NEWS of the Day - August 25, 2010
on some LACP issues of interest


NEWS of the Day - August 25, 2010
on some issues of interest to the community policing and neighborhood activist across the country

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood activist public. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view ...

We present this simply as a convenience to our readership ...


From the Los Angeles Times


California Senate OKs sex offender bills

The measures are a response to the rapes and murders of San Diego County teens Chelsea King and Amber Dubois.

By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times

August 25, 2010

Reporting from Sacramento

The state Senate approved a package of bills Tuesday in response to the rapes and murders of San Diego County teenagers Chelsea King and Amber Dubois, including a measure that would keep violent sexual offenders behind bars longer and require closer supervision for those paroled.

Lawmakers dubbed one bill Chelsea's Law in memory of King, who was killed by a previously convicted sex offender after she disappeared while jogging near her home. King's parents actively supported the legislation.

"This tragedy exposed a number of serious flaws in how California deals with violent sex offenders," said Senate Republican leader Dennis Hollingsworth of Murrieta. The measure would provide for life sentences without the possibility of parole for the most dangerous sexual offenders, increase the sentence for forcible sex crimes, increase parole terms for those who target children younger than 14, require electronic monitoring of more parolees and restrict sex offenders' ability to enter parks.

The measure received unanimous Senate support, with Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D- Sacramento) calling it "strong" and "tough."

AB 1844, written by Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (R- San Diego), was previously approved by the Assembly. It goes back to that house for concurrence in amendments before heading to the governor's desk.

Brent King, Chelsea's father, said from the family's new home in Illinois that he hopes to get the California measure adopted in other states, calling the vote a "bittersweet moment." Kelly King, Chelsea's mother, said she watched the Senate vote on television with tears in her eyes. "I can't think, aside from having my daughter back here, of anything more meaningful to Brent and I," she said.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Tuesday that he plans to sign the bill.

The Senate also approved two bills supported by Moe Dubois, the father of 14-year-old Amber Dubois, the other teenager killed by convicted sex offender John Albert Gardner III. AB 33 aims at getting local law enforcement agencies to obtain and better use a list of registered sex offenders when a child is reported to have been abducted by a stranger, and seeks to improve training in missing persons cases.

The bill, written by Assemblyman Pedro Nava (D- Santa Barbara), was previously approved by the Assembly but goes back there for a final vote on amendments.

Nava also wrote AB 34, which, as approved by the Senate on Tuesday, also seeks to improve communications on missing persons cases.,0,5460345,print.story


Troops find 72 bodies in rural northern Mexico

The corpses are found after a shootout that leaves 3 suspected drug cartel gunmen and one marine dead.

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

August 24, 2010


Mexican marines found the bodies of 72 people at a rural location in northern Mexico after a shootout with suspected drug cartel gunmen that left one marine and three suspects dead.

The find appears to be the largest drug-cartel body-dumping ground found in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against drug trafficking in 2006.

The cartels often use vacant lots or mine shafts to dump the bodies of executed rivals or kidnapping victims.

The Navy announced the discovery Wednesday but did not give details on the victims' identities, who had killed them or whether the bodies had been buried.

It was also unclear whether the 58 men and 14 women had been killed at the same time or separately.,0,2917058,print.story


More than a mosque

It's clear that the controversy over a proposed Islamic center in New York has tapped a troubling vein of popular suspicion and unease concerning Muslim Americans and their beliefs.


Tim Rutten

August 25, 2010

The controversy over a proposed mosque near ground zero in Lower Manhattan preoccupies an increasing number of Americans, who now are hearing rhetorical bigotry more disgraceful and dangerous than anything admitted to our national conversation for decades.

According to a Rasmussen poll published Monday, 85% of the country's voters say they are following stories about the controversy, a 35% increase over the level of interest the survey found last month. Nearly 6 in 10 voters say they are "following the story very closely."

Some of this may have a bit to do with the season: August is a notoriously slow month for news, and lacking a natural disaster or missing blonde to obsess over, the cable networks and commentators who fuel the 24-hour news cycle have made the proposed Islamic center and mosque the centerpiece in their overheated echo chamber. Still, even allowing for the timing, it's clear that this controversy has tapped a troubling vein of popular suspicion and unease concerning Muslim Americans and their beliefs.

Unhappy history tells us that this is dangerous territory, and the willingness of some to exploit it is one of this affair's sorriest aspects. Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, for example, has compared those who support the mosque's construction to Nazis, who "don't have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust museum in Washington." A Republican National Committee member from Iowa insists that President Obama is a Muslim. (If so, what the devil was all that Jeremiah Wright stuff about?) Evangelist Franklin Graham tells CNN that the president carries "the seed of Islam" — whatever that is.

One of the most distressing things is how rapidly this controversy has shifted from an ostensibly principled objection — the center's backers have a legal and constitutional right to build on the site, but it is "insensitive" to do so — to a blanket objection to Islam in America. Such a slide was entirely predictable, because the minute you impute collective responsibility for 9/11 to U.S. Muslims, generalized expressions of bigotry are rendered licit. Thus, we have organized campaigns opposing the construction of mosques in places as distant from ground zero as Wisconsin, Tennessee and Kentucky. In Santa Clara, a group objects to a mosque adding a minaret, while in Temecula, Pastor Bill Rench argues that his Muslim neighbors ought not be allowed to build a mosque on a site adjoining his Calvary Baptist Church.

Of all the dangerous nonsense being batted about, nothing quite tops a recent piece in the National Review Online in which Nina Shea, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, argues that the mosque has provoked "a heated debate" about the "limits" of religious freedom "in the age of Islamist terrorism." The federal government, she alleges, has a right to "defend itself" against those "promoting radical ideas in the context of Islam." To that end, "shutting down a particular religious establishment — or preventing it from being built — does not constitute barring a religion as a whole.... It could all depend on what the building is used for … [and] the impact of the preaching and instruction that takes place there."

Let's get this straight: The government is going to get into the business of evaluating what's going to be taught in a house of worship before issuing a building permit? Once a mosque, church or synagogue is constructed, government agents are going to enter, monitor the preaching and, if they deem it a threat to somebody's notion of security, shut the place down? (The smoke rising from such an event would issue from the ruin of the 1st Amendment.)

Moreover, why stop with mosques? In Gainesville, Fla., the Dove World Church wants to burn hundreds of copies of the Koran. Some of us regard book-burning as a threat to the Constitution. Let's shut them down. In Pensacola, Fla., Baptist pastor Chuck Baldwin teaches his flock that Abraham Lincoln was a tyrant, that nullification and secession are valid concepts and that we need a second revolution. These are the ideas that provoked the Confederate treason and Civil War. Shut him down. (We're not going to do either of those things because if the 1st Amendment means anything, it's that some people have a right to spout idiocy and others have a right to listen — or not.)

We do need to stop, take a deep collective breath and pull back from the edge. The abyss on the other side is dark and deep.,0,1655750,print.column


From the New York Times


U.S. Troop Count Dips Below 50,000 in Iraq


BAGHDAD — The American military said Tuesday that the number of troops in Iraq had dropped below 50,000, in line with the Obama administration's deadline of Aug. 31 for what it describes as the end of combat operations in the country.

Both the administration and the military have promoted the date as a turning point in the tumultuous seven years of America's presence here that followed its invasion in March 2003. To an unprecedented degree, the military has provided access to bases and commanders to commemorate the moment ahead of Sept. 1, when the mission will formally become what the military has called “advise and assist.”

The American commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno , said about 49,700 troops remained here, and roughly that number would stay through next summer. That is less than a third that were here during the American military buildup in 2007. Under an agreement between Iraq and the United States, those remaining troops are supposed to leave the country by 2011, though some Iraqi and American officials say they believe that the agreement may be renegotiated to allow for a longer American military presence here.

The withdrawal comes at a precarious time in Iraq, where popular frustration is mounting at shoddy public services, namely a lack of electricity, and the inability of the country's leaders to form a government more than five months after elections in March.

For most Iraqis, the resentment has largely overshadowed the withdrawal itself. Insurgents have vowed to increase attacks, and while American officials say Iraqi security forces are prepared to accept a bigger role, they have been plagued by bombings and drive-by shootings.

A rash of assassinations and attempted killings have been reported in Baghdad. On Tuesday, a municipal official was shot dead, and a booby-trapped car killed a leader of an American-allied militia that helped fight the insurgency in 2007 and 2008. In northern Iraq a day earlier, near the town of Sayniyah, gunmen disguised as Iraqi soldiers killed five oil workers who were transporting salaries and stole almost $400,000.


Dozens Killed in Wave of Attacks Across Iraq


BAGHDAD — Insurgents carried out what seemed to be a coordinated wave of attacks on police forces across Iraq on Wednesday, intensifying their onslaught as the American military prepares to switch from combat operations to a training and assistance role at the end of the month.

In northern Baghdad's Qahira district, a car bomb killed 15 people and wounded more than 50 in an assault on a police station, according to an official at Iraq's Interior Ministry. The blast flattened the building and other houses nearby, spread rubble in the street and shattered glass more than half a mile away, according to reporters who visited the scene.

In the southern city of Kut, Iraqi officials said a suicide car bomb killed 14 people and wounded 70, mostly police personnel, at a police station near the provincial headquarters. Other attacks were reported from central Baghdad, Baquba, Kirkuk, Samarra, Ramadi and the southern city of Basra.

The explosions appeared designed to undermine public confidence in the Iraqi security forces and to exploit political uncertainty surrounding the failure of Iraq's political parties to form a government nearly six months after the March 7 parliamentary elections.

“There may be a state, there may be a government. But what can that state do? What can they do with all the terrorists? Are they supposed to set up a checkpoint in every house?” said a survivor, Mohammed Abbas, 40. He was speaking beside the ruined remains of his uncle's house near the Qahira explosion, in which one of his cousins had been killed.

Last week a suicide bomber penetrated apparently lax security at an Iraqi Army recruiting office in Baghdad, killing 48 volunteers and soldiers in the first major bombing of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, when attacks often increase.

American and Iraqi officials say that overall violence in Iraq has fallen significantly since the height of the sectarian killings in 2006 and 2007. However, the threat of escalating violence is one of the factors that may determine if all American forces can be withdrawn from the country on schedule by the current deadline of Dec. 2011.

Outside the collapsed Baghdad police station, Capt. Qutaiba Lazem of the Iraqi police said the explosion happened at 8:20 a.m. He blamed Sunni insurgents for carrying it out in revenge for the recent arrest of a man suspected of organizing recent attacks on Iraqi security forces.

The blast spread damage over a wide area, with one family pulled alive from the ruins of a nearby house more than three hours after the explosion, and other victims still apparently trapped. There was early confusion among some of the Iraqi security forces about the cause, with some saying the attack could have been either a missile or a vehicle bomb.

In Diyala Province, Iraqi officials reported six early-morning explosions, focusing on police and Iraqi provincial officials.

The largest of the Diyala attacks was a suicide car bomb intended for the provincial police headquarters in Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, in which early police reports said three people were killed, all of them civilians, and 17 wounded. Twelve of the wounded were police officers.

The other five explosions were a series of roadside bombs on police targets, the first against a patrol south of Buhriz, a second against reinforcements who were heading to the scene and three others against houses belonging to policemen, officials said. Ten people were wounded.

Saleh Khamis, 38, a teacher in Buhriz, said he feared that the attacks were the “beginning of the storm,” showing that insurgents were able to attack the police in different parts of Buhriz as they did in years past when the area suffered from prolonged lawlessness.

Capt. Umran Jassim, an Iraqi police officer, pointed out that the attackers knew where policemen lived, “so we fear that this is the beginning of the war on homes, to put pressure on security personnel and to create a state of fear and terror in the hearts of their families.”

In Baghdad Iraqi, officials said that one of the other bombs went off in Shalchiya neighborhood, with early reports of two people dead.

Other nonfatal attacks happened in Haifa Street and Karada.

In Kirkuk, north of Baghdad, officials said that a bomb killed one person and wounded eight.

In Basra, a vital oil conduit for Iraq, a bomb went off near a police station in the center of the city, wounding four policemen and damaging the surrounding shops. Iraqi police said it was a car bomb and that it had exploded at early hour, causing fewer casualties than if it had gone off at rush hour.

In Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, officials said that a car bomb east of the city killed three people. In another attack, two would-be bombers appear to have killed themselves when their vehicle exploded by mistake.

Iraqi security forces also reported injuries but no deaths from car and roadside bombs in Balad Ruz and Muqdadiya, both in Diyala Province, and Samarra in Salahuddin Province.


The Customer Always Comes Last


The credit card industry is working hard to subvert the Credit Card Act of 2009, which banned many of the industry's most predatory practices. The Federal Reserve Board, which oversees and coddles this industry, needs to ensure that consumers get the protections Congress intended, and Americans so clearly need.

The law's final provisions went into effect this week, and if they are vigilantly enforced, they should end many of the abuses that had become standard practice.

It requires card issuers to give a 45-day notice before raising interest rates, bars companies from raising interest rates on existing balances under all but a few circumstances, and requires that late charges and other penalties be “reasonable and proportional” to the customer's infraction.

It also bars companies from charging customers upfront fees that come to more than 25 percent of the available credit line. This was intended to put an end to “fee harvester” credit cards, under which consumers could be charged hundreds of dollars in fees for cards that left them with credit limits as low as $50.

Watchdog groups say that companies are already eagerly exploiting gray areas in the law, either by concocting new charges or relabeling old, disallowed charges.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently reported the case of an elderly pensioner who was charged $179 in initial fees for a credit card that carried a credit limit of only $250. An executive of First Premier Bank, which issued the card, suggested to the paper that the charge was legal because the new law “does not preclude fees charged prior to the account being opened.” That sounds like a scam to us.

The Fed also needs to take a hard look at problems cited last month by the Pew Charitable Trust Safe Credit Cards Project. It found that despite the law's demands for more transparency, card issuers are still withholding important information. Companies are failing to disclose penalty interest charges, which could double or even triple the interest rate for cardholders who fall two months behind.

Time and again, the credit card industry has demonstrated its disdain for its customers. The Fed needs to press these companies to live up to the law.


A Forgotten Fight for Suffrage




LOOKING back on the adoption of the 19th Amendment 90 years ago Thursday — the largest act of enfranchisement in our history — it can be hard to see what the fuss was about. We're inclined to assume that the passage of women's suffrage (even the term is old-fashioned) was inevitable, a change whose time had come. After all, voting is now business as usual for women. And although women are still poorly represented in Congress, there are influential female senators and representatives, and prominent women occupy governors' and mayors' offices and legislative seats in every part of the United States.

Yet entrenched opposition nationwide sidelined the suffrage movement for decades in the 19th century. By 1920, antagonism remained in the South, and was strong enough to come close to blocking ratification.

Proposals for giving women the vote had been around since the first convention for women's rights in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1848. At the end of the Civil War, eager abolitionists urged Congress to enfranchise both the former slaves and women, black and white. The 14th Amendment opened the possibility, with its generous language about citizenship, equal protection and due process.

But, at that time, women's suffrage was still unthinkable to anyone but radical abolitionists. Since the nation's founding, Americans considered women to be, by nature, creatures of the home, under the care and authority of men. They had no need for the vote; their husbands represented them to the state and voted for them. So, in the 14th Amendment's second section, Republicans inserted the word “male,” prohibiting the denial of voting rights to “any of the male inhabitants” of the states.

In the ensuing decades, the nation backpedaled from the equal-rights guarantees of the 14th and 15th amendments. Black voters in the South were refused federal protection, and even in the North and West, literacy tests and educational requirements were used to turn immigrants and laborers away from the polls. The suffrage movement itself embraced anti-immigrant and anti-black views. In 1903 in New Orleans, at their annual convention, suffragists listened to speakers inveigh against the Negro menace. Black suffragists met far across town. (An elderly Susan B. Anthony paid them a respectful call.) It was the nadir of the women's movement.

Later in the first decade of the new century, though, an influx of bold young women, allergic to the old pieties about female purity and comfortable working with men, displaced their moralistic, teetotaling elders. Black women, working women and immigrants joined white reformers in a stunningly successful coalition. From 1909 to 1912, they won suffrage in Oregon, California and Washington. More states followed, so that by the 1916 presidential election, 4 million new votes were in play.

“Antis” still managed to defeat suffrage measures in four Northern states that year. “Woman suffrage wants the wife to be as much the ruler as the husband, if not the chief ruler,” warned one antagonist. But such views were waning — everywhere but the South.

President Woodrow Wilson, who had been a genteel but firm anti-suffragist, was indebted to female voters for helping him win a close election, and in 1918 he endorsed a constitutional amendment. That year the 19th Amendment passed the House. It stalled in the Senate — blocked by conservative Southerners — but Wilson muscled it through in 1919.

Thirty-six of the 48 states then needed to ratify it. Western states did so promptly, and in the North only Vermont and Connecticut delayed. But the segregated South saw in the 19th Amendment a grave threat: the removal of the most comprehensive principle for depriving an entire class of Americans of full citizenship rights. The logic of women's disenfranchisement helped legitimize relegating blacks to second-class citizenship.

Female voters would also pose practical difficulties, described bluntly by a Mississippi man: “We are not afraid to maul a black man over the head if he dares to vote, but we can't treat women, even black women, that way. No, we'll allow no woman suffrage.”

Nine Southern states joined by Delaware forced ratification to a halt, one state short. Only Tennessee was left, and the opposition had good reason to think it would line up with the rest of the region. But after a nine-day special session in the heat of August 1920, a legislator pledged to the nays jumped ship — he later said it was because his mother told him to — and the 36th state was in.

Even then, in several Southern states, die-hards went to court to invalidate the amendment, stopping only after the Supreme Court in 1922 unanimously dismissed their arguments.

In 1923 Delaware ratified belatedly to join the rest of the country, but the Southern states waited decades: Maryland in 1941, Virginia in 1952, Alabama in 1953. Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina came along from 1969 to 1971, years after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 had passed. Mississippi brought up the rear, not condoning the right of women to vote until 1984.

Today the country is again divided over how far the rights of citizenship extend. In the controversy over same-sex marriage, the prospect of constitutional protection calls up truculence from one part of the country, approval from another. How remarkable, then, that a parallel conflict — one that similarly exposes the fears and anxieties that the expansion of democracy unleashes — is now largely lost to memory.

Christine Stansell, a professor of history at the University of Chicago, is the author of “The Feminist Promise: 1792 to the Present.”


From the Chicago Sun Times


Sorry Indiana: 116,000 old tollway bills on the way

Agency missed out on $7 million in missed tolls, fines  

August 25, 2010

BY MARY WISNIEWSKI Transportation Reporter

The Illinois Tollway missed out on an estimated $7 million in tolls and fines because of a mix-up in how it issued violation notices to Indiana drivers, officials said.

That means more than 116,000 Indiana residents who used the  Tollway over the past two years are about to get some unwelcome bills in the mail.

Tollway staff found a system glitch in April but didn't tell the new Tollway chief until June.

The problem was so bad that the new executive director of the Tollway, Kristi LaFleur, believes the whole system needs to be audited to make sure there isn't additional money owed the system.

“This Indiana issue has raised deeper concerns for me about our violation enforcement system,” LaFleur said. LaFleur said an outside audit could identify ongoing problems and prevent future mistakes.

The Indiana issue is reminiscent of similar problems in 2007 and 2008 when more than a million Tollway users got caught in a 13-month lapse in sending out violation notices. Drivers received notices of jaw-dropping fines in the mail. The problem was the result of a rough transition between the two companies operating the electronic tollway system.

 The Indiana problem stems from that state's since-discontinued practice of issuing license plates with different designs but duplicate numbers. One driver could have a standard Indiana plate with a torch design, while another could have a plate bearing the words “In God We Trust” — but both could have the same number, said Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles spokesman Dennis Rosebrough.

The duplicate plates led to violations notices being sent to the wrong drivers. So filters were installed in the spring of 2008 on the electronic toll collection system to suspend violation notices while the Tollway worked on the problem with Indiana.

The Tollway thought it had the issue resolved, said spokeswoman Joelle McGinnis. Unfortunately, a filter remained in place in the collection system, provided by Texas-based contractor ETC Corp., that meant notices were not sent to drivers with violations.

Staff discovered the mistake in April, but didn't tell LaFleur — who joined the agency April 19 — until June, McGinnis said.

“We can't tell if this was a Tollway error, in terms of managing the contract, or an ETC error,” said Tollway Board member Bill Morris. “It's probably 50/50.” Morris is a member of the Tollway's Customer Service Working Group, which endorsed pursuing the backlog at a meeting Monday.

ETC spokeswoman Carla Kienast noted that while ETC implemented and maintains the electronic toll collection system, it does not operate the system on behalf of the Illinois Tollway.

“We work closely with our customers to ensure that their toll collection systems remain highly accurate and provide safe, convenient service,” Kienast said. “As such, ETC welcomes and will fully support the Tollway's audit and review of the issue.”,tollway-missed-millions-082410.article


From the White House


The Power of Information at Your Fingertips

by Todd Park

August 24, 2010

Cross-posted from puts the power of information at your fingertips. Not only can you learn about how the Affordable Care Act affects you, but you can also search for both public and private health coverage options through a new, easy to use health insurance finder tool.

Based on your answers to a series of questions, the insurance finder produces a menu of potential coverage choices – personalized just for you.

We've made it even easier for you to search for coverage options (or help others search for them) by developing a widget that you can embed on your website. Check it out!


From the Department of Homeland Security


Secretary Napolitano Announces Over $25 Million in Additional Gulf Coast Rebuilding Projects

August 24, 2010

Washington, D.C. - Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate today announced over $25 million in newly approved Gulf Coast rebuilding projects to assist communities as they continue to recover from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita—the latest in a series of Gulf Coast recovery projects that have totaled more than $2.5 billion since the start of the Obama administration.

"Over the past twenty months, this administration has cut bureaucratic red tape that had slowed recovery and expedited assistance across the Gulf Coast," said Secretary Napolitano. "We will continue to work with our federal, state and local, private sector, faith-based and nonprofit partners, as well as Gulf Coast residents, to ensure local communities have the assistance they need to rebuild the region stronger than ever."

Today's announced projects include:

  • Xavier University: Over $11 million to the State of Louisiana to help Xavier University rebuild the Student Center. 22 main buildings on the campus of Xavier University, America's only historically black and Catholic university, were severely damaged when the school was engulfed in up to seven feet of floodwaters during Hurricane Katrina, including the student center and the gymnasium. FEMA is funding replacement projects for both. In total to date, FEMA has provided more than $55 million in federal grants to Xavier University in response to the storm. Currently, repairs are underway across the campus, and the replacement gymnasium is in the design phase of construction.

  • Archdiocese of New Orleans: Over $2.7 million to the Archdiocese of New Orleans St. Martin Manor Yellow Masonry Assisted Living Complex to help replace the Yellow Brick building. Katrina caused severe wind and wind driven rain damage to the assisted living complex.

  • St. Tammany Parish School Board: Over $1.4 million to Salmen High School to help replace athletic department facilities. High wind and flood waters from Katrina caused damages to the weight room building and an adjacent storage building located at the school.

  • St. Bernard Parish Sanitary Sewage Collection System: Over $5.1 million to repair the sanitary sewer system in St. Bernard Parish. Damages occurred from uprooted trees, backfill erosion, flooding of manholes and equipment, infiltration and overburden.

  • Roman Catholic Church/Archdiocese of New Orleans Our Lady of Lourdes School Campus: Over $2.5 million to help repair several classrooms that were deeply damaged by Katrina.

  • Cameron Parish: $3 million to repair damages to the Cameron Parish recreation center and gymnasium.

  • Jefferson Parish (Rita): Roughly $1.1 million to add 12 properties from the alternative property list. The structures will be elevated or reconstructed in compliance with the latest building codes as well as to one foot above Advisory Base Flood Elevation. This additional funding brings the total federal funding for the project to nearly $6.2 million , which will cover 25 pilot reconstructions and 11 elevation projects of flood prone structures throughout Jefferson Parish.

  • Hancock County, Miss.: More than $1.6 million to upgrade Hancock North Central Elementary to include a hardened shelter.

For more information, please visit or .


From ICE


ICE gang surge nets 102 arrests in Phoenix, Yuma

PHOENIX - A total of 102 individuals with ties to 19 different street gangs are facing criminal charges or deportation following a six-day, multi-agency enforcement action in Phoenix and Yuma, Ariz. spearheaded by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The arrests were made as part of Operation Community Shield, an ongoing initiative by ICE-HSI's National Gang Unit in which the agency uses its powerful immigration and customs authorities in a coordinated strategy to attack and dismantle criminal street gangs across the country. As part of the initiative, ICE partners with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to target the significant public safety threat posed by transnational gangs.

Of the gang members and gang associates arrested during the enforcement action that concluded late Saturday, 29 are currently facing prosecution on state criminal charges, including outstanding warrants for gang-related violations. Three of the subjects arrested will also be presented to the U.S. Attorney's Office for prosecution for felony re-entry after deportation, a federal violation that carries a potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

"Gang activity poses one of the greatest threats to public safety in Arizona communities," said Matt Allen, special agent in charge for ICE-HSI in Arizona. "ICE is successfully targeting these gangs, arresting their leaders, disrupting their operations, and putting their members and associates behind bars."

Among those arrested during the enforcement action in Phoenix was a 33-year-old Mexican gang member in Mesa whose criminal history includes a conviction for aggravated assault in 2007. Another of the individuals taken into custody was a 27-year-old member of a Chandler gang wanted for burglary in California. The California Department of Corrections agreed to extradite Miguel Angel Lopez-Zuniga, who was booked into the Maricopa County Jail to await transfer to California.

In Yuma, ICE agents arrested gang member Fernando Ulloa, a 20-year-old U.S. citizen, on Arizona state charges related to a conspiracy to distribute marijuana and money laundering. Agents also arrested gang member Claudio Garcia, a 25-year-old U.S. citizen, for contempt of court.

Twenty-six of the gang members and gang associates arrested during the operation are U.S. citizens. The remaining 76 individuals are foreign nationals. The majority of the foreign nationals are from Mexico (58), but the group also includes citizens from Guatemala and Honduras. Those foreign nationals who are not being prosecuted on criminal charges are being processed for removal from the United States.

Since Operation Community Shield began in February 2005, ICE agents nationwide have arrested more than 18,000 gang members and gang associates. As part of the effort, HSI's National Gang Unit identifies violent street gangs and develops intelligence on their membership, associates, criminal activities and international movements to deter, disrupt and dismantle gang operations. Transnational street gangs have significant numbers of foreign-born members and are frequently involved in human and contraband smuggling, immigration violations and other crimes with a connection to the border.

To report suspicious activity, call ICE's 24-hour toll-free hotline at: 1-866-347-2423 or visit .