Pasadena Episcopal church hosting Muslim convention gets hate emails
by City News Service
PASADENA - An Episcopal church in Pasadena has been receiving "hateful" messages from other Christians over its decision to host the annual convention of a Muslim American civil rights organization on Dec. 15, according to church leaders.
Officials from All Saints Church in Pasadena and the Muslim Public Affairs Council scheduled a news conference at the Euclid Avenue church this morning to discuss the attacks prompted by the upcoming MPAC convention, the first the group will be holding at a church.
The church has received more than 25 hate emails and threats since Friday, Rev. Susan Russell, senior associate for communications at All Saints, told The Huffington Post. One compared Islam to Nazism and called Muslims "Body Snatchers." Another quote reads, "You are Consorting with the Enemy that is Killing Christians Worldwide."
One message, sent from South Carolina, says: "The problem is that by providing cover and legitimacy to an organization dedicated to overthrowing the Constitution, and substituting Sharia law therefore, you endanger my country and my grandsons' future."
The famously liberal church is used to criticism. But All Saints rector J. Ed Bacon said in his sermon Sunday that the missives prompted by the MPAC convention were "some of the most vile, mean-spirited emails I've ever read in my life, talking about All Saints participating in terrorism," Russell reported.
The emails started after the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a conservative Christian group, on Friday published a criticism of the convention on its website, saying: "Yet again, the Islamists are taking advantage of naive Christians with a desire to show off their tolerance."
MPAC President Salam al-Marayati said he contacted All Saints about hosting the convention in order "to provide an alternative model of positive Muslim-Christian relations" and "to tell Muslims to stop speaking to themselves and start speaking to the broader American public."
He told the Huffington Post that he is working with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and local police to make sure the convention, expected to be attended by around 1,000 people, turns out to be a safe event.
Zimmerman Sues NBC For Edited 911 Call
Murder suspect George Zimmerman sued NBC on Thursday, alleging that the network and its reporters manipulated the 911 tape in which he was heard to create “a racial powder keg” that would be sure to generate ratings in the wake of the death of black teenager Trayvon Martin.
In the recording heard by NBC viewers on the “Today Show”, Zimmerman seemed to say without prompting: “This guy looks like he's up to no good. He looks black,” according to the Washington Post.
Edited out was the 911 dispatcher asking Zimmerman whether the person he was suspicious of was “black, white or Hispanic.”
Zimmerman, a 29-year-old volunteer neighborhood watch captain, faces second-degree murder charges for shooting Martin, 17, during a confrontation in Sanford, Florida on Feb. 26. Martin was unarmed and walking back to his father's girlfriend's house when Zimmerman first confronted him.
Zimmerman is claiming self-defense under Florida's controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, but the incident has sparked outrage across the nation.
In a lawsuit filed Thursday in Seminole County, Fla., near Orlando, Zimmerman claims the network intentionally edited the tape as to make him appear “a racist and predatory villain.”
NBC “pounced on the Zimmerman/Martin matter because [the network] knew this tragedy could be, with proper sensationalization and manipulation, a racial powder-keg that would result in months, if not years, of topics for their failing news programs, particularly the plummeting ratings for their ailing ‘Today Show,'?” the suit alleges.
NBC News president Steve Capus told Reuters in April that the edit was a “mistake, not deliberate” misrepresentation.
But the complaint says the network never apologized to Zimmerman “for deliberately portraying him as a hostile racist who targeted Martin due to his race.”
Zimmerman is seeking an undisclosed amount of money in the lawsuit, which also names as defendants the NBC correspondents Ron Allen and Lilia Rodriguez Luciano, as well as Jeff Burnside, a reporter for the NBC-owned station in Miami.
Luciano, Burnside and an NBC producer were fired after a network investigation determined that the 911 tape had been edited.
NBC denied any wrongdoing in a statement issued Thursday night.
“We strongly disagree with the accusations made in the complaint,” it said in the statement. “There was no intent to portray Mr. Zimmerman unfairly. We intend to vigorously defend our position in court.”
Zimmerman is set to begin trial in June.
Files from father-in-law's home contain nearly 4,500 images of missing Utah mom
TACOMA, Wash. – Thousands of images seized from the home of Susan Powell's father-in-law show the missing Utah mother as she walks in public and sits in her car — apparently unaware that someone is taking her picture.
The photos — some of which are sexually suggestive — were obtained under public records laws Thursday by The Associated Press, three years after Powell went missing.
Authorities uncovered the files while serving a search warrant last year at the home where her husband, Josh Powell, and father-in-law, Steve Powell, were living. Josh Powell killed himself and the couple's two young children earlier this year.
Some of the images seized during the search, including those of bathing young girls who lived next door to Steve Powell, were used earlier this year to convict him of voyeurism charges.
Other photos show a variety of women, apparently unaware that a camera is focused on them, as they walk along sidewalks, at the park or into the mall.
Steve Powell was not charged with any crimes related to images of Susan Powell, but the files show she was often the focus of his lens. In a folder labeled with her initials, SMP, there are images of her walking through parking lots or sitting in her car. It appears the photographer is taking the pictures from another vehicle.
Some images zoom closely to Susan Powell's crotch or her backside, including a set of photos taken through blinds as she's bending over and doing laundry. None of the pictures, which were found on a disc in Steve Powell's bedroom, show her naked.
In journals that authorities have also made public, Powell describes himself as a "voyeur" and Susan as an "exhibitionist." He talks about using a mirror to spy on her under the bathroom door, and he writes about taking sexual pleasure in looking at images of Susan Powell that he kept on his computer.
Powell talks in his journals about taking lots of video of Susan during a trip to Silver Falls in 2009, and a folder of images from the trip shows only photos of her backside as she's walking.
In one entry, dated a few months before Susan Powell disappeared, Steve Powell wrote that he had just woken up "from a most pleasant dream about Susan." He described a sexually charged dream in which Susan asked him, "'Do you think I would make a good wife for you?'"
Anne Bremner, an attorney who represents Susan Powell's parents, said the images support the family's assertion that Steve Powell had a concerning attraction for his daughter-in-law.
"When you look at those pictures, it's clearly surreptitious. It's clearly obsessive," Bremner said. The family believes Steve Powell knows something about Susan Powell's disappearance, and authorities have described him as uncooperative.
Mark Quigley, an attorney who represented Steve Powell in the voyeurism case, did not return a call seeking comment. Powell is in prison, serving a sentence of more than two years.
Susan Powell disappeared in Utah in December 2009. Records have shown that Utah investigators handling the case focused their attention primarily on her husband.
Illegal immigration down in U.S.
Apparently, not as many immigrants are coming to America.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the number of illegal immigrants has dropped from twelve million to 11.1 million.
It is the first drop in more than a decade.
This can't be good news for former President George W. Bush, who has rejoined the fight for immigration reform, says, “America is a nation of immigrants. Immigrants have helped build the country that we have become and immigrants can help build a dynamic tomorrow”
Making census of it all, fewer Mexican workers are coming to the U.S., which could impact the already shrinking U.S. labor force.
Researchers don't expect immigration numbers to increase any time soon, thanks to a weak economy and stricter border enforcement; but many illegal immigrants are returning home because they're ‘aging out' of programs like the dream act. Also, working immigrants aren't offered a legal way to become citizens.
Officials are afraid it will impact farming, home health care and other low-wage jobs that Americans just don't want.
It looks like our melting pot is becoming a little less fluid.
Ohio justices: DNA proof must be kept
by Catherine Candisky
Ohio law-enforcement agencies must retain all biological evidence in rape and murder cases, the state Supreme Court ruled yesterday.
Justices said agencies and crime labs that wanted to be able to toss everything from all cases except those begun after a 2010 law took effect are wrong.
“Because DNA and biological evidence play such significant roles in the judicial system, it is imperative that law-enforcement agencies handle all evidence with extreme care,” Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor wrote in the court's opinion.
Kristopher A. Haines, an assistant public defender, said the ruling is good news for “any number of innocent people who could have had their evidence destroyed."
Before yesterday's decision, authorities could have destroyed any evidence that existed before the law's enactment, which could have made it impossible for people to appeal their convictions.
That ruling was one of two unanimous decisions by the high court yesterday that could have far-reaching effects on wrongful-imprisonment claims.
In the second case, the court found that not everyone released from prison after having their conviction overturned is eligible for compensation.
Justices declared that a Cleveland man whose rape conviction was overturned because of insufficient evidence cannot automatically obtain compensation for wrongful imprisonment. Iran Doss was convicted in 2006 and sentenced to four years in prison for raping a woman he met in a bar on New Year's Eve.
“Not every person who is released from prison because of a successful appeal is entitled to compensation,” Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger wrote in the 11-page decision.
“The legislature set forth a procedure for claimants like Doss to follow … so that the common pleas court could actively separate demonstrably innocent persons who have been wrongfully imprisoned from persons who have merely avoided criminal liability.”
Under the law, a defendant must first be determined to be wrongfully imprisoned by a common pleas court before he or she can seek compensation. For Doss, the overturning of his case by the Cuyahoga Common Pleas Court did not prove his innocence, just that there was insufficient evidence to sustain his conviction beyond a reasonable doubt. Doss said the sex was consensual; the woman said she couldn't remember the encounter because she was drunk.
Doss' attorney, Paul Mancino Jr., said the ruling will make it more difficult for those wrongfully convicted to get compensated. In Doss' case, the lower court found no offense was committed; thus he's innocent, Mancino said.
“They think they are giving away state money, but they aren't,” he said, noting that such compensation is paid from a fund financed from a portion of bond money paid by criminal defendants.
In the evidence-retention case, the court reversed a lower-court ruling in a case filed by a former Guernsey County man serving a life sentence for a 1997 murder, of which he claims he is innocent.
Clarence D. Roberts, represented by Haines, asked that the physical evidence in his case be preserved for future DNA testing and possible legal action, but authorities claimed they were not required to do so because the evidence was collected before June, 6, 2010, the effective date of the retention law.
The justices rejected the arguments and said the law applies to any evidence an agency had when the law went into effect. The case was sent back to the Guernsey County Common Pleas Court, which must order police to hold the physical evidence for any future legal proceedings, the justices ruled.
In its review of the case, the 5th District Court of Appeals upheld the trial ruling, noting that Roberts was convicted three years before the law went into effect and that there was no retroactive provision in the law. The appeals court also noted that the victim's clothing had not been preserved under new protocols established by the law.
But O'Connor wrote, “The General Assembly did not specify that the statute was to apply only to evidence that would come into the possession of the governmental entities after its enactment. Moreover, the General Assembly did not qualify the word ‘possesses' based on when the evidence was gathered.”
New Haven program aims to change kids' view of police
by Shahid Abdul-Karim
NEW HAVEN — For some city kids, seeing a police officer in uniform is a frightening experience, but the New Haven Police Department and Superintendent of Schools Reginald Mayo want to change that image by bringing community-based officers into schools on a weekly basis to strengthen community ties.
At a press conference Wednesday, students, teachers and staff at Hill Central School joined Assistant Police Chief Luiz Casanova and Mayo to introduce this initiative, which hopes also to strengthen community policing efforts and complement the district's newly expanded community- and parent-engagement efforts.
“This initiative puts us in a position where we can listen and learn from students, as we will no longer be strangers but trusted representatives of the community,” said Casanova. “We need to know each other, whether in good situations and sometimes the not-so-good situations.”
The Police Department in fall committed to visiting each school on opening day, and the new program follows that effort and is part of an ongoing plan to cultivate and nurture positive relationships between officers and students at schools throughout the city, officials said.
“I want our young people to look at police officers as role models, mentors and friends,” said Mayo. “When we build relationships between our police and our schools, we strengthen the fabric of our community.”
The city currently has 10 community-based officers in neighborhoods. Under the new initiative, each of the 10 officers will visit elementary and middle schools in their districts weekly, officials said in a release.
Hill Central Principal Glen Worthy said he expects the program to help decrease violence in the city.
“The impact of this will be so positive and it will foster other relationships with schools, students and parents,” said Worthy, who grew up in New Haven.
“These kids see so much and know so much about what is happening on the streets, this will prevent more violent crimes within our community and it will help to build relationships between community, students and police,” he said.
Officer Robert Clark, who patrols the city's Hill South district and is the new community-based officer at Hill Central, said at the press conference Wednesday, “There are so many things these kids see on television about cops that, most times, contributes to the fear of us,”
“We want to develop a relationship from grade levels eight on down so we can touch the lives and build partnerships,” he said. “We are trying to break the barriers of students being scared of cops, so this is more of a generational investment in the city.”
Officers will visit the same school each week and serve as additional resources for the school, according to the district.
Separate resource officers are assigned to high schools in the same area.