From the L.A. Times
Irvine is safest U.S. city for eighth straight year, FBI says
Looking to avoid becoming a crime statistic? Move to Irvine.
In 2011, for the eighth year in a row, the Orange County city had the lowest violent crime rate of any U.S. city with a population larger than 100,000, the FBI said Monday.
Irvine -- population 214,872 -- reported only 120 violent crimes last year, the same number as the year before.
Among the crimes: two murders, 67 aggravated assaults, 11 rapes and 40 robberies. Random comparison: Similarly sized Modesto had more than 10 times the number of robberies.
“Eight straight years as the country's safest city is truly something to celebrate,” Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang said in a statement. “Public safety is a commitment we do not take lightly.”
The data were part of the FBI's annual Uniform Crime Report. Overall, reported violent crime in the United States declined 4% between 2010 and 2011, the FBI said.
From the L.A. Daily News
Mom charged with helping daughter and friends with anti-Semitic vandalism in San Fernando Valley
by Susan Abram
A 44-year-old Northridge woman is facing vandalism and other charges, accused of helping her daughter and friends smear human feces on a car and scrawl swastikas in syrup at the homes of two of the girls' former friends.
Catharine Whelpley was charged Monday with three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, two counts of vandalism, two counts of trespassing, and two counts of tampering with a vehicle, Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich said in a statement.
"The conduct alleged in this case is unacceptable in our society," Trutanich said. "The persons responsible for such conduct, including parents, will be held accountable for their actions."
The charges stem from events that occurred on April 3. Whelpley is accused of driving her 14-year-old daughter and her friends, ages 13 and 14, to a home in the San Fernando Valley in April. The home belonged to a former friend of Whelpley's daughter.
The teenage trio threw toilet paper into the property's trees, then poured maple syrup on the front porch and smeared human feces on the homeowner's car.
Whelpley then drove the youths to the store to buy more toilet paper, according to the City Attorney's Office.
She drove the teens to another former friend's home, where they also threw toilet paper on the property, smeared human feces on the porch, and poured syrup on the homeowner's vehicle, the statement said. Whelpley's daughter then allegedly wrote the word "Jew" and drew swastikas in syrup on the property.
Whelpley allegedly waited for the girls to finish, then drove them home.
Many of the actions were captured on a neighbor's surveillance camera.
But the acts also caught the attention of actor and comedian Jon Lovitz, who told his fans on Twitter that it was his friend's home that was vandalized.
"Swastikas in (excrement) left on my friend's front porch were done by three 14-year-old girls, driven to the house by one of the girl's mother," Lovitz wrote on his twitter account, twitter.com/realjonlovitz.
"My friend's parents are Holocaust survivors."
Lovitz's tweets garnered much support from his more than 40,000 followers.
"Thanks for all your support on the hate crime," he wrote. "No one should be bullied for any reason. We're all people who should be treated w/respect."
The incident also prompted the Anti-Defamation League in Los Angeles to hold discussions with youths about how to confront anti-Semitism.
The girls' actions do not constitute a hate crime, because the words and symbols were scrawled in a material that could easily be washed off, according to the City Attorney's Office.
But holding the mother accountable in the incident is to be commended, said Amanda Susskind, the Los Angeles-area director for the ADL.
"The whole thing painted a picture of ugliness," Susskind said.
Although the number of hate crimes decreased by 28 percent countywide in 2010, California leads the country in anti-Semitic incidents, with 297 reported to the Anti-Defamation League in 2010, the last year for which data was released. That figure represents an 8 percent increase over the year before, according to the league's latest annual report.
"I'm really kind of impressed with the creativity applied here," Susskind said of the city attorney's charges. "Everybody looked at this and thought this was going to fall through the cracks.
"We give them credit for holding accountable the adults in these children's lives. That's sending a message."
She said she hopes the Northridge families that were affected will view the charges as justice.
Meanwhile, the City Attorney's Office said the charges of vandalism, trespassing and tampering are based on Whelpley allegedly aiding and abetting her daughters.
Whelpley's arraignment is scheduled for June 28. Attemps to reach Whelpley on Monday were unsuccessful.
L.A. city parks offer free summer lunches for kids
The Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks will serve free lunches to children at more than 100 locations during the summer.
The program is open to all children ages 1 through 18. There is no sign-up or qualification required. The goal is to ensure children receive at least one nutritious meal per day when school is not in session. The lunch program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Lunch service begins June 25 and ends Aug. 10. Serving times will vary. For information, call 818-546-2383 or visit www.laparks.org/foodprogram
From the Washington Times
FBI: Violent crime down for fifth straight year
by Pete Yost
WASHINGTON — The number of violent crimes reported to police across the country fell 4 percent last year when compared to 2010, the fifth straight year of declines.
The FBI also said Monday that the number of reported property crimes went down 0.8 percent, the ninth straight year-to-year decline.
The bureau says murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault all went down in 2011.
Violent crime decreased in all four regions: 4.9 percent in the Midwest; 4.7 percent in the West; 4.5 percent in the South and 0.8 percent in the Northeast.
Motor vehicle theft dropped 3.3 percent, and larceny-theft decreased 0.9 percent. Burglary offenses increased 0.3 percent.
The preliminary data is based on information the FBI gathered from 14,009 law enforcement agencies around the United States.
From Google News
Massachusetts town orders $20 fines for the minimum of cuss
Questions raised over free speech after Middleborough residents back fines for swearing in public
In Middleborough, Massachusetts, it is the residents' way or the highway when it comes to swearing. Photograph: Gary S. and Vivian Chapman/Getty
Residents in a town outside Boston have voted in favour of fining people who swear in public.
At a town meeting on Monday night, residents voted 183-50 to approve a proposal from the police chief to impose a $20 (£12) penalty on public profanity.
Officials insisted the proposal was not intended to censor casual or private conversations, but instead to crack down on loud, profanity-laden language used by teenagers and other young people in the city centre area and public parks.
"I'm really happy about it," Mimi Duphily, a store owner and former town selectwoman, said after the vote. "I'm sure there's going to be some fallout, but I think what we did was necessary."
Duphily, who runs a motor vehicle parts store, is among the city centre merchants who wanted to take a stand against the kind of swearing that can make customers uncomfortable.
"They'll sit on the bench and yell back and forth to each other with the foulest language. It's just so inappropriate," she said.
The measure could raise questions about constitutional rights on free speech, but state law does allow towns to enforce local laws that give police the power to arrest anyone who "addresses another person with profane or obscene language" in a public place.
Matthew Segal, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, said the US supreme court has ruled that the government cannot prohibit public speech just because it contains profanity.
The ordinance gives police discretion over whether to ticket someone if they believe the swearing ban has been violated.
Middleborough, a town of about 20,000 residents perhaps best known for its rich cranberry bogs, has had a bylaw against public profanity since 1968. But because that bylaw essentially makes cursing a crime, it has rarely if ever been enforced, officials said, because it simply would not merit the time and expense to pursue a case through the courts.
The ordinance would decriminalise public profanity, allowing police to write tickets as they would for a traffic offence. It would also decriminalise certain types of disorderly conduct, public drinking and marijuana use, and shovelling snow onto the road.
Segal praised Middleborough for reconsidering its bylaw against public profanity, but said fining people for it isn't much better.
"Police officers who never enforced the bylaw might be tempted to issue these fines, and people might end up getting fined for constitutionally protected speech," he said.
Another local merchant, Robert Saquet, described himself as "ambivalent" about the no-swearing proposal.
"In view of words commonly used in movies and cable TV, it's kind of hard to define exactly what is obscene," said Saquet, who owns a furniture store.