| NEWS of the Day - July 15, 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 L.A. Daily News
California drivers will be allowed to text, with restrictions
The Associated Press
SAN JOSE, Calif. - California drivers will be allowed to text when they're behind the wheel of a car, as long as they're using a hands-free device, and with some restrictions.
Under a bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday, beginning Jan. 1, drivers will be able to send, dictate and listen to text messages, but only if they're using a voice-activated device attached to a cellphone by a headset or Bluetooth earpiece, or a program inside a vehicle, like OnStar.
AB 1536, sponsored by California Assemblyman Jeff Miller, R-Corona, will allow Californians to text behind the wheel for the first time since texting while driving was outlawed more than three years ago.
"There's all this brand-new technology coming out that people want to take advantage of and use, and under current law they are unable to do that," Miller told the San Jose Mercury News.
But the San Jose Mercury News reports that there's some confusion over the new law, including which devices will be legal.
Aides at the assemblyman's office said it even with the new law, using Apple's voice-activated Siri would still be illegal, even when speaking a message directly into Siri.
The California Highway Patrol says drivers who simply turn on a cellphone, or select a phone's hands-free text app, can still be ticketed, resulting a $100-plus fine. The same thing goes for using your phone to read texts.
"The phone can't be in your hands," said CHP spokeswoman Jaime Coffee. "Hands-free is the key."
The law signed Friday comes after a 2006 bill, authored by California Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, made it illegal to talk on a hand-held cellphone while driving.
That law contributed to a reduction in the number of traffic deaths, according to a University of California, Berkeley study released in March.
The study by the university's Safe Transportation Research and Education Center examined deaths for two years before and two years after the cellphone ban took effect in July 2008.
It found that overall traffic deaths dropped 22 percent, while deaths blamed on drivers using hand-held cellphones were down 47 percent. Deaths among drivers who use hands-free phones dropped at a similar rate.
"The most important thing to do when you're driving is to drive," Coffee said. "It does take your attention away, whether it's hands free or not."
California is one of 39 states that bans texting while driving, though it's unclear if any of the others allow hands-free texting.
From the White House
Honoring Leaders in the Fight Against Youth Homelessness
by Jon Carson
Yesterday, I participated in a Champions of Change event here at the White House highlighting the inspiring work of 13 leaders in the effort to end child and youth homelessness. This program, hosted by the White House in partnership with the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), featured Champions from across the country who were nominated through a public nomination process by colleagues, friends, and community members. Barbara Poppe, the Executive Director of USICH, introduced the Champions and noted that they “exemplify the spirit of collaboration [and] commitment to diversity, and have demonstrated that innovative strategies, coupled with unwavering commitment, can produce measurable results when serving children and youth experiencing homelessness in their communities.”
Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan spoke about his experience volunteering at a homeless shelter in college and described the tremendous progress that has been made since then in the fight against youth homelessness. He also spoke about Opening Doors, the nation's first ever comprehensive Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. 19 federal agencies are cooperating to achieve the goal of ending homelessness, but Secretary Donovan emphasized that the progress we are seeing would not have happened without the work being done in communities across the country by these Champions of Change and others like them.
After the Secretary's remarks, each of the 13 Champions spoke on panels moderated by Secretary Donovan and Bryan Samuels, Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families. The Champions discussed their challenges and successes, their goals for the future, and the philosophy they bring to work each day. Sparky Harlan, CEO of the Bill Wilson Center in Santa Clara, California, described her organization's efforts to address not just youth homelessness, but youth and family homelessness, in order to stop the cycle of homelessness. Steve Bewsey, Director of Housing and Homelessness Services for Youth at LifeWorks in Austin, Texas, emphasized the importance of persistence and his work to provide a broad range of services for youth in his community. And Tim Baack, Executive Vice President of Pathfinders in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, spoke about the importance of asking the young people he works with what they want – and being willing to listen.
We honor Champions from a different field here at the White House each week, and hearing them speak about their work and the impact they are making in their communities is always one of the best parts of my week. We hope the work of these Champions inspires similar service across the country.
Learn more about this week's Champions and past Champions at www.whitehouse.gov/champions
From the FBI
Inside the Denver JTTF
Part 2: Partners Help Cast a Wide Safety Net
The more than 100 FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) around the country rely on a network of local, state, and federal partners to help protect the nation. In Denver, one of our key partners is the Colorado Information Analysis Center.
Known by its acronym, CIAC—pronounced “kayak”—was established by the state legislature in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to bring organizations together to gather, analyze, and share information. Working in tandem with the JTTF, the CIAC's multi-agency fusion approach casts a wide security net throughout the Colorado region.
“We have representatives from the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, local law enforcement, local emergency managers, and local firefighters who all come together to share information,” said Steve Garcia, a major in the Colorado State Patrol who oversees the center's operations. “That information is fused—hence the term fusion center—to create an intelligence-sharing environment.”
The FBI is the fusion center's investigative arm “and the single most important partner we have,” Garcia added, explaining how the two organizations work hand in hand. “Last year we received over 400 tips and leads that came in to our website or 1-800 number regarding suspicious activity. The FBI, being the primary agency for counterterrorism, goes out and investigates those leads.”
“Our relationship with the fusion center is as significant as any relationship we have,” said Steve Olson, an assistant special agent in charge in our Denver office who supervises the JTTF. He explained that the fusion center not only provides tips and leads, it helps fill intelligence gaps.
In the Zazi case (see Part 1), investigators needed to find out where Zazi had acquired bomb-making chemicals. The fusion center's 650 terrorism liaison officers (TLOs)—comprised of local sheriff, police, and fire department personnel—fanned out in their jurisdictions to canvass beauty and farm supply stores where those chemicals might have been purchased.
“We sent out a request for information through our TLO network,” Garcia said, “and they were able to talk to local merchants to see if Zazi had been there to buy the precursors to TATP, which is what he was eventually found guilty of.”
“The TLOs are a significant force multiplier for us,” Olson noted. “They can reach parts of the state that we can't readily access.” In addition to gathering intelligence, the TLOs can also be tasked with disseminating information. By alerting local merchants that terrorists might be seeking certain kinds of chemicals, for example, law enforcement can set tripwires so merchants will report suspicious activity.
“If somebody comes in your store that you don't recognize and requests a large amount of a precursor chemical, we want you to reach out to your local authorities,” Olson said. “That tip makes it to the fusion center through a TLO, and then it comes to the JTTF for further investigation. That allows us to stay one step ahead of potential problems.”
The FBI maintains a full-time intelligence analyst at the fusion center, which facilitates the immediate sharing of information. “Our motto at the CIAC is that information sharing is a contact sport,” Garcia said. “You've got to get up and talk to someone and share that information rather than just sending an e-mail. It's important to have that day-to-day, face-to-face contact.”