Friday, May 31, 2013

Shale Oil Boom Rattles OPEC

Shale Oil Boom Rattles OPEC [Updated]

Boom! go the hydrocarbons.

By: Steve Maley (Diary) | May 31st, 2013 at 08:30 AM | 14


At a critical Friday meeting in Vienna, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will set production policy. For the first time, they will be grappling with the challenges of shale oil, even none of the member states are major shale oil producers.

The shale boom began in the U.S. as a ripple in North Dakota and Texas. Some thought its impact would be limited and regional, not global. Now that uptick on our domestic production curve has triggered a tsunami with geopolitical implications.

That’s because the U.S. does not need 100% energy independence to get OPEC’s attention. Due to production but also conservation and a protracted recession, our need for imported oil has contracted from 60-70% of consumption to about 40%, headed south. As the world’s largest crude oil market, changes in our domestic supply picture must necessarily reshuffle the import mix. Remember how skeptics argued that the shale boom is “a mirage“? I have often maintained that domestic supply increments of 500,000 barrels per day can be significant in a worldwide 90 million bpd marketplace. We’re starting to see that play out, albeit in some surprising ways.


OPEC Divided Over U.S. Oil Boom

U.S. crude production has risen to a 21-year-high as a new combination of technologies has unlocked large resources of oil previously trapped in shale rock in North Dakota and Texas. In tandem, exports from three of OPEC’s African members: Nigeria, Algeria and Angola to the U.S. have fallen to their lowest level in decades, dropping 41% in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

In contrast, Saudi shipments of oil to the U.S. increased 14% in 2012.

This disparity looks set to deepen power struggles that have dominated OPEC in recent years. Iran, Venezuela and Algeria, who need high oil prices to cover domestic spending and offset falling production, have regularly clashed with Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia, who have the financial strength to withstand lower prices.

As it turns out, North Dakota oil is light and “sweet” – low in sulfur. Consequently, it displaces imports from places like Nigeria which produces a similar crude. Saudi Arabia’s incremental production tends to be heavier and “sour”, and so is still in demand in refineries in the Gulf Coast and elsewhere that had been reconfigured for a lower quality blend as domestic supplies of lighter crude dwindled.

Since oil revenue is the main pillar of GDP in all the OPEC member countries, the ones with eroding market share (hence eroding revenues) feel the pinch right away:

Saudi Arabia can tolerate lower prices, said Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at London-based Energy Aspects Ltd. “There will be some members, like Venezuela, Iran who will struggle at $90,” she said.

Iran needs high prices to offset the loss of $26 billion of oil revenues last year from tough Western sanctions on its exports, according to estimates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Algeria, which has been rattled by frequent riots over food and housing, needs an oil price of $121 a barrel to cover its planned domestic expenditure, according to the International Monetary Fund.

OPEC is not expected to start cutting production quotas, but with Nigeria expressing “grave concern” and one delegate from the Gulf States acknowledging “We are heading toward some problems,” the day of reckoning may not be far off.

UPDATE: OPEC keeps oil target same, puts off tougher actions

VIENNA — OPEC oil ministers reached quick agreement Friday on keeping output targets steady but deferred solutions on how to deal with surging U.S. shale oil production and internal rivalries denting the organization’s image of unity.

The 12-nation oil cartel’s decision on keeping the status quo on production of 30 million barrels a day was expected. The price for internationally traded benchmark oil is over $100 barrels a day, level most OPEC countries are happy with.

Cross-posted at


Fort Hood Fiasco, UK Jihad Denial, and More

Fort Hood Fiasco, UK Jihad Denial, and More

by David J. Rusin  •  May 31, 2013 at 9:16 am

Islamist Watch (IW) maintains an extensive archive of news items on nonviolent Islamism in the Western world. The complete collection can be found here; lists organized by topic are accessible on the right side of the IW homepage.

The following are some of the recent developments covered in the IW database:

Fort Hood jihadist earns $278,000 while survivors suffer

The U.S. Army's classification of the Fort Hood massacre as "workplace violence" deprives its victims of key benefits, but Major Nidal Hasan has been paid $278,000 and counting since his murderous rampage in November 2009. According to the Army, his salary cannot be halted until he is convicted. Hasan's newly confirmed windfall "makes me sick to my stomach," said Logan Burnett, a reservist shot by Hasan. "There have been times when my wife and I cannot afford groceries." In March, the Army nixed Purple Hearts for soldiers like Burnett, arguing that awarding medals would "set the stage for a formal declaration that Major Hasan is a terrorist."

As survivors look to override the "workplace violence" label in court, several congressmen are pressuring the Pentagon directly. Two House Republicans and one Democrat recently sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that calls the designation "irresponsible" and links it to the "'political correctness' that caused the horrible toll of deaths and injuries at Fort Hood. … We ask that you swiftly reclassify the victims' deaths and injuries as 'combat-related' so that they and their families may qualify for the full scope of benefits provided to service members and DoD civilian employees who are killed or injured in combat." Meanwhile, Congressman John Carter, a Texas Republican, has introduced legislation aiming to thwart future Hasans by granting whistleblower protection to military personnel who report "ideologically based threats" in the ranks. Many had been aware of Hasan's radicalism but stayed silent out of fear.

Left: Nidal Hasan's trial, long delayed by battles over his beard, is scheduled to begin on July 1. He wishes to represent himself. Right: Drummer Lee Rigby, yet another casualty in the jihadists' war against the West.

Woolwich aftermath: Groundhog Day in the UK

The two Muslim fanatics who hacked soldier Lee Rigby to death in London's Woolwich district on May 22 set a new standard for jihadist barbarism in the country, but the response was the same old, same old: Sidestepping religious motives articulated by one of the attackers, Prime Minister David Cameron sought to exonerate their faith by calling the murder "a betrayal of Islam." Furthermore, officials once again promised to tweak the "Prevent" counter-extremism program that has been a colossal failure, police rounded up Britons for "anti-religious" comments, and media followed the usual recipe of emphasizing anti-Muslim backlash, both real and imagined. Trapped in a cycle of denial, we relive the same sorry events over and over.

Considering the establishment's reaction and a post-Woolwich survey that indicates little change in public opinion regarding the fruits of Britain's multicultural experiment, the process that Daniel Pipes dubs "education by murder" clearly has a long way to go in the United Kingdom.

Discrimination against non-Muslims in Muslim-dominated businesses

The IW archive contains many examples of companies charged with discriminating against Muslim employees, but two controversies from England flip the script. First, the Birmingham Employment Tribunal has awarded £2,550 in compensation to Christopher Turton, a Christian who served as a manager at the National Halal Food Group alongside hundreds of Muslims. At issue was an "offensive and racist" internal email suggesting that Turton, described as not being a "Muslim brother," had been given his position because he is white. Turton resigned and filed a complaint.

Second, Christian worker Nohad Halawi, who says that she was wrongly fired from her job in a duty-free shop at Heathrow Airport following a "race hate" campaign, has won the right to appeal her legal case, which she previously lost on a technicality. According to Halawi, her Muslim colleagues bullied Christians wearing crosses, pressured them to convert, distributed extremist literature, and praised 9/11. After management ignored her concerns, she claims that she was terminated when Muslim coworkers branded her as a bigot. Expect more instances of Muslim-on-non-Muslim workplace harassment as demographics continue to shift.

Left: Nohad Halawi emigrated from Lebanon only to find Islamic supremacism in the UK. Right: Mohammed Issai Issaka was photographed raging against a YouTube clip in 2012.

Aussie Muslim who will not stand in court receives accommodation

"A man accused of rioting during last year's violent Muslim protests has been berated for his 'disrespect' after refusing to stand before a magistrate at his court hearing," Australia's Daily Telegraph reports. Mohammed Issai Issaka — whose response to the anti-Islam video Innocence of Muslims allegedly included kicking and punching police officers' shields, "hissing" at police dogs, resisting arrest, and referring to a policewoman as "filth" — maintained that his Muslim faith prevents him from rising as typically required. Magistrate Jacqueline Milledge expressed annoyance, but the dispute ended in pusillanimous surrender nonetheless: Issaka was allowed to wait outside the courtroom while everyone else stood, after which he rejoined the hearing.

As documented by IW in 2012, Muslims increasingly enjoy procedural accommodations in Western courts. Indeed, the Australian case parallels a capitulation three years ago in which an English judge permitted Islamist defendants, who had insisted that rising for anyone but Allah would constitute a sin, to enter the courtroom after she did. The judge explained that she had not wanted to set a precedent by citing them for contempt, but caving sets its own precedent. In the words of a Daily Telegraph editorial about Issaka, special treatment for Muslims is a "deeply concerning step towards separate legal systems. … Like Issaka himself, this cannot stand."

* * *

For additional news and analysis, please visit the IW website.

Related Topics:  Censorship, Demonstrations, Dogs, Entertainment / Media, Free Speech, Government, Halal, Head Coverings / Dress, Interfaith, Legal, Multiculturalism, Police / FBI, Workplace  |  David J. Rusin This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.

NYCity's glitchy 911 system has its hang-ups (The New York Post) and Other Friday, May 31st, 2013 NYC Police Related News Articles


Friday, May 31st, 2013 — Good Afternoon, Stay Safe


- - - - -

City’s glitchy 911 system has its hang-ups

By KIRSTAN CONLEY and LARRY CELONA — Friday, May 31st, 2013 ‘The New York Post’



The city’s top cop yesterday called for a review of the new 911 system, which failed at least three times since its scheduled 3 a.m. launch Wednesday.


The system crashed for 16 minutes Wednesday and six minutes yesterday morning, said NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly.


Call-takers also told The Post it went down again yesterday afternoon.


“This happened again,” Kelly told reporters yesterday morning before the third reported outage. “So it has to be thoroughly examined.”


During the outages, call-takers were thrust back to basic technology — pens and paper, Kelly said.


The system showed a backlog of up to 80 calls in some precincts when no such backlog existed, one source said.


The system also failed for four hours on Wednesday night, while the NYPD tried to change over from the decades-old Sprint system, a source said.


The NYPD had scheduled precinct supervisors and call-takers for extended shifts to handle glitches, sources said.




City’s 911 Operators Use Pen and Paper as Computers Fail

By MARC SANTORA — Friday, May 31st, 2013 ‘The New York Times’



Emergency operators in New York City have been forced on at least three occasions since Wednesday to resort to using pen and paper to record 911 calls and dispatch workers after their computer system went dark.


Officials were quick to say that every call was answered and emergency workers continued to be dispatched across the city.


However, the problem — which officials said halted the relaying of electronic messages between 911 operators and the dispatchers who send out police, fire and emergency workers — came on the first truly hot day of the year, when there is usually a spike in calls.


As a result, calls were being prioritized to ensure that the most serious cases were dealt with first, according to fire officials.


Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, whose department is responsible for oversight of the 911 system, said every call that came in had been answered.


On Wednesday, the system went down for 16 minutes. Operators were forced to fill out slips describing an emergency, Mr. Kelly said, and then use “runners” to send those notes to the dispatchers who work on the same floor in the 911 headquarters in Brooklyn.


Officials believed they had corrected the problem, but the computers went dark for a second time early on Thursday, this time for six minutes, Mr. Kelly told reporters later in the day.


“They thought they had it fixed at 3 a.m. this morning and then obviously this happened again, so it’s being thoroughly examined,” he said.


Shortly after Mr. Kelly made his remarks, the system went dark for around 15 minutes a little after noon.


The problems occurred as the city continues to work to modernize and improve its 911 system, a $2 billion project meant to upgrade a system that has failed in the past, often when needed most.


Most notably, it failed on the morning of the Sept. 11 attacks, when an older system was overwhelmed by the volume of calls.


During a 2010 blizzard, as the city was preparing to install parts of the new system, it was overwhelmed again. A review by an outside consulting firm found persistent problems, and the Bloomberg administration vowed to address the concerns.


Last year, John C. Liu, the city comptroller, released an audit that was scathing in its criticism of the administration, saying it had both mismanaged and overpaid for the 911 upgrade. Now a candidate for mayor, Mr. Liu issued a statement on Thursday affirming his concerns and saying that he was troubled that the city needed to rely on an outside consultant to maintain a functioning 911 system.


The problem, he said, shows “the need to make sure our safety isn’t held hostage to troubled technology that can only be maintained by an outside consultant.”


John J. McCarthy, a spokesman for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, said the problems were not reflective of a broader issue with the changes being made to improve the system.


Rather, he said, the errors occurred as workers continued to switch to the newer system. As part of the change, they must reboot their computers. The reboot has caused the system to go down for brief periods of time, during which operators resort to the old-fashioned pen and paper system.


City officials say they expect the upgrade to be complete by 2015.


The updates being made are with the dispatch system, said Bruce Gaskey, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Citywide Emergency Communications. The current system is 40 years old and has long needed improvements, he said.


“They are getting much more functionality out of this, and as you do in any cutover, you have to work out the kinks,” Mr. Gaskey said.


He said the public would not be affected as problems were addressed.


J. David Goodman contributed reporting.




NYC transitions to new CAD system, experiences outage

By Donny Jackson  — Thursday, May 30th, 2013 ‘Urgent Communications’



New York City’s 911 center yesterday switched to a new computer-aided-dispatch (CAD) system, replacing a legacy system that had been used for more than four decades, according to a key official with the New York Police Department (NYPD).


“It was a huge event for us, because we had been on the same home-grown CAD system for 40 years, so this was a huge cutover,” NYPD assistant chief Charles Dowd said yesterday morning during an interview with Urgent Communications. “We’ve gone from an over-40-year-old, mainframe-based, green-screen [CAD system]—what was originally a modified airline-reservation system that we’ve used for almost 43 years—to a modern, Web-based application.”


Dowd added that the transition to the new CAD system “has been successful, so far.” But the new system later encountered problems, suffering a 12-minute outage yesterday afternoon, according to media reports. However, the system has been working since the problem was addressed, a source told Urgent Communications.


Executed at 3:15 a.m. EDT yesterday, the switch to the new CAD system from Intergraph represented the culmination of a massive effort that included training almost 5,000 employees during the past six months, Dowd said.


Some key advantages to the new CAD system will be real-time, Web-based reporting, AVL display and the ability to support digital dispatch, Dowd said. The NYPD hopes to implement digital dispatch—voice dispatch also will be used for higher-priority assignments—during the “next year or so” to help relieve congestion on its LMR network, he said.


“[Digital dispatch] will dramatically reduce voice air time on the system,” Dowd said. “I would dare to say that it will reduce it at least 50%.”


Ultimately, the new CAD system also will allow New York City to interoperate with other 911 jurisdictions in the region and ease the migration to next-generation 911 architecture, Dowd said.


“It’s a much more user-friendly system, a more flexible system that gives us a lot of reporting tools that we didn’t have previously, and we can interoperate with other regional 911 centers, because we can share CAD information,” he said. “It just makes it so much easier to do things.”




NYPD Stop, Question and Frisk  Search


Stop-and-frisk trial ends with questions

By CYRIL JOSH BARKER — Thursday, May 30th, 2013; 9:39 p.m. ‘The Amsterdam News’ / New York, NY



As the heavily watched, 10-week stop-and-frisk trial comes to a close, both sides gave their closing arguments this week as to why the judge should rule in their favor.


After all the testimony from police officers, experts, those who have been stopped and frisked and even elected officials, the time has come for U.S District Judge Shira Scheindlin to decide if the controversial practice should be modified.


The city presented their closing argument first. They began with a defense of “productivity goals” and their insistence that these are different than quotas. Attorneys said, in labor management terms, that the goals are needed to make sure “officers are out there doing what they’re paid to do.”


Going through all the witnesses who took the stand who claimed they were stopped and frisked by the police, the city explained each stop and why they happened. In many cases, they explained that officers thought those they stopped had guns and were exhibiting behavior making it seem like they did. Things like pulling pants in a way that appeared as if witnesses had weapons and even a witness’ previous lawsuits with the U.S. Postal Service over discrimination were listed as means for lacking credibility.


Scheindlin questioned whether any of the stops resulted in an arrest or the recovery of a gun. She also questioned statistical data that states that the majority of those stopped are Black and Latino.


“So there were no guns found on any of these people?” Scheindlin asked.


“No, and thankfully,” the city’s attorney said.


Jonathan Moore, co-counsel from Beldock, Levine & Hoffman, wrapped up the plaintiffs’ case. He discussed how the city has not righted the problem despite knowing about it since 1999. Moore argued that in order to remedy practices by the police, the process needs to be one where community groups come to the table to help craft a holistic remedy.


Moore noted that Commissioner Ray Kelly had recently commented on the subject of stop-and-frisk that the NYPD needs to be “preventers” rather than “first responders.” In terms of making quotas, Moore said that even if supervisors didn’t use the word, officers understood that they were being asked to make numbers. He also identified the problem as one of pressure on officers.


Scheindlin said on Monday that she would make a “prompt decision.”


Meanwhile, as the historic Floyd v. City of New York case comes to an end, a Quinnipiac poll reveals that city residents not only oppose stop-and-frisk, but say it will also help determine how they will vote for mayor.


Numbers indicate that voters would be less likely to vote for a mayoral candidate who would continue stop-and-frisk and are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports creating a position of inspector general to independently monitor the Police Department.


Close to 40 percent of voters said they were less likely to vote for a candidate who supports stop-and-frisk and 30 percent said they were most likely to support one who does. Thirty percent said it would not affect their decision.


“It’s clear that New Yorkers understand that stop-and-frisk and a Police Department that polices itself don’t keep us safe,” said Joo-Hyun Kang, a spokesperson from Communities United for Police Reform. “That’s why New Yorkers want a mayor who will implement an independent inspector general and stop discriminatory policing practices like stop-and-frisk.”




Black Candidate for Mayor in NY Would Keep Some of Stop and Frisk
William C. Thompson, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor, says he would keep intact much of the controversial police initiative.

By Jonathan P. Hicks — Thursday, May 30th, 2013; 1:48 p.m. ‘B E T News’ / Washington, DC



An African-American candidate for mayor of New York City said he would maintain portions of the city’s controversial stop and frisk program, in which hundreds of thousands of young people of color are detained by the police each year.


However, William C. Thompson Jr., a former comptroller of New York City, said that it has been a program that has been "misused and abused" and that he remains critical of several aspects of how it has been applied. Thompson is one of several candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for mayor.


“I believe that, when used correctly, it can be a useful police tool,” Thompson said, in an interview with “But it has been misused and abused by the Bloomberg administration and it has resulted in hundreds of thousands of Black and Latino people being stopped inappropriately.”


But in endorsing aspects of the program, Thompson has taken a position that is decidedly at odds with many of the city’s African-American elected officials as well as a number of civil rights groups, who have called for the program to be abandoned altogether. They have long criticized stop and frisk as little more than sanctioned racial profiling.


The program has been championed by Michael R. Bloomberg, New York’s mayor. Bloomberg and his police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, maintain that it is a highly successful program that helps to cut crime, particularly in the city’s African-American and Latino neighborhoods.


Thompson's position on stop and frisk was the talk of political New York on Thursday, when his support for some aspects of the program was widely covered in the media.


"But I have been consistent about my position for some time," Thompson said. "I have not changed it. It is a program that hasn't been implemented well. And I have said that I wouldn't keep Ray Kelly as commissioner if I were elected."


On Wednesday, Thompson received the endorsement of a number of labor unions that represent roughly 100,000 law enforcement officials in New York City.


Thompson’s position is not significantly different from most of his rivals in the mayoral race. But one candidate, John C. Liu, who succeeded Thompson as comptroller, has called for the stop and frisk program to be abandoned.


Stop and frisk has been a signature issue that has been opposed by a number of officials and organizations in New York. It has also been the centerpiece of a class action suit in federal court by a group of plaintiffs who contend that they were detained by police because of their race. A decision is expected within the next few months.




Shira’s ignorance
Judge clueless on policing

By HEATHER MAC DONALD — Friday, May 31st, 2013 ‘The New York Post’

(Op-Ed / Commentary)



Roughly 12 percent of the pedestrian stops made by the NYPD result in an arrest or a summons. US District Judge Shira Scheindlin clearly believes that that number is too low and that it demonstrates NYPD abuse of blacks and Hispanics, who constitute the majority of stop subjects.


Presiding over Floyd v. New York, the marathon stop-question-and-frisk trial against the department that finished last week, Scheindlin frequently echoed another longstanding conceit of the anti-cop advocates: that every person who is not arrested or summonsed after a stop is by definition innocent of any wrongdoing, and has by implication been unconstitutionally stopped.


Expect to see the allegedly “low” rates of post-stop arrests and summonses figure prominently in Scheindlin’s ruling.


Yet Scheindlin, who has no policing experience whatsoever, has no idea what a proper stop-to-arrest ratio should be, nor has any court ever weighed in on the matter. Nor did the lead attorneys in the case (the Center for Constitutional Rights and the elite law firm of Covington & Burling) offer any testimony on the constitutionality of any arrest and summons rates; they merely claimed that a 12 percent ratio represents an abuse of policing power.


So, if Scheindlin rules that that rate is illegal, she’ll be legislating in an area about which she knows nothing and with no evidentiary record on which to base her ruling.


Let’s review the facts.


First of all, just because someone is not arrested following a stop does not mean that he was not preparing for or engaged in a crime:


* If a cop sees someone trying the door handles of cars parked along a street, for example, the officer may have no grounds to make an arrest for auto theft after questioning him, but that individual may in fact have been looking to steal a car. Presumably, Scheindlin herself would want an officer to intervene if he observed such behavior on her block.


* If a public-housing project has experienced a series of sexual assaults in its elevators and stairwells and an officer sees someone loitering nervously in a lobby who then quickly follows a woman up a stairwell, that officer can’t preemptively arrest him for sexual assault — but stopping and questioning him could well avert a crime.


Moreover, even if someone is wholly innocent of wrongdoing, that doesn’t mean that the stop was unjustified — though it does mean that the officer must do everything in his power to explain the grounds for what can be a humiliating, infuriating experience.




Stop, Question and Frisk  /  Misdemeanor Marijuana Arrests in N.Y.C.


NY state Assembly votes to decriminalize public possession of small amounts of marijuana

Gov. Cuomo supports the measure, and Dems say while it's still illegal to have pot, 'it should not be a crime' to possess small amounts. Senate Republicans are balking at the bill.

By Glenn Blain — Friday, May 31st, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’



ALBANY — The state Assembly voted Wednesday to decriminalize the public possession of small amounts of marijuana.


Supporters including Gov. Cuomo say the measure will reform NYPD “stop-and-frisk” tactics in which cops ask people to empty their pockets, then arrest them if they pull out a joint. The bill would make public weed possession a violation instead of a misdemeanor.


“It is still illegal, we are just saying it should not be a crime,” said Assemblyman Karim Camara (D-Brooklyn). Senate Republicans, however, have so far balked at taking up the measure. “We should not be sending a signal across the state that marijuana is okay,” said Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn).




Friday, May 31st, 2013 ‘The White Plains Journal News’ Editorial:


Bill could neuter stop-frisk tactic; senators should echo Katz's vote



There apparently are limits to the hypocrisy of state Assemblyman Steve Katz. Fairness-minded New Yorkers should hope members of the state Senate follow his lead; they have an opportunity to help right a continuing wrong, one especially prevalent in New York City.


Katz, a Yorktown Republican, was the only member of his party to back an Assembly-passed measure reducing the penalty for publicly possessing less than 15 grams of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a violation — same as the penalty for private possession. Smoking in public remains a misdemeanor.


The lawmaker’s support comes on the heels of his own brush with the law. He was charged with marijuana possession and speeding in March after being stopped by state police on the New York State Thruway in Albany County — another in a series of embarrassing episodes involving elected officials and political leaders charged with or convicted of wrongdoing.


Last month, Katz accepted a plea deal in which the pot charge will be dismissed if he does 20 hours of community service and stays out of legal trouble for six months. The events were all the more embarrassing because Katz serves on the Assembly Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee and had opposed a measure permitting the medicinal use of marijuana.


Since the ordeal on the Thruway, Katz has never explained his position on pot, including whether he uses it, leaving to speculation whether “do as I say, not as I do” is his guiding principle.


In any case, the marijuana bill is much bigger than Katz. It would help ameliorate some of the ill effects of New York City’s constitutionally challenged “stop-and-frisk” crime-fighting tool, wherein police detain hundreds of thousands of mostly black and Hispanic youths each year, too often for no articulable reason, or none permissible under the Fourth Amendment, based on mounting evidence from court cases.


Few stops uncover any wrongdoing — such as gun possession. And where charges are filed, the offense is typically for marijuana possession — drugs brought into public view only when the detained person is instructed to empty his pockets. The aggressive use of stop-and-frisk in minority neighborhoods contributes to what has been termed the “grass gap” — minorities leading in marijuana busts, even though whites use the drug in much greater percentages. In interviews, some minority teens — honor students among them — complain of being stopped more than a half-dozen times, without legally sufficient reason.


Of course, the Assembly measure, which passed in a 80-59 vote, would not fix or reform the city’s stop-and-frisk initiative — apparently only the courts and new City Hall leadership can accomplish that. Both Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly voice strong support for the tactic. Reducing the penalty for public possession of pot, however, will lessen some of the sting from the initiative. Katz said in a statement he hoped the bill leads to a “broader discussion of our state’s policies.”


The Senate should follow his knowing lead.




Executioner of S.I. Detectives James Nemorin and Rodney Andrews  (D.O.D.: March 10, 2003)


A bit late to turn tables
Cop killer bids for re-order in the court

By MITCHEL MADDUX and LEONARD GREENE — Friday, May 31st, 2013 ‘The New York Post’



Cop-killing, baby-making convict Ronell Wilson wants to turn the tables on jurors who will decide whether he lives or dies.


A lawyer for Wilson, who was convicted of murdering two undercover cops in 2003, wants a federal judge to rearrange his Brooklyn courtroom to help Wilson look less menacing in the eyes of the men and women deciding his fate.


Wilson was already condemned to die once, until an appeals court overturned the sentence due to a prosecution misstep.


The question of life in prison or death by lethal injection will be in the hands of another jury next month, but not before a federal judge rules on Wilson’s request for the courtroom makeover.


The current court configuration would place the cold-blooded killer and his legal team at the back of the courtroom, with the prosecution table between Wilson and the jury.


Lawyer David Stern wants the defense and prosecution tables turned 90 degrees so that they both face the judge and sit at an equal distance from the jury to the left.


“I write to ask that Your Honor reconfigure the courtroom so that the defendant and his counsel can see the witnesses as readily and from the same perspective as the government lawyers, and we may avoid the possibility that jurors will misconstrue the defendant’s distance from the jury as a reflection of his dangerousness,” Stern said in a letter to federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis.


“The proposed arrangement of the courtroom will enhance the fairness of the trial and ensure Mr. Wilson’s Sixth Amendment right to confront the witnesses against him.”


The prosecution team has not opposed the measure.


Wilson, 31, was convicted in 2007 for the murders of NYPD Detectives Rodney Andrews and James Nemorin on Staten Island during a gun-buy sting.


After Wilson became the first person sentenced to death in New York State in more than 50 years, the unrepentant thug stuck his tongue out at the cops’ families in the courtroom.


In recent months, Wilson made headlines outside the courtroom for fathering a baby — with one of his prison guards.


At least one death-penalty expert doubts the jury would be influenced by the location of the tables.


“My sense is that the jury focuses on evidence presented in the case,” said Paul Cassell, a former federal judge who teaches at the University of Utah law school.


“Generally, those challenges haven’t gotten anywhere.”


Feng-shui expert Laura Cerrano said rearranging the furniture probably won’t earn Wilson any points.


“The energy of a person never lies,” Cerrano said.




Theft of Apple devices drove Big Apple crime spike

BY GREG BEATO  — Thursday, May 30th, 2013 ‘The Villager’ / New York, NY



|During the last 20 years, law enforcement officials, criminologists, journalists and other cultural observers have attempted to solve the mystery of the nation’s declining crime rates. Was the post-1990 drop in murders and other serious crimes due to new police tactics that concentrated resources in unsafe neighborhoods? Maybe. Was it longer prison sentences? The waning crack trade? Increased availability of abortions? Maybe, possibly, perhaps.


Bucking the trend, New York City in 2012 experienced its first overall increase in major crimes in 20 years. But this time, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have decisively fingered the culprit: It was Steve Jobs. Or, rather, the devices Apple produced under his watch.


According to New York Police Department statistics, there were 3,484 more major crimes in 2012 than there were in 2011. (These numbers compare the first 51 weeks of each year.) The rise in the total number of Apple-related thefts — which occurred during burglaries, robberies and grand larcenies — exceeded that number. (The N.Y.P.D. keeps track of seven categories of crime that it deems “major.” They are murder, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny and grand larceny auto. It keeps track of three categories of crime that it deems “minor.” They are petit larceny, misdemeanor assault and misdemeanor sex crimes.)


“If you took out thefts of Apple products — not Galaxies, Samsungs — just Apple products, our total [major] crime rate would be lower than it was last year,” Bloomberg told the New York Post.


Presumably New York City’s criminals are snapping up iPods, iPhones and iPads not because they prefer Apple’s battery-life management over that of its competitors but because the resale market for Apple devices is robust and predictable. According to The Wall Street Journal, high tariffs in countries like Brazil can drive up the price of a new entry-level iPhone 4s to $1,000, so used ones go for as much as $400 there. Here in the U.S., secondhand dealers buying in bulk on craigslist pay as much as $500 for a used iPhone 5. Demand is strong. Resale prices are high. There are millions of iPhones out there, but unlike so many other products in our age of plenty, they have not yet become too abundant to steal.


With other brands, theft is an iffier proposition. That snatchable, seven-inch, non-Apple tablet could have an initial retail price anywhere between $99 and $499, and there may not be much of a secondhand market. This magnifies crime’s inherent risks: No one wants to be the chump who earns a stretch in the Big House for strong-arming some cheapskate out of what upon closer inspection turns out to be a Nook Simple Touch.


Can New York City’s Apple-picking epidemic tell us something about crime in general? Most theories about America’s long-term crime trends share a common characteristic: They attribute the drop to some factor that has depleted the nation’s supply of criminals. One theory, for example, holds that because individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 tend to commit crimes at higher rates than people in other age groups, crime started dropping when the country’s median age began to rise, thus leaving fewer young people per capita to commit crimes. Another theory stresses the correlation between crime and high levels of lead in the bloodstream. When leaded gas was banned, this theory suggests, childhood exposure to high lead emissions began to drop as well, which eventually led to fewer adults with the sort of neurological damage that is associated with criminal behavior.


None of the major crime hypotheses pays much attention to the ways in which the material landscape of America has changed. Yet such changes obviously have at least some impact on crime.


Car theft wasn’t a problem until cars were invented. Apple theft barely existed in New York City a decade ago; according to Ray Kelly, the Police Department recorded just 86 Apple-related crimes in all of 2002. Since then, the company has made its products so portable they’re nearly ubiquitous in public, thus prompting New York City’s criminals to thug different. (On a more positive note, subway thefts involving boom boxes, Sony Walkmen and evening editions of the New York Post are doubtlessly on the wane.)


But if a new, highly desirable product can lead to a dramatic increase in crime, perhaps the opposite is true as well. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “There was a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States from 1990 through 2010,” exactly the same time in which the country began to experience a dramatic decrease in crime rates. Like the drop in crime, the rise in obesity has provoked many hypotheses but few definitive answers. One credible notion, however, is that waistlines have grown out of increasing affluence and abundance. Food got cheaper and far more accessible. Entertainment options and labor-saving devices proliferated. Life got easier, more convenient, and in many ways, far more pleasurable — so much so that we tend to opt for seconds of everything (more pizza, more video games, more social networking) as long as it doesn’t require much exertion.


Think about the ways life has changed since 1990, and specifically about the ways these changes affect young men, who historically have been the cohort most likely to commit crimes. TV sports programming has expanded exponentially. Video games have become far more plentiful and immersive. Hip-hop evolved into a multibillion-dollar lifestyle industry encompassing music, fashion and more. The Internet provided free universal porn. The rise of big-box retailers like Walmart and Target made a wide range of goods increasingly affordable.


Given that millions of well-paying jobs in the manufacturing and construction sectors have been lost during the last 20 years, and that this loss has its greatest impact on the prospects of young men, these consolations may seem meager. Yet look at how young men are expressing their discontent. Murder rates have dropped. Rape rates have dropped. Property crimes have dropped.


Maybe this is all because of lower lead levels. Or maybe, in the same way that technologically driven abundance has made us fatter, it has also made us more content, giving us more opportunities for self-expression, more opportunities to develop meaningful social connections, and more material goods that are so easily obtainable that they blunt the economic imperatives of crime.


Consider what’s happening in New York City with all those non-Apple devices. Physically, they’re no harder to steal than Apples, and there are plenty of them to be found on New York subways. Yet because many non-Apple devices are so inexpensive, they are relatively easy to replace (or perhaps easy to live without), undermining the gadgets’ value from the thief’s perspective. So even as these items proliferate, the rate at which they get stolen is actually dropping.


Apple, meanwhile, is an ironic outlier. The creative tools with which it equipped the world’s designers, developers and media producers played a crucial role in enabling our new world of super-affordable material wealth. Yet despite the increasing ubiquity of iPhones and iPads, worldwide demand for these products remains so strong that they’re still not universally accessible. As a result, they’re still worth stealing.


Of course, if theft of Apple devices increases so much that their air of exclusivity begins to seem like a design flaw, a solution is readily at hand. By flooding the market with bargain-bin iPhone knockoffs, the company could instantly protect its marquee products in ways that anti-theft apps like “Find My iPhone” would be hard-pressed to match. In the end, abundance is the most powerful form of security.




NYPD $$ Lawyer Lotto Bonanza $$:   41 Precinct P.O. Edward McClain


$20M suit for NYPD bike ‘ram’

By M.L. NESTEL — Friday, May 31st, 2013 ‘The New York Post’



The Bronx man who was injured when an NYPD cruiser slammed into a dirt bike he was riding is suing the city and the police for $20 million, claiming the cops were neglectful and motivated by racial profiling, court records show.


Surveillance video of the Aug. 11 incident allegedly shows cops first knocking Adalberto Gonzalez off a dirt bike, then ramming into his pal Eddie Fernandez’s bike when he tried to hop onto it.


Fernandez, 26, died. Gonzalez, 27, suffered a broken leg, spinal trauma and psychological injuries, according to the suit filed in Manhattan federal Court.


“My life is ruined,” said Gonzalez, who was at first accused with reckless endangerment and resisting arrest before the Bronx DA’s office dropped the charges in March.


Earlier this month, Gonzalez paid a $75 fine for riding the motorcycle on the sidewalk. Lawyer Peter Ronai said his client being forced to pay the fine was “overkill.”




NYPD Finest Football


Gridiron Game Pitting Finest vs. Bravest Airs in February During Run-Up to Super Bowl XLVIII
Buck, Aikman and Siragusa Call Sunday's Game at Hofstra University

By Unnamed Author(s) — Thursday, May 30th, 2013 ‘The Futon Critic.Com’

(Edited for brevity and NYPD pertinence) 



New York - The Fun City Bowl is the annual football game between the New York City Police and Fire departments, and FOX Sports is providing unprecedented NFL-quality coverage to this year's clash of heroes.


Lead NFL on FOX play-by-play announcer Joe Buck and analyst Troy Aikman call the action, with Tony Siragusa patrolling the sidelines when the NYPD Finest and FDNY Bravest square-off on Sunday, June 2, at Hofstra University's James M. Shuart Stadium in Hempstead, NY. The game is being produced by an NFL on FOX crew, and this marks the first time the contest between the Finest and Bravest is earmarked for national television. Condensed coverage of the game airs on FOX Sports 1, America's new sports network launching August 17, as a companion to the FOX Sports Originals documentary BEING: THE FINEST. Specific dates and air times are to be announced.


BEING: THE FINEST is a documentary special that examines how the NYPD football team's love of the game is measured through the players' demanding work and home lives. The documentary also pays tribute to Officer Joe Pritchard, a member of the team who was killed in a car accident shortly before the 2013 season began. The Finest have retired Pritchard's No. 1 jersey and carry it with them to practices and games. The team has dedicated this season to him.


The NYPD Finest and FDNY Bravest have faced each other on the gridiron every year since 1973. The Finest lead the all-time series, 26-14, but the Bravest have won the last two meetings. Since 2005, the series is tied, 4-4. The semi-professional teams play in the National Public Safety League and are both non-profit organizations.



About NYPD Finest Football


The NYPD Finest Football team is a registered not for profit that is comprised of active duty New York City police officers who play football while off duty and raise funds for charity. To date, Finest Football has raised half a million dollars for local and national charities. Some of the organizations the team supports through contributions and projects are; the Wounded Warrior Project, the Make a Wish Foundation, NYPD Widow and Children's Fund and the Ronald McDonald House NYC. Players and staff also visit New York City area hospitals delivering mini footballs and coloring books to young patients. In October 2001, at the invitation of the Walt Disney Corporation, the team conducted a stay-in school football clinic for 120 children-at-risk as part of "Disney's Global Celebration of Children." On June 19, 2002 the team was presented with the "Community Partner of the Year" award by the Walt Disney Corporations' Disney VoluntEARS Program.  



About FDNY Bravest Football


The members of the FDNY Bravest Football Club are New York City firefighters who play football to help raise money for various charities. These charities include the UFA Widows' and Children's Fund, the UFA Thomas R. Elsasser Fund, the FDNY Fire Family Transport Foundation and the Wounded Warrior Project. Players practice and play on their own time to raise money for charity each year. Since the team was formed in 1973 the Bravest Football Club has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for its charities. Each year members of the team also visit Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, MD to provide support to our wounded veterans. The Bravest Football Club, Inc. is a registered 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. For more information visit the Bravest Football Club website at .




Sergeants Michael Raso and Lawrence Harvey


Cops shoot at, miss man who pointed  [Imitation]  gun at them in the Bronx
By KIRSTAN CONLEY — Friday, May 31st, 2013 ‘The New York Post’



A cop fired a single shot at a Bronx man pointing a gun at him and his partner and then arrested the gunman and his buddy, who was found to be carrying a fake gun, officials said yesterday.


One member of the police team, Sgt. Lawrence Harvey, suffered a broken hand while trying to arrest Patterson, police said. He was treated at Westchester Square Medical Center and released.


No one else was injured, cops said. Both suspects were charged with weapons possession. Rock was also charged with menacing.


Sgt. Michael Raso’s shot missed Michael Rock, 28, officials said.


Raso and Sgt. Lawrence Harvey were responding to a 911 tip of two armed men near Home Street and Forest Avenue at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday. They approached Marleik Patterson, 23, and Rock, who allegedly pulled a .357 Smith and Wesson but didn’t fire it.


Rock and Patterson were arrested on weapon-possession charges. Rock was also charged with menacing.




Homi of Ret. Crime Scene Sergeant Raymond Sheehan


Battered Wife Barbara Sheehan Loses Appeal, Faces Prison Time

By Murray Weiss — Wednesday, May 29th, 2013; 3:12 p.m.  ‘DNAinfo New York.Com News’ / New York, NY



NEW YORK — A battered Queens housewife, who murdered her former NYPD sergeant husband in self-defense and was acquitted of his death, may still have to go to prison after an appeals court upheld her weapons possession conviction, DNAinfo New York has learned.


The state’s Appellate Division ruled to uphold Barbara Sheehan's conviction in Queens Supreme Court on weapons charges — which carry a five-year prison sentence — stemming from the 2008 fatal shooting of her husband, Raymond. Sheehan shot him 11 times with two different guns inside their Howard Beach home.


After a controversial trial, a jury voted to acquit Sheehan of the top murder charge, finding that she acted in self-defense following a lifetime of emotional and physical abuse at his hands.


But they voted to convict her of weapons possession, after finding that she pumped more bullets than necessary into his dying body as he lay on the floor of their home.


Sheehan's lawyer, Michael Dowd, a renowned defender of battered women, had sought an appeals court decision overturning the weapons possession conviction.


He said Wednesday, "We are disappointed with the decision and think it is a real throwback to the days when domestic violence did not matter."


During a sensational trial that followed a high-profile media blitz including an appearance on “Oprah,” Sheehan maintained that she was a victim of battered-wife syndrome, and had endured years of sadistic and horrific mental and physical abuse.


She testified that on the day she killed her husband, the abuse reached a breaking point, and Sheehan felt that she was going to be killed. After she balked at going on vacation with her husband, he threatened her with a small .38-caliber revolver. He had it with him in the bathroom while he shaved.


When he put the weapon down, she grabbed it and opened fire, hitting him several times.


Then, as he lay on the floor, she took his other gun and pumped more bullets into his mortally wounded body.


It was the additional shots that caused the jurors to find her guilty of the weapons charge since he no longer posed a threat, sources said.


Sources said Wednesday's appeals court decision was 3 to 1.


"The majority of the Appellate Division appropriately respected the judgment of the trial court. It was the trial court that saw and heard all of the evidence in the case. It was the trial court that was in the most informed position to balance the equation of what I have often referred to as a tragedy," Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement, "The case has now been remitted to the trial court to arrange for Ms. Sheehan’s surrender and the execution of sentence."


Dowd said he would ask the state's Court of Appeals to consider reviewing the original lower-court ruling against Sheehan, which could take a few weeks.


If the Court of Appeals decides not to revisit the case, Sheehan will likely have to begin serving her time.


Barbara met Raymond when she was 17 years old at a reception celebrating his brother’s ordination as a priest at her parish, Our Lady of Grace In Queens.


Their marriage in 1983 quickly devolved into an abusive relationship that led her to use her husband’s police weapons on him, she said. His brutality worsened, she testified, after he was promoted to sergeant and he brought home gruesome crime-scene photos. Then he increased his verbal and physical abuse of her, even pointing his weapon at her and threatening to kill her, she said.


“I have seen so many murders that I could probably shoot you and make it look like a stranger did it,” he said, chuckling, according to her. He threw boiling hot spaghetti sauce at her, scalding her.  Some of the brutality was played out in front of her children, who supported her throughout the trial.


During Sheehan's murder trial, lawyers also introduced tales of her husband's sexual deviancy. There were a number of lurid revelations about his taste for kinky sex and his penchant for cross-dressing.


Sheehan, a mother of two grown children, has been living with her son. It is unclear when she would have to begin to serve her sentence.




Retired NYPD officer's wife, acquitted of his murder, loses appeal of gun-charge conviction

By Unnamed Author(s) (The Associated Press)  —  Thursday, May 30th, 2013; 11:13 a.m. EDT



NEW YORK — A New York City woman who shot her retired police officer husband to death has lost her appeal of a weapon-possession conviction.


Barbara Sheehan was acquitted of murder in the 2008 death of her husband, retired NYPD Sgt. Raymond Sheehan.


Sheehan said she fired in self-defense after decades of abuse.


The jury convicted Sheehan of weapon charges that carry a five-year penalty.


Sheehan appealed the conviction.


The conviction was upheld Wednesday by the Appellate Division.


Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said the case will now be sent back to state Supreme Court. It will arrange for Sheehan to surrender and begin serving her sentence.


Sheehan's lawyers said they would ask the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, to reduce her sentence.




Limousine Liberal, 2nd Amendment Adversary and Huge Sphincter Muscle  

Mayor’s Fierce Stand Against Guns Creates Lightning Rod

By MICHAEL BARBARO and JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN — Friday, May 31st, 2013 ‘The New York Times’



Not long after the Connecticut school massacre in December, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took to television, radio and the Web to demand action on gun control.


Online, the floodgates burst open. One commentator called the mayor a “nanny statist fascist.” Another dared him to “come and personally take my guns.”


Now, the vitriol has seemingly turned criminal.


The authorities on Thursday detailed the contents of two letters laced with the deadly poison ricin, one addressed to Mr. Bloomberg and the other to an office of a gun advocacy group that he founded. And on Thursday night, a law enforcement official said a man who lives in East Texas, not far from Texarkana, was being questioned in connection with those letters and a similar letter intercepted in Washington that had been addressed to President Obama, who has also called for more gun restrictions since the school killings. The man came to the attention of investigators after his wife called the authorities, although it was not immediately clear what led her to report her husband, the official said.


The letters sent to Mr. Bloomberg and his advocacy group refers to a “God-given right” to bear arms, according to an official who has read them.


“You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns,” the letters said. “What’s in this letter is nothing compared to what I’ve got planned for you.”  


Mr. Bloomberg never touched the letter, but its message highlights how quickly he has become a cultural touchstone — and lightning rod — in the wrenching debate over guns.  


The authorities said they had not yet determined whether the letter sent to the president contained ricin.


A Secret Service official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the letter appeared to contain an oily, pink substance similar to what investigators found in the letters sent to Mr. Bloomberg and the director of the gun advocacy group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The substance in those two letters tested positive for ricin, which occurs naturally in castor beans and can be fatal when inhaled or ingested.


At a news conference, the New York City police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, said he believed that all three letters were identical and sent by the same person. Officials said the letters bore a postmark from Louisiana.


Inside City Hall, there was little doubt that Mr. Bloomberg’s stance on gun control had made him a target.


Over the past few years, as he has positioned himself as a counterweight to the politically potent gun lobby, he has become perhaps the most visible gun-control advocate in the nation.


He has campaigned across the country to oust elected officials opposed to his agenda. He has scolded the National Rifle Association on the Sunday talk show circuit. He has met regularly at City Hall with relatives of victims of gun violence.


New York City has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, several of them advanced by Mr. Bloomberg. But the mayor, who has spent most of his adult life in the city, has not always seemed to demonstrate an understanding of how the issue is perceived in other parts of the country.


As Congress debated gun legislation earlier this year, he joked about the private sale of guns within families, which can be hard to track. “If you want to sell your gun to your son, maybe you have a problem in your family,” he said on his radio show.


And so even as Mr. Bloomberg’s determination has won him admirers, it has also touched off a fierce backlash.


Opponents of gun control have mocked him as the embodiment of big-government liberalism, a mogul trying to buy his agenda and, most commonly, an out-of-town meddler.  


“Ninety-seven percent of Americans don’t live in New York City, don’t want to live in N.Y.C. and certainly don’t want a New York City mayor telling them how to live their lives,” said Erich Pratt, director of communications for Gun Owners of America, an advocacy group in Virginia. “There is a resentment level to that.”


At times, the attacks on Mr. Bloomberg have been strikingly personal.


Online commentators have branded him the “anti-gun bigot Bloomberg” and, on an extremist white nationalist Web site, a commenter used an anti-Semitic slur to describe the mayor’s policies, referring to his religion.


At a recent meeting of the National Rifle Association, the conservative commentator Glenn Beck unveiled an image of Mr. Bloomberg that had been manipulated so that he was striking the same pose as Lenin once did in Soviet propaganda. “He wants to control every aspect of your life,” Mr. Beck declared.


Current and former City Hall employees said Mr. Bloomberg had often received hostile letters and telephone calls at City Hall in the past.


But they said he had never before received a letter like the ricin-filled one.


Mr. Bloomberg on Thursday visited the mail sorting center in Lower Manhattan where it was discovered.


He thanked the workers and expressed disbelief that someone had sent the letter, which the police said may have briefly sickened several police officers who handled it.


So far, he seemed to be playing down threats to his personal safety.


“This is not the first letter sent to anybody,” said Wednesday night. “It’s a very complex world out there, and we just have to deal with that.”



J. David Goodman and Ashley Southall contributed reporting.




NYC's Bloomberg: 'I feel perfectly safe'

By JENNIFER PELTZ (The Associated Press)  —  Friday, May 31st, 2013; 9:45 a.m. EDT



NEW YORK (AP) - Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been a public face of gun control for years, but he's in a new, unsought spotlight after ricin-laced letters were sent to him and a group he helps lead.


The billionaire hasn't shied from using his political post and his personal fortune to push for gun control well beyond the city limits, garnering both plaudits and complaints that he's overreaching.


The poisoned letters to Bloomberg and the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns essentially threatened that "anyone who comes for my guns will be shot in the face," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Thursday, shortly before the Secret Service disclosed that a similar missive was sent to President Barack Obama.


Bloomberg, speaking Friday on his weekly WOR Radio show, shrugged off any specter of danger.


"There's always threats, unfortunately. That comes with the job," the mayor said. "I trust the police department and I feel perfectly safe. I've got more danger from lightning than from anything else and I'll go about my business."


He added, "We're certainly going to keep working on getting guns off the streets, out of the hands of criminals and people with mental problems."


The letters arrived after Bloomberg played a prominent role in a now-stalled push for new firearms laws in response to the December school massacre in Newtown, Conn.


"The work Mayor Bloomberg does is vitally important to our cause, and our thoughts are with them this week," Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a statement Thursday. He emphasized that the organization doesn't think the letter episode reflects the mass of Americans engaged in the issue.


Thanks to his office and pocketbook, Bloomberg has become a uniquely influential figure in the gun debate.


Vice President Joe Biden said in March that "there has been no support that has been more consequential" than Bloomberg's in the recent, White House-fueled press for new gun restrictions. And the National Rifle Association has made clear it sees Bloomberg as a leading foe, caricaturing him as an octopus on the cover of its magazine in 2007 and branding him an "evangelist for the nanny state."


Representatives for the NRA and another gun-rights advocacy group, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, didn't immediately respond to inquiries Thursday about Bloomberg's stature in the gun-control debate.


As leader of the nation's biggest city, Bloomberg often emphasizes that he feels mayors are on the front lines of a fight against gun violence - and that killings and shootings have dropped to historic lows in New York during his nearly 12-year tenure. And he has pursued the fight elsewhere.


His administration has set up gun-buying stings in other states to highlight what it said were illegal sales, on the premise that many illicit guns in New York were bought elsewhere. The city has sued dozens of out-of-state gun dealers, resulting in court-appointed monitoring for many. One South Carolina dealer ended up pleading guilty to a federal weapons charge.


Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which now includes more than 900 mayors. Financed partly by Bloomberg, the nonprofit group has spread its message through such means as a Super Bowl ad this year and a $12 million ad campaign less than two months later.


The Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-unaffiliated Bloomberg also has spent millions of dollars advancing his gun-control views through political contributions. In one example, his super PAC, Independence USA, spent more than $2 million on ads in the Democratic primary in a special congressional election in Chicago this year.


Bloomberg's favored candidate, then-Illinois state Rep. Robin Kelly, got the seat. And Bloomberg got some criticism that he was butting in where he didn't belong.


"You had someone from outside of the community determining what the issue was for Chicago and that district," Delmarie Cobb, a Democratic political consultant who worked with one of the other candidates, recalled Thursday. Her candidate, Alderman Anthony Beale, called for tougher gun laws himself during the campaign, but he also sought to focus on job growth and other topics.


Bloomberg said at the time he was just a concerned citizen who happens "to have some money, and that's what I'm going to do with my money - try to get us some sensible gun laws."


It wasn't the first time he'd been branded a gun-control interloper. Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne complained in 2011 that Bloomberg had overstepped his power in authorizing investigators to run a sting at a Phoenix gun show. Bloomberg's representatives noted that Arizona-based private investigators carried out the undercover operation.


Now, government investigators are working to figure out who sent the letters to Bloomberg and Obama.


The two directed at Bloomberg were postmarked from Shreveport, La., according to the postal workers' union, which cited information from a Postal Service briefing. The Shreveport postal center handles mail from Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas, Louisiana State Police spokeswoman Julie Lewis noted.


The White House and Bloomberg letters were intercepted at mail facilities before reaching the president or mayor. The third was opened by the mayors' group director, Mark Glaze.


Three New York police officers who examined the letter to Bloomberg experienced minor symptoms that have since abated, authorities said.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ricin is found naturally in castor beans. Exposure can cause difficulty breathing, vomiting and redness on the skin.


The letters were the latest in a string of toxin-laced missives, but authorities would not say whether the letters to Bloomberg and Obama were believed to be linked to any other recent case.


In Washington state, a 37-year-old was charged last week with threatening to kill a federal judge in a letter that contained ricin.


About a month earlier, letters containing the substance were addressed to Obama, a U.S. senator and a Mississippi judge. One of the letters was traced back to Tupelo, Miss., and a Mississippi man was arrested.




Brooklyn D.A.O.


Jailed Brooklyn drug dealer could get new trial after witness was locked up, coerced by prosecutor in hotel room
Ruddy Quezada appealed his 1993 conviction, which led to the revelation of a larger secret program in Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’ office, where witnesses were arrested on warrants and held against their will in various hotels to make them testify.

By John Marzulli — Friday, May 31st, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’



A Brooklyn drug dealer serving 25 years to life for a drive-by slaying may get a new trial because the lone witness was locked up by the prosecutor in a hotel room and allegedly coerced into lying on the stand, the Daily News has learned.


Ruddy Quezada’s appeal of his 1993 conviction has blown the lid off a secret program in Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’ office in which witnesses were arrested on warrants and held against their will in various hotels to force them into testifying.


There were originally two witnesses who fingered Quezada as the gunman in a shooting in East New York that killed innocent bystander Jose Rosado in a spray of bullets on New Lots Ave.


One witness was slain a year later, leaving the case hinging on the testimony of Sixto Salcedo, according to court papers.


The day before he was scheduled to testify, Assistant District Attorney Ephraim Shaban got the judge to sign a material witness warrant by claiming Salcedo refused to meet with him. But instead of bringing Salcedo to court as the warrant ordered, investigators arrested him and brought the witness to the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza Hotel in Queens, where he was kept overnight in a locked room, according to court papers.


Prosecutors denied for years that there was a warrant for Salcedo, but the document surfaced in Quezada’s second federal appeal.


Salcedo recanted his trial testimony in 2001 and also claimed that NYPD Detective Thomas Buda of the 75th Precinct had threatened him with 10 years in prison if he didn’t finger Quezada. Buda, now employed as a consultant to the U.S. State Department, has denied the allegation.


Salcedo’s claim that he lied about Quezada firing a Tec-9 machine gun out the car window is bolstered by drug dealer Freddie Caballero, who has admitted to the feds that he was the gunman. Two other men also came forward confirming Caballero was the shooter, not Quezada.


Brooklyn DA spokesman Jerry Schmetterer said the office “never violated the letter or the spirit of the law by coercing or threatening anyone against their will without judicial intervention.”


Meanwhile, former federal prosecutor Kenneth Thompson, who is challenging Hynes’ bid for reelection, called on U.S. Attorney Eric Holder and Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to investigate the alleged interrogation and detention practices in the DA’s office.


Brooklyn DA investigator Renee Krelik, who guarded Salcedo in the hotel, stated in a deposition that material witnesses were locked in the room and prohibited from leaving, making phone calls or having visitors while in custody.


A “hotel log” maintained by the DA’s office in the 1990s lists dozens of witnesses detained at hotels in Queens, including the LaGuardia Marriott, Adria Hotel, Travel Lodge and Pan American. Krelik said the hotel locations were “confidential.”






FDNY veteran charged with choking fellow firefighter on first day at Brooklyn firehouse
Baraka Smith, 43, was charged with assault and strangulation after putting another smoke-eater into a chokehold during a 9 a.m. dispute at Engine 225 on Lincoln Ave. in East New York.

By Kerry Burke AND Thomas Tracy — Friday, May 31st, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’ 



A city firefighter was charged with assault after he choked a fellow firefighter, officials said Wednesday.


Law enforcement sources said Baraka Smith, 43, was charged with assault and strangulation after putting the other smoke-eater into a chokehold during a 9 a.m. dispute at Engine 225 on Lincoln Ave. in East New York. It was Smith’s first day at that firehouse, they said. The other firefighter passed out and suffered bruises to the neck. Smith was arraigned and released Wednesday night on his own recognizance.


“I was transferred and on my first day at this new firehouse I was approached,” Smith told the Daily News Wednesday night “Within five minutes of getting there, there was an incident. When the facts come out, anyone could argue that it could be a breaking point for almost anyone. I can’t wait for my side to come out.” He wouldn’t say more.


Yet prosecutors had a lot more to say during the incident.


“Say you want to be my b---h?” Smith allegedly screamed before putting his arms around the other man’s throat.


“Let up!” his victim screamed, but Smith wouldn’t, according to court papers.


After a few moments, Smith freed his victim and put his hands up. The injured firefighter fell to his knees, gasped for air and passed out, court papers reveal.


“That’s how I like it ... rough,” Smith said, his hands still up in the air, according to court papers.


The 11-year FDNY veteran has had disciplinary problems in the past, sources said. His attorney, James Kilduff, could not be reached for comment.



Bravest’s hothead history

By PHILIP MESSING — Friday, May 31st, 2013 ‘The New York Post’



FDNY firefighter Baraka Smith — arrested for allegedly choking a fellow smoke-eater because of a perceived insult in a Brooklyn firehouse on his first day there — has a history of anger-management issues, FDNY sources say.


Smith, 43, was charged with assault after choking another firefighter Wednesday morning at Engine 225 in East New York when told there were no available lockers , sources said.


It was at least the third time the 11-year veteran got violent with a colleague, a source added.


Smith also once pushed a female firefighter who put a smoothie drink in a refrigerator in a spot he thought was his, sources said.


Before that, he allegedly busted a piece of “ceremonial furniture” honoring firefighters, the source said.


Smith, reached at home yesterday, politely declined comment.




F.B.I. — New York


NYPD finds stolen FBI car - rifle, bulletproof vest still inside

By REBECCA HARSHBARGER — Friday, May 31st, 2013 ‘The New York Post’



The NYPD found a car stolen from an FBI agent in Queens, law-enforcement sources said.


The Toyota Camry was located in Forest Hills yesterday evening by the 112th precinct squad, sources said. It had been taken from the off-duty agent near his home in Ozone Park on Tuesday night.


The military rifle and bulletproof vest were found located in the car, which was found parked at Yellowstone Boulevard and Kessel Street, authorities said.


Cops were able to track the vehicle through a license plate reader, sources said.


No arrests have been made.


In July, the same agent spotted three men tried to steal his car on


He opened fire, shooting one of the thieves in the back.


Charges were dropped against the suspects, and the Queens District Attorney announced in March that the agent would not be charged criminally with the shooting.




New York State


NYSP Trooper Exam


To All


1. The application period for the upcoming NYSP Trooper Exam 2013 Exam has begun and will end on September 8, 2013. ONLINE applications for candidates are now available on the recruitment website, .


2. Applicants for this exam must be 20-29 on the application-filing deadline. This means that applicants must turn at least 20 years of age or not have their 30th birthday occur PRIOR to September 8, 2013. The maximum age may be extended up to six (6) years for active military service.

3. Please feel free to pass along this information.


4. The written exam to establish a new eligibility list for the position of Trooper will be conducted on the four (4) Saturdays in the month of October 2013. These dates are 10/05, 10/12, 10/19 and 10/26.


5. At this time we are still utilizing the 2008 Exam Eligibility List for any immediate hiring efforts with the last anticipated Candidate Processing session of applicants for a final Basic School class occurring sometime in late summer/early fall which will possibly reach candidate position number 10,000. This is anticipated to be the final canvassing and processing from the 2008 Eligibility List before it is expired.



Trooper Al A. Vasquez

NYC Recruitment

Troop NYC Headquarters

1 Wards Island

New York, NY 10035

Office 917-492-7126

Fax 917-492-7159






New Rules May Rein in Prosecutors in Leak Investigations

By CHARLIE SAVAGE — Friday, May 31st, 2013 ‘The New York Times’



WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., under fire over investigative tactics in leak cases, has opened internal discussions over tightening rules on when prosecutors may seek phone logs and other information that could identify reporters’ sources as he began a series of a meetings on Thursday with leaders of news media organizations.


According to an adviser familiar with the deliberations, Mr. Holder has discussed expanding a requirement for high-level review of proposed subpoenas for reporters’ phone records so that it would include e-mails. He is also examining whether to tighten a standard for when officials may seek such records without giving prior notice to the news organization.


President Obama has given Mr. Holder until July 12 to make his proposals, and Mr. Holder wants to complete an overhaul of department regulations on leak investigations before his tenure is over, said the adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deliberations are preliminary. Mr. Holder has given no indication that he intends to step down any time soon, however.


The Thursday meeting was intended to seek additional ideas and lay the groundwork for an internal push if prosecutors and intelligence officials balk at giving up some powers in leak investigations, the adviser said. Further meetings with both news organizations and government officials are planned, including another news media session on Friday.


The first news media meeting was off the record, and The New York Times was among several organizations that were invited but did not attend because it objected to that condition. At least two active leak investigations and cases involve Times reporters.


Representatives from The Daily News of New York, The New Yorker, Politico, The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post did attend, according to several participants. The group gathered in a conference room near the office of the deputy attorney general, James Cole, and met with him, Mr. Holder, and seven other officials. The meeting started after 5 p.m. and lasted more than an hour.


Mr. Holder began, they said, by acknowledging criticism that the Justice Department had tipped too far toward aggressive law enforcement and away from ensuring the free flow of information to the public. He expressed a broad commitment to update internal guidelines, including steps to reflect changes in technology since they were written three decades ago.


Several of the news media representatives, participants said, told the officials that leak investigations have had a chilling effect on both reporters and government officials. They urged more rigorous procedures for internal review of subpoena requests, including the scope of any records sought and whether to provide advance notice, and argued that there needed to be more internal and external checks and balances on prosecutors.


There have been previous efforts to consider revising the investigative guidelines. In 2003, for example, a group of lawyers representing The Associated Press, Gannett, The Washington Post and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press worked with Patrick Kelley, then the acting general counsel of the F.B.I., to develop a proposal.


The media lawyers eventually submitted a draft text and section-by-section analysis to the F.B.I. But after the 2004 election and turnover at the Justice Department, the Bush administration lost interest and dropped it, according to David Schultz, a media lawyer who led the informal project.


The 2004 proposal would in some ways have gone further than what has been initially discussed at the Justice Department. It would have expanded an existing rule that offers some protection from subpoenas for a reporter’s call logs so that it would also to cover other types of investigative tactics, like going through a reporter’s trash or obtaining a reporter’s credit card and travel records. The existing rule requires that before issuing a subpoena for phone records, other ways of obtaining information must be tried first, and the attorney general must sign off.


The 2004 proposal did not, however, contain several other ideas that Mr. Holder has discussed, according to the adviser. One example is a proposal to require prosecutors to have the Justice Department’s public affairs officials review a request for a reporter’s records before seeking the attorney general’s approval for a subpoena.






Obama's FBI pick Comey seen as independent, principled

By Kevin Johnson and Aamer Madhani — Friday, May 31st, 2013 ‘USA Today’



WASHINGTON — Nearly two years ago, when Obama administration officials were just beginning a search for a successor to FBI Director Robert Mueller, James Comey was on the short list.


His broad law enforcement experience — as the former U.S. attorney in Manhattan and later as the deputy attorney general in charge of the daily operations of the sprawling Justice Department — was a biography that all but spoke for itself.


But what some analysts say makes him the ideal choice now, just as the White House and Justice Department are entangled in a series of national security controversies, is an unusual brand of independence rooted in his role as a former appointee of the George W. Bush administration.


With the White House and congressional Republicans engaged in near-constant political combat, Comey is viewed as the most likely candidate to bridge that discord.


"Jim Comey's Republican ties have been secondary all of his life to his devotion to principle and the rule of law,'' former attorney general John Ashcroft said Thursday in an interview with USA TODAY. "That is non-negotiable.''


Ashcroft, a conservative lightning rod in the Bush administration, was not only Comey's former boss at Justice but the central figure in a 2004 drama that many now suggest demonstrates Comey's political independence.


As then-Attorney General Ashcroft lay seriously ill with acute pancreatitis, Comey intervened when White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and Bush chief of staff Andrew Card sought Ashcroft's approval for the reauthorization of a secret warrantless eavesdropping operation, known as the "President's Surveillance Program.''


The confrontation in a darkened George Washington University Hospital intensive care unit prompted Comey, Mueller and other Justice officials to threaten resignation en masse if the program was renewed.


Ultimately, the White House agreed to modify the operation and the threatened exodus was averted.


Ashcroft declined to specifically address the incident Thursday, saying only that his assessment of Comey is drawn from a close working relationship over "a long period of time.''


"He is a principled, thoughtful individual who has a backbone of steel,'' Ashcroft said.


Former Justice inspector general Glenn Fine, who helped author a 2009 multi-agency review of the surveillance program that included the hospital confrontation, said the incident helped shape his view of Comey as possessing "an unshakable reputation for integrity an probity.''


Fine, who served as an internal watchdog for Justice operations and wrote a string of critical reports on Comey's watch, said the former deputy attorney general was "never defensive'' and expressed "an understanding of all the issues.''


But others suggest that Comey will not be immune from tough questions during Senate confirmation hearings following his expected formal nomination.


Shayana Kadidal, a senior managing attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, said that while Comey's intervention in the surveillance program may have bolstered his reputation, the operation nevertheless continued under revised rules.


Kadidal said Comey also will likely face inquiries about the Bush administration's use of enhanced interrogation methods.


"In one of the largest legal communities and with all of the potential candidates to choose from, it is surprising that (the Obama administration) would recycle a Bush administration official,'' Kadidal said.


Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Judiciary Committee's ranking Republican, promised that Comey's post-government work, including time in the hedge fund industry and his associations with the financial industry, would draw scrutiny.


After stepping down as the second-ranking official at Justice in 2005, Comey first went to work for the defense contractor Lockheed Martin, where he served as senior vice president and general counsel until 2010. In 2009, Comey's last full year at Lockheed Martin, his total compensation was listed at more than $6.1 million, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.


In June 2010, he left to take a job at Bridgewater Associates, a Westport, Conn., hedge fund that manages $150 billion in global investments.


He stepped down recently from Bridgewater, but agreed earlier this year to serve as a non-executive director to the British banking behemoth HSBC's financial systems at a particularly sensitive time for the bank. HSBC agreed in December to pay $1.9 billion to settle U.S. government charges of widespread money laundering.


Comey was one of five high-profile former U.S. and British government officials appointed to a panel the bank set up to combat financial crime in the aftermath of the settlement.


The bank was charged with failures of oversight that allowed narcotics traffickers and others to launder hundreds of millions of dollars through HSBC subsidiaries and facilitated hundreds of millions more in transactions with sanctioned countries. Comey was to be paid nearly $190,000 annually for serving on the panel.


Still, Patrick Fitzgerald, the former U.S. attorney in Chicago, said that Comey's strong background in national security and law enforcement make him an ideal candidate for the FBI post.


He said Comey has "a way of motivating people" and "a sense of mission and duty" that will serve him well at the FBI.


"Jim has just amazing judgment," said Fitzgerald, whom Comey tapped to head the Justice investigation into the leak that led to the outing of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame. "And when you are in a situation when everyone is losing their head, Jim stays calm."


Fitzgerald, who has known Comey for years, declined to comment on whether Comey — who has been rumored as a potential successor to Mueller for more than two years — was aiming for the job. But he noted that Comey, 52, who is married and has five children, will be taking on a decade-long assignment.


"He comes from the old school," Fitzgerald said. "If ever asked, you serve."




Bush Terrorism Fight May Be Fodder in F.B.I. Confirmation

By JONATHAN WEISMAN and SHERYL GAY STOLBERG — Friday, May 31st, 2013 ‘The New York Times’



WASHINGTON — The pending nomination of James B. Comey to be director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation will probably shine a fresh light on some controversial chapters in George W. Bush’s war on terrorism, with Republicans more likely than Democrats to question his role in the Bush Justice Department.


But senior Senate aides said no immediate red flags were raised on Capitol Hill to indicate a bruising confirmation fight when President Obama makes his choice official. The White House said nothing publicly about the nomination on Thursday, and according to officials, the F.B.I. had not begun a formal background check on Mr. Comey when news broke on Wednesday evening that Mr. Obama had settled on him as the nominee.


Mr. Comey, 52, a Republican and former deputy attorney general in the Bush administration, received a muted response from Congress, since lawmakers are away for the Memorial Day recess. But there is little recent precedent for a confirmation battle. The five F.B.I. directors confirmed since J. Edgar Hoover’s death in 1972 all sailed through the Senate. (The very first nominee, L. Patrick Gray III, withdrew from consideration in 1973 amid concerns over Watergate.)


As for Mr. Comey, many of the policy disputes in the years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had already faded by the end of Mr. Bush’s second term.


Still, some Republicans familiar with Mr. Comey’s tenure at the Justice Department — while broadly praising him — raised questions about clashes he had with higher-ups in the Bush White House.


One House Republican with experience in the Bush administration, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so he could be frank about a fellow administration official, talked of an “unpredictable” man who “was not a good, solid member of the team.”


“Those wild-card aspects to his job performance in the past also apply to the nomination process,” the lawmaker said. “He could slip through, or he could blow up.”


Andrew H. Card Jr., one of the central figures in a now-famous episode involving Mr. Comey, gave him a ringing endorsement on Thursday.


“I would be glad to stand before anybody to say I think Jim Comey is a noble, honorable person that should have their confidence,” said Mr. Card, Mr. Bush’s longtime chief of staff.


In that episode in 2004, Mr. Card and the White House counsel, Alberto R. Gonzales, sought to persuade Attorney General John Ashcroft — who was hospitalized and disoriented — to reauthorize the administration’s controversial warrantless eavesdropping program.


As Mr. Comey, who was then acting attorney general, has told it, he rushed to the hospital to tip off Mr. Ashcroft. Mr. Ashcroft weakly rose from his hospital bed and refused to sign.


Mr. Card said that he and Mr. Gonzales did not bring the issue to Mr. Ashcroft’s bedside “of our own accord,” but that Mr. Bush had sent them. He said he had not even known that Mr. Ashcroft had named Mr. Comey acting attorney general, and when told, politely let the eavesdropping matter drop.


While saying he feels “terrible” about the dispute between him and Mr. Comey, Mr. Card called it a legitimate policy and legal difference, not a matter of politics versus legality, as Comey advocates have put it.  And he offered some mild criticism of Mr. Comey’s behavior that night.


“I think he reacted with a little more emotion than I would have expected,” he said, “but I thought he always performed well.”


Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York, who as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee will have no say in Mr. Comey’s nomination but many dealings with him if he is confirmed, praised Mr. Obama’s choice. “I may have had differences as far as his interpretation of the surveillance act, but he’s a thorough professional,” Mr. King said.


Indeed, the one question raised publicly so far has focused on Mr. Comey’s tenure as general counsel at a major hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, where he worked from 2010 to earlier this year.


“If he’s nominated, he would have to answer questions about his recent work in the hedge fund industry,” said Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, which has oversight over the F.B.I. “The administration’s efforts to criminally prosecute Wall Street for its part in the economic downturn have been abysmal, and his agency would have to help build the case against some of his colleagues in this lucrative industry.”


In the coming days, a special unit in the F.B.I.’s security division, which handles background checks of high-profile government appointees, will move forward with a short investigation of Mr. Comey’s past, focusing in particular on the period after he left the government in 2004, working for Bridgewater Associates and before that, Lockheed Martin.


As part of that process, Mr. Comey will be asked to fill out a form about his finances and foreign travel. F.B.I. officials in Washington will then ask agents across the country to verify that information.


Mr. Comey’s nomination has been described as an overture of bipartisanship similar to Mr. Obama’s nomination of another Republican, former Senator Chuck Hagel, to be secretary of defense. Like Mr. Hagel, Mr. Comey is known most for his public break with Republican Party orthodoxy.


Mr. Hagel’s breach, however, was over the Iraq war, still a raw subject in the party. Mr. King said issues like warrantless surveillance were grayer areas that both parties grappled with after 9/11.


“They were difficult times,” he said.


In fact, key members from both parties might see Mr. Comey’s past stands as a plus for a position like F.B.I. director.


Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah and a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, said Thursday that the director “needs to be fiercely independent from the political pressures that, as we have seen, can affect even the Justice Department.”


Once his nomination is official, Mr. Comey’s confirmation process will be overseen by the White House’s general counsel, Kathryn Ruemmler, who was among the administration officials who interviewed him for the job, according to officials.


The White House has a short window to do something that has never happened before: have a new F.B.I. director in place when the previous one still has the post. In all other instances, there has been an acting director because the previous one has resigned or died. Robert S. Mueller III is mandated to leave his post on Sept. 4, so Mr. Comey would have to be confirmed before Congress takes a recess for the month of August.




Indian Reservation Law Enforcement


DOJ report shows federal prosecutors tackling more criminal cases in Indian Country

By FELICIA FONSECA and DAVE KOLPACK (The Associated Press)  —  Thursday, May 30th, 2013; 3:56 p.m. EDT



FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - American Indian leaders who have criticized the federal government for years over the way authorities handled major crimes on reservations can mark progress with the release of newly tracked statistics from the U.S. Justice Department.


The number of Indian Country cases charged in federal court has increased by 54 percent between fiscal years 2009 and 2012, from 1,091 cases to 1,677 cases, according to a DOJ report released Thursday.


"They've taken their responsibility much more seriously than before," said Brent Leonhard, an attorney with Umatilla tribe in Oregon.


The report marks the first look at government investigations and prosecutions on tribal lands. It comes as a result of the 2010 Tribal Law and Order Act, which requires the Justice Department to publicly release such figures.


Justice officials acknowledge that their work is far from done, but they say the numbers demonstrate the government's commitment to combating violent crime on reservations where rates are higher than the national average.


Also, the report shows that prosecutors secured convictions in about two-thirds of nearly 6,000 reservation cases between calendar years 2011 and 2012. Of the 5,985 cases, about one-third were declined for prosecution.


Some others were resolved administratively or sent to another prosecuting authority and didn't end up in federal court.


The numbers show "that we're walking the talk at the Department of Justice," said Tim Purdon, U.S. attorney in North Dakota.


Arizona, home to part of the nation's largest American Indian reservation, had the highest number of total referrals with more than 2,000, followed by South Dakota with nearly 1,000 and Montana with more than 500.


Purdon leads a subcommittee that reports to Attorney General Eric Holder on American Indian issues. He said federal officials "want to improve public safety" and added that they are working to "remove those most dangerous predators, the most dangerous criminals from Indian Country."



The federal government and tribes have concurrent jurisdiction in crimes where the suspect and victim are both American Indian, but federal prosecutions carry much stiffer penalties. Among recent U.S. government prosecutions:


_ A man was found guilty of sexually abusing a teenager he met while working as a counselor at a summer camp on the Rocky Boy's reservation in Montana. He was sentenced to more than three years in prison.


_ A woman on the Spirit Lake Reservation in North Dakota was convicted of beating her 4-year-old son with a plastic clothes hanger. She was sentenced to seven years in prison.


_ A man was sent to prison for 10 years for kicking the woman who was pregnant with his child on the Navajo Nation in Arizona. The unborn child died after suffering a skull fracture and other injuries.


Still, nearly 2,000 cases were declined for prosecution over the two-year span, a matter for which the DOJ has been criticized in the past.


"There are cases that are legitimately declined, and that is appropriate and expected," said Leonhard, of the Umatilla tribe's Office of Legal Counsel.


The DOJ's report shows that the cases declined in 2011 and 2012 were mostly because of insufficient evidence. Rates for individual states varied widely — from Montana, where 52 percent of cases were turned down, to Arizona, where 20 percent were declined over the two years.


Fred Urbina, chief prosecutor for the Pascua Yaqui tribe in southern Arizona, said monthly meetings between tribal and federal officials provide a good indication of why a case is declined for federal prosecution.


"We never used to get any kind of declination (notices) in the past," he said, adding, "Now we're in on that loop."


Federal prosecutors don't measure their performance in Indian Country by declination statistics. Instead, they point to the relationships they've built with tribal authorities and community members.


"If anything, we get way too caught up in looking at the numbers," said Patrick Schneider, tribal liaison for the U.S. attorney's office in Arizona. Declined case statistics don't indicate "whether we're doing a good job or not."


Federal authorities report visiting tribal lands more often to discuss ways to combat crime, train police and bring on tribal prosecutors as special assistant U.S. attorneys.


Grant Walker, tribal prosecutor on the Standing Rock Reservation in North and South Dakota since 2009, said he doesn't put a lot of stock into declination rates because he talks to federal prosecutors on a regular basis.


The DOJ's declination rate includes cases referred to and prosecuted in tribal courts, where sentences can go beyond the traditional maximum penalty of one year in jail if certain provisions are met under federal law.


"Declinations aren't really a big deal anymore to us because we know what the case is, and if the federal government declines we've already had a chance to prosecute that case too," Walker said. "So it's not like the ball is hidden, and the prosecution's office doesn't know about it."


Purdon cited a drug trafficking case on the Standing Rock Reservation dubbed "Operation Prairie Thunder," in which 12 people were indicted in federal court and five in tribal court. Purdon said that while the tribal cases were subtracted from their prosecution record, it showed unprecedented cooperation and could lead to long-term success.


Former Standing Rock Tribal Judge Bill Zuger, who stepped down last year after six years on the bench, said that case was the product of federal prosecutors showing interest and building trust with tribal law enforcement. Until recently, Zuger said, he hadn't ever seen a U.S. attorney on the reservation.


"The people down there, anecdotally, feel that things are getting better," Zuger said.


However, he added: "Keep in mind it took 125 years to screw it up. It takes a while to fix it. It's going to take more than four or five years to really straighten out the mess."




Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Phila. police use of force to be examined

By Unnamed Author(s) (The Associated Press)  —  Friday, May 31st, 2013; 12:21 a.m. EDT



A website says Philadelphia's police commissioner has asked federal authorities to take a look at the police department's use of deadly force.


Commissioner Charles Ramsey tells that he is seeking the review due to the rising number of police-involved shootings.


Philadelphia police shot 52 suspects last year, killing 15 of them. In 2011 police wounded or killed 35 people.


Officers shot and killed a man Saturday, the fourth police-involved shooting in as many days and the third resulting in a suspect's death.


Ramsey says the number of shootings "gets people wondering if they were all justified."


He says police have been looking at the issue since December and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice "agrees this is a good course of action."




Friday, May 31st, 2013 ‘The Philadelphia Daily News’ Editorial:

Copping in



POLICE Commissioner Charles Ramsey is doing the right thing by asking the U.S. Justice Department to review incidents of deadly force by police officers.


Although shootings by police are down this year, Ramsey made his call after a week where officers shot four people, three of them fatally.


The department investigates all shootings by officers as a matter of course, but Ramsey said he thought that an outside review would have more credibility. He's right.


Internal investigations and discipline have been weak points in the department for years. Better to have an outside agency do it.


The Justice Department, which has done similar reviews for other cities, will look at the department's policies, procedures, training and tactics.


In fact, Ramsey has called in the Justice Department before, when he was chief of police in Washington, D.C., over the same issue. He made recommended changes and shootings dropped dramatically.


Philadelphia police shot 52 people last year, up from 35 in 2011. At an average of a shooting a week, that's unacceptable. (So far this year, the numbers have been down - 22 shootings, versus 28 for the same period in 2012.)


But on just one night last week, police shot three men, one of them fatally, in separate incidents around the city.


Ramsey's action is commendable, but it must be pointed out: If we had our own independent oversight agency to monitor the police, we wouldn't have to go to D.C. for help.


Technically, the job of the Police Advisory Commission is to hear civilian complaints against police. In reality, the commission has proven to be understaffed, ineffective and seems generally overwhelmed by the task.


Ten years ago, after scandals involving police misconduct, an independent auditor was appointed by the court as an integrity and accountability officer.


During her years on the job, Ellen Green-Ceisler made a lot of enemies in the department, due mostly to her pull-no-punches reports on the inadequacies of the police discipline system.


Green-Ceisler's research was meticulous and her reports were on the mark - too much so for the police hierarchy and the Fraternal Order of Police, who regularly criticized her as being meddlesome and "anti-police."


Green-Ceisler resigned in 2005 to run for judge. She was never replaced.


No one can argue that the department is a better place without her. The record is replete with fresh cases of cops gone bad.


Just last week, Jeffrey Walker, a veteran narcotics officer, was federally charged with allegedly robbing a drug dealer. Walker had been the subject of 18 Internal Affairs complaints during his career - none of them sustained.


In order for the police to be effective, they must have the trust of the community. In order to have that trust, the community must believe that the police go about their job in a fair and honest way.


An independent auditor of police policies and actions is a way to ensure that trust - now and in the long term. No one benefits if we feed the cynical belief that the fix is in when it comes to police behaving badly.




Cincinnati, Ohio


Arrest rate falls amid spike in city homicides
Police have closed two of city's past 18 killings; say they're close to resolving several more

By Carrie Blackmore Smith and Mark Curnutte — Friday, May 31st, 2013 ‘The Cincinnati Enquirer’ / Cincinnati, OH



Since early March, Cincinnati police have closed only two of the city’s last 18 homicides, one of the longest and deepest dry spells in case resolutions in recent years, according to information provided by the Cincinnati Police Department.


After successfully closing eight of the year’s first 11 homicides in January and February, police have hit roadblocks in investigations – at a time when officer layoffs had been threatened in the city budget process and the police department is facing changes in leadership, starting at the top with the approaching departure of Chief James Craig.


Now, Cincinnati is going through an especially bloody two-week stretch.


Since May 14, the day Craig confirmed he was taking the police chief’s job in his hometown of Detroit, Cincinnati has experienced six homicides and 23 nonfatal shootings through midnight Wednesday, a quicker pace than normal, officials concede.


Authorities say leadership transition and threats to staffing have nothing to do with the unsolved cases or spike in violence.


They say positive gains made in 2012 – which logged the fewest killings in the city since 2001 and saw police solve 57 percent of the homicides – make bad stretches more noticeable. And they note that upticks in violence generally occur in the spring.


Indeed, the city in 2013 is at its 10-year median level for homicides through the end of May.


“We’re in a bad place right now, but I think, with the strategies we’ve set in place … we will be fine,” Craig said by phone Thursday, between sessions of the Major Cities Chiefs Association conference in Texas.


Newly promoted Lt. Col. Dave Bailey, now in charge of the Office of Criminal and Special Investigations, including the homicide unit, said the department anticipates announcing a number of homicide arrests soon.


The rate of open cases “doesn’t mean we don’t have suspects,” said Bailey. “A lot of closures are in the pipeline.”


He added, “We are waiting for the labs to come back with DNA, going through phone records. A lot of times we know who did it, and a lot of other people do, too. We wish they would give us a call.”


One unusual aspect of the recent cases, Bailey said, is that more killings seem to be over simple disputes between people who have only loose connections, making it harder to find the perpetrator, Bailey said.


“It’s about respect and disrespect,” Bailey said.


“That’s aggravating for us, because sometimes all of this is over something relatively minor.”



Homicide detectives stretched by spike


For some residents, the randomness only adds to the concern, felt in neighborhoods from Millvale and Avondale to Winton Hills and Over-the-Rhine. Winton Hills and Over-the-Rhine are holding anti-violence events Saturday.


“The time is now to turn a negative into a positive,” said Ryan Messer, a first-year homeowner near Washington Park and co-organizer of an OTR town hall meeting Saturday. Messer said his car was broken into this week, the third time in six months, and he has been shocked by the recent spate of violence and crime in OTR, where redevelopment is rapidly changing the socioeconomic standing of the southern half of the neighborhood.


Twenty-nine homicide cases have been opened so far this year in Cincinnati, more than at this point last year, but below the 32 of 2011.


Non-fatal shootings are up too this year over last – 143 compared with 132 through May 29, according to statistics provided by CPD.


June last year was relatively quiet, and the department can only hope for the same this year.


Bailey acknowledged the city’s 16 homicide detectives, who work cases in pairs, are overworked right now.


“They’ve had a busy couple weeks,” Bailey said. “It’s safe to say they are tired.”


He and Craig, whose last day as Cincinnati chief is June 22, say it’s only coincidence that the threat of layoffs – which police union President Kathy Harrell has said would have reduced two positions in the Homicide Unit – began just as the list of unsolved cases started to lengthen. City Council ultimately avoided police layoffs.


Craig said police have meetings “whenever there is a shooting, whenever there is a homicide” among the commanders of all the city police districts. In recent years, police have focused on one or a few neighborhoods, Craig said, and talked about overall trends at a weekly crime analysis meeting.


That doesn’t seem to be enough right now, Craig said.


“We know the violence is crossing over neighborhood boundaries,” Craig said. “I want to make sure we are looking for connections across the whole city.”


Craig stressed that the department is meeting the goal he set at the end of last year – to reduce overall crime by 5 percent this year.


Right now overall crime is down 9 percent, with violent crime up 3 percent over last year, but property crime down 11 percent, according to the city’s recent report through May 25.



Weather, lack of resources feed rise in violence


Spikes in violence in American cities are not uncommon, Cincinnati Police Lt. Col. James Whalen said.


Warmer weather and more daylight bring people outside in distressed neighborhoods, violence experts say, where an abundance of guns mix with a street code driven by retribution and an arrested sense of manhood, producing violent results.


“It happens every year,” Whalen said Thursday, “and it’s not just homicides. It’s thefts from autos. We have a spring uptick like we’ve had the past couple of weeks, then a lull in early summer before another uptick in August and September.”


Whalen said the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence, a program he has helped craft that provides links to social services for ex-offenders and those trying to leave criminal life, continues robustly, even as the city endures more violence.


But Tyeisha Cole, 23 – who is trying to revive a community council in the Millvale public housing community, home to about 1,500 residents and adjacent to neighborhoods that have suffered several homicides this year – said resources remain sparse and residents are disillusioned.


“This is a breeding ground for crime because there is nothing here – no jobs, no grocery store, no educational opportunities,” said Cole, who is a graduate student living back in Millvale, where she grew up, and caring for her ill grandmother.


“Every summer, it’s the same thing: These kids don’t feel like they have anything to lose,” Cole said.


“The only thing there’s a lot of around here are rodents, pests and guns.”




St. Louis, Missouri     

Remedies for smash-and-grab burglaries may be in the air and in the ground

By Christine Byers — Thursday, May 30th, 2013 ‘The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’ / St. Louis, MO



A series of smash-and-grab business burglaries across the region has police taking to the air and business owners digging into the ground.


Metro Air Support officers plan to remain aloft late at night to track thieves who may realize that police pursuit restrictions keep ground officers from giving chase for property crimes.


Some business owners are turning to bollards — heavy posts rooted deep into the ground to prevent vehicles from ramming through vulnerable spots on buildings, such as large windows and doors.


At least 14 similar crimes have been reported since April 25, officials said, with thieves using tools as small as a brick or as large as a stolen pickup truck to breach a window or wall, then quickly gather up loot and flee.


Cahokia Police Chief James Jones said Wednesday that he was “optimistic” that his department’s arrest of a man from East St. Louis earlier in the day might lead to additional suspects and close cases in St. Louis and St. Louis County as well.


He said that suspect was one of three who drove a blue truck into Midwest Petroleum on Camp Jackson Road and made off with liquor and cigarettes.


Police released surveillance camera images, which led to a tip from the public about the identity of one man, in his 50s. His name was not released, pending charges that Jones expected to be filed today.


“We really appreciate the public’s help on this so far,” the chief said.


Thieves used vehicles in about a half dozen cases in St. Louis County and St. Louis since last week, making off with cash registers, hair extensions, liquor and electronics, officials said. In most of the other cases, they used items such as bricks to break windows.


Nine of the cases occurred in St. Louis.


City police released a statement Wednesday saying investigators were following several “strong” leads.


One of the city’s victims included Pang Lee. She sat on a folding chair Wednesday on top of a plywood platform where her checkout counter used to be at Kings Beauty Supply, in the 8900 block of Halls Ferry Road.


Thieves drove a car through the front of her business Monday, making off with thousands of dollars worth of hair extensions, she said.


She said she gave police surveillance video of two masked men ransacking the store.


Concrete bollards already guard the front entrance of a nearby business and soon will guard Lee’s.


“They’re already on order,” she said.


Businesses can fight back mainly with bollards and surveillance cameras, said Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Chief Robert Pruett.


Thieves there drove a stolen white truck into the front of a Conoco gas station about 4:40 a.m. Wednesday. Video shows four men wearing bandanas.


Pruett, too, is hopeful about the arrest in Cahokia.


St. Louis County Chief Tim Fitch said he believed the smash-and-grab thieves wouldn’t last long.


“It’s not a hard crime to solve, it’s just a matter of how and when they get caught,” he said. “They’re playing with fire, because one of these times they’re not going to beat the police out of there.”


Fitch said he had authorized additional shifts for helicopter patrols, starting Wednesday night.


“They know we won’t chase them if they’re in stolen cars, so we need to make sure the helicopter is up late at night and ready to follow them by air, because chasing them by car is going to get somebody killed,” Fitch said. “And I’ve never seen anybody outrun the helicopter yet.”


Only one case happened within the county’s unincorporated boundaries. It involved a Sally Beauty Supply store in North St. Louis County, where the front door was shattered by a brick.




Milwaukee, Wisconsin


New policy will govern how Milwaukee cops treat citizens
Existing strip search policy emphasized

By Ashley Luthern — Friday, May 31st, 2013 ‘The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’ / Milwaukee, WI



More than a year after reports of illegal strip searches first surfaced and protests about police tactics roiled the city, Milwaukee police will have a new policy governing the way officers interact with citizens and requiring for the first time documentation to help the department keep track of informal, consensual searches.


"The community needs to be reassured after several high-profile incidents involving police interactions with community members that we have a proper policy and are requiring (officers) to do these things," said Michael Tobin, executive director of the Fire and Police Commission.


One of those incidents, first reported by the Journal Sentinel last year, involved allegations that officers sexually assaulted people and violated their civil rights while conducting rectal searches for drugs on the street.


Four officers ultimately were charged. Officer Michael Vagnini, described by prosecutors as the ringleader, pleaded no contest to felony charges that do not include sexual assault and will be sentenced in June. Three other officers have pleaded not guilty to criminal charges and are expected to go to trial later this summer.


The new policy, which goes into effect Sunday, emphasizes that strip searches can be conducted only with the approval of a captain or higher authority, or a lieutenant if an officer of higher rank is not available.


The previous policy required a strip-search authorization report noting the date, location and reason for the search, and it stipulated a copy be provided to the person searched. In the past, however, officers routinely did not follow the policy, records show.


"(The filing of reports) wasn't a strictly followed policy, and that was one of the problems. I think, again, putting it all in one place is going to help so the officers are very clear on search policies," Tobin said.


The Journal Sentinel requested under the public records law the number of strip search authorization reports from 2010 through 2012. In 2010, no such reports were filed. In 2011, four strip search authorization reports, including one from Vagnini, were recorded. In 2012, the year the allegations of illegal strip searches became public, the number of reports skyrocketed to 29.


It's an understandable concern in the community that the strip-search policies were in place and abuses still occurred, Joel Plant, chief of staff at the Milwaukee Police Department, said Thursday.


"I think reasonably in any organization of any kind, especially any organization of any significant size, you're going to have the wayward employee, and you have to have systems in place — and we do more now than ever before — that give the rest of your organization the courage to stand up and say that's not right," he said.


Plant added that the entire policy is important because it guides the most common interaction — that of an officer and an individual citizen.


"Without trust and partnership of the community that is being policed, the department cannot affect its mission," he said.


The new policy doesn't just address strip searches. It also sets out clear guidelines for when officers may conduct pat-downs on the street and sets out other rules for police interactions with citizens.


Tobin will review the entire policy, which the commission accepted two weeks ago, with the Milwaukee Common Council's public safety committee at 9 a.m. Friday.


Christopher Ahmuty, executive director of the ACLU of Wisconsin, said the policy needed more input from citizens. He said there wasn't enough time from when the draft policy was posted online and when it was discussed before the Fire and Police Commission.


"With three days' notice and two minutes to talk, you can't have a serious discussion," Ahmuty said, referring to the commission's public comment rule of two minutes per person.


The 18-page policy provides detailed information on "consent searches," situations in which police ask for permission to do a search without a warrant, and people have the right to say no.


"We wanted to do this because there's been a significant increase in citizen contacts (in Milwaukee) and a big spotlight has been put on New York City right now that's caused a lot of consternation. We don't want that to happen here. We want to head off any problems that might be happening," Tobin said, referring to allegations that New York City police used racial profiling in the department's stop-and-frisk strategy.


Milwaukee police made 181,513 traffic stops in 2011 and 197,893 stops in 2012. In those same two years, police stopped 61,201 people in 2011 and 71,839 in 2012 on suspicion of criminal activity. That suspicion has to be more than a "hunch," according to the policy, and a person can decline to say anything to officers. The policy spells out that refusing to answer a police officer's question in and of itself is not "obstructing an officer."


Also in the new policy, officers will be required to fill out a form when they ask for permission to search, regardless if the person gives consent. Policy also dictates they use audio and visual recordings, too, for cases in which a person doesn't want to sign a form but verbally agrees.


"I want a record of all the people who are stopped and searched, and we don't have that right now," Tobin said.


Tony Bouza,  [ Ret. NYPD Ass’t Chief / Bronx Borough Commander ] a former police chief in Minneapolis who now works as a police consultant, said there is no "more fraught issue in policing than the Fourth Amendment," which deals with search and seizure.


"Consensual searches are kind of an informal transaction in which the police assume permission, while the person being searched is hesitant or reluctant to exercise their rights," Bouza said. "I think the notion of putting this thing out on the table and discussing it will help people secure their rights to resist illegal searches and seizures."


Ahmuty said the policy is more about risk management than protecting the public. It's unclear, for example, if supervisors will analyze the search forms to see patterns of consent or strip searches.


"Not knowing what there is in terms of training, it's really hard to see how this policy makes it easier for police managers and supervisors to know what's going on in the larger picture," he said.


Plant said that for the first time, the forms will give the department data about the consensual searches.


"What we will have now is verifiable, trackable data," Plant said. "Who's performing them, who's asking and getting consent, where are they doing it. We will have that information. Will supervisors look at? Absolutely."






The Survivor: Sheriff Joe Arpaio Outlasts Political, Legal Trouble

By Alan Greenblatt — Thursday, May 30th, 2013 ‘NPR News’ / Washington, DC



Update:  7:18 p.m. EDT -- The Associated Press reports that organizers of a petition to recall Sheriff Joe Arpaio fell short of Thursday's deadline to collect 335,000 signatures.


Our original post:


Once again, Sheriff Joe Arpaio is at the center of political and legal controversies. Once again, it appears he will survive.


Last week, a federal judge ruled that Arpaio, who is the sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., had violated the civil rights of Latinos by engaging in racial profiling. Arpaio, the self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff in America," denies the charge and intends to appeal.


The ruling, however, offered fresh impetus to a campaign to recall Arpaio, who was elected to a fifth term last November. But organizers are not expected to meet today's deadline for gathering 335,000 signatures on recall petitions.


"That isn't going to fly," says Mike Hellon, a former state GOP chairman, dismissing the chances.


His opponents made a mistake in targeting Arpaio right after the election, says Michael O'Neil, a pollster based in Tempe.


"This court finding would have been perfect — they could have said, 'This is documentation of what we've been saying all along,' " O'Neil says. "But because they jumped the gun going after him prematurely, I don't see anything that dislodges him as a force."



Focus On Immigration


Arpaio has been at the center of a number of controversies, such as skepticism over the legitimacy of President Obama's birth certificate.


But he's best known for enforcing immigration laws strictly — or overzealously, depending on your point of view.


"All of the efforts to take him out of office have failed for one basic reason," says Robert Blendu, a former Republican state senator from Maricopa County. "He stands up and says my job is to enforce the law. If you don't like the law, change it."


Arpaio's critics say he's actually broken the law. Not only did he lose a civil suit last week, but the Justice Department also filed suit last year, alleging civil rights violations.



Political Shifts


Aside from the legal questions, the reality on the ground is that the politics of immigration are changing in Arizona.


Former Senate President Russell Pearce, who sponsored the state's 2010 law requiring local law enforcement to check the legal status of immigrants, was recalled by voters in 2011 and lost in his comeback attempt last year. (Much but not all of the 2010 law was struck down by the Supreme Court last year.)


Andrew Thomas, a former Maricopa County attorney who was another prominent supporter of strict immigration enforcement and sometimes represented Arpaio, was disbarred last year. He intends to run for governor in 2014.


"Arizona has changed in that no longer do we see any advantage in being the central focal point in immigration enforcement," says Joseph Garcia, communications director for the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University.


Garcia says it's no accident that both of Arizona's U.S. senators — Republicans John McCain and Jeff Flake — are members of the "Gang of Eight" seeking to rewrite federal immigration law to allow people in the country illegally to earn citizenship eventually.


"It's part of the effort to change the image of Arizona from harsh and anti-immigrant," Garcia says, "and therefore anti-Latino."



Changes Still Brewing


The reason is obvious. All over the country, politicians are taking Hispanics into greater account as their share of the electorate grows rapidly.


That's an especially powerful dynamic in a place like Arizona, one of 13 states where people of color make up more than 40 percent of the population. This year, Hispanics made up a majority of schoolchildren in the state for the first time. Hispanics are expected to compose 1 out of every 4 voters in the state by 2030.


But 2030 is a ways off. The full impact of these demographic changes is not yet being felt. Many adult Hispanics in Arizona are not citizens, while many more are still too young to vote.


"The demographics clearly are moving in the direction of a more mainstream, moderate body politic," says Hellon, the former state GOP chairman, "but that hasn't translated yet into major changes on Election Day."


The state is still Republican — and so is Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and by far Arizona's most populous jurisdiction. Arpaio spent millions holding onto a local office by a bare majority last November — but he did win.


The question is whether he will ever seek another term, now that he's in his 80s.


"Whether he runs again is kind of problematic at this point," Hellon says, "but my guess is he'll hang on until the end."




Homeland Security


Man Tied to Boston Suspect Is Said to Have Attacked Agent Before Being Shot

By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT and ELLEN BARRY — Friday, May 31st, 2013 ‘The New York Times’



WASHINGTON — A man who was killed in Orlando, Fla., last week while being questioned by an F.B.I. agent about his relationship with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, had knocked the agent to the ground with a table and ran at him with a metal pole before being shot, according to a senior law enforcement official briefed on the matter.


The official’s account of the shooting, the most detailed to date, came several hours after the man’s Chechen father claimed at a news conference in Moscow on Thursday that his son, Ibragim Todashev, was unarmed when he was killed on May 22. The father, Abdulbaki Todashev, displayed photographs of his son’s bullet-ridden body and demanded that the United States government explain how he was killed.


On the day of the shooting, federal law enforcement officials provided differing accounts of the episode, initially saying Mr. Todashev had a knife. Later they said Mr. Todashev had “exploded” at the agent and might have had a pipe or might not have had anything in his hands.


The shooting occurred after an F.B.I. agent from Boston and two detectives from the Massachusetts State Police had been interviewing Mr. Todashev for several hours about his possible involvement in a triple homicide in Waltham, Mass., in 2011, according to the law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing.


Mr. Todashev, according to the F.B.I., confessed to his involvement in the deaths and implicated Mr. Tsarnaev. He then started to write a statement admitting his involvement while sitting at a table across from the agent and one of the detectives when the agent briefly looked away, the official said. At that moment, Mr. Todashev picked up the table and threw it at the agent, knocking him to the ground.


While trying to stand up, the agent, who suffered a wound to his face from the table that required stitches, drew his gun and saw Mr. Todashev running at him with a metal pole, according to the official, adding that it might have been a broomstick.


The agent fired several shots at Mr. Todashev, striking him and knocking him backward. But Mr. Todashev again charged at the agent. The agent fired several more shots at Mr. Todashev, killing him. The detective in the room did not fire his weapon, the official said.


Under the F.B.I.’s guidelines, agents can fire a gun at someone if they feel the person is a threat to them or someone else. The episode is being reviewed by a team of F.B.I. investigators who specialize in shootings and by the district attorney in Orlando, the official said.


At the news conference in Moscow, the elder Mr. Todashev said his son had been interrogated for eight hours in his home on the day of the shooting because he had refused to report to an official building for what would have been a third round of questioning. He said that judging from his son’s wounds, he had been shot seven times, including once on the crown of his head.


“I want justice,” said Mr. Todashev, who works for the city government in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. “I want this to be investigated, so that these people will be put on trial in America. These are not F.B.I. agents, they are bandits. They must be put on trial.”


Mr. Todashev, said the agents had focused exclusively on the Boston bombing the first time they questioned his son, and they raised the 2011 killings in subsequent conversations. He said his son was planning to fly to Russia on May 24 for a visit because he had received his American green card two months earlier and was now free to travel.


“Probably he was tired of these interrogations,” he said. “He said, ‘I am home; you should come to me.’ That kind of conversation took place. And they came to his home.”


Mr. Todashev, a father of 12, said his son was with a friend, Khusen Taramov, when the agents arrived. He said they had separated the two men and questioned Mr. Taramov outside, before releasing him after four hours. When Mr. Taramov asked about his friend, Mr. Todashev said, “They pushed him off, told him, ‘We’re going to be with him a long time.’ ” Mr. Taramov returned later to find the house surrounded by police officers and emergency vehicles.


“I have questions for the Americans,” said Zaurbek Sadakhanov, a lawyer who has worked with the Todashev family as well as the family of Mr. Tsarnaev and his brother, Dzhokhar, the other suspect in the Boston bombings. “Why was he questioned for the third time without a lawyer? Why wasn’t Ibragim’s questioning recorded on audio or videotape, seeing as he was being questioned without a lawyer? What was the need to shoot Ibragim seven times, when five fully equipped police officers with stun guns were against him?”


He also complained about the muted response of the Russian Foreign Ministry. The ministry often responds vocally to the treatment of Russian citizens by officials of foreign governments, but it has made no statement about Mr. Todashev’s shooting. Much of the news conference focused on the actions of United States law enforcement.


“We will never know whether Ibragim Todashev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were criminals, because the investigation ends with their death,” Mr. Sadakhanov said. “If that’s what happens in American democracy, then I am against the export of that democracy to Russia.”


Mr. Todashev said Ibragim had graduated from a university in Chechnya and then traveled to the United States in 2008, hoping to improve his English. He said his son befriended the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston, but had moved to Florida two years ago. This relationship was of central interest to the agents who questioned Ibragim, Mr. Todashev said, adding that his son told them he did not believe the Tsarnaev brothers were guilty.


“He did not believe the Tsarnaevs did this,” he said. “He said they had been set up. These were his exact words.”


He said he hoped to receive an American visa so that he could retrieve his son’s body and take it back to Russia for burial. He said that he has so far received no account of his son’s death from American officials, and that he had received the photographs of his son’s corpse from a friend who had sent them to him electronically. The photographs were published Thursday on the Russian Web site Kavkazskaya Politika.





                                                          Mike Bosak