| NEWS of the Day - August 11, 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
Police find 14 bodies stuffed into SUV in northern Mexico
by Adriana Gomez Licon
MEXICO CITY - Police found the bodies of 14 men stuffed into a sport utility vehicle near a gas station in a northern Mexican city Thursday and hours later a shootout between soldiers and gunmen killed three people in the same city, authorities said.
The victims in the SUV apparently were shot to death and evidence suggested the killings were drug-related, said Gabriela Gonzalez, spokeswoman for the San Luis Potosi state prosecutor's office. The bodies were discovered after police received an anonymous tip, she said.
Hours after the discovery in San Luis Potosi city, a clash between soldiers and alleged gunmen left three assailants dead, the army said in a statement. Two more gunmen were detained, it said.
The gunfight forced a university to send an alert to students, close its buildings and cancel evening classes.
Authorities didn't say whether the shootout was linked to the discovery of the 14 bodies.
San Luis Potosi has been the scene of turf battles between the Zetas gang and allies of the Sinaloa drug cartel.
In a separate act of violence in the north, gunmen hung two men from a bridge in Monterrey and shot them to death while horrified motorists watched Thursday afternoon, a Nuevo Leon state police official said.
The assailants hung the two men by their hands from a pedestrian bridge and then shot them from the highway, the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case.
Monterrey, the third-largest city in Mexico, is considered territory of the Zetas, a cartel that was founded by former enforcers for the Gulf Cartel. The groups split in early 2010, setting off a bloody battle for territory in northeastern Mexico. Another group, the Sinaloa cartel, later joined the fight as a Gulf Cartel ally.
Also in Mexico's north, attackers armed with assault rifles killed seven men drinking at a sports field Wednesday night, Sinaloa state prosecutors said in a statement. The men had just finished working and had gathered at the field to drink when they were attacked, the statement said.
From Google News
Mosque opens after long struggle
by Robbie Brown and Christine Hauser
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — The worshipers bowed low, their heads touching the freshly laid carpet, as the new mosque filled with echoes of exultation.
“God, thank you for the ability to worship here today," said Remziya Suleyman, 27. “Thank you, thank you."
After years of threats, attacks and court action, the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro's new mosque opened its doors Friday, allowing 300 people to mark the occasion on Islam's day of weekly public prayer. Following the shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on Sunday and an arson attack on a mosque in Missouri on Monday, the opening went off without the protests or violence that some had feared.
Muslims from across Tennessee gathered at the 12,000-square-foot center to begin the final week of Ramadan. The congregation's former building was so small that members often spilled into the parking lot and car-pooled to save parking spaces. Here, they fit comfortably.
“We're all humbly enjoying the right to worship, an American tradition that a small minority tried to eliminate out of ignorance and misunderstanding," said Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who flew here from Washington.
For two years, the opposition in this city of 110,000 about 30 miles southeast of Nashville has been small but vocal. In 2010, vandals painted “not welcome" on construction signs at the mosque and set fire to construction equipment. A Texas man was indicted in June on charges that he left messages threatening to detonate a bomb at the center on Sept. 11.
In May, a county judge ruled that the construction plans had not received sufficient comment from the public and that an occupancy permit could not be granted. Federal prosecutors filed a discrimination lawsuit, and a federal judge ruled in the mosque's favor last month.
Only one opponent of the mosque came to voice his concerns at the opening. Dan Qualls, 50, a former auto plant worker, wearing an “I Love Jesus" hat and a Ten Commandments shirt, said he understood that the First Amendment protected the right to worship freely but said he believed Islam represented violence. When he heard about the mosque's opening on the local TV news, he decided to come out and “represent the Christians."
“My honest opinion is, I wish this wasn't here," he said.
The mosque prayer hall forms just one part of the center, which will eventually be expanded to more than 50,000 square feet to include a gym, a swimming pool and other facilities, said Saleh Sbenaty, a board member. The prayer hall itself, about 4,500 square feet, can hold up to 500 people, but has a movable wall to divide the area to allow for other uses, like interfaith events with churches, synagogues and other religious communities.
The center is in a quiet, suburban neighborhood, beside a Baptist church. On Friday, workers hoisted an American flag up a pole.
Many in Murfreesboro have embraced the congregation's right to worship freely.
“That religious organization has been treated just exactly as we treat any other religious group," said Ernest Burgess, the mayor of Rutherford County. “It has been a difficult struggle through the legal process. But we treated these people fairly, as they deserved."
Sbenaty said the center will hold an official, full-scale opening in several weeks after a permanent certificate of occupancy is issued, but on Friday they opened the prayer hall for the special weekly Friday worship, known as jumaa. He estimated there were about 250 to 300 Muslim families in the area who would likely be regularly served by the center.
Aspiring terrorist gets life sentence
Former soldier remains defiant and promises to keep fighting holy war
WACO, Texas — Naser Jason Abdo sat alone in court with his hands shackled and a white cloth secured over his mouth and neck. The soldier who went AWOL and plotted to kill other troops outside a Texas Army post remained defiant Friday as he was sentenced to life in prison, not asking for mercy and vowing to never end what he considers his holy war.
"I will continue until the day the dead are called to account for their deeds," Abdo said in a low, gravelly voice through the cloth mask.
A federal judge sentenced Abdo, 22, to two life terms plus additional time. The federal prison system offers no chance of parole. He was convicted of planning what he claimed would have been a massive attack on a Texas restaurant filled with troops from Fort Hood.
In court, Abdo referred to Maj. Nidal Hasan — the Army psychiatrist soon to be tried in a deadly shooting rampage at that Army post — as "my brother." He said he lived in Hasan's shadow despite "efforts to outdo him." Abdo became a Muslim at age 17.
Outside court, prosecutor Mark Frazier said Abdo had come close to carrying out the attack. U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman compared the plot to recent shootings at a movie theatre near Denver and a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee.
Arguing for a life sentence, Frazier had said Abdo still presented a threat. Abdo's mouth was covered in court, Frazier said, because he had earlier spat his own blood at agents believing he was infected with HIV. That belief turned out to be wrong.
"He felt it was his duty to take lives, even after incarceration," Frazier told the court.
Abdo was AWOL from Fort Campbell, Ky., when he was arrested with bomb-making materials last summer at a Fort Hood-area motel. A federal jury convicted him in May on six charges, including attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. Abdo also was found guilty of attempted murder of U.S. officers or employees and four counts of possessing a weapon in furtherance of a federal crime of violence.
He grew up in Garland, Texas, and enlisted in the military in 2009 thinking the service would not conflict with his religious beliefs. But as his unit neared deployment, the private first class applied for conscientious objector status, writing in a letter that accompanied his application that he wasn't sure "whether going to war was the right thing to do Islamically."
Abdo's unit was deployed to Afghanistan without him. He said he would refuse to go even if it resulted in a military charge against him.
But his conscientious objector status was put on hold after he was charged with possessing child pornography in May 2011. Abdo told the court he felt the pornography accusation was made only because he had tried to leave the Army.
Police take proactive approach
Officers will be responding to specific issues
by Julianne Mattera
Port Huron police will target community concerns with a new program called Operation Safe Streets and Neighborhoods after it received $17,640 in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, Port Huron Police Chief Michael Reaves said.
The program will allow Port Huron police to direct officers specifically to residential or commercial areas that have problems such as a high volume of violent crime, severe quality-of-life issues or known offenders in the area. Reaves said the project is an extension of the community policing plan.
“I promised the citizens that we would make an attempt to go after — be proactive instead of reactive — in isolating issues in the neighborhoods and in the community that are of great concern that cause crime,” Reaves said.
Reaves said the program will last for a couple of months, and all bureaus in the department will be engaged. He said the department plans to continue the enforcement after that time.
“We're going to commit all our resources that we have to eradicating some of the problems we have in some of these neighborhoods,” Reaves said. “... I'm going to continue to push for us to do these programs to go after the guy that's causing violent crimes, the guy that's slinging heroin, the guys that, you know, that are causing quality-of-life problems in the neighborhoods.”
Port Huron police Lt. Duane Loxton said the police get information on issues from a variety of sources. Many times, the department's information comes from the neighborhoods where the problem originated.
Loxton said the department doesn't usually have the extra resources to attack all the issues. Sometimes officers become so busy, they get caught up in just taking calls, Reaves said. With this funding, officers will have specific issues they're going to target.
Loxton said if people have information, they shouldn't hesitate to report it.
“Don't assume we know everything that's going on,” Loxton said. “... If people know information, they need to let us know.”