Cleveland kidnapper pleads guilty
(NECN/NBC: Steve Handelsman) - The Cleveland man who imprisoned and tortured three women for more than a decade pleaded guilty and accepted a life sentence in prison.
The plea bargain will mean no trial for Ariel Castro and no testimony from the women he held captive.
In a statement given as he accepted entered his guilty plea, Castro denied he was violent and claimed an addiction to pornography ruined his mind. He also said he was a victim of abuse as a child.
"I would like to state that I was also a victim as a child, and it just kept going," he said. "My addiction to pornography and my sexual problem has really taken a toll on my mind."
The guilty plea includes all 937 counts he was charged with, including repeatedly raping his victims and even starving one of the women in order to force her to have a miscarriage.
As part of the deal, Castro will avoid the death penalty.
Watch the attached video for more.
New officers expected to improve community policing efforts in Columbia
by Arthur Cook Bremer
COLUMBIA — Three new Columbia Police Department officers to be hired in fiscal 2014 are expected to be used to patrol areas with a high number of emergency calls.
City Manager Mike Matthes announced at a presentation of the proposed budget for fiscal 2014 Friday morning that the addition of three new officers would be used to improve "community policing" efforts.
Matthes said he would like the new officers to build a better relationship with the residents in the neighborhoods they patrol, in order for residents to feel safer and more willing to provide information when the police are investigating crimes.
"It's that kind of policing that engenders relationships with the community and that's what we need right now," Matthes said.
Matthes said the two new officers and the sergeant are not expected be on the street until next July, but that the city would be looking at options to have them begin patrols sooner.
Matthes also responded to comments made Thursday afternoon by Dale Roberts of the Columbia Police Officers Association, who suggested that money used to pay for the city's operations of the 911 call center could be used to pay for more officers because those services will move under the control of Boone County in fiscal 2014.
"Their math is shocking and riddled with errors, but I don't disagree with them about the need for more officers," Matthes said.
Matthes saidthe city will continue to fund 911 emergency services until at least January and the remaining money—which he estimated to be $1.3 million—will be used to pay off the city's deficit.
Funding for the Columbia police has increased during the past few years to account for inflation and growth, but the increased funding has gone to cover pensions of officers, Matthes said.
Last year, the Columbia City Council approved a reduction to the pension plan of the city's police officers and firefighters, which was projected to save the city an estimated $43 million over the next two decades.
"Our fix last year is beginning to open up those resources to actually hire humans to do a job rather than fund the pension," Matthes said.
The budget announcement follows a summer that has included a public shooting at Broadway and Tenth Street and the homicide of a 17-year-old in McKee Park.
Matthes also said the youth anti-violence task force, expected to be appointed by Mayor Bob McDavid at the Aug. 5 City Council meeting, will also be a useful tool to address crime in the city.
"Crime is a lot like cancer, and there are many causes, and not one treatment can solve it all," Matthes said. "We have to have many approaches across the whole spectrum of reasons why people commit these crimes. The task force's job is to figure out where are we hitting it and where are we missing and how we can do better."
US Congressman Introduces The ‘Surveillance State Repeal Act'
by Eric Garris
Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) has introduced legislation to repeal federal surveillance laws that the government abused by collecting personal information on millions of Americans in violation of the Constitution, as revealed by a federal whistleblower and multiple media outlets last month.
“As we now know, the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been collecting the personal communications of literally millions of innocent Americans for no legitimate reason,” said Holt. “Instead of using these powers to zero in on the tiny number of real terrorist threats we face, the executive branch turned these surveillance powers against the American people as a whole. My legislation would put a stop to that right now.”
Holt's bill, the “Surveillance State Repeal Act”, would repeal the PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act, each of which contains provisions that allowed the dragnet surveillance. The bill would reinstate a uniform probable cause-based warrant standard for surveillance requests, and prohibit the federal government from forcing technology companies from building in hardware or software “back doors” to make it easier for the government to spy on the public. Additional features of the bill include the true legal protections for national security whistleblowers, as well as changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to give it greater expertise in reviewing and challenging executive branch applications for surveillance operations.
“The executive branch's groundless mass surveillance of Americans has turned our conception of liberty on its head. My legislation would restore the proper constitutional balance and ensure our people are treated as citizens first, not suspects.”
Summary of the Surveillance State Repeal Act
The Surveillance State Repeal Act would:
Repeal the PATRIOT Act (which contains the telephone metadata harvesting provision).
Repeal the FISA Amendments Act (which contains the email harvesting provision).
Ensure that any FISA collection against a US Person takes place only pursuant to a valid warrant based on probable cause (which was the original FISA standard from 1978 to 2001).
Retain the ability for government surveillance capabilities to be targeted against a specific natural person, regardless of the type of communications method(s) or device(s) being used by the subject of the surveillance.
Retains provisions in current law dealing with the acquisition of intelligence information involving weapons of mass destruction from entities not composed primarily of U.S. Persons.
Prohibit the government from mandating that electronic device or software manufacturers build in so-called “back doors” to allow the government to bypass encryption or other privacy technology built into said hardware and/or software.
Increase the terms of judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) from seven to ten years and allow their reappointment.
Mandate that the FISC utilize technologically competent Special Masters (technical and legal experts) to help determine the veracity of government claims about privacy, minimization and collection capabilities employed by the US government in FISA applications.
Mandate that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) regularly monitor such domestic surveillance programs for compliance with the law, including responding to Member requests for investigations and whistleblower complaints of wrongdoing.
For the text of the legislation, click here.