Tag Archives: Crime

Georgia City Considers Mandatory Gun Ownership

Via Wikipedia.

A Georgia city is considering a proposal requiring every homeowner to own a gun.

Nelson Councilman Duane Cronic said it would be a deterrent to crime. “When he’s not here we rely on county sheriffs – however it takes a while for them to get here,” he said. “It’s a deterrent ordinance. It tells the potential intruder, ‘You better think twice.’”

Kennesaw, Georgia has already mandated gun ownership, though the law is not enforced. In addition, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin sheriff has urged people to “get in the game” with a gun instead of calling 911 during emergencies.

Meanwhile, according to a Harvard University School of Public Health survey, more people die from gun homicides in areas with higher rates of gun ownership.

Via ThinkProgress.

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Brazilian Court: Man Who Had Sex with 12-Year-Olds Can’t Be Convicted of Rape

Brazil Português: Brasil Русский: Бразилия

Brazil Português: Brasil Русский: Бразилия (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Human rights advocates are furious about a decision by a Brazilian appeals court finding that a man accused of having sex with three twelve-year-old girls could not be convicted of rape.

The court found that having sex with a minor is not necessarily constitute statutory rape when there are extenuating circumstances. In this case, those circumstances included that the girls had worked as prostitutes.

Maria do Rosario Nunes, Brazil’s human rights minister, pledged to get the decision overturned.

The court’s president said the court is open to revising the decision.

Via The Washington Post.

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Belarusian Woman Fights to Save Son from Execution

Map of death penalty

Image via Wikipedia

In November, Lyubou Kavalyova’s son was sentenced to death for participating in a terrorist attack in Belarus, based only on a confession allegedly obtained by torture.

Ms. Kavalyova and people across Europe are racing against the clock to save her son, Uladzislau Kavalyova, and his friend Dzmitry Kanavalau from being put to death for a crime that Belarusians (even victims of the attack) believe they did not commit.

Almost 20,000 people have signed Ms. Kavalyova’s petition, prompting officials from the European Council and the Parliament of Europe to join her campaign. As the international pressure grows, so does the possibility of Europe’s highest offices intervening to tell Belarus to stay the executions. Click here to sign the petition and demand that European officials intervene to save Ms. Kavalyova’s son and his friend from execution in Belarus.

Uladzislau Kavalyova and Dzmitry Kanavalau could be killed any day; in 2010, Belarus executed two men without informing their families of the time of their executions.

Belarus is the last country in Europe with the death penalty, so global outcry could make their fate a European issue and put the brakes on their execution.

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Nigeria Imposes Curfew in Response to Attacks that Kill Scores

Locator Map Kano-Nigeria

Image via Wikipedia

Nigeria imposed a twenty-four-hour curfew today in the city of Kano after assailants killed scores of people in a hail of gunfire and bombings of eight government sites.

At least 156 people were killed.

Fifty people were injured in the attacks. Search and rescue operations are under way and volunteers are working to aid the injured.

The attacks targeted several police stations, barracks and the building housing the assistant inspector general of police in Kano, Nigeria’s second largest city.

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BREAKING: Body Found in Washington Likely to be Park Ranger Shooter

English: Mount Rainier, Mount Rainier National...

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There is a strong probability that a body found Monday buried in the snow is that of a man sought for questioning in the shooting death Sunday of a ranger at Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park, an official with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said.

“At this point, we’re just waiting to confirm it,” said Ed Troyer with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.

The discovery came after a manhunt had been under way for the man, whom authorities sought in connection with the shooting of park ranger Margaret Anderson.

Ms. Anderson, 34, was shot to death during a traffic stop.

Federal and local authorities identified the man they were searching for as Benjamin Colton Barnes.

Mr. Barnes also was sought in connection with a shooting Sunday in the Seattle suburb of Skyway that left four people wounded.

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Jerry Sandusky Sits Down with The New York Times

Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky sat down with The New York Times in his first extended interview since his indictment on sexual abuse charges. The interview lasted nearly four hours over two days. Mr. Sandusky agreed to the interview because he said prosecutors distorted his decades of work with children had been distorted by prosecutors.

In it, Mr. Sandusky said Coach Joe Paterno never spoke to him about any suspected misconduct. Mr. Sandusky also said the charity he worked for never restricted his access to children until he was the subject of a criminal investigation in 2008.

The failure by Mr. Paterno to act aggressively after being told in 2002 that Mr. Sandusky molested a ten-year-old boy in the showers of the university’s football building played a role in Mr. Paterno’s firing last month after sixty-two years at Penn State. Mr. Sandusky said that Mr. Paterno did not confront him over the accusation, despite the fact that Mr. Sandusky had been one of his assistant coaches for three decades and was a regular presence at the football team’s complex for years after the 2002 episode.

Mr. Sandusky insisted he never sexually abused a child, but he confirmed events that prosecutors cited in charging him with forty counts of molesting young boys, all of whom came to know Mr. Sandusky through the charity he founded, the Second Mile.

Mr. Sandusky said he gave money to the disadvantaged boys at his charity, opened bank accounts for them, and gave them gifts that had been donated to the charity.

Prosecutors have said Mr. Sandusky used such gifts as a way to build a sense of trust and loyalty among boys he then repeatedly abused.

Mr. Sandusky described what he admitted was a family and work life that could often be chaotic, one that lacked some classic boundaries between adults and children, and thus one that was open to interpretation.

He said his household in State College, Pennsylvania, came to be a kind of second home for dozens of children from the charity, a place where games were played, wrestling matches staged, sleepovers arranged, and from where trips to out-of-town sporting events were launched. Asked why he interacted with children who were not his own without the typical safeguards other adults might apply (showering with them, sleeping alone with them in hotel rooms) he said that he saw those children as his own.

He characterized his close experiences with children he took under his wing as “precious times,” and said that the physical aspect of the relationships “just happened that way.”

To read the article from which this excerpt was taken (with editing for content and space), please click over to The New York Times.

 

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Nuon Chea: Khmer Rouge Not “Bad People”

The Number Two leader of Cambodia’s brutal Khmer Rouge regime told a court he and his comrades were not “bad people,” denying responsibility Monday for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians during their 1975-1979 rule.

Nuon Chea’s defiant statements came as the U.N.-backed tribunal began questioning him for the first time since the long-awaited trial of three top regime leaders began late last month.

Nuon Chea and two other Khmer Rouge leaders are accused of crimes against humanity, genocide, religious persecution, homicide and torture stemming from the group’s reign of terror. All have denied wrongdoing.

Via the Associated Press.

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Massey to Pay $209 Million for Mine Explosion; Families of 29 Dead Get $47 Million

In the largest ever settlement of a mine disaster, Alpha Natural Resources agreed to pay $209 million in restitution and penalties for the role of its subsidiary, Massey Energy, in a 2010 mine explosion that killed twenty-nine men in West Virginia.

That amount includes $46.5 million allocated to the families of the victims and those who were injured in the blast.

The settlement includes terms that protect Alpha, but not individual Massey executives, from prosecution.

The settlement, first reported by the Charleston Gazette, follows months of investigative work by officials from the Departments of Justice and Labor and an independent commission appointed by the former West Virginia governor. The findings placed the blame for the blast squarely on Massey and its reckless disregard for safety standards.

Today’s announcement, which will be made public after federal investigators meet with families of the victims, will detail criminal responsibility, that Alpha and Massey accept.

Massey, which Alpha purchased in June, dismissed charges that its actions led directly to the disaster.

The settlement does not protect Massey managers. Eighteen executives refused to be interviewed by federal investigators, invoking their Fifth Amendment rights.

In addition to the $46.5 million payout to victims and families, the agreement includes $80 million to bolster safety and infrastructure in underground mines owned by Alpha and Massey; $48 million to set up a foundation to be used to finance academic research on mine safety; and about $35 million in fines and fees that Massey owed to the Mining, Safety and Health Administration, a branch of the Department of Labor.

Alpha also must put in place enough safety equipment, ventilation, and methods of clearing explosive rock dust out of all its underground mines within ninety days.

The company will be required to build a state-of-the-art training facility in West Virginia, including a mine lab where it will be able to simulate mining disasters.

A report released in March by the team appointed by former Governor Joe Manchin III determined the disaster could have been prevented if Massey observed safety standards. The report accused Massey of a pattern of negligence, which allowed a “perfect storm” of poor ventilation, non-functional safety mechanisms, and combustible coal dust.

The investigators dismissed Massey’s claims that the blast had occurred because a sudden burst of methane bubbled from the ground, saying evidence contradicting that theory included the bodies of the miners found near the main explosion.

Federal officials have said that in the year prior to the explosion, safety inspectors cited Upper Big Branch 515 times and ordered it to shut down operations fifty-two times. Federal investigators have also said that Massey kept two sets of books so that accounts of hazardous conditions in Upper Big Branch would be kept hidden from inspectors.

Via The New York Times.

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Republicans Make Border-Fence Promises They Can’t Keep

Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have promised to complete a 1,950-mile fence. Michele Bachmann wants a double fence. Ron Paul pledged to secure the nation’s southern border by any means necessary. Rick Perry says he can secure it without a fence.

A border that is sealed off to all illegal immigrants and drugs flowing north is a promise none of them could keep.

Governor Perry, the governor of a state that makes up roughly 65% of America’s border with Mexico, knows that. What he’s actually pledging is achieving “operational control” of the border, defined by the U.S. Border Patrol as areas where it can detect, respond to and interdict illegal activity either at the border or after entry into the U.S.

The U.S. Border Patrol says 873 miles of the border, about 44%, are under operational control. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has said that “the border is better now than it ever has been.”

Even getting this far required bolstering the ranks of the Border Patrol to the highest levels ever, nearly double the 9,500 in 2004. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has a record number of agents on the border. Five Predator drones patrol strategic parts of it, with a sixth coming by the end of the year. About 650 miles of fencing has been constructed, and 1,200 National Guard soldiers dispatched last year to Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico have had their deployment extended through the end of 2011.

Last week, Mr. Gingrich signed a pledge to build a fence stretching the length of the border by 2013. That may help him recover from a statement that illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. for many years should be allowed to stay in the country.

Gov. Perry has opposed the fence, saying it would take ten to fifteen years to build, cost $30 billion, and wouldn’t work anyway. He wants to flood the border with more National Guard troops. He also wants to build fencing in high-traffic areas and make better use of surveillance. Gov. Perry claims that would mean operational control by January 2014.

Mr. Romney, meanwhile, has publicly agreed with Perry that tackling larger immigration policy reform is impossible without first securing the border.

U.S. authorities already have made strides toward that goal. The number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. peaked at 12 million in 2007, but then dropped by almost 1 million through 2009, and has largely held steady since then at about 11.1 million.

Apprehensions of illegal immigrants have fallen. In 2011, the Border Patrol captured the lowest number of illegal immigrants on the southwestern border in four decades.

The U.S. economy makes would-be illegal immigrants less likely to come. Those who do must contend with Mexico’s drug war, which has seen cartel gunmen slaughter people heading north and dump their bodies in mass graves. The trip is now so risky that the number of illegal immigrants using pricey people smugglers has spiked.

Spillover into the U.S. of Mexican drug violence is difficult to measure. El Paso, Texas, ranks among the safest cities in the U.S., even though it’s across from violence-torn Ciudad Juarez.

Via Yahoo!

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Ohio “Heartbeat Bill” Divides Anti-Choice Movement

A rift over legal tactics has split the anti-abortion movement, with leaders facing a Tea Party-like insurrection from many grass-roots activists impatient with the pace of change.

Established anti-abortion leaders like National Right to Life and Catholic bishops have pushed for chipping away at the edges of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion.

Activists and evangelical Christians are pressing for an all-out legal assault on Roe. v. Wade in the hope that the Supreme Court is ready to consider a change in the ruling.

The rift widened last month over a “personhood” amendment in Mississippi that would have barred all abortions by giving legal rights to embryos. It was voted down.

A bill before the Ohio legislature that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detectable (six to eight weeks into pregnancy) is the latest effort by activists to force a legal showdown. The “heartbeat bill” is tearing apart the state’s anti-abortion forces.

Ohio Right to Life and the state Catholic conference have refused to support the measure, arguing that the court is not ready for such a radical step and that it could cause a legal setback.

Defenders of abortion rights, in turn, call banning abortions at the first sign of a heartbeat a patently unconstitutional proposal that is doomed to failure.

The refusal of Ohio Right to Life to get behind the heartbeat proposal has led to bitter dissent. In the last two weeks, six county chapters have angrily withdrawn from the organization including the Cincinnati chapter, the state’s oldest and largest.

The bill is awaiting action in the Republican Senate. If it passes, which some expect to happen this winter, Gov. John R. Kasich, a conservative Republican, is likely to sign it.

National Right to Life, the umbrella group for state chapters, has taken no position on the heartbeat bill or on the fracturing of the movement.

The heartbeat bill, if not as sweeping as personhood, has a more visceral public appeal and avoids some of the pitfalls of the personhood proposal, posing no threat to contraception or critical medical care. The law would prevent a majority of abortions, perhaps 80% to 90%. Doctors who do abortions in violation would be subject to a felony charge, fines, and loss of their medical license, but the women would not face charges. The bill would allow an abortion if a woman’s life or a major bodily function were in danger. Abortions for victims of rape or incest would not be allowed.

In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court established a right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb. Proponents of the heartbeat bill acknowledge that federal courts would declare it unconstitutional. Their hope is that the Court would take it on and that Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is open to rethinking Roe.

Via The New York Times.

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