NEWS of the Day - June 6, 2012
on some LACP issues of interest

NEWS of the Day - June 6, 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 the Washington Times

U.S. sees ‘degradation' of al Qaeda organization

No successor seen after death of No. 2

by Dave Boyer

A U.S. drone strike has killed a top al Qaeda operative, and the White House said Tuesday that the terrorist group was left with “no clear successor.”

Abu Yahya al-Libi , described as the second-ranking operative in al Qaeda , was hit by a drone attack on a house and was taken to a hospital, where he died. Pakistani intelligence sources told Reuters that the strike was carried out Monday.

The White House, as is its practice, would not confirm a drone was used in the attack but verified al-Libi 's death.

“He served as al Qaeda's general manager, responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney. He said the killing was part of the ongoing “degradation” of al Qaeda's ranks by U.S. forces and allies.

“There is now no clear successor to take on the breadth of his responsibilities,” Mr. Carney said. “Al-Libi 's death is a major blow to core al Qaeda, removing the No. 2 leader for the second time in less than a year.”

He said it “puts additional pressure” on al Qaeda's leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, “to try to manage the group in an effective way.”

The strike was carried out a little more than a year after a Navy SEAL team killed terror mastermind Osama bin Laden in a house in Pakistan. Mr. Carney said al-Libi 's killing resulted in “further damaging the group's morale and cohesion and bringing it closer to its ultimate demise than ever before.”

Al-Libi was considered a media-savvy, charismatic leader who escaped from a U.S. military prison in Afghanistan and helped preside over the transformation of al Qaeda into a terrorist movement aimed at winning converts around the world.

Al-Libi was the latest in the dozen-plus senior commanders removed in the clandestine U.S. war against al Qaeda since the Navy SEALs killed bin Laden.

Pakistani officials previously said that eight militants died in a drone strike in the Pakistani village of Khassu Khel in the North Waziristan tribal area.

Al-Libi , a hero in militant circles for his 2005 escape from an American military prison in Afghanistan, was elevated to al Qaeda's No. 2 spot when al-Zawahri rose to replace bin Laden shortly after the terrorist leader was killed on May 2, 2011.

The State Department's Rewards for Justice program had set a $1 million reward for information leading to al-Libi, who had recorded numerous propaganda videos urging attacks on U.S. targets.

Militants and residents in the area told Pakistani agents that al-Libi was in the house when it was hit, Pakistani intelligence officials said. They said the mud-and-brick house was destroyed in the attack. A vehicle used by al-Libi also was destroyed during the strike, said one of the officials.

A local Taliban chief said earlier Monday that al-Libi was not present at the house, though his guard and driver were killed in the attack.

The intelligence officials declined to be identified because they were not authorized to talk to the media. The Taliban chief spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of being targeted by the Pakistani army.

The U.S. has carried out a flurry of drone strikes — seven in less than two weeks — some of which appear to have been trying to target al-Libi . The al Qaeda deputy appeared to have been injured in one of those strikes, although accounts were conflicting.

Pakistani intelligence officials said al-Libi was slightly injured in a May 28 attack in a village near Khassu Khel, where he then moved. The Taliban chief said the strike that wounded al-Libi was two days earlier in a different village.

The White House maintains a list of terrorist targets to be killed or captured, compiled by the military and the CIA and ultimately approved by the president.

The stepping-up of drone strikes since late May follows a relative lull driven by tensions between Washington and Islamabad over American airstrikes last year that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Pakistan seized the opportunity to renegotiate its relationship with the U.S. and demanded a stop to drone strikes in the country — a demand the U.S. has ignored. The attacks are protested in Pakistan because many people believe they mostly kill civilians, an allegation disputed by the U.S.

Pakistan called Deputy U.S. Ambassador Richard Hoagland to the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday to protest the drone strikes.

“He was informed that the drone strikes were unlawful, against international law and a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Members of the Pakistani government and military have supported the strikes in the past, but that cooperation has come under strain as the relationship between the two countries has deteriorated.

As al Qaeda's de facto general manager, al-Libi was responsible for running the group's day-to-day operations in Pakistan's tribal areas, and he managed outreach to al Qaeda 's regional affiliates.

Al-Libi, an Islamic scholar, was captured in 2002 and held by U.S. forces at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan until he escaped in 2005 in an embarrassing security breach. Almost immediately after reuniting with his Taliban and al Qaeda brethren, he began appearing in videos released by the terrorist group.

The Rewards for Justice program said al-Libi used his “religious training to influence people and legitimize the actions of al Qaeda.”

In a 2009 profile of al-Libi in Foreign Policy magazine, terrorism analyst Jarret Brachman described al-Libi as “media-savvy, ideologically extreme, and masterful at justifying savage acts of terrorism with esoteric religious arguments.”

Al-Libi was one of thousands of men from throughout the Muslim and Arab worlds who flocked to Afghanistan in the 1980s to battle the Soviet Union. Mr. Brachman said he later went to Mauritania for advanced religious studies that he then used in repeated videos and other al Qaeda outreach designed to attract followers and justify the group's deadly tactics. He honed his outreach skills while working in Karachi as webmaster for a Taliban website.



Homeland Security unveils new Canadian border strategy

by Chuck Neubauer

The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday unveiled a new strategy for enhancing security along the U.S.- Canada border that seeks to deter and prevent terrorism, drug trafficking and illegal immigration while encouraging and safeguarding the flow of lawful trade and people.

The Northern Border Strategy calls for Homeland Security “to improve information sharing and analysis” within the department and other government partners, and to enhance coordination with Canada . The department said it also will deploy technologies to aid joint security efforts and continue to update infrastructure to facilitate trade and travel.

The strategy is the first department-wide plan to guide its policies and operations along a border that Sen. Joe Lieberman , Connecticut independent and chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee , said in 2011 was “grossly underprotected” when it comes to terrorists, drug smugglers and other illegal activity.

The new strategy says the 5,525-mile border with Canada is the “single-greatest security threat” for terrorists and other violent extremists to get into the U.S.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet A. Napolitano said the report provides “a unifying framework for … enhancing the security and resiliency along our northern border while expediting legitimate travel and trade with Canada .”

Canada is the U.S.'s largest trading partner.

“With communities and businesses that reach both sides of the border, the economies and security of the United States and Canada are inextricably linked,” Ms. Napolitano said

She noted that the U.S.- Canada border “presents unique security challenges based on geography, weather and the immense volume of trade and travel.” She said 300,000 people and $1.5 billion in trade crosses the border every day.

Rep. Candice S. Miller , Michigan Republican and chairman of the House subcommittee on border and maritime security, was “encouraged by the release” of the plan.

Mrs. Miller said she had been calling on Homeland Security to focus on the unique challenges on the border by putting a stronger emphasis on sharing information, facilitating trade, and decreasing wait times for cargo and people who cross the border.

She said that while she was “pleased” the new strategy emphasizes a partnership with Canadian officials, “more work needs to be done to understand the security challenges and gaps.”

Other common threats along the border include illegal migration in both directions and the smuggling of illicit drugs. It notes that Canada is the primary source country for Ecstasy smuggled into the United States and is also a major source of high-potency marijuana. It also says cocaine is the largest-volume drug smuggled from the U.S. into Canada.



From Google News

Hunger Among Latino's Disproportionately High

by Vicki Escarra

Latinos living in the United States are more than twice as likely to be at risk of hunger than white, non-Hispanic households according to Feeding America, a network of food banks that provide food and groceries to nearly six million people each week.

“Map the Meal Gap” provides data on food insecurity at the county and congressional district level. “Food Insecurity” is a term used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to describe the lack of access to enough food to lead a healthy life.

“Many of the figures and findings about Latinos living at risk of hunger in our nation are truly upsetting,” said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America. “We are especially concerned about children.

“Sadly, nearly 1 in 3 (29 percent) of Latino/Hispanic children in the U.S. live in families served by the Feeding America's network of 61,000 food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters, as compared with nearly 1 in 9 (11 percent) of white, non-Hispanic children,” Escarra added. “We know that lack of adequate nutrition can have devastating consequences for children. It can not only stunt their growth, but it can also result in delayed cognitive, physical and emotional development.”

The facts about food insecurity among Latinos living in the U.S. are troubling:

• There are more than 50.5 million Latinos living in the U.S. and they are twice as likely to be food insecure as white, non-Hispanic households.

• Counties that have majority Latino populations are disproportionately represented among the top 10 percent of counties where food insecurity is the highest.

• The Map the Meal Gap analysis showed us that unemployment is a major contributing factor to food insecurity. Currently, unemployment is significantly higher among Latinos (11 percent) than among white, non-Hispanics (8 percent).

• Obesity is often caused by lack of access to protein rich, nutritious food. Hispanics are at greater risk of obesity than other racial and ethnic groups. In 2009, Hispanic Americans were 1.2 times as likely to be obese than non-Hispanic Whites. Lifetime risk estimates for developing diabetes is higher for both Hispanic men and women than for other ethnic groups

Sadly, data also shows us that many Latino households do not get all the help for which they qualify. Latino households are less likely to receive SNAP benefits than white, non-Hispanic households even though they are more likely to be food insecure. Others, like seniors, sometimes do not seek help because of cultural barriers, particularly a reticence to accept charitable help.

What can you do to help your neighbors in need? First of all, encourage them to seek assistance. Help them find an agency that will help them to determine if they qualify for food stamps or other government programs. Try to communicate that there is no shame in seeking help feeding themselves and their families.

Other ways to help:

• Donate: For every dollar donated to Feeding America, eight meals can be provided to someone in need.

• Volunteer: Give your time to one of Feeding America's 61,000 local food kitchens and pantries.

• Advocate: Tell your local congressman how important hunger relief and assistance is to you, the voter.

And of course, for more information on the issue of hunger in the Latino community, visit FeedingAmerica.org.




Mason City police chief: Community involvement will cut crime


MASON CITY — Police Chief Mike Lashbrook told City Council members Tuesday night community involvement is the most effective tool for crime prevention.

“Even if we put a couple of more officers on the street, I can't really say that would have much of an impact. It's the community — the person on the block — who can help us,” he said.

Lashbrook said he wanted to address the council and the community in light of public concerns over recent violent crimes.

He said there is no predictability to violent crimes so they can't be anticipated.

“The drug problem in Mason City is all over town. And the homicides we've had the past four years, there isn't any pattern to them. They're all different,” said Lashbrook.

Just as he emphasizes community involvement with police, the police department has taken many steps to reach out into the community, he said.

He said patrol assignments are made so officers can become familiar with particular areas and get to know the people.

Other activities include:

• Officers doing door-to-door surveys of neighborhoods.

• Participation in the Domestic Abuse Coalition, Mental Health Advisory Council, Youth Task Force and Community Policing Advisory Board.

• Resource officers in city schools.

• Providing training and support for Park Watch.

“We get 25,000 calls for service every year,” said Lashbrook. “The public trust is our purpose.”



China Studies US to Revamp Police Force

by Matthew Hilburn

China is spending more than ever before in an attempt to upgrade its domestic police force, but it may also be seeking to change its approach to law enforcement by looking to the United States for ideas.

U.S. law enforcement officials and experts who have advised China on its police force say Beijing is looking to update an antiquated system plagued by outdated crime reporting methods, outmoded equipment and vehicles and a lack of trust with the people.

“They're really trying to make a professional police force as opposed to just hiring someone, giving them a uniform and putting them in the neighborhood and saying ‘defend the party,'” said Sergeant Erik Branson of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., who has been to China to speak with law enforcement officials there about U.S. tactics.

Branson said Chinese Embassy officials approached him after seeing an article about his role in helping clean up a crime and drug-infested park in Washington.

China's police force is highly centralized and not divided along local, state and federal levels as it is in the United States. In China, the Ministry of Public Security is responsible for day-to-day law enforcement. But Branson said the officials he spoke with were less interested in the federal system and more interested in local policing, like how he patrolled on a bicycle and developed good relations with members of the community who, in turn, served as his “eyes and ears” on the ground.

“The focus is on local because that's where the problems are with corruption and insurrection,” Branson said, adding that they want to become more professionalized by learning how American police patrol, how they interact with the community and how they deal with the mass media.

Exchange students

One way Chinese police are learning is by immersing themselves in the U.S. system. For the past three years, roughly 15 elite students from China's prestigious Zhejiang Police College in Hangzhou, China have studied criminal justice for an entire year at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. (see video)

Vincent Webb, dean and director of the university's prestigious college of criminal justice, said such an exchange is telling.

“I think there's a lot more concern about civil disorder in China than I ever thought,” he said. “I think there's a growing recognition that policing is going to have to involve the community as stakeholders in a variety of decisions, problem identification and development of solutions. Public safety is a two-way street. If you're always going out with riot gear, you're going to have to have a lot more police.”

Webb's observations are borne out in statistics. The number of what the Chinese government calls “mass incidents” has risen from less than 10,000 in 1993, to about 90,000 in 2010, according to Chinese government-backed studies. The number of these public gatherings, which officials fear could disrupt social stability, may even be higher, but Beijing stopped publishing statistics in recent years.

These have been fuelled by citizens who are increasingly frustrated with corruption and abuse of power by local officials.

Both Branson and Webb said the Chinese police may be realizing they have to build trust with the people if they want to maintain order, and that means developing partnerships with citizens to solve and prevent crime.

Community policing

Community policing, which focuses on building those very kinds of partnerships, was widely used in the U.S. during the late 1990s, but has taken a backseat in some areas as law enforcement has focused more on homeland security in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Dennis Bowman, a professor at the School of Law Enforcement and Justice Administration at Western Illinois University, said he thinks community policing is a good fit for China.

“Conceptually, the model is appealing to them in my view,” he said. “But we have no knowledge as to the elements of [community policing] that particularly interest them.”

Bowman added that for China to “do it truly, it has to be a more democratic style of government” because of the emphasis the approach places on decentralization and the active participation of the citizens.

The U.S.-approach to community policing likely would run into barriers in China when it comes to communication and transparency. The government tightly controls the media and tries to restrict public discussion of unrest.

“They can only take it so far,” Bowman said.

But they're interested in hearing ideas.

Lucy Caldwell, a spokeswoman with the Fairfax County Police Department in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., was recently invited to speak at the International Forum on Police and Media in Hangzhou. She said the Chinese participants were interested in learning the basic tools her department uses to communicate with the public, how to build trust and credibility and how to show empathy with the people.

“The public must know that you care before they care what you know,” she said.

Cultural divide

The Chinese exchange students at Sam Houston State University are getting a first-hand look at this approach. As a part of their studies, the students spend a week with the police departments of nearby League City or Alvin, Texas. During that time, they live with American police families and ride along in police cruisers, witnessing frontline law enforcement, as well as life off duty.

“In keeping with the notion of community engagement, I thought it made sense to connect these students to the community so they can see American policing from the inside of a police car,” said Phillip Lyons, a professor at Sam Houston State University.

Crystal Ye, who is about to finish her year at the university, said she takes her role seriously.

“In my opinion [being a] police officer is an honorable job,” she said. “It's an integral part of a mature society.”

Ye said she was impressed with the amount of high tech equipment and statistics used by U.S. law enforcement officers, adding that a similar approach could be used in China.

Some things didn't translate, though. Ye said she was surprised to see that American officers carried guns, saying that it's illegal for citizens to carry weapons in China, so there's no need for police to carry them. Also, she said many Chinese police do not have the authority to make arrests.

Lyons said that he instructs Chinese students who are shadowing a U.S. officer during an arrest to stay in the car until it is safe to come out.

“We explained that sometimes people don't like police intervening, and we told them they may shout or yell,” he said. “One of the students asked, ‘Do they ever use bad language?' I told him ‘Yes,' and he asked, ‘Is that when you shoot them?' It's the wild west to them.”

Lyons said when he asked one student what surprised them most about American police, the answer was "the power you have."

“That really struck me as backwards,” he said. “Here's someone from the PRC [People's Republic of China] talking about the power of the American police.”

However, there have been recent examples of just how much power Chinese police have when it suits local government officials.

Human rights groups have criticized Chinese police and security forces in recent months following revelations of a harsh anti-crime crackdown in Chongqing under disgraced Communist Party leader Bo Xilai, and the extrajudicial detention of blind activist Chen Guangcheng. These incidents have renewed calls from China's top leadership to clean up corruption and impunity at the local level.

Servants of law and order?

While Beijing's interest in community policing and communicating more with citizens is clear, the extent to which China will implement the U.S. lessons remains a mystery.

Phelim Kine of Human Rights Watch said Beijing likely will be putting its own spin on the Western system. He said China may be looking to resurrect a model from its Maoist past, the so-called neighborhood committees.

The committees, Kine said, were basically the communist party's “boots on the ground and eyes and ears looking for troublemakers and outsiders…looking for anti-revolutionary elements.”

Kine said they were revitalized during the 2008 Beijing Olympics because they were seen as valuable maintaining order during a time when the spotlight was on China.

“It's an old model that, like Frankenstein, has been brought back to life,” he said.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington said in a statement that both China and the U.S. had achieved “positive results” with exchange visits, joint investigations, intelligence sharing and law enforcement training.

“Sending exchange students between law enforcement training academies of the two countries to learn from each other advanced policing philosophy and tactics will help enhance mutual understanding and trust, deepen pragmatic cooperation and promote sustained and sound development of cooperative relations between China and U.S. in the field of law enforcement,” said the statement.

But Kine is skeptical about what China may be learning from the West.

“One of the things that we've noted with alarm is that Chinese security services look to best practices in Western countries to essentially build a better mousetrap,” said Kine. “It's to bolster the regime rather than to bring real law enforcement to China. The police are controlled by the state. They are not the impartial arbiters and servants of law and order.”

The Chinese Embassy did not respond to Kine's assertion, despite repeated attempts seeking comment.