North Korea warns military cleared to wage nuclear attack
PYONGYANG, North Korea - Ratcheting up the rhetoric, North Korea warned early Thursday that its military has been cleared to wage an attack on the U.S. using "smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear" weapons.
The Pentagon, meanwhile, said Wednesday that it will deploy a missile defense system to the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam to strengthen the region's protections against a possible attack.
The warning from an unnamed army spokesman and carried by Pyongyang's state-run news agency was latest in a series of escalating threats from North Korea, which has railed for weeks against joint U.S. and South Korean military exercises taking place in South Korea and has expressed anger over tightened sanctions for a February nuclear test.
Washington calls the military drills, which this time have incorporated nuclear-capable stealth bombers, routine annual exercises between the allies. Pyongyang calls them rehearsals for a northward invasion.
The foes fought on opposite sides of the three-year Korean War, which ended in a truce in 1953. The divided Korean Peninsula remains in a technical state of war, and Washington keeps 28,500 troops in South Korea to protect the ally.
The military statement said North Korean troops had been authorized to counter U.S. aggression with "powerful practical military counteractions," including nuclear weapons.
However, North Korea's nuclear strike capabilities remain unclear. Pyongyang is believed to be working toward building an atomic bomb small enough to mount on a long-range missile but is thought to be several years from being capable of mastering the technology.
Northwest Detroiters employ community policing to curtail crime rates
Some might view the problem of crime in Detroit as "hopeless", but many city residents haven't given up so easily
by Britney Spear
Detroiters are rallying together for a unified cause to curtail crime in their neighborhoods. They are selflessly giving their time and effort to engage in community policing, an initiative that aims to drive out the criminals and make the streets of Detroit safer.
The Winship Community Association is a group based in Northwest Detroit. The non-profit organization has served the nearby community by helping bring attention to and resolve it's biggest challenges.
At it's most recent meeting, members voiced pressing concerns related to dangerous activities taking place in their neighborhoods. Among influencing factors, they discussed the poor condition of nearby Peterson Park. Residents referenced recent shootings, loitering, parked cars and overall upkeep.
"We have made complaints to the recreation department, and I'm sure they have a file with my photo on it", said Dr. Arthur Divers, President of WCA.
Alicia Minter, Director of Detroit Recreation Development, says the city aims to do everything in it's power to restore beauty and safety to it's landmarks. She officially announced plans to improve Peterson Park. That includes bettering aesthetics as well as regularly monitoring it's condition.
Residents see the city's anticipated move as an opportunity to put an end to some of the troubling activity that occurs in the area.
"We are very glad to see that somebody recognizes the problem and is ready to do something about it", said Dr. Divers.
Residents recognize that finding solutions to Detroit's crime problem will require them to work along with local authorities. It's a tough job that no single entity can alone overcome.
Lieutenant Alysha Hall of Detroit's 8th Precinct officially addressed WCA members and acknowledged the work of the community in helping police Detroit's neighborhoods.
"We recognize that we can't be on every corner of every street... it takes our relationship, and working together to combat crime."
As the precinct's new acting inspector, Lt. Hall addressed a grave yet widely-held notion that the police doesn't "care" about criminal activity. She explains that challenges related to manpower make it difficult to respond to every call.
"Everything is our concern... we truly care. I care, and I'm committed to the community."
Lt. Hall referenced Mayor Dave Bing and the Detroit Police Department's latest initiative "Detroit One", which aims to fight violent crime in the city.
"We're on a hunt for individuals who are causing problems in our community."
Explaining that DPD plans to work diligently to eliminate threats, Lt. Hall also suggested that improvement takes time. She cautioned against residents getting involved in potentially dangerous affairs. Lt. Hall explained that in most cases, it's best to contact the police before attempting to address a situation on one's own.
Meeting attendees also talked about quality of life concerns, and how they affect residents on a day-to-day basis. Though not related to issues like violent crime, such factors impact how Detroiters feel about the neighborhoods they live in.
"We want to reap the benefits of a happy, healthy community".
Residents simply want to better the areas in which they reside, and will step in to do what's needed to witness the realization of that goal. It's a work in progress, yet one that all parties involved must remain committed to in order to make Detroit a better place.
For more information on the Winship Community Association, click here.
Cop Cards forge bonds between Park Ridge Police Officers and kids
by KATHRYN A. BURGER
Given their exuberance, one would have thought the three teams competing in the Park Ridge Police Department's game show that tested their knowledge of information found on the popular "Cop Cards" were vying for prizes or a trophy. The game show was part of the PRPD's culminating activity for the Community Policing initiative that had students collecting the trading cards.
The three teams, formed only minutes before the game began, stood in groups behind tables set up on the stage in the high school theater. Despite having no say in which team they were on, and with teams being made up of students of different ages and grades, they quickly chose a spokesperson, or more accurately the person who would write down the team's answer and display it when called for, and worked together, conferring in whispers so as not to be overheard by the other teams.
The game show, the drawings for prizes and the reception that followed in the high school cafeteria were organized by the Department's Community Policing Bureau and the event culminated the wildly popular "Cop Cards" program that challenged Park Ridge students to collect all 20 cards – one for each of the 17 members of the force, plus one for the Police Reserves, one for the Department's secretary Fran Smith, and one for Councilman Keith Misciagna, the police commissioner.
In all, 71 students in Grades 1-6 at schools in the borough collected the entire set. They became eligible to win prizes through a raffle held at the event. There were lots of other prizes – gift cards, gift certificates and other items, for those who didn't get all the cards and those winners were also chosen through a raffle at the event.
Before the game show began, Chief Joseph Madden thanked everyone for coming and explained how the "Cop Card" program evolved from an idea to an initiative, culminating in the day's festivities. "When we first started to discuss implementing this program, we identified several goals we wanted to achieve. The first was to introduced our officers to the younger children in our community in a non-stressful way. The second was to begin to build a trusting bond between the children and the officers so the children know we are here to help and protect them. We also wanted to provide them with some personal information about each of us so they know we are more than "the man wearing a badge," he said.
That last goal was met by having each officer compose a personal statement about themselves which appears on the reverse side of their card. Some offered information about where they grew up and went to school, how long they have been on the police force, what they like to do when not "on duty," and other facts about their lives. Each card also contains a "Personal Message" from each officer, words to live by, in a way: "Respect yourself and each other. Be kind," "Keep a positive attitude and encourage it in others," and "There's never a wrong time to do what's right," are some examples.
In order to collect an officer's card, the students had to meet the officer and engage them in conversation. There were opportunities such as the Police Open House, where many of the officers could be found at one time, but for the most part, the students – with the help of their parents, of course – had to seek them out individually. Frequent visits to headquarters to see who was on duty, spotting officers on traffic duty or even off-duty, became a popular pastime. Madden had thanks and praise for not only the students who participated but their parents as well. He said, "Another of the important benefits, from my viewpoint, was that many parents got to meet the officers in a setting that was pleasant rather than stressful."
A few cards were difficult to come by: Misciagna, the police commissioner; Officer Paul Marchese who was out on a short leave; and the Police Reserves card. But 71 enterprising and determined students managed it.
The audience made up of parents, friends and classmates cheered on all the teams which added to the celebratory atmosphere.
As the game went on, with teams having 30 seconds to come up with and write down their answers, the excitement built as did the students' enthusiasm. They quickly and correctly answered a majority of questions showing that they had done more than just collect the cards – they learned about the officers. They had no trouble naming one of the three sergeants on the force; the officer who was holding a camera in his photo; the one who was born in California, grew up in Park Ridge and served in the Army; and the officer who grew up in Wisconsin and was a U.S. Marine. (Answers: Sgts. DiBlasi, Mauro and Babcock; Eitner; Laughton; and Hoffmann.)
With time running short, the game ended after about 20 questions, but it was clear that even though the prizes still had to be raffled off and pizza served in the cafeteria, the teams would have continued playing until there were no more questions to answer. They weren't competing to win anything, since there were no prizes awarded for the game. They were having fun.
The winner of the grand prize, an iPad, from among those who collected all the cards was Michael Hernandez, who attends Our Lady of Mercy Academy. Dozens of other prizes were awarded as well. Among those thanked for donating refreshments and prizes were the A&P, Marc's Deli and Pizzeria, Papa John's Pizza, Park Pizza, the Bergen County Zoo, the Park Ridge Athletic Association, and the Park Ridge D.A.R.E. Program.
Madden thanked everyone who contributed to the success of the program, including Capt. Joseph Rampolla, Sgt. Peter Mauro, and Officer Daniel Hoffmann, who will be the next D.A.R.E. officer. He also thanked Fran Smith, the department secretary, Hoffmann's wife, Melissa, and Tammy Levinson.
A primary goal of the Community Policing Program is, Madden said, "to have the department become part of the community, not apart from it. This program very successfully achieved that goal."
L.A. County jail inmates save dogs, possibly themselves
by Christina Villacorte
(Photo gallery on site)
Glock, a German shepherd once on the verge of being euthanized for aggression, lay down on the grass, paws up, and quietly enjoyed a belly rub from a new friend.
The 3-year-old purebred has undergone quite a transformation since being plucked from an animal shelter's death row, thanks to an unlikely group of dog trainers - inmates at Men's Central Jail.
"Glock was a little aggressive, not obedient, didn't want to stay in the kennel," said John Buchholz, 40, an entertainment industry CGI artist from Downey jailed on an auto theft charge. "In a matter of weeks, through a daily routine where we take turns every half hour to train him, we've seen progress."
Glock and Buchholz are part of the new Custody Canine Program run by the Sheriff's Department in partnership with dog behaviorist Rick Belmonte, who owns Belmonte's Dog Training and Equipment.
Sgt. Raymond Harley, with the department's Education-Based Incarceration Bureau, said it accomplishes several purposes aside from rescuing dogs.
"This gives our inmates something productive to do while they're in jail," he said. "This teaches them dog handling skills, training skills, things that could translate into jobs in the outside world."
Under the program, two dogs are placed for three to five weeks in a dormitory holding 36 low-risk inmates, who will share the responsibility of caring for them, as well as housebreaking and training them to obey basic commands.
So far, eight dogs have been adopted, all of them by staff at the jail.
There was Cameo, a Jack Russell terrier and Chihuahua mix once dubbed a "little diva" for demanding constant attention; Roxie, a Doberman who used to bark at everybody; and Rocco, a scarred pit bull that had been shot in the chest and left for dead.
Aside from Glock, the current occupant of the dormitory is Jet, a 1-year-old hound dog mix whose trainers include Caesar Cunanan, 35, an audio engineer from Rancho Cucamonga doing time for a drug offense.
"Jet has taught me how to care about something else besides myself," Cunanan said.
"It was stubbornness that led me to jail. Maybe if I had listened to people who tried to teach me something, then maybe I wouldn't have to be here," he added. "Jet's not always a good dog, but that's why we're training him."
Belmonte recognizes the irony in having convicted criminals teach proper behavior but said the program is about not giving up on someone, or some dogs.
"I like to look at this as a second-chance program, rehabilitating from the inside out," he said.
The department plans to bring the program to its prison for women - the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood - and to the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic.
Sheriff Lee Baca believes the Education Based Incarceration Program as a whole should be expanded. He said if the county Board of Supervisors decides to build a new facility to replace Men's Central Jail, then the existing facility should be turned into classrooms.
"My belief is that people who enter jail should come out better than when they came in," Baca said during a news conference last month.
"This is an important aspect of reducing crime," he added.
To date, 7,000 of the department's 18,000 inmates have volunteered for one or more of 70 educational and vocational courses. Harley said classes to obtain a GED, learn computer skills or life skills - such as parenting, anger management and conflict resolution - are among the most popular.
Buchholz hopes the program will open doors for him, saying, "The more I work with the animals, the more I feel that this can be something bigger."
Cunanan said the dogs inspire him to turn his life around.
"They've been through a lot, and I can relate to that because I've been shot," he said. "Giving Jet a second chance makes me realize that I need to give myself a second chance as well."