’s upper house of Parliament offered Monday to broker negotiations between the warring sides providing they both stopped the violence.
On Tuesday, a Red Shirt leader, Weng Tojirakarn, told a news conference “we accept the proposal from the Senate.” Another protest leader, Nattawut Saikua, said, “It would not be right if I set conditions for the Senate.”
Previous attempts to negotiate an end to the standoff have failed. A government offer earlier this month to hold November elections fell apart after protest leaders made more demands.
Both sides Monday evening also revealed that the government’s chief negotiator and a Red Shirt leader had discussed negotiations in a mobile telephone call — though the government’s chief negotiator said the two sides remained far apart.
Thai media on Monday reported that 55 senators had laid down a peace plan that called for an end to violence by both the protesters and government. Details of the plan were not immediately available.
Meanwhile, violence continued on Bangkok’s streets with security forces arresting a 12-year-old boy Tuesday morning for allegedly setting fire to several houses during the mayhem. TV reports showed that the four empty townhouses were adjacent to a branch of the Bangkok Bangkok bank, which has been a target of protesters, who claim it has close connections to the government.
At least 37 people — mostly civilians — have been killed and 266 wounded since the government began the blockade last Thursday. Most of the unrest has flared outside the camp, with troops firing live ammunition at roaming protesters who have lit tires to hide their positions.
The political conflict is Thailand’s deadliest and most prolonged in decades, and each passing day of violence deeply divides in this nation of 65 million — a key U.S. ally and Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy.
Another government deadline for protesters to leave their encampment in the upscale Rajprasong district came and went Monday with no apparent mass exodus.
It was not clear how many people were left at the Rajprasong camp Tuesday, but the government said 3,000 people remained, down from 5,000 on Sunday and 10,000 last week. The numbers could not be independently confirmed.
Authorities have not spelled out what would happen after the deadline to leave the encampment, but there are concerns it could precede a crackdown.
A previous army attempt to disperse the protesters on April 10 — when they had congregated in a different area of Bangkok — left 25 people dead.
According to government figures, 66 people have died and more than 1,600 have been wounded since the Red Shirts began their protests in Bangkok in March.
___
Associated Press writers Denis D. Gray, Jocelyn Gecker, Thanyarat Doksone, and Chris Blake contributed to this report. Additional research by Warangkana Tempati and Sinfah Tunsarawuth.

US Missionary Convicted In Haiti But Free To Go

US Missionary Convicted In Haiti But Free To Go

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The last of 10 Americans detained while trying to take 33 children out of Haiti after the Jan. 12 earthquake was freed Monday when a judge convicted her but sentenced her to time already served in jail.
Laura Silsby, the organizer of the ill-fated effort to take the children to an orphanage being set up in the neighboring Dominican Republic, returned to her cell briefly to retrieve belongings before quickly heading to the Port-au-Prince airport.
“I’m praising God,” Silsby told The Associated Press as she waited for a flight out of Haiti. She declined to answer further questions before clearing immigration and heading through a gate to catch a plane to Florida. The flight she was supposed to be on landed in Miami on Monday night, but waiting journalists couldn’t locate her.
In Idaho, Mel Coulter, the father of missionary Charisa Coulter, who was released in March, said Monday night that friends and relatives were excited about Silsby’s release and looking forward to a celebration Tuesday at the Boise airport.
“The 10th of 10 is coming home and we’ll rejoice when we see her tomorrow,” he said.
The judge’s decision “may not have been exactly what we were looking for,” Coulter said of the conviction, but he added, “We’re very thankful.”
“We knew the motives and the intent of the 10 people who went down to Haiti and there was absolutely no intent for wrongdoing,” he said. “It was simply a mission of mercy.”
Coulter said he and his daughter, as well as Silsby’s father, John Sander of Twin Falls, Idaho, flew to Haiti on May 2, with Charisa Coulter and Sander remaining “to help Laura and give her the moral support she really needed.” The three were returning to Idaho together, Coulter said.
The Idaho businesswoman had been in custody since Jan. 29. She was originally charged with kidnapping and criminal association, but those charges were dropped for her and the nine other Americans who were previously released. Silsby was convicted of arranging illegal travel under a 1980 statute restricting movement out of Haiti signed by then-dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier.
Prosecutor Jean-Serge Joseph said she was convicted and sentenced to the 3 months and 8 days she spent behind bars. Last week, the prosecution had recommended a six-month sentence and she faced a maximum of three years on the charge.
“She is free,” Joseph said.
The 40-year-old Silsby told the court earlier she thought the children were orphans whose homes were destroyed in the earthquake. But she lacked the proper papers to remove them from the country at a time when the government was restricting adoptions to prevent child trafficking in the chaos that followed the disaster.
An AP investigation later revealed all the children had at least one living parent, who had turned their children over to the group in hopes of securing better lives for them.
Silsby and others in the group, mostly members of the same Baptist church in Idaho, insisted they had only come to Haiti to help. They unwittingly helped draw attention to the dark side of the adoption industry in Haiti, where children for many years have been abandoned by their parents or sold into slavery.
In February, a Haitian judge released eight of the Americans after concluding they had not knowingly engaged in any crime. The judge released Coulter, Silsby’s friend and former nanny, in March.
Silsby was held the longest because she organized the venture and prosecutors insisted she knew that she did not have the proper authorization to take the children out of Haiti.
She was prosecuted with Jean Sainvil, an Atlanta-based pastor born in Haiti who allegedly helped find the children for the missionaries. The pastor, facing the same charge as Silsby, was not in Haiti and was being tried in absentia. The status of his case was not immediately clear.

Four States Hold Primaries One House Election

Four States Hold Primaries One House Election

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is not on the ballot in this week’s primaries, nor is Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican Senate leader.
But both have a stake in intensely competitive Senate races in three states, contests testing the strength of the tea party among Kentucky Republicans and the durability of incumbent Democratic Sens. Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas and Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania.
In a fourth race of national significance, Republican Tim Burns and Democrat Mark Critz battled to fill out the term of the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha in a congressional district in southwestern Pennsylvania. Both political parties reported spending roughly 1 million to sway the race, turning it into a laboratory for the fall campaign, when all 435 House seats will be on the ballot.
Oregon voters also faced a deadline for returning ballots in a statewide mail-in vote that began more than two weeks ago.
On the eve of the busiest primary night of the year so far, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Monday that Obama was following the races, but “not that closely.”
“We have supported incumbent Democratic senators and we’ve done a lot on behalf of each campaign,” he added, referring to Lincoln and Specter.
Gibbs said Obama’s involvement had not become an issue in the primaries.
Nor was it clear what impact his involvement would mean for the incumbents, under extraordinary political pressure in a year of well-documented voter dissatisfaction with Washington.
McConnell made no attempt to minimize his own interest in the Senate primary in Kentucky after making a late television commercial on behalf of Secretary of State Trey Grayson, battling tea party-backed Rand Paul.
A spokesman, Don Stewart, said McConnell was watching the race in his home state closely, and added he doubted White House claims that Obama wasn’t equally interested. “That sure would be a surprise given that he has two incumbents in close races,” he said.
While Grayson had support from the state’s Republican establishment, Paul countered with backing from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, retiring Sen. Jim Bunning and conservative Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina. DeMint has interceded in several primaries in hopes of pushing his party to the right, a decision that some Republicans say may portend a move for greater influence inside the Republican leadership led by McConnell.
Among Democrats, Kentucky Attorney Gen. Jack Conway collided with Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo for the right to take on the Republican winner. Mongiardo lost a close race to Bunning six years ago.
Specter, 80 and a party-switcher, struggled for political survival in a primary with Rep. Joe Sestak, who gained late momentum with a television ad. It showed his rival saying only a year ago that he quit the Republican Party to win a new term.
Former Rep. Pat Toomey campaigned as the prohibitive front-runner for the Republican nomination, six years after losing to Specter in a GOP primary.
In Arkansas, Lincoln sought renomination against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. She emphasized her independence from party. Halter had the support of several unions that spent heavily in hopes of punishing the incumbent for votes on health care, trade and legislation to make it easier to organize workers.
The presence of a third contender on the ballot, D.C. Morrison, raised the possibility that Lincoln might be forced into a politically debilitating runoff on June 8.
Rep. John Boozman was the acknowledged Republican front-runner for the Senate nomination for a seat the GOP hopes to win in the fall.
Oregon’s mail-in primary produced little if any of the drama that was on display elsewhere.
Sen. Ron Wyden sought the Democratic nomination to a third full term. Seven Republicans vied for the right to oppose him in the fall.
Former Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber campaigned for his party’s nomination for a return to office, and nine Republicans competed for the nomination to run against him.
In Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial primary, four Democrats and two Republicans vied to advance to the fall election. Gov. Ed Rendell, a two-term Democrat, was barred from seeking re-election.

Kobe Gets 40 Lakers Rout Suns In Opener

Kobe Gets 40 Lakers Rout Suns In Opener

LOS ANGELES – Kobe Bryant dribbled toward the Lakers’ bench, luring Channing Frye and Jason Richardson along with him. Bryant leaned back and launched a feather-soft jumper over Phoenix’s double team, neatly beating the first-quarter buzzer.
That’s about when the Suns should have noted the bright yellow brace on Bryant’s right knee is the color of a caution sign.
Even with a balky knee and a litany of additional woes, Bryant still is among the most dangerous postseason scorers in NBA history — and he had no problem giving Los Angeles an early leg up in the Western Conference finals.
Bryant scored 40 points, Lamar Odom added 19 points and 19 rebounds, and the Lakers opened the series with ruthless offensive efficiency in a 128-107 victory on Monday night.
“Just being aggressive, playing my game,” Bryant said. “Got shots, took them. Got lanes to the basket, took them.”
Pau Gasol had 21 points for the top-seeded Lakers, who won their seventh straight playoff game and snapped the Suns’ six-game streak with a phenomenal second half, highlighted by Bryant’s 21-point third quarter. He barely stepped on the Lakers’ practice court during the past week to rest his ailing knee, ankle, finger and back — all minor impediments to a major talent.
“I practice so much during the season,” Bryant said. “In the offseason, I work a lot. To take a week off, I’m not going to lose all the work I put in prior to that.”
The defending NBA champions beat the third-seeded Suns at their own uptempo game when necessary, fluidly running the court to set up baskets for Bryant in his sixth straight 30-point game. Bryant then rested for most of the fourth quarter in the 11th 40-point game of his playoff career.
“They played great, one of the best games I’ve seen them play in the playoffs this season,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “Kobe kind of controlled the whole game. I thought we could have withstood the game that he had … but when he’s making his jumper like that, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it.”
Game 2 is Wednesday night at Staples Center.
Amare Stoudemire scored 23 points and Steve Nash had 13 points and 13 assists for the Suns, who hadn’t lost since April 24. Robin Lopez started at center and scored 14 points in his playoff debut, but Phoenix couldn’t keep up with the champs’ height and 58-percent shooting in the Suns’ first conference finals appearance since 2006.
The Suns also ran into the same height problems faced by Utah and Oklahoma City earlier in the Lakers’ playoff run. Los Angeles committed just nine turnovers in Game 1 — its third straight single-digit turnover game — while outrebounding the smaller Suns 42-34.
“They’re probably going to continue to be taller than us as the series goes on, so we’ve got to … make everything as tough as possible,” said Nash, whose injured eye didn’t bother him. “We played hard, but we didn’t make enough shots, and we had a few too many breakdowns.”
Both teams swept their second-round series to earn their third postseason date in five years, but the Lakers didn’t allow a week off to affect their remarkable execution. They scored easily and often, even with center Andrew Bynum managing just four points while playing shakily on his own sore knee.
After a 62-point first half for the Lakers, Bryant alternated jumpers and strong drives while Los Angeles pulled away, making a 13-2 run in the third quarter. His 13-for-23 shooting performance included three 3-pointers and 11 free throws with just one miss.
“Kobe carried a lot of the offense tonight, no doubt,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “I will say he was going to shoulder the game. He was going to take it on. He’s been very optimistic through the whole week. He felt like he had the amount of rest and shooting he had to have. He was attentive and involved (in practice).”
The Suns sent Bryant, Odom and the Lakers home for the summer in 2006 and 2007, and Los Angeles’ veterans acknowledged a measure of revenge in their minds — as long as they’re healthy enough to do it.
Jackson revealed before the game that Bryant’s right knee was drained “a while ago,” moving it to the top of the injury list for last season’s NBA finals MVP. But Bryant showed no ill effects, and he even bounced back up after hitting his head on Richardson’s knee during a drive in the first quarter.
“He’s the best scorer in the league,” said Odom, who set a career playoff high for rebounds in his most assertive game of the current postseason. “Drives, fadeaways with his back to the basket, inside-outside, with his left hand. Time off is exactly what he needed.”
NOTES: Bryant last scored 40 points in the postseason during the opener of last year’s NBA finals against Orlando. … Lakers G Sasha Vujacic appeared in his first game of the postseason after missing the first two rounds with a sprained ankle. … Bryant and Grant Hill got technical fouls for arguing with officials 57 seconds apart in the third quarter. … Larry David watched the game from the same eight-seat courtside section where his fictional alter ego infamously tripped Shaquille O’Neal during a first-season episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Jamaica To Extradite Drug Suspect Wanted By US

Jamaica To Extradite Drug Suspect Wanted By US

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica’s prime minister now says he will allow a reputed drug kingpin to be extradited to the U.S., ending a nine-month fight with Washington but raising fears of a violent backlash from the suspect’s supporters.
The announcement Monday night marked a reversal for Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who faced mounting public pressure to drop his opposition to the request for Christopher “Dudus” Coke. The wanted man allegedly controls a band of gunmen inside a barricaded neighborhood of west Kingston that Golding represents in parliament.
As rumors of the government’s decision spread before the official announcement, the streets of downtown Kingston emptied as businesses and government agencies closed early out of fear of violence. Coke’s supporters have been rumored to be stockpiling weapons to prevent his arrest since the extradition request was revealed in August.
But Coke’s lawyer, Tom Tavares-Finson, said his client is prepared to fight extradition in court. He said there would be no violence on Coke’s insistence.
“Absolutely not, he just wants us to go to court,” Tavares-Finson said.
Coke has ties of loyalty to Golding’s Jamaica Labor Party, which like the main opposition party has loose affiliations with organized crime dating to the 1970s when political factions armed gunmen to intimidate election rivals.
In a nationally televised address Monday night, Golding said his party had become improperly involved in the dispute and expressed remorse for his handling of the case.
“This matter of the extradition has consumed too much of our energies and attention and has led to a virtual paralysis that must be broken,” he said. “The minister of justice, in consideration of all the factors, will sign the authorization for the extradition process to commence.”
Golding did not indicate how long it would take before security forces move on Coke.
The prime minister had stonewalled the extradition request since it was revealed in August with claims that the U.S. indictment relied on illegal wiretap evidence.
His handling of the case, in particular his authorization of a U.S. firm to lobby Washington to drop the request, provoked an outcry that threatened his political career. With opposition parties and public sector groups calling for his resignation, the governing party vouched for him following a high-level conference over the weekend.
He said he offered his resignation on Sunday but it was rejected by the party.
Golding’s opposition to the extradition strained relations with the United States, which questioned the Caribbean island’s reliability as an ally in the fight against trafficking in a State Department report earlier this year.
A businessman known for his work as a show promoter, Coke has kept a high public profile in the ghettos west of Kingston, reportedly handing out cash and school supplies to needy children. He is also credited with helping to keep order by using his authority to punish thieves and other criminals in an area where the government has little presence.
Coke’s father was Lester Lloyd Coke, better known as Jim Brown, a leader of the Shower Posse during the 1980s cocaine wars. U.S. prosecutors say Christopher Coke took over the organization after his father died in a 1991 prison fire while awaiting extradition to the United States.
Under the younger Coke’s direction, Shower Posse members have sold marijuana and crack cocaine in the New York area and elsewhere and funneled profits back to him, U.S. authorities allege. He faces life in prison if convicted on charges filed against him in New York.

Incumbency Loses Its Edge In Three Big Primary Battles

Incumbency Loses Its Edge In Three Big Primary Battles

One major theme to watch for as primary returns start rolling in for Tuesday’s key Senate races: Is incumbency all it’s cracked up to be?
In most election cycles, holding a seat in Congress is a huge tactical advantage, since sitting lawmakers are usually able to draw on the campaign war chests that national party organizations and congressional campaign groups build up in addition, of course, to all the time that elected officials spend fundraising on their own.
That advantage shrivels, though, when the electorate seems to be in throw-the-rascals-out mode, as seems to be the case so far in 2010. Rather than coasting into a lavishly funded media push in the homestretch of their primary races, two veteran senators Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas are fighting for their political lives. In Kentucky, the battle for the seat opened by Republican Jim Bunning’s retirement is between a candidate endorsed by the state’s GOP hierarchy, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and the self-described tea party candidate, Rand Paul. Tuesday’s ballot may well signal the depth of popular anger at Washington and might serve as a bellwether for which party ultimately gains control of Congress in November. Here’s a quick primer on the big three Senate races:
Pennsylvania
When Arlen Specter switched parties a year ago, he made no secret of his main motive: political survival. Facing a nasty GOP primary against onetime opponent Pat Toomey, Specter wasn’t sure he could win. In any other case, such candor might help a candidate, but not this year. Even though Specter often siphoned off some Democratic support in his previous Republican campaigns, the longtime senator has struggled to convince members of the Democratic base that’s he really one of them. In recent weeks, Joe Sestak, a Democratic congressman from the Philadelphia suburbs, has closed the gap with Specter, earning endorsements from groups like the abortion-rights group NARAL and MoveOn.org. And Sestak has been savvy not merely in questioning Specter’s party loyalty, but also in joining the chorus of other primary challengers denouncing incumbent politicians and campaigning for a “new generation” in Washington. To counter that argument, Specter has been highlighting his “experience” in his own campaign messages. That’s not just a dig at Sestak’s limited time in Congress, but also a reminder of Specter’s long resume in the Senate. Unfortunately for Specter, that may not be much of a selling point for voters Tuesday.
Arkansas
Heading into the 2010 cycle, Blanche Lincoln was considered a safe bet for re-election. She was a centrist Democrat a position that played well in Arkansas, a once-liberal state that has increasingly swung right in recent years. But Lincoln’s noncommittal positions on big-ticket legislative issues like health care reform earned her the ire of liberal activists and labor unions, including the deep-pocketed AFL-CIO, which began spending money on attack ads calling for her ouster. On Tuesday, she faces Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who, in spite of getting endorsements from groups like MoveOn.org, says he’s not challenging Lincoln from “the left” but more as an outsider an argument that has traction in this anti-incumbent year. Though polling has been limited, a recent Daily-Kos/Research 2000 poll found Lincoln leading Halter by 9 points, 46 percent to 37 percent. And the race might not be over Tuesday: If neither candidate cracks 50 percent, a runoff would automatically be scheduled.
Kentucky
It’s not just Democrats facing spoilers in their own party. When McConnell anointed Secretary of State Trey Grayson as the GOP establishment candidate to succeed Bunning, Republicans thought the race was over. Not so much. In recent weeks, Rand Paul the son of libertarian Texas Rep. Ron Paul, an insurgent GOP candidate for president in 2008 has taken a double-digit lead in most surveys. Rand Paul has made his insurgent primary bid a referendum on Washington, tapping the energy of the tea party base. He criticizes Republicans as much as Democrats and has notably refused to say whether he would even support McConnell for a role in Senate leadership should he win. While Grayson was endorsed by Dick Cheney and other key Washington Republicans, Paul picked up a major endorsement of his own: Sarah Palin. In recent days, McConnell, while not quite distancing himself from Grayson, has sought to make nice with Paul. In an interview on Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” McConnell insisted that the open primary was a good thing for the party though he insisted a Paul victory had nothing to do with establishment politicians like himself.
Holly Bailey is a senior political writer for Yahoo! News.
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Ex-TV Chef Pleads Not Guilty In Murder-hire Plot

Ex-TV Chef Pleads Not Guilty In Murder-hire Plot

LOS ANGELES – A one-time TV cooking show host faces the possibility of life in prison if he’s convicted of trying to hire two homeless men to kill his wife.
Juan-Carlos Cruz, who hosted “Calorie Commando” on the Food Network in 2004, pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and solicitation of murder in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday.
The 48-year-old was arrested Thursday, a week after a homeless man told the Santa Monica Police Department’s homeless liaison officers about the alleged solicitation. Police then launched an investigation.
“A lot of people in the homeless community know them and trust them because they have a relationship with them,” the city’s human services coordinator, Setareh Yavari, said of the police liaison officers. “It doesn’t surprise me that they would go to (police) with something like this. There’s a sense that they’re taken seriously.”
Cruz was unshaven and in handcuffs at his arraignment. His lawyer, Shawn Chapman Holley, did not immediately respond to an e-mail from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Cruz is married to attorney Jennifer Campbell. Her lawyer, Blair Berk, had no comment.
Cruz was formerly a pastry chef for Los Angeles’ exclusive Hotel Bel-Air where he made desserts for many rich and famous clients. His weight ballooned to 280 pounds as a result of his job, according to his biography in the “Juan-Carlos Cruz Calorie Countdown Cookbook.”
He went on Discovery Health Network’s “Body Challenge” show and shed 100 pounds. He then landed a show on Food Network, which focused on converting fattening recipes to low-calorie versions. The program ended in 2006.
Food Network said it had no comment because Cruz has not been under contract for a number of years and the network has no current relationship with him.
Superior Court Judge Keith L. Schwartz set Cruz’s bail at 2 million, and scheduled a preliminary hearing for June 23.

Video May Show Raid That Led To 7-year-olds Death

Video May Show Raid That Led To 7-year-olds Death

DETROIT – Events leading up to the shooting death of a 7-year-old girl at the hands of a Detroit officer may have been videotaped by a crime-reality series camera crew that was with police as they searched a family home for a homicide suspect.
What’s on the video could reveal if Aiyana Jones was fatally shot by an officer whose gun mistakenly discharged inside the house, as police say, or if claims of a “cover up” by an attorney for Aiyana’s family are true.
Police have said officers threw a flash grenade through the first-floor window of the two-family home early Sunday and that an officer’s gun discharged during a struggle or after a collision with the girl’s grandmother. The crew for the A&E series “The First 48″ was with police during the weekend raid.
Lawyer Geoffrey Fieger, who is representing Aiyana’s family, said he has seen video of the siege and that the police account was full of “utter fabrications.” He said a video shows an officer lobbing the grenade and then shooting into the home from the porch. He would not say if the footage he saw was from the A&E crew.
“There is no question about what happened because it’s in the videotape,” Fieger said Monday. “It’s not an accident. It’s not a mistake. There was no altercation.”
“Aiyana Jones was shot from outside on the porch,” said Fieger, who planned to speak about Aiyana’s death more on Tuesday.
Assistant Chief Ralph Godbee said police want that tape.
“If Mr. Fieger has access to anything that would be evidence in this case, he should, as an officer of the court, get it immediately to the Michigan State Police, which will be investigating,” Godbee said in an e-mail.
Godbee also said the police department has asked for footage shot by “The First 48″ crew, which has been in Detroit for several months while shadowing homicide investigators on a nearly daily basis. Neither Godbee nor A&E would say whether that request was granted.
A&E spokesman Dan Silberman said the network would not comment about the case, and he denied a request by The Associated Press for its footage.
The crew was on-hand Friday following the shooting death of a 17-year-old Detroit high school student outside a party store not far from Aiyana’s home. When the elite Special Response Team prepared to raid the ramshackle duplex early Sunday to look for the suspect in the teen’s slaying, a camera also may have been rolling.
The police department declined to say whether it was being paid by the television show.
Fieger said more than one camera was recording at the scene and that the footage he saw includes sound.
“The videotape shows clearly that the assistant police chief and the officers on the scene are engaging in an intentional cover up of the events,” Fieger said.
Police have said the target of the raid, a 34-year-old man, was arrested in the upstairs unit of the duplex. Police had warrants to search both units, and family members of the slain girl were seen going in and out of both on Monday. The suspect has not been charged, and it was not immediately clear what relationship he had to the slain girl.
The case has been handed over to the Michigan State Police to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said.
Police have not identified the officer whose gun fired the shot that killed Aiyana. Godbee said he is a 14-year veteran with six to seven years on the Special Response Team and that he has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
The officer was cleared following a nonfatal shooting last summer in which police returned fire after being were fired upon by someone barricaded in a house, Godbee said.
The Detroit police department has been under two court-ordered consent decrees since 2003 aimed at, among other things, correcting how and when its officers use force on suspects.

Charlie Sheen Sticking With Two And A Half Men

Charlie Sheen Sticking With Two And A Half Men

LOS ANGELES – CBS and fans of “Two and a Half Men” don’t have to fret about subtracting Charlie Sheen from TV’s top-rated sitcom.
Sheen has agreed to a new contract that will keep him on the show for two more seasons, spokesman Stan Rosenfield said Monday evening after the deal was reached.
“To put a fitting end on the 2 1/2 months of whirlwind speculation, I’m looking forward to returning to my CBS home on Monday nights,” Sheen, 44, said in a statement, adding his thanks to CBS Corp. Chief Executive Leslie Moonves for his support.
Uncertainty had clouded Sheen’s future with the series after he told friends that he wanted to leave after seven years because he’d tired of its production demands and wanted to focus on movies. He’s in the upcoming film “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” a sequel to the 1987 “Wall Street” in which he starred.
Subsequent reports said that he was holding out for a payday of up to 2 million per sitcom episode. CBS and Sheen had declined comment on the reports, and Sheen’s statement did not provide details of the new agreement.
A call to CBS for comment was not immediately returned Monday.
“Two and a Half Men,” which also stars Jon Cryer, is a key part of CBS’ Monday night lineup. Last year, the network gave the show a 3-year renewal, through the 2011-12 season, although Sheen’s contract was up at the end of the current season.
Meanwhile, the actor’s personal life remains unsettled. He has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from a Christmas Day incident in Aspen, Colo., of alleged domestic violence involving his wife, Brooke Mueller Sheen. Sheen faces a July 21 jury trial in Colorado.
He entered a rehab facility for undisclosed treatment in February, temporarily forcing “Two and a Half Men” to halt production. CBS and series producer Warner Bros. Television issued a statement of support when Sheen sought treatment and wished him well.
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CBS is owned by CBS Corp.
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Online:
• http://www.cbs.com

Pesticides On Produce Tied To ADHD In Children

Pesticides On Produce Tied To ADHD In Children

MONDAY, May 17 (HealthDay News) — New research suggests that exposure
to high levels of organophosphate pesticides, commonly found on berries,
celery and other produce, could raise the odds for
attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.
At this point, though, there is no evidence that pesticide exposure can
actually cause ADHD, stated the authors of a paper appearing in the June
issue of Pediatrics.
Certainly parents and children shouldn't swear off fruits and veggies,
said study lead author Maryse Bouchard, an adjunct researcher in the
department of environmental and occupational health at the University of
Montreal and at Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre. However, “I
think it's safe to say that we should as much as possible reduce our
exposure to pesticides,” she said.
That would meaning going organic, buying at farmers' markets and
washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consuming them, she said.
“I always encourage my families to embrace healthy lifestyles in
general,” agreed Dr. Nakia Scott, clinical assistant professor of
psychiatry and behavioral science at Texas A&M Health Science Center
College of Medicine and a child psychiatrist with Lone Star Circle of
Care. “I think it's much more important that they're eating fruits,
vegetables, nuts and grains instead of sodas and fast foods and I'm not
saying that they're not going to eat any produce because it might contain
pesticides.”
Previous research has shown an association between both prenatal and
postnatal organophosphate exposure and developmental problems in young
children.
But most prior studies have focused on excessive rather than average
exposure to organophosphates.
“Organophosphates are one of the most widely used pesticides in
agriculture to protect crops and fruits and vegetables,” Bouchard noted.
“For children, the major source of exposure would be the diet — fruits
and vegetables in particular.”
In their study, Bouchard and her colleagues analyzed data on pesticide
exposure and ADHD in more than 1,100 American children aged 8 to 15.
Children with higher pesticide levels in their urine were more likely
to have ADHD, the team found.
“The analysis showed that the higher the level of exposure [as measured
by metabolites in the urine], the higher the odds of having ADHD,”
Bouchard added.
Just how might pesticides harm brain development? According to the
authors, high doses of organophosphates may inhibit acetylcholinesterase,
a nervous system enzyme. Lower doses of the pesticide may affect different
growth factors and neurotransmitters.
The findings, if replicated, may provide another clue into the causes
of ADHD, a condition which affects three to seven percent of school-aged
children, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention.
“We do have a fair amount of evidence about other causes of ADHD,”
Scott said. “We know that ADHD is a highly heritable disorder. At least
one-third of fathers who have had ADHD in their youth have a child with
ADHD.”
“There are also prenatal risks such as tobacco exposure and alcohol
exposure,” she added. “There's also a possibility that children who are
exposed to high levels of lead prior to the age of six may develop
ADHD.”
More information
There's more on shielding kids from pesticides at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Iraq Forces Al-Qaida Plot On World Cup Uncovered

Iraq Forces Al-Qaida Plot On World Cup Uncovered

BAGHDAD – Iraqi security forces have detained an al-Qaida militant suspected of planning an attack targeting the World Cup in South Africa next month, an official said Monday.
Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, a spokesman for Baghdad security services, said Abdullah Azam Saleh al-Qahtani was an officer in the Saudi army. He is suspected of planning a “terrorist act” in South Africa during the World Cup beginning June 11, al-Moussawi told a news conference in Baghdad.
He said al-Qahtani entered Iraq in 2004 and is suspected in several attacks in the capital and elsewhere in the country.
In South Africa, a police spokesman said Iraq has not notified them of the arrest.
“We have not received any official reports from them,” Vish Naidoo told The Associated Press. “Whatever arrest they made there, they know, we don’t know anything about it.”
Earlier Monday, South African police paraded fire engines, armored carriers and other vehicles through Johannesburg to show they were ready to secure the country for the World Cup.
“South Africa will be hosting the whole world, and therefore will take no chances,” Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said.
In Iraq, attacks blamed on al-Qaida have continued despite the killing last month of the group’s two top figures in a U.S.-assisted military operation.
On Monday, assailants disguised in Iraqi military uniforms beheaded a Sunni cleric and stuck his head on an electricity pole in the town where he preached against al-Qaida, the cleric’s son and Iraqi police said.
The son of the cleric Abdullah Jassim Shakour told The Associated Press the gunmen wearing military uniforms came to the family house in the town of Sadiyah north of Baghdad, took his father into a room, killed him and walked away with his head.
The family found the headless body in the house, said the son, Mohammed. When they went to report the killing to the police, they saw his head on an electric pole in the center of the town.
“I was sleeping and screams from the street woke me up,” said one of the victim’s neighbors. “When I stepped out of my house, I saw the head of the cleric on the top of the pole.”
The neighbor spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity out of fear of the militants. He also said the cleric was known for speaking against al-Qaida and called on worshippers to fight the militant group during last Friday’s prayer.
A police official confirmed that four gunmen stormed the house in the morning and beheaded him. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Insurgents have often used Iraqi uniforms to disguise themselves during attacks. The uniforms are widely available in Iraq.
Violence in Iraq has fallen dramatically over the past few years, though Sunnis who have revolted against al-Qaida in Iraq or are perceived as cooperating with the Shiite-led government are often targeted.
_____
Associated Press Writer Donna Bryson contributed to this report from Johannesburg.

Happiness Comes With Age Study Reveals

Happiness Comes With Age Study Reveals

Life looks a little rosier after 50, a new study finds. Older
people in their mid- to late-50s are generally happier, and experience less
stress and worry than young adults in their 20s, the researchers say.
The results, based on a Gallup phone survey from 2008 of
more than 340,000 Americans, held even after the researchers accounted for
factors that could have contributed to differences in well-being with age, such
as whether the participants were married, had children at home or were employed.
So if having a partner and getting rid of the kids aren't
responsible for the uptick in happiness and general life satisfaction with age,
then what is? More studies will be needed to find out, the researchers say.
“That can be based on social things, on societal
things, on biological things; and for us that is the big question,” study
researcher Arthur Stone, a psychologist at Stony Brook University in N.Y.
Two ways to look at
life
The findings agree with previous work showing well-being
varies with age. And some studies have narrowed things down to suggest that
happiness comes with being old, male
and Republican.
However, the current work included measures of both overall happiness
(called global well-being) and day-to-day experiences of specific feelings such
as stress and happiness (called hedonic well-being).
These two measures of well-being are rarely included in the
same study, Stone said. But they are both important, since global well-being
provides a more reflective look at life while hedonic well-being gives a more
immediate view, he said.
The immediate, hedonic measures – happiness, enjoyment,
stress, worry, anger and sadness – all changed with age, but they showed very
different patterns. For example, stress and anger steadily decreased from young
adulthood through old age. But worry was fairly constant until age 50, when it
declined. Sadness levels rose slightly in the early 40s and declined in the mid
50s, but overall sadness didn't change much with age.
And people's overall satisfaction with their lives showed a
U-shaped pattern, dipping down until about the age of 50 before trending upward
again.
Men and women showed very similar patterns in terms of how
well-being changed
with age, though women tended to have higher levels of stress, worry
and sadness. However, women had about the same levels of happiness
as men and tended to feel better overall about their lives, especially during
the first 50 years.
The results emphasize the importance of looking at hedonic well-being
since these feelings, particularly the negative ones, don't all vary the same
way as we age, Stone said.
“Looking at well-being really needs to be multidimensional
and more comprehensive than might be suggested by the current literature,”
he said.
Why are older people
happier?
There are several theories that might explain why people
feel better with age that don't have to do with lifestyle factors. It could be,
for example, that older people are better at controlling their emotions than younger
people. Or it might have something to do with nostalgia, the idea that older
people remember fewer negative memories and so are happier.
Also, older people might focus less on what they have or
have not achieved, and more on how to get the most out of the rest of their
lives, Stone said.
The results will be published this week in the journal
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
7
Ways the Mind and Body Change With Age
Does Old
Age Bring Happiness or Despair?
10 Ways to Keep Your Mind Sharp
Original Story: Happiness Comes With Age, Study Reveals
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Obama Administration Faces Questions On Oil Spill

Obama Administration Faces Questions On Oil Spill

WASHINGTON – Last week, it was oil executives who faced the wrath of lawmakers eager to find blame for the massive oil spill spreading in the Gulf of Mexico.
On Tuesday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and other federal officials will come under questioning for what the government did — or did not do — to prevent the oil spill, and how they have responded since oil started streaming into the Gulf last month.
Salazar, who oversees the federal agency that monitors offshore drilling, will testify before two Senate committees. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen also will testify at separate hearings, and oil company executives are back for a second round of questions.
The hearings come amid the first high-level resignation related to the oil spill and a decision by President Barack Obama to name a presidential commission to investigate the cause of the rig explosion that unleashed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, where engineers are struggling after three weeks to stop the flow.
The presidential panel will be similar to ones that examined the Challenger space shuttle disaster and the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident, said a White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been formally announced.
The commission would be one of nearly a dozen investigations and reviews launched since the April 20 explosion, although it probably would be the most comprehensive.
With BP PLC, the company that owns the well, finally gaining some control over the amount of oil spewing into the gulf, scientists are increasingly worried that huge plumes of crude already spilled could get caught in a current that would carry the mess all the way to the Florida Keys and beyond, damaging coral reefs and killing wildlife.
Scientists said the oil will move into the so-called loop current soon if it hasn’t already, though they could not say exactly when or how much there would be. Once it is in the loop, it could take 10 days or longer to reach the Keys.
The U.S. Coast Guard reported that 20 tar balls were found off Key West on Monday, but said a lab analysis would have to determine their origin. The Florida Park Service during a shoreline survey found balls that were about 3 to 8 inches in diameter.
Last week, Obama decried what he called a badly failed offshore drilling system and said failures extended to the federal government and its “cozy” relationship with oil companies. The Minerals Management Service, the federal agency that oversees offshore drilling, has long been criticized for being too close to industry.
On Monday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said government failures “certainly” include the Obama administration, which took office in January 2009.
“But my guess is you guys did some stories in the previous decade on what was going on at MMS, which is what caused Secretary Salazar, when he came in, to begin reforming that,” Gibbs told reporters.
Salazar, anticipating tough questioning on Capitol Hill, announced Monday he is tightening requirements for onshore oil and gas drilling. The new measures would not apply to oil rigs at sea, and Salazar had outlined the broad outlines of the reforms in January.
Even so, he tried to portray them as more evidence of the Obama administration’s aggressive response to the Gulf spill.
“The BP oil spill is a stark reminder of how we must continue to push ahead with the reforms we have been working on and which we know are needed,” Salazar said in a statement.
Chris Oynes, associate administrator of the minerals agency, became the first administration official to resign in the wake of the oil spill. Oynes, who was regional director in charge of Gulf offshore oil programs for 13 years before being promoted in 2007 to head all offshore drilling programs, informed colleagues he will retire at the end of the month, according to an e-mail obtained by The Associated Press.
Oynes, like other MMS officials, has come under criticism for being too close to the industry.
A 35-year government employee, Oynes had earlier indicated his plans to retire but decided to accelerate his departure, said an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the issue involved a personnel matter. It was unclear what pressure, if any, was put on him.
Members of Congress, meanwhile, were continuing to focus attention on the Gulf spill.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and seven other senators asked the Justice Department to determine whether BP made false and misleading claims to the government about its ability to prevent a serious oil spill when it applied for permission last year to drill the Deepwater Horizon well that has unleashed environmental havoc along the Gulf coast.
Boxer, who chairs the environment panel, said BP claimed to have the capability to prevent a serious oil spill in case of a well blowout.
“In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill … it does not in any way appear there was ‘proven equipment and technology’ to respond to the spill” as BP claimed, she and the other senators wrote Attorney General Eric Holder. They asked the Justice Department to determine whether any criminal or civil laws may have been violated as far as misleading the government.
In the month since the oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers, BP has struggled to stop the leak, trying in vain to activate emergency valves and lowering a 100-ton box that got clogged with icy crystals. Over the weekend, the oil company finally succeeded in using a stopper-and-tube combination to siphon some of the gushing oil into a tanker, but millions of gallons are already in the Gulf.
___
AP writers H. Josef Hebert and Erica Werner contributed to this report.

Bo Disclosed As A 1600 Gift In White House Financial Forms

Bo Disclosed As A 1600 Gift In White House Financial Forms

Bo is the Sixteen Hundred Dollar Dog, according to Barack Obama’s newly released financial disclosure form for 2009. In the White House’s reckoning, that’s the market value of the dog the Obama family received as a gift from the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and his wife. But naturally, there are many more intangible measures of Bo’s worth — shortly after joining the First Family last April, he served as a welcome distraction from the two wars and tanking economy Obama faced upon taking office. And that’s all to say nothing of what he’s meant to Obama’s daughters, Sasha and Malia.
[Photos: See Bo with the first family]
Other interesting tidbits from the White House disclosure form include Obama’s apparent abandonment of the “socially responsible investing” movement. Last summer, the president sold somewhere between 115,000 and 250,000 worth of shares in Vanguard’s FTSE Social Index Fund — which “invests primarily in larger U.S. companies independently screened to meet stringent social and environmental criteria” — and moved it to a generic index fund that tracks the S&P 500.
The idea behind socially responsible investing is that you can do well by doing good. In Obama’s case, that also means you don’t have to own shares of the big bad corporations you’re doing battle with as president every day in order to save for your retirement. (Though the FTSE Social Index Fund, which includes shares of McDonald’s and Procter & Gamble, neither of which fits the environmentally conscious, locally centered ideals of socially responsible investing, stretches that notion somewhat). Now Obama — whose investment decisions, the White House says, are made through a blind trust and without his direct knowledge — is completely out of that game.
All told, Obama reported between 2.2 million and 7.6 million in assets and between 4.1 million and 12.1 million in income for the year. Those figures include the 1.4 million haul from his Nobel Peace Prize — which the White House says has been donated to charity. In January, he received a 500,000 advance from Crown Publishing for an upcoming young-adult version of his memoir “Dreams From My Father.” His royalties for the published version of “Dreams” and his second book, “The Audacity of Hope,” totaled between 2 million and 10 million.
Joe Biden’s disclosure was much more modest — he reported no single asset worth more than 100,000 and carries between 190,000 and 465,000 in debt. But he did receive as a gift a signed, first-edition copy of a book called “Anna Livia Plurabelle” — an early serialization of part of James Joyce’s “Finnegan’s Wake.” The gift was from Margaret Spanel, an anti-nuclear activist and Democratic donor. No word on whether he read it.
— John Cook is a senior national reporter/blogger for Yahoo! News.
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Study Suggests Processed Meat A Real Health Risk

Study Suggests Processed Meat A Real Health Risk

CHICAGO (Reuters) –
Eating bacon, sausage, hot dogs and other processed meats can raise the risk of heart disease and diabetes, U.S. researchers said on Monday in a study that identifies the real bad boys of the meat counter.
Eating unprocessed beef, pork or lamb appeared not to raise risks of heart attacks and diabetes, they said, suggesting that salt and chemical preservatives may be the real cause of these two health problems associated with eating meat.
The study, an analysis of other research called a meta-analysis, did not look at high blood pressure or cancer, which are also linked with high meat consumption.
“To lower risk of heart attacks and diabetes, people should consider which types of meats they are eating,” said Renata Micha of the Harvard School of Public Health, whose study appears in the journal Circulation.
“Processed meats such as bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs and processed deli meats may be the most important to avoid,” Micha said in a statement.
Based on her findings, she said people who eat one serving per week or less of processed meats have less of a risk.
The American Meat Institute objected to the findings, saying it was only one study and that it stands in contrast to other studies and the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
“At best, this hypothesis merits further study. It is certainly no reason for dietary changes,” James Hodges, president of the American Meat Institute, said in a statement.
Most dietary guidelines recommend eating less meat. Individual studies looking at relationships between eating meat and cardiovascular diseases and diabetes have had mixed results.
But studies rarely look for differences in risk between processed and unprocessed red meats, Micha said.
She and colleagues did a systematic review of nearly 1,600 studies from around the world looking for evidence of a link between eating processed and unprocessed red meat and the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
They defined processed meat as any meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or with the addition of chemical preservatives. Meats in this category included bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs or processed deli or luncheon meats.
Unprocessed red meat included beef, lamb or pork but not poultry.
They found that on average, each 1.8 oz (50 grams) daily serving of processed meat a day — one to two slices of deli meats or one hot dog — was associated with a 42 percent higher risk of heart disease and a 19 percent higher risk of developing diabetes.
They found no higher heart or diabetes risk in people who ate only unprocessed red meats.
The team adjusted for a number of factors, including how much meat people ate. They said lifestyle factors were similar between those who ate processed and unprocessed meats.
“When we looked at average nutrients in unprocessed red and processed meats eaten in the United States, we found that they contained similar average amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol,” Micha said.
“In contrast, processed meats contained, on average, four times more sodium and 50 percent more nitrate preservatives,” Micha added.
Last month, the Institute of Medicine urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate the amount of salt added to foods to help Americans cut their high sodium intake.
The FDA has not yet said whether it will regulate salt in foods, but it is looking at the issue.
(Editing by Eric Walsh)

Ariz Immigration Law Divides Police Across US

Ariz Immigration Law Divides Police Across US

PHOENIX – Arizona’s tough new law cracking down on illegal immigration is dividing police across the nation, pitting officers against their chiefs and raising questions about its potential to damage efforts to fight crime in Hispanic communities.
Two officers are challenging the law in court, while police unions that lobbied for it are defending it against criticism from police officials.
Both sides are debating how a law such as Arizona’s can be enforced, without leading to racial profiling of Hispanics and without alienating residents in Hispanic neighborhoods with whom police have spent years trying to build trust.
“Before the signing of this bill, citizens would wave at me,” said David Salgado, a 19-year Phoenix police officer who sued the city and the governor asking that the law be blocked. “Now they don’t even want to make eye contact.”
Still, police unions say, many of their officers in Arizona, the nation’s busiest corridor for illegal immigration and smuggling, are tired of feeling helpless when dealing with people they believe are in the country illegally. Those officers want a tool to arrest them.
“Crime is not based upon skin color, it’s based upon conduct,” said Mark Spencer, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, the union representing Phoenix officers that lobbied aggressively for the law.
It requires police enforcing another law to verify a person’s immigration status if there’s “reasonable” suspicion they are in the U.S. illegally.
Several Arizona police chiefs and sheriffs say, as hard as officers try not to profile, enforcing the law will inevitably lead to it. They say it will end up taking time away from solving crimes in their cities and towns.
“When you get a law that leads a state down this path, where the enforcement is targeted to a particular segment of the population, it’s very difficult not to profile,” said Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris, a critic of the law.
On Monday, police bosses from Maryland and Nevada condemned the law, saying that it could suck up vital resources and destroy delicate relationships with immigrant communities if implemented in their own states. There are at least nine other states considering similar legislation.
Police Chief Thomas Manger of Montgomery County, Md., in suburban Washington said he doesn’t have the resources or the desire to enforce federal immigration violations by people who aren’t disrupting the community.
“If they’re not committing a crime here, frankly, I’m not sure how it enhances public safety to target those people for removal,” he said.
Manger spoke on a conference call with the sheriff of Washoe County, Nev., and the retired police chief of Sacramento, Calif. The call was organized by the Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative, which advocates immigration reform.
Their criticism added to the chorus of opponents since the law’s adoption April 23. There have been calls for boycotts, and some state and local governments have decided to stop doing business with the state in protest.
On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed the latest challenge to the law in federal court on behalf of labor unions and others.
The law takes effect July 29 unless blocked by the pending court challenges. Being in the country illegally would become a state crime, and Arizona residents could sue an agency or officer they feel isn’t enforcing immigration laws to the fullest extent possible.
Arizona’s legislation was passed in part with the lobbying muscle of the unions. An association of police chiefs tried to defeat or soften it.
Tucson police officer Martin Escobar also filed a lawsuit, arguing there’s no “race-neutral” criteria for him to suspect that someone’s in the country illegally. Some say it would be impossible to enforce without relying on indicators such as skin color, clothing and accent.
They worry Hispanic crime victims will be too scared to call for help, or eyewitnesses will refuse to cooperate in murder investigations.
Supporters say there are plenty of indicators other than race that suggest someone is an illegal immigrant, including a lack of identification and conflicting statements. They say police have plenty of experience enforcing laws without relying on physical characteristics.
If officers are empowered to decide when it’s appropriate to arrest or even to kill someone, they should be trusted not to profile based on race, said Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, a supporter whose jurisdiction includes busy human and drug smuggling routes into Phoenix.
“We will do it without profiling,” he said. “And any police chief or any sheriff in Arizona will not tolerate profiling based on race or national origin. That’s unacceptable.”
Gov. Jan Brewer insists racial profiling will not be tolerated. When she signed the bill, Brewer ordered the state’s police training and licensing board to develop standards for enforcement that avoid profiling.
The board will meet Wednesday to adopt a framework for the training program, which director Lyle Mann said would include digital instruction materials for all of Arizona’s 15,000 police officers.
Designing a training courses that prevents officers from using “the shortcut of race” will be difficult, said Jack McDevitt, associate dean of criminal justice at Northeastern University who studies racial profiling.
“No training you give police officers is going to change all of the officer’s behavior,” McDevitt said. “Unfortunately, the shortcut will be: ‘What does this person look like? What kind of accent does he have? And what kind of car is he driving?’”

News – Gen Sir John Reith Was unaware Of Hooding Rule

News - Gen Sir John Reith Was unaware Of Hooding Rule

Gen Sir John Reith was ‘unaware’ of hooding rule
The army general who ran UK military operations during the Iraq war has said he did not know about a 1972 ruling banning the hooding of detainees.Gen Sir John Reith said he had been unaware prisoners were often “hooded” upon capture, but admitted he banned the practice after bad publicity. He was giving evidence to the inquiry into the death of Iraqi hotel worker Baha Mousa in British custody in 2003. The inquiry was adjourned until Tuesday. Mr Mousa, a 26-year-old hotel receptionist, was found dead with 93 separate injuries after being held in the custody of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment. SurpriseThe BBC’s Caroline Hawley said Sir John was the most senior former military official to give evidence at the inquiry. He was surprised when the panel told him that “in many cases” the standard practice was to put a hood on a prisoner as soon as they were captured. In a written witness statement, he said: “If I had been aware that hooding for the purpose of interrogation, stress positions, white noise and/or the deprivation of food, water and/or sleep was being used in 2003, I would have ordered this to cease immediately.” He ordered the banning of the practice in October 2003, following publicity over Mr Mousa’s death.
The then UK Chief of Joint Operations and joint commander of UK forces deployed to Iraq, said: “I decided to order the cessation of all hooding as it had become particularly emotive in light of the death of Baha Mousa. “In any event, given the change in the nature of operations, the security reason for hooding prisoners had, for the most part, fallen away and if prisoners needed to be deprived of their sight, either for our force security or for the protection of the detained person, this could be done by way of blindfolding.” HorrifiedSir John told the inquiry he had not been aware of the ruling by former Prime Minister Edward Heath in 1972 outlawing hooding. Our correspondent said Sir John was also unaware that the Red Cross had raised concerns, several months before Baha Mousa died, about British troops hooding detainees. Sir John said he was horrified by what happened to Mr Mousa and that he felt the reputation of the armed forces was at stake. Only one soldier, former corporal Donald Payne, has been convicted in connection with Mr Mousa’s death – he pleaded guilty at a court martial to inhumanely treating civilians. Six other soldiers who faced a court martial were cleared on all counts in 2007. The inquiry, which began on 13 July last year, has heard that illegal “conditioning” methods were used on the prisoners. They included hooding, sleep deprivation and making them stand in painful stress positions with their knees bent and hands outstretched.

Source:BBC

News – Treasury Secretary David Laws Attacks Labours Spending

News - Treasury Secretary David Laws Attacks Labours Spending

Treasury Secretary David Laws attacks Labour’s spending

The chief secretary to the Treasury has accused the previous government of overruling civil servants on spending in its last few months in office.David Laws told BBC’s Newsnight that ministers ignored accountants’ advice. But the Lib Dem MP said there was no evidence that the former chancellor or the then prime minister were involved. His remarks comes after a review was ordered of all spending commitments and pilot projects signed off by Labour ministers since the start of the year. ‘Oldest trick’Mr Laws told the programme: “I think we’re very concerned indeed that over the last few months of this government there were a lot of spending commitments that were made and some of those may not represent good value for money.” He said that in some cases the decisions “were made against accounting officer advice”. The prime minister and his chancellor have also been critical of what went on in Labour’s last days. David Cameron said they found examples of “crazy” spending, including paying out bonuses to three-quarters of all senior civil servants. In response, former Chancellor Alistair Darling accused the new coalition government of “playing the oldest trick on the book” by blaming its predecessor for the state of the economy. On Monday, it emerged that Liam Byrne, David Laws’ predecessor, had left him a one-sentence letter, saying: “I’m afraid to tell you there’s no money left.” Mr Byrne later told the BBC that the saying “there was no money left” was “a phrase that chief secretaries have to get used to using”.

Source:BBC

News – Manchester And Liverpool terror Students Decision Day

News - Manchester And Liverpool terror Students Decision Day

Manchester and Liverpool ‘terror’ students decision day
Five Pakistani students who were accused of planning a bomb attack will hear if they have won appeals against deportation from the UK.The men were arrested last year in one of the UK’s most high-profile counter-terrorism operations. The security services believed they were planning to attack within days, but none of the students was charged. The group were told they would be banned from the UK, but five appealed, saying police and MI5 had got it wrong. The controversial affair began last April when the Metropolitan Police’s then head of counter-terrorism, Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick, accidentally revealed details of the investigation. Shortly afterwards, police raided a series of locations across Liverpool, Manchester and Lancashire, eventually detaining 11 men.
Ten of them were students from Pakistan, who were all either close friends or loosely known to each other. Former prime minister Gordon Brown said at the time that the security services were “dealing with a very big terrorist plot”. A covert investigation by MI5 had led officers to believe that one of the men, Abid Naseer, was the leader of a cell that was being guided by al-Qaeda in Pakistan. No explosives were found and all of the men were released without charge after two weeks. But they were immediately detained again under immigration laws after the then home secretary sought their deportation saying they were still a threat to national security. After several months in prison, all but two left the UK. The remaining pair, Abid Naseer and Ahmad Faraz Khan, say they want to stay in the UK. They both deny the allegations that they are involved in terrorism or al-Qaeda. Three of the detainees who left the country, Abdul Wahab Khan, Shoaib Khan and Tariq ur Rehman are also appealing against the deportation order. The decision over the men’s future will be taken by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. The semi-secret tribunal has public sessions, but also hears evidence from MI5 officers behind closed doors. Its ruling on whether the deportations are fair will indicate whether the courts accept MI5′s assessment of the men. In his own report into the investigation, Lord Carlile, the terrorism laws watchdog, said that none of the arrests had been made “on a full evidential foundation” but that officers had moved in because they feared for public safety. He said the police were “probably right” to launch such a massive operation, with gun-point arrests in public places – but added that detectives should have sought the advice of specialist prosecutors much earlier.

Source:BBC

News – John Bercows Critics To Challenge His Role As Speaker

News - John Bercows Critics To Challenge His Role As Speaker

John Bercow’s critics to challenge his role as Speaker
By James Landale
Deputy political editor
John Bercow is set to become the first Speaker in living memory to have his re-appointment challenged by a vote in the House of Commons.Normally incumbent speakers are “re-elected” unanimously without the need for the Commons to divide. But a handful of MPs are determined to force a vote on Tuesday so they can voice their objections to Mr Bercow and allow the Commons to express a view. MPs have not voted out an incumbent Speaker for 175 years. The last was Speaker Manners-Sutton, an old Etonian high Tory opposed to political reform, who was ousted in 1835 by a Whig-dominated parliament determined to push through radical change. Ayes vs NoesAfter lunch on Tuesday, at about 1430 BST, the august figure of Sir Peter Tapsell MP will rise to his feet. Sir Peter is Father of the House of Commons, a role he has assumed because he is now the MP who has been in Parliament for the longest unbroken period, in his case since 1966. In this role, he is in charge when there is no Speaker and it is he who will ask Mr Bercow if he is willing to stand again. In a moment of rare brevity, Mr Bercow will indicate that he would be honoured to continue to serve and remain in his sumptuous lodgings beneath Parliament’s clock tower.
The former Conservative Defence Secretary, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, will then make the case for Mr Bercow to stay put. When Sir Malcolm has said his piece, Sir Peter will put the motion “that John Bercow do take the chair of this House as Speaker”. There will be many shouts of “aye” but a handful of MPs will shout “no”. They will include people like the Conservative MP Nadine Dorries and the Labour MP Kate Hoey. Mr Bercow’s opponents object to his decision to ditch some of the Speaker’s ceremonial dress, his wife’s pro-Labour messages on Twitter, and what they claim is his lack of authority, respect and impartiality in the House. No whipSome Labour MPs believe he has failed to defend them and others from the new expenses regime which they consider to be harsh and unfair, particularly to those with young children. Some MPs also believe the new House should have the right to choose a new Speaker. There are some MPs who hope that Sir Peter will ignore the “noes” if they are too few and too quiet. But most expect that Sir Peter will have no choice but to call a division. John Bercow has his opponents, but he will win. Why? Most of the front benches will support him. There is no official whip – this is a House of Commons not a party matter – but the main party leaderships do not want a row over the Speakership and will make their support for Mr Bercow known. Some senior Tories at the highest level of government have their reservations about Mr Bercow, but will bite their lips. Most new MPs will support him. Remember there are 227 new MPs and most are still trying to find out where their lockers and loos are located. It will be their first time in a division lobby. Woe betide any who incur the unofficial wrath of their whips so early on in this Parliament. Or make a fool of themselves by voting in the wrong lobby by mistake. It is not a secret ballot. Thus anyone who votes against the Speaker will be known and can expect to be called but rarely in future debates. The procedure committee earlier this year recommended that the re-election of the Speaker be a secret ballot. But the then Leader of the House of Commons, Harriet Harman, chose never to put this recommendation to a vote in the Commons. Tory MPs say she told them that she did not want to give them “John Bercow’s head on a plate”. If there were a secret ballot, Mr Bercow’s fate would be much less secure. But, watch for the abstentions. Many MPs who object to Mr Bercow will register their opposition by just not voting at all. This is not a whipped division – they do not have to turn up.

Source:BBC

News – New Rules Aim To Reduce Volcanic Ash Flight Disruptions

News - New Rules Aim To Reduce Volcanic Ash Flight Disruptions

New rules to allow planes to fly at higher ash densities for a limited time will be introduced at noon, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has said.To fly in the ash zone, airlines will need to get agreement from their aircraft and engine manufacturers. The authority’s move was welcomed by airlines, regulators and manufacturers after thousands of passengers were stranded by UK airport closures. Airline chiefs have heavily criticised the earlier no-fly zone system. ‘Exceptional features’All flight restrictions have now been lifted, after the volcanic ash cloud over UK airspace moved away, but knock-on disruption continues. Airport operators are advising passengers to check for delays to their flights with airlines.
Air traffic control company Nats said it was “delighted” by the new measures, which meant there were “no predicted restrictions on UK airspace in the immediate future”. CAA chief executive Andrew Haines said “unprecedented situations” required “new measures” and the challenge posed by the volcano could not be underestimated. “The world’s top scientists tell us that we must not simply assume the effects of this volcano will be the same as others elsewhere. “Its proximity to the UK, the length of time it is continuously erupting and the weather patterns are all exceptional features. “The answer can only come, therefore, from aircraft and engine manufacturers establishing what level of ash their products can safely tolerate.” Jim French, chief executive of budget airline Flybe, said he welcomed the move. Airline criticismHe said the airline had been forced to cancel 381 flights during the past 48 hours but if the new criteria had already been in place, it would have only affected 21 flights. Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said the CAA, aircraft and engine manufacturers and airlines had been working “extremely hard” to “get people flying”.
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Ash cloud forecast
17 May 1800 GMT
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Airlines had been calling for the system – which uses Met Office data to set out no-fly zones – to be revised. British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh has said blanket bans on flying were “a gross over-reaction to a very minor risk” and called for a “much better and more sensible” approach. Meanwhile Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said reliance on “outdated, inappropriate and imaginary” computer-generated volcano concentration charts was “ridiculous”. On Sunday, Virgin Atlantic president Sir Richard Branson called the closure of Manchester airport “beyond a joke”. The CAA had already raised the density threshold level that forces a flight ban once, following six days of airport closures in April. As it stands, scientists and engineers have agreed a maximum concentration of ash of 0.002g per cubic metre of air, but that will be doubled later for limited flights to 0.004g. Since the Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted last month, throwing huge amounts of ash into the air, thousands of flights have been delayed or cancelled across Europe due to fears that ash could turn into molten glass within a hot jet engine, crippling the aircraft. The latest UK disruption saw airspace over Northern Ireland close first on Saturday, before the cloud moved south and grounded flights in many parts of the UK on Sunday. On Monday, thousands of passengers were left to rebook their flights or to wait in airports for new departure times.

Source:BBC

News – US Parties In Key Elections Test

News - US Parties In Key Elections Test

US parties in key elections test
Americans in several states are preparing to go to the polls to decide on party candidates for November’s mid-term elections.The outcome of these primary ballots will be seen as a key indicator of the volatile political mood in America. Two sitting Democratic senators are facing serious intra-party challenges, while the conservative Tea Party movement may claim a win in Kentucky. Polls suggest anti-incumbent sentiment is rife across the US. “In America today voters don’t like or trust government, business or even the Catholic Church,” Republican strategist Mark McKinnon told the BBC. “The worst thing you can be is an incumbent. The Pope would have a hard time getting re-elected right now.” Challenge from leftVeteran Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter, who was first elected in 1981, is fighting for his political life against two-term Democratic House Representative Joe Sestak. Formerly a Republican, Mr Specter switched parties, becoming a Democrat in April 2009. At the time, Mr Specter said it was because Republicans had shifted too far to the right, but pundits speculated that the switch was motivated by a looming primary challenge from a conservative Republican. Now, Mr Specter may well lose to a challenger from his left, Mr Sestak, in a campaign where the former’s many years of experience and political weight in Washington have become liabilities.
The latest polling shows the pair in a dead heat. In Kentucky, two Republican candidates are vying for their party’s nomination for a Senate seat vacated by retiring Senator Jim Bunning. Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson has been anointed by the Republican establishment, most notably Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and former Vice-President Dick Cheney. But Rand Paul, son of one-time presidential candidate Ron Paul, has harnessed conservative grassroots energy, mounting a serious challenge to the party establishment’s favourite. Driven by the burgeoning Tea Party movement, a win for Rand Paul would be the second victory in a matter of weeks for Tea Partiers, who recently helped displace sitting Utah Senator Bob Bennett as the Republican candidate in that state. Outsiders’ energyAlso on Tuesday, a special election will be held to replace Democratic Congressman John Murtha, who died in February this year.
Mr Murtha’s seat was long considered a Democratic stronghold, but Republican candidate Tim Burns is polling well. Both parties are viewing this race as an important preview of November’s elections. They have funnelled over 2m (1.4m) into the race and former President Bill Clinton recently campaigned there for the Democratic candidate. “A Republican win in that seat could signal a really big Republican year,” Scott Rasmussen, president and CEO of polling firm Rasmussen Reports, told the BBC. But Mr Rasmussen cautions against over-interpreting the results for any one race. Rather, he says, the results should be looked at in concert. “You have to look across the board. If Rand Paul wins his primary, if Joe Sestak wins his, and if the Republican wins [John Murtha's former seat], then the energy really is with the outsiders,” says Mr Rasmussen. And insiders, as far as the public is concerned, appear to include Republicans.
Blanche Lincoln’s vote in favour of health care reform may cost her dear
“Rand Paul is really campaigning against Mitch McConnell. If he wins, that will send a clear message that Republicans aren’t immune,” Mr Rasmussen says. “It’s not that people have fallen in love with Republicans suddenly.” But Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of the Gallup Poll, warns Americans not to interpret Tuesday’s results “to excess”. “Every race is idiosyncratic to that district or that state,” Mr Newport told the BBC, pointing out that, for example, Arlen Specter’s long history with Pennsylvania voters animates that contest. In Arkansas, incumbent Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln has problems on both the right and the left. Ms Lincoln’s support for the economic bailout and health care reform angered Arkansas conservatives. Meanwhile, liberals criticise Ms Lincoln for not supporting cap-and-trade energy legislation. Appeasing the left could help her win her primary, but would certainly lead to a loss in the general election. Ms Lincoln, like many Democrats in conservative states, has found herself between a rock and a hard place.

Source:BBC

News – Top EU Diplomat Ashton Begins Anti-piracy Tour

News - Top EU Diplomat Ashton Begins Anti-piracy Tour

Top EU diplomat Ashton begins anti-piracy tour
By Peter Greste
BBC News, Nairobi
The EU’s top diplomat is to visit East Africa at the start of a tour aimed at curbing piracy off Somalia’s coast.The EU High Representative, Catherine Ashton, has said she wants to encourage a regional approach to the problem. In Nairobi, she will be confronted by Kenyan leaders fed up with carrying what they say has been the burden of responsibility for dealing with piracy. Kenya has agreed to prosecute pirates caught at sea by the EU force – the only nation in the region to do so. It was to have been part of a wider regional effort. But so far no other country has agreed to let suspects into their legal system, and the Kenyans have called a halt to their own prosecutions. A spokesman for Baroness Ashton said she wanted to find out what the EU could do to get them to resume. She is also planning to head to Tanzania to encourage political leaders there to share the legal burden, before she finishes her tour in the Seychelles. The spokesman said she would attend a regional ministerial conference aimed at forging a more unified approach to the problem. But piracy is a symptom of the lawlessness in Somalia, and unless they can find a way to deal with that, it’s likely to remain a headache.

Source:BBC