NEWS of the Day - January 19, 2012
on some NAACC / LACP issues of interest


NEWS of the Day - January 19, 2012
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 Los Angeles Times


More body parts found near man's head in Hollywood Hills park

Police discover a hand, then another, and, as they are about to end their search for the day, they find two feet below the Hollywood sign.

by Alan Zarembo and Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times

January 19, 2012

As the sun set over the Hollywood Hills park where police spent Wednesday searching for human body parts, they still didn't have a name to go with the man's head discovered there a day earlier.

What they did have were two hands and two feet. Authorities were optimistic that the hands were in good enough condition to obtain fingerprints.

The homicide investigation began Tuesday afternoon after two dog walkers in Bronson Canyon Park noticed their dogs playing with a plastic bag and went to inspect it.

Inside was a man's head. His hair was graying. Police said he appeared to be in his 40s and that he probably had been dead for a day or two.

The discovery launched a massive search. More than 30 Los Angeles Police Department detectives and additional officers on horseback fanned out across seven acres of rugged parkland Wednesday.

A "cadaver dog" from the Los Angeles County coroner's office found one hand, and later the other, in brush not far from where the head was discovered.

Unlike the head, they were not in bags.

Then, as officials were about to leave for the day, the feet were found.

Detectives believe that the killing happened elsewhere and that the body — or at least some of the parts — were dumped in the park.

"We're hoping we can find more remains," said LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith, adding that wild animals may have moved some of the body parts.

Without many answers, local residents were left to speculate. Some said that the body parts must have been deposited in the park after Tuesday morning.

At least 10 people walk their dogs each morning over the same terrain where the head was left, said Liam Lefevour. One of those dogs — maybe Tiger, his own 4-year-old greyhound and pitbull mix — would have found the head, he said.

Lefevour said he the whole situation was "freaky."

Others seemed to relish playing armchair detective. Most of their crime knowledge comes from movies and television.

"It's a real-life 'Sopranos' situation," Ann Marie Spinelli said as she hiked a nearby ridge.

Spinelli, her sister and mother hypothesized that the killer was trying to make it impossible to identify the victim.

"We're assuming the body would be far away," said the sister, Karen Madigan. "There's no other reason to cut off the head."

The search was expected to continue Thursday morning.



Washington Monument to get $7.5-million donation for repairs

.A billionaire reportedly will donate $7.5 million to restore the earthquake-damaged Washington Monument.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday night that philanthropist David Rubenstein's gift will be announced Thursday.

Congress appropriated $7.5 million for the monument's repairs, with a matching amount to be raised privately. Rubenstein's gift delivers it all at once.

The iconic obelisk cracked in August during a magnitude 5.8 earthquake centered in Virginia. Cracks are visible on the outside, including one near the top that is 4 feet long and up to an inch wide, and the monument leaks when it rains.

Engineers rappelled down its sides to assess the damage and found that it was repairable.

Finished in 1884, the monument is one of the capital's most popular tourist attractions, but it has been closed since the Aug. 23 temblor. Normally it gets about 1,700 visitors a day.

Rubenstein, co-founder of the Carlyle Group private equity firm, said he wanted the monument to reopen as soon as possible.



Court asked to reconsider ruling on bone marrow compensation

The Obama administration has asked a federal appeals court to reconsider its decision last month to allow compensation to people donating bone marrow cells harvested from their bloodstreams.

In a petition for rehearing by the full U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. argued that the court ignored the intent of Congress to shield all organ sales from "market forces" when a three-judge panel ruled unanimously on Dec. 1 that marrow cells collected from blood aren't covered by the 1984 National Organ Transplant Act.

Congress amended that statute in 2005, after the less-invasive bloodstream harvesting of marrow was in widespread use. It clearly intended that such harvesting also be covered by the ban on organ sales, Holder said in the government's appeal, which was filed with the San Francisco-based court Tuesday.

Jeff Rowes, the Institute for Justice lawyer who successfully argued the case for compensation on behalf of a group of cancer patients, their families, a transplant surgeon and the California group MoreMarrowDonors.org, said he doubted the 9th Circuit would grant an 11-judge rehearing because the three-judge opinion was unanimous and doesn't conflict with other case law.

MoreMarrowDonors.org wants to begin a pilot project to attract new members to a national bone marrow registry by offering up to $3,000 in scholarships, housing payments or charitable donations to volunteers whose bone marrow is a promising match for one of the thousands waiting for life-saving transplants.

In its ruling last month, the 9th Circuit panel said bone marrow cells filtered from the donor's bloodstream were blood parts, which can be sold legally, not organ parts covered by the 1984 ban. That law was enacted when bone marrow donation involved a surgical extraction through needles inserted into the spongy marrow in hip bones -- a painful procedure legislators feared would be disproportionately endured by the poor if financial inducement were allowed.

"Congress has not distinguished between donations of cells from fatty tissue and donations of cells from peripheral blood," Holder said in the appeal. "The panel fundamentally erred in creating a distinction that undermines the scheme created by Congress."



TSA apology? Two elderly women were screened improperly

The Transportation Security Administration has offered a mea culpa, of sorts, for the screening of two elderly women who said they were partially strip-searched at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport in November.

Yes, security screeners violated procedures when they asked the women, in separate incidents, to show them medical devices concealed beneath their clothing, said Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Betsy Markey in letters made public this week.

But Markey vehemently denied that the women were "strip-searched."

Lenore Zimmerman, 85, of Long Beach, N.Y., and 88-year-old Ruth Sherman, of Sunrise, Fla., became the focus of national media attention after they alleged in late November that they were partially strip-searched when traveling through Kennedy Airport.

Zimmerman, who weighs less than 110 pounds and is in a wheelchair, has said that -- after being escorted into a private room -- she had to raise her shirt and lower her pants for a female TSA agent. She also said she had to remove her back brace, which was put through an X-ray machine, according to the Associated Press.

“They took my pants down, and then they took my underwear down,” Zimmerman earlier told NBC affiliate WPTV in West Palm Beach, Fla. “It's never happened in the 10 years of flying down to Florida.”

Sherman, who wears a colostomy bag and uses a wheelchair, said she was asked to lower her sweatpants so agents could inspect the device, according to the AP.

The TSA, part of the Department of Homeland Security, says that it interviewed the officers, reviewed video footage, interviewed the passengers themselves -- and determined that no strip searches took place.

In letters addressed to U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and New York state Sen. Michael Gianaris, author of that state's airline passengers' bill of rights law, Markey wrote of both cases: "At no point was the passenger asked to remove any items of clothing during screening."

Gianaris appeared somewhat dissatisfied with the results of the investigation, saying he wants the agencies to admit that the women were strip-searched and apologize.

"It's obvious that something went wrong," Gianaris said in a phone interview Wednesday. "These two women that didn't know each other before this happened had no reason to invent the same story."

Both women said they were asked to remove their clothing, but Markey said that each "voluntarily" began undressing.

In her letter, Markey said that running the brace through the X-ray machine and conducting a visual inspection of the colostomy bag are not "standard operating [procedures]."

She said the TSA agents involved will receive a refresher course on how to respectfully and safely screen passengers with disabilities or medical conditions and that TSA "sincerely regrets any discomfort or inconvenience the passengers at JFK experienced."

"The letter they sent to me apologized for the fact that procedures were not adhered to, but it didn't go all the way. It denied that the strip search was done," Gianaris said.

"I think we're arguing semantics at this point, but it'd be good if they didn't view this as adversarial," he added.

Officials with Homeland Security and TSA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.



From Google News


Viral Chicago beating video points to bewildering trend of posting alleged crimes online

by Associated Press

CHICAGO — It seems to defy the logic of committing crimes in such way as to reduce the risk of getting caught: ruffians intentionally recording themselves on video beating and robbing someone, then posting it on YouTube so anyone anywhere can see it, including police.

The latest example of this disturbing but increasingly common phenomenon comes from Chicago, where police Wednesday arrested seven teens who apparently did just that. Their video had gone viral.

The practice, some experts say, is a modern twist on the age-old human penchant for boasting about one's exploits to impress the community at large and to warn perceived rivals that their group is more powerful than others.

“Medieval warriors putting the heads of their enemies on sticks, scalping and even school yard brawls in the ‘50s — they're all ways of displaying that dominance in public,” said Pam Rutledge, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based psychologist who heads the Media Psychology Research Center. “These news tools — the Internet, YouTube — just let you spread the word much farther.”

The urge to post incriminating material online, whatever the underlying motivation, also might say just as much about someone's shaky grasp of how cyberspace works.

“These guys are bragging online without understanding they just provided irrefutable evidence of a crime,” she said. “It says something both about their naiveté — and their stupidity.”

Speaking to reporters after the arrests in Chicago on Wednesday, Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy noted that episodes of youth violence ending up in online videos have become more frequent everywhere.

“This is a national epidemic,” he said. “It's not something that's particular to Chicago.”

He also expressed bewilderment about why the teens decided to post the video, thereby incriminating themselves.

“I think it's all part of the same dynamic where this is what kids do today, which is ridiculously stupid,” he said.

The Chicago teens were charged in the beating and robbery of a 17-year-old high school student in an incident that stemmed from a previous dispute last October, police said. Police said the posted video helped to identify the alleged attackers.

One teen was charged as an adult. The rest — a 15-year-old girl, two 16-year-old boys and three 15-year-old boys — were cited in juvenile delinquency petitions. All face one count each of robbery and aggravated battery, including the teen who recorded the video.

Throughout the more than three-minute video, several attackers — many with sweat-shirt hoods over their heads and some wearing masks — are seen repeatedly kicking, punching and yelling at the victim as he lay curled up on the snow-covered ground Sunday afternoon in an alley on the city's South Side. Police believe the girl lured the victim to the area.

A striking aspect of the Chicago video is just how at ease the attackers seem to be with being filmed. One attacker even pauses from kicking and punching the victim's face to calmly instruct whoever is holding the camera how to compose the shot. He then walks back and resumes pummeling the visibly terrified boy.

Viewers who posted comments online identified the alleged attackers by name, including 17-year-old Raymond Palomino, who appeared in bond court Wednesday. His bail was set at $100,000. Palomino's face is visible in the video.

Police said the attackers stole shoes, a wallet and $180 in cash from the victim, who was treated at a hospital for a laceration to his lip, bruises and abrasions.

The motive for the attack was an earlier fight between the victim and the same group of teens, said police Cmdr. Patricia Walsh. The assailants shouted racial slurs at the victim during the attack, but Walsh said the assault stemmed from “teenage bickering.”

The video-recorded attack on a teen in Chicago isn't the first to attract attention on the Web. In 2009, footage of the fatal beating of a 16-year-old honor student was circulated worldwide, providing an example of escalating violence that claimed the lives of more than 20 Chicago public school students in a six-month period.

In that video, captured by a cellphone camera, Derrion Albert is seen being punched, hit on the head with large boards and kicked in the head. The fight broke out after classes were dismissed at a high school on Chicago's South Side.

Four teens were sentenced to lengthy prison terms last year in that case, which sparked outrage around the country. A fifth suspect tried as a juvenile was ordered to remain imprisoned until he turns 21.

The most recent incident was different in that the attack was videotaped by someone apparently affiliated with the attackers. The Albert attack was recorded by a bystander.

That these latest attackers beat the victim and uploaded the video to YouTube not only illustrated their immaturity, it also suggests they are deeply insecure, somehow calculating that the stunt would boost their social standing, Rutledge said.

If that was their thinking, they badly miscalculated.

“They are getting the opposite reinforcement that they intended,” Rutledge said, citing the arrests. “They put it up to show how cool and tough they were. Instead, it left people thinking, ‘You guys are complete idiots.' ”