| NEWS of the Day - July 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 the L.A. Daily News
George Zimmerman says he was not pursuing Trayvon Martin
by Associated Press
SANFORD, Fla. - George Zimmerman says he would tell Trayvon Martin's parents: "I'm sorry," and says he's open to talking with them.
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the teenager's death.
He made the statement Wednesday in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity.
When asked to explain what he meant when he told a police dispatcher he was following Martin, the neighborhood watch volunteer said he was trying to keep an eye on Martin to tell police.
Zimmerman says after he got out of his car, Martin was next to him. Zimmerman says he looked down, then looked up and Martin punched him and broke his nose.
He says as the two were struggling, Martin said "you're going to die tonight." He says Martin also reached for the gun that Zimmerman always carries.
From Google News
Suicide Attacker With Fake U.S. ID Blamed in Bus Bomb
by NICHOLAS KULISH and MATTHEW BRUNWASSER
BURGAS, Bulgaria — The attack on a tour bus carrying Israeli vacationers outside the airport here was carried out by a suicide bomber carrying fake American identification, officials said on Thursday.
There were conflicting reports on the number of dead. The Bulgarian interior minister said the toll was seven, including six Israelis. Officials in Israel said, however, that only five Israelis had been killed. The Bulgarian driver of the bus was also killed along with the bomber when the vehicle exploded in a fireball on Wednesday. Dozens more were injured in what Bulgaria, Israel and the United States called a terrorist attack. Israel quickly blamed Iran and promised a firm response.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Israeli officials blamed Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, and Iran.
Speaking to reporters at the airport at this Black Sea resort on Thursday morning, Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said the bomber was carrying a fake Michigan driver's license at the time of the blast. One of the six Israeli victims died overnight, along with the 36-year-old Bulgarian bus driver.
Mr. Tsvetanov described the bomber as a man with long hair wearing a backpack. The man looked like a tourist and blended in with the travelers from Israel, security footage showed.
The bomber was a white male wearing glasses and the driver's license was “more or less intact,” according to a Bulgarian official with knowledge of the investigation.
“He either had turned with his backpack toward the bus when he exploded it or pretended he was one of the group putting his backpack in the baggage compartment under the bus,” the official said. “Video footage clearly shows him in the airport earlier wandering back and forth, following the group, looking nervous.”
“In no way did this person distinguish himself from the arriving tourists who were in the area,” Mr. Tsvetanov said.
The police were checking his fingerprints against international databases and were also analyzing the attacker's DNA, he said.
“Our priority now is to determine the identity of the attacker,” Mr. Tsvetanov said.
Bulgarian authorities said they were working together with the F.B.I., the C.I.A., Israeli intelligence services and Interpol. Mr. Tsvetanov said that the F.B.I. determined that the driver's license was a fake and that the person described on the card did not exist. He said that Bulgarian government had spoken with John O. Brennan, President Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, overnight.
An Israeli Defense Force plane carrying 33 of the wounded took off from Burgas for Israel Thursday morning is expected to land at Ben Gurion Airport, then disperse passengers to hospitals around the country, an military spokesman in Jerusalem said. The dead were to be flown back later in the day.
Israel's foreign minister said Thursday morning that there was clear evidence that Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group with close ties to Iran, was responsible for the attack, "with the close cooperation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard."
"I cannot get into all the operational details, but the identification is certain," the minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said in an interview on Israel Radio. "From immediately after the attack, we worked hard and now the puzzle is put together, the identity and the responsibility are completely clear.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who on Wednesday night promised a "forceful response" to the attack, spent much of the morning in security briefings. Danny Ayalon, Israel's deputy foreign minister, said the response would be diplomatic as well as operational, including a complaint to the United National Security Council and an effort to have Hezbollah added to the list of international terror groups.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barak found himself on the defensive for failing to thwart the attack, as Bulgarian and Israeli intelligence officers managed to do with a similar attempt in January.
“The world is big and full of places where these people act," Mr. Barak said. "We try to find every crack. The success of our intelligence and of others has been great, but there are days that are painful, and yesterday was one such day. This is a mishap, mishaps happen, this is not negligence.”
Iran had no immediate official comment on Israel's accusations but news agencies quoted state television as rejecting the accusation.
No group claimed responsibility for the blast but if the Israeli accusations are confirmed, the blast would be the first successful attempt by Iranian operatives to kill Israelis in attacks abroad after a string of failed bomb plots targeting Israeli diplomats in Georgia, India and Thailand this year.
Even without such confirmation, the Bulgarian explosion escalated the tensions between Israel and Iran that are already high because of the Iranian nuclear energy program , which Israel has called a guise for Iran to develop nuclear weapons despite Tehran's repeated denials.
The explosion came only a few days after a suspected operative of Hezbollah was arrested in Cyprus on suspicion of plotting to kill Israeli tourists there.
In the capital, Sofia, home to most of the 5,000 Bulgarian Jews in the overwhelmingly Christian country of more than seven million, the mayor ordered police deployments in all public places linked to the Jewish community, The Associated Press reported.
In Washington, President Obama said in a statement that he strongly condemned “today's barbaric terrorist attack on Israelis in Bulgaria,” but he did not specifically accuse Iran.
In what appeared to be an Obama administration effort to reinforce his support for Israel, which Mr. Obama's Republican adversary, Mitt Romney, has called into question, the White House also said in a separate statement that Mr. Obama had called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to offer his condolences, and had “pledged to stand with Israel in this difficult time, and provide whatever assistance is necessary to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators.”
“All signs point to Iran,” Mr. Netanyahu said in a statement Wednesday. He and other Israeli officials noted that the explosion came on the 18th anniversary of a bombing of an Argentine Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and wounded hundreds, an attack for which Argentine prosecutors have blamed Iran.
Bellicose adversaries, Israel and Iran have a long history of accusing each other of terrorist attacks. Iran, which does not recognize Israel's right to exist and has sometimes referred to Israel as a Zionist plague on the Middle East, has blamed Israeli agents for a string of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists over the past five years, for which Iran has vowed revenge.
Israel has never confirmed or denied responsibility for those assassinations.
Mr. Netanyahu's statement recalled what Israel has described as Iranian plots to target Israelis in Thailand, India, Georgia, Kenya, Cyprus and other countries. He called such a pattern a “global Iranian terror onslaught, and Israel will react firmly to it.”
Burgas is a popular destination for Israelis. The explosion occurred outside the terminal shortly after the victims arrived via a charter flight from Tel Aviv with 154 people, including eight children.
“We were just getting on the bus when suddenly someone came near the bus's front door and exploded,” Gal Malka told an Israeli television station. “We heard a boom and next thing we saw were body parts scattered on the ground. There were wounded people also on the ground. I could see a burned hole in the side of the bus.”
Oren Katz described tamping down the flames of a woman who had caught fire. “It was strange that there were so many security people around but none of them seemed to be focused on actually helping the wounded people, and couldn't believe that I of all people was the one taking care of this burning woman and stopping her from burning up.”
Burgas is 250 miles east of Sofia. In recent years Burgas has become popular as an inexpensive destination for groups of Israeli teenagers taking trips after finishing high school and before their military service.
Some Iran analysts in Israel counseled caution about assigning responsibility for the Bulgaria blast until more evidence was presented. “It's far too early to conclude who was behind the bombing in Bulgaria today,” said Meir Javedanfar, an Iran expert at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel. “For now all we have to go on are assumptions, and a list of credible suspects.”
He did not rule out Al Qaeda, recalling the deadly attack on Israeli tourists at a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, in 2002.
Arizona sheriff faces racial profiling allegations
PHOENIX (AP) – For six years, the self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America has vehemently denied allegations that his deputies racially profile Latinos in his trademark immigration patrols.
Joe Arpaio would dismiss his critics in his signature brash style at countless news conferences and in numerous appearances on television.
Now, the sheriff in Arizona's most populous county will have to convince a federal judge who is presiding over a lawsuit that heads to trial on Thursday and is expected to last until early August.
The plaintiffs say Arpaio's officers based some traffic stops on the race of Hispanics who were in vehicles, had no probable cause to pull them over and made the stops so they could inquire about their immigration status.
"He is not free to say whatever he wants," said Dan Pochoda, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, one of the groups that has pushed the lawsuit against Arpaio.
"He will be called as a witness in our case," Pochoda said. "He will not have control over the flow of information, and he is not the final arbiter."
The plaintiffs aren't seeking money damages and instead are seeking a declaration that Arpaio's office racially profiles and an order that requires it to make changes to prevent what they said is discriminatory policing.
If Arpaio loses the civil case, he won't face jail time or fines.
Arpaio declined to comment, and his lead attorney, Tim Casey, didn't return a call seeking comment Wednesday.
But at a late June hearing, Casey said the sheriff wanted the trial so he could prove his critics wrong and remove the stigma that the racial profiling allegation carries. "What we want is resolution," Casey said.
The lawsuit marks the first case in which the sheriff's office has been accused of systematically racially profiling Latinos and will serve as a bellwether for a similar yet broader civil rights lawsuit filed against Arpaio in May by the U.S. Department of Justice.
That lawsuit makes many of the same racial profiling allegations, but goes further to say that Arpaio's office retaliated against its critics, punished Latino jail inmates with limited English skills for speaking Spanish and failed to adequately investigate a large number of sex-crimes cases. No trial date in that case has been set.
Arpaio has said the lawsuit is a politically motivated attack by the Obama administration as a way to court Latino voters in a presidential election year. Justice officials say the department began its initial civil rights inquiry of Arpaio's office during the Bush administration and notified the sheriff of its formal investigation a few months after Obama took office.
Arpaio has staked his reputation on immigration enforcement and, in turn, won support and financial contributors from people across the country who helped him build a $4 million campaign war chest.
The patrols have brought allegations that Arpaio himself ordered some of them not based on reports of crime but letters from Arizonans who complained about people with dark skin congregating in an area or speaking Spanish.
Some of the people who filed the lawsuit were stopped by Arpaio's deputies in regular patrols, while others were stopped in his special immigration patrols known as "sweeps."
During the sweeps, deputies flood an area of a city — in some cases, heavily Latino areas — over several days to seek out traffic violators and arrest other offenders.
Illegal immigrants accounted for 57% of the 1,500 people arrested in the 20 sweeps conducted by his office since January 2008, according to figures provided by Arpaio's office, which hasn't conducted any of the special patrols since October.
Arpaio has repeatedly said people who are pulled over in his patrols were approached because deputies had probable cause to believe they had committed crimes and that it was only afterward that officers found that many of them were illegal immigrants.
U.S. District Judge Murray Snow has issued rulings against Arpaio earlier in the case. In December, he barred Arpaio's deputies who are enforcing Arizona's 2005 immigrant smuggling law from detaining people based solely on the suspicion that they're in the country illegally. Arpaio has appealed that decision.
Separate from the two lawsuits that allege racial profiling, a federal grand jury has been investigating Arpaio's office on criminal abuse-of-power allegations since at least December 2009 and is specifically examining the investigative work of the sheriff's anti-public corruption squad.
Detroit boy falls to his death; EMS is a no-show
by Bill Laitner
DETROIT – A 9-year-old boy leaped or fell to his death from a bedroom of his family's ninth-floor apartment unit Wednesday, Detroit police said.
After the fall, no paramedics arrived on the scene and the boy was transported to the hospital in a police car. A state lawmaker is blaming city budget cuts for the lack of EMS response.
According to police, the youth had threatened to commit suicide several times recently. The incident occurred about 5:30 p.m. at a low-income housing complex, about one-half mile west of Henry Ford Hospital.
"It's real sad. There's too many young people doing this," said bystander Sheila Bowman, 35.
Wednesday's apparent suicide comes less than two months after the May 23 death, later ruled a suicide by the Wayne County Medical Examiner, of a 7-year-old Detroit boy. He was found hanging by a belt from his bunk bed after he locked his bedroom door, following weeks of complaining about being bullied at school, according to a police report.
At the time of the May suicide, psychologists at Children's Hospital of Michigan in Detroit and at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor said children's threats of suicide should be taken seriously. Experts said that children considering suicide do not show the usual signs of depression but instead may act irritable or angry.
Outside the brick high-rise where the boy died Wednesday, Michele McCray said she was sitting in the shade when "I heard a thump and then someone moaning."
McCray, 56, said she turned and saw the boy's crumpled body a few yards away, on the grass next to the building.
"I really didn't feel I should go over there," she said. Instead, McCray ran into the apartment building's lobby and shouted for anyone with a phone to call 911, she said.
"He was a good kid — he was a skateboarder," said Faith Tucker, 35, who lives on the second floor of the 10-story apartment tower.
Because no EMS truck arrived at the scene, the boy was taken to the hospital in a police squad car, bystanders said. State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, confirmed that Wednesday night.
"It's just unbelievable," Tlaib said. "Can you imagine the family of that child — not seeing any ambulance come?"
She blamed city budget cuts for what she said was an unprecedented shortage of EMS trucks in Detroit. On July 7, a father whose 14-year-old son was fatally shot in southwest Detroit had to drive his son to the hospital because no EMS truck was available, Tlaib said.
She notified state officials Wednesday of both incidents and requested an investigation. Both incidents occurred in Tlaib's 12th state House District, which covers the south end of Detroit and once was patrolled by five EMS trucks.
"As of today (Wednesday), we have none. They have to dispatch one from the east side now," she said.
"The state needs to request a full investigation of this" through the agency that licenses ambulances in Michigan — the Crime Victims, EMS and Trauma Systems Division of the Michigan Department of Community Health, she said.
FBI did not investigate Fort Hood shooter because of political correctness, report says
by Associated Press
The FBI was too concerned about political correctness and did not launch an investigation into a man who was later charged with killing 13 people in a 2009 attack at the Fort Hood military installation in Texas, despite significant warning signs that he was an Islamic extremist bent on killing civilians, according to a lawmaker briefed on a new report about the terrorist attack.
In emails to a known terrorist, Army Maj. Nidal Hasan expressed his support for suicide bombings and killing civilians, while the terrorist, Anwar al-Awlaki, encouraged Hasan to stay in touch, Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, told The Associated Press on Wednesday after he was briefed on the findings of a new review of the attack.
The review was done by former FBI Director William Webster and was more than two years in the making. FBI Director Robert Mueller asked that Webster conduct an independent review, and the bureau is expected to release an unclassified version this week.
Much was already known about the series of oversights and missteps the government made leading to the terror attack at the Fort Hood Army post. Soon after the attack, it was revealed that members of two FBI anti-terrorism task forces saw emails between the Army psychiatrist and al-Awlaki beginning in December 2008. Those task forces reviewed the communications and decided they were in keeping with Hasan's research at the time, and as a result, no formal investigation of Hasan was opened. Hasan was writing a research paper about the effects of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But McCaul said Webster's report offers some new details that show the FBI was concerned about investigating an American Muslim in the military, and that is why an investigation was not pursued.
The FBI in San Diego had been investigating al-Awlaki, a former San Diego resident, for his possible connections to the 9/11 hijackers. When agents saw emails between Hasan and al-Awlaki, they asked the FBI's Washington office to talk to Hasan's bosses, according to a government official briefed on the findings who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the Webster report. But the Washington agents thought that interviewing American Muslims who visit extremist websites was a sensitive issue and did not reach out to Hasan's bosses at the Defense Department, the official said.
"It shows you the length of the political correctness stuff going on," McCaul said after he was briefed on the findings of the independent review Wednesday.
Neither the FBI nor Webster responded to requests for comment. But the FBI and Defense Department have said that they've made several policy changes since the 2009 attack to help stave off similar attacks in the future.
One major change was that if al-Awlaki comes up as part of a terror investigation, FBI headquarters would be alerted, Mark Giuliano, assistant director for the FBI's National Security Branch, said last year.
Al-Awlaki, implicated in other terror plots, was killed in a drone strike in Yemen last fall.
Hasan, charged with killing 13 people and wounding 32 others in the November 2009 shooting rampage, is currently being tried in a military court.
Teaneck to join cities nationwide for 'America's Night Out Against Crime'
The Teaneck Police Department is hosting this year's Teaneck's National Night Out Tuesday, Aug. 7, according to Chief Robert A. Wilson and the Community Policing Squad of the Teaneck Police Department.
Teaneck Police encourages everyone to come out and join their neighbors in partaking in this crime and drug prevention event. National Night Out involves more than 15,325 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases around the world. In all over 37.1 million people are expected to participate in this year's 29th Annual National Night Out.
National Night Out is designed to:
|1. Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness;
2. Generate support for, and participation in, local anticrime efforts;
3. Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and
4. Send a message to criminals letting them know neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
Residents throughout Teaneck and across the nation are asked to spend the evening outside with neighbors and police from 5 to 9 p.m. on Aug. 7. This "town-wide block party" will take place in Teaneck's Milton Votee Park and will include displays and presentations from the Teaneck Police Department, various other county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, fire trucks, ambulances, representatives from all branches of the military as well as various other organizations and community groups and much more. Some of the highlights of the evening include a planned landing of a military drug eradication unit helicopter, an Army rock climbing wall, jump houses and train ride for the kids, face painting, give-a-ways, music, food, and fun for the whole family.
For more information, call the Community Policing Squad at 201-837-8759.
DOJ: Newark misused $3.5 million community policing grant
by Washington Examiner
Auditors with the Justice Department's Inspector-General say Newark, NJ, officials improperly used every penny of a $2.8 million Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) plus most of an addition $987,000 in local funds.
The DOJ-IG's lengthy list of deficiencies in how Newark officials spent the COPS funds unusually blunt and deserves being quoted at length.
The report is brutal in its analysis of misuse of the funds.
It's great that the Mayor can bring in outside support like the COPS grant, but unless proper governance is in place to administer the funds, progress will take one step forward, two steps back.