NEWS of the Day - Dec 7, 2013
on some LACP issues of interest

NEWS of the Day
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 ...


AP WAS THERE: Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor

by The Associated Press

EDITOR'S NOTE — On Dec. 7, 1941, Eugene Burns, AP's chief of bureau in Honolulu, couldn't get out the urgent news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which drew the U.S. into World War II, because the military had already taken control of all communication lines. In Washington, AP editor William Peacock and staff got word of the attack from President Franklin D. Roosevelt's press secretary. In the language and style used by journalists of his era, including the use of a disparaging word to describe the Japanese that was in common use, Peacock dictated the details of the announcement. Seventy-two years after their original publication, the AP is making the dispatches available to its subscribers.



White House says Japs attack Pearl Harbor.


WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (AP) — President Roosevelt said in a statement today that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, from the air.

The attack of the Japanese also was made on all naval and military "activities" on the island of Oahu.

The president's brief statement was read to reporters by Stephen Early, presidential secretary. No further details were given immediately.

At the time of the White House announcement, the Japanese ambassadors, Kichisaburo Nomura and Saburo Kurusu, were at the State Department.



Second air attack reported on Army and Navy bases in Manila.

First lead Japanese

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 — (AP) — Japanese air attacks on the American naval stronghold at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and on defense facilities at Manila were announced today by the White House.

Only this terse announcement came from President Roosevelt immediately, but with it there could be no doubt that the Far Eastern situation had at last exploded, that the United States was at war, and that the conflict which began in Europe was spreading over the entire world.

This disclosure had been accepted generally as an indication this country had all but given up hope that American-Japanese difficulties, arising from Japan's aggression in the Far East, could be resolved by ordinary diplomatic procedure.



Second lead Japanese

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 — (AP) — Japanese airplanes today attacked American defense bases at Hawaii and Manila, and President Roosevelt ordered the Army and Navy to carry out undisclosed orders prepared for the defense of the United States.

Announcing the president's action for the protection of American territory, Presidential Secretary Stephen Early declared that so far as is known now the attacks were made wholly without warning — when both nations were at peace — and were delivered within an hour or so of the time that the Japanese ambassador had gone to the State Department to hand to the secretary of state Japan's reply to the secretary's memo of the 26th.



American Merrill Newman heads for freedom, 'deported' from North Korea

by Greg Botelho and Ben Brumfield

(CNN) -- Merrill Newman -- the 85-year-old American detained by North Korean authorities earlier this fall -- is on a flight back to freedom after being locked up in North Korea.

The communist country "deported" the veteran of the Korean war, North Korea's state news agency KCNA reported early Saturday. It coincided with a visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to South Korea, where he laid a wreath in honor of those who fell in the war that pitted North against South.

Newman's son announced that he is on his way home to the United States. Neighbors have tied yellow ribbons around spots in his neighborhood in Palo Alto, California, to welcome him.

"We are absolutely delighted to confirm that Merrill Newman is on his way home after being released by the DPRK," Jeff Newman said.

"This has been a very difficult ordeal for us as a family and particularly for him," the son said, who plans to meet Newman, when he disembarks in San Francisco.

Jeff Newman also called for the release of Kenneth Bae, another American being held in North Korea.

A senior Obama administration official said soon after the North Korean announcement that U.S. authorities have Newman "in hand." Video showed him smiling as he walked past a cavalcade of reporters through the airport in Beijing, China.

"I'm very glad to be on my way home," Newman told reporters. "And I appreciate the tolerance the DPRK government has given to me to be on my way."

He felt good, he said, and looked forward to seeing his wife.

The KCNA report stated that investigators determined that "Newman entered the DPRK with a wrong understanding of it and perpetrated a hostile act against it."

"Taking into consideration his admittance of the act committed by him on the basis of his wrong understanding (and the) apology made by him for it, his sincere repentance of it and his advanced age and health condition, the above-said institution deported him from the country from a humanitarian viewpoint," the official North Korean report added.

Let Bae free

The State Department welcomed Merrill's release but also repeated its call for the DPRK to pardon Bae and release him, too.

Biden told reporters in South Korea that he "played no direct role" in the release. He added that his office offered to let Newman fly home with him on Air Force Two, but State Department officials said he'd take a direct commercial flight to San Francisco.

"It's a positive thing they've done," said the Vice President, who talked Saturday morning by phone with Newman. "But they still have Mr. Bae, who has no reason being held in the North (and) should be released immediately."

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who has undertaken private diplomatic efforts with North Korea seemed more perturbed over the Americans' detentions than he was pleased at Newman's release.

"While the release of Merrill Newman is welcome news indeed, he never should have been detained in the first place. The North Koreans should also release Kenneth Bae as a humanitarian gesture," Richardson said in a statement.

Old resentments

Newman had traveled as a tourist to North Korea on a 10-day organized private tour of North Korea in October. From phone calls and postcards he sent, the trip was going well and there was no indication of any kind of problem, Jeff Newman said.

The day before he was to leave, "one or two Korean authorities" met with Newman and his tour guide, the son added. They talked about Newman's service record, which left "my dad ... a bit bothered," according to Jeff Newman.

Then, just minutes before his Beijing-bound plane was set to depart Pyongyang in late October, he was taken off the aircraft by North Korean authorities.

For weeks, the Pyongyang government didn't explain why they were holding Newman.

An explanation came a few days ago, when state media published and broadcast what they described as the Korean War veteran's "apology." The word was written atop the first of four handwritten pages detailing his alleged indiscretions.

In the note -- which was dated November 9 -- Newman talked about his having advised the Kuwol Unit, part of the "intelligence bureau" fighting against Pyongyang during the Korean War. He detailed how he commanded troops to collect "information" and wage various deadly attacks.

"After I killed so many civilians and (North Korean) soldiers and destroyed strategic objects in the DPRK during the Korean War, I committed indelible offensive acts against the DPRK government and Korean people," Newman said, according to that KCNA report.

The reported message also touched on his return 60 years later to North Korea, admitting that he "shamelessly ... had a plan to meet any surviving soldiers and pray for the souls of the dead soldiers."

His statement ended: "If I go back to (the) USA, I will tell the true features of the DPRK and the life the Korean people are leading."

"hostile acts"

This public apology was "highly scripted political theater," said University of California, Berkeley, professor Steve Weber. Some feared Newman could face harsh treatment.

The other American, Bae, was arrested in November 2012 and sentenced in May to 15 years of hard labor after North Korea's government found him guilty of "hostile acts" and attempts to topple the government.

Pyongyang is regarded by many as one of the world's most repressive states, with its insularity, system of cruel detention camps for political prisoners and sharp restrictions on speech and other freedoms.

Its isolation is exacerbated by widespread uproar over its nuclear program. The East Asian nation's reported quest to create a nuclear weapon, as well as its resistance to international monitoring of its activities, have resulted in economic sanctions, compounding difficulties in getting enough energy and food for its people.

Merrill's release may serve to relax tensions with the United States.

But above all, it will please his wife, Lee, who last month told CNN, "We need to have Merrill back at the head of the table for the holidays."



Rhode Island

At outreach forum, R.I. police and residents talk about need for respect

by Katie Mulvaney

PROVIDENCE — Seventy-nine police recruits sat at attention Friday night, their spines straight and their eyes fixed straight ahead. Their ears, however, were wide open to sometimes troubling, sometimes positive, tales about community interactions with men and women in blue.

Lisa Scorpio told of her teenage son, who is black, being stopped weeks after they moved from East Providence to Providence. He was riding a skateboard only to find himself thrown against a police car, she said. She had taught her children to view police as friends.

“They don't know how to treat young men and women,” Scorpio said of municipal police officers. She was shaken, she said, to hear that police recruits spent only one day out of 22 weeks of training concentrating on diversity.

Col. Steven G. O'Donnell, superintendent of the state police, cautioned her that while one training day might be dedicated to diversity, race relations were central to every aspect of the academy.

“Everything we do is about policing a diverse community,” O'Donnell said.

Such was the give and take at a “Building Bridges in the Community” outreach forum at the John Hope Settlement House. On hand were the state police command staff along with 36 state and 43 municipal police recruits. About 50 people attended, including a smattering of community activists and public officials. All seemed dedicated to keeping the lines of communication open.

A resounding message was the community's need for respect and professionalism from the officers who protect them. Several speakers told of being stopped by the police without cause because of the color of their skin.

Raymond Watson, of the Mount Hope Neighborhood Association, shared the experience he said he just had before coming to the forum. He was trying to unlock his front door when several plainclothes police officers in an unmarked car shined a light on him and stared, he said. He called them the “jump-out boys,” members of the Providence Police Department's gun task force.

They saw he wasn't afraid, he said, and drove “off around the corner to shine the light on someone else.”

Their actions were unprofessional, he said. Officers who don't agree with such behavior are, in fact, condoning it by not speaking out against it, he said.

“A little bit of respect goes a long way,” Watson said. He and others implored the recruits not to participate in bad behavior.

They learned that police officers statewide have an obligation to report bad behavior in the department.

Kobi Dennis, the founder of Project: Night Vision, a team-building program for inner-city youth, spoke of officers from the “jump-out boys” stopping him as he drove his 13-year-old son. The light shone on him and a gun was drawn as they rapped on his window, he said. He told them who he was and they moved on.

“I never got an apology,” he said.

State Police Capt. Ernest C. Quarry Jr. stressed that respect was a key component of training.

“From day one we instill in them to respect everyone,” he said. “The uniform speaks volumes. It says everything you have to say …. That's what's pounded into their heads — respect and fairness for everyone they come in contact with.”

Jessica Vega, of the Olneyville Neighborhood Association, said that state police were intimidating to the undocumented immigrant community.

O'Donnell responded that the police had an obligation to arrest a person who commits a crime. Immigration officials largely only take action against people who commit serious crimes, he said.

“In the undocumented community, there is fear,” Vega said.

Dewayne “ Boo” Hackney, a local community activist, stressed the importance of learning Spanish to be able to reach a broader community. Respect the badge, respect the citizens, respect the state, he said.




Massachusetts gun task force chief weighing mental health privacy, public safety concerns


BOSTON — Facing a challenge in balancing mental health privacy and public safety considerations, the gun violence task force appointed by House Speaker Robert DeLeo will hold its final hearing on Dec. 13 with a report issued in the following weeks, according to its chairman.

A member of the committee said she heard gun legislation would be taken up early next year.

“I think there's some thoughtful provisions in the various legislation,” said Chairman Jack McDevitt, a Northeastern University criminal justice researcher, who declined to preview the contents of the report or the various sections that will be included.

Broadly speaking, the report will cover school safety, mental health, and gun licensure where the task force will aim to “streamline our process and strengthen it,” McDevitt told the News Service.

The group, which McDevitt said includes a diversity of opinions, has met in private with advocates on both sides of the gun access debate, mental health practitioners and researchers, school officials and police chiefs from rural, suburban and urban areas.

“They have sort of different concerns and challenges with the law,” McDevitt said.

Asked about privacy concerns that have been raised by Rep. Linda Campbell, a Methuen Democrat, around how information about an individual's mental health history could be used, McDevitt said those issues are a “focus” of the task force.

“You've put your finger on one of the most difficult challenges,” McDevitt said.

He said a bill filed by Rep. David Linsky, a Natick Democrat whose efforts are backed by gun control advocates, includes a provision that would require gun license applicants to provide mental health history, which is similar to legislation in Hawaii and makes people in the mental health community “fearful.”

Campbell told the News Service she was cautious to provide privacy protections in her bill (H 3430), which would enable doctors to temporarily exclude someone from possessing a firearm license if the doctor deemed him or her mentally unfit at the time. The exclusion would last a year, there would be an appeals process, and the list of excluded individuals would not be sent to the national database of people who have been involuntarily committed, Campbell said.

“My concern as a private citizen is that someone who suffers from mental illness would be put on a national database,” said Campbell, who said her bill is “unique” and would only send the information to police chiefs who determine whether someone can be licensed.

A former captain in the U.S. Army who is married to a retired lieutenant colonel, Campbell said the temporary nature of the designation would enable a doctor to list a soldier newly returned from combat and suffering from “pronounced” symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder without the designation permanently excluding the soldier from firearm ownership.

Rep. Hank Naughton, a Clinton Democrat running for attorney general, has been waiting for the task force report before the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee finishes a bill to change the state's gun laws.

Naughton is co-chairman of the committee with Sen. James Timilty, a Walpole Democrat, and both have A+ ratings from the Gun Owner's Action League, the state's most prominent gun rights advocacy group.

A member of the committee, Campbell said she has been told the bill will be taken up fairly early in 2014, and said she has not been interviewed by the task force about her bill.

McDevitt said various members of the task force are working on different sections, and once a draft is assembled it would likely be shared with DeLeo's office. He said the task force would “funnel everything” through the speaker's office.

DeLeo appointed the task force in March, a few months after the massacre of Sandy Hook Elementary School children by a lone gunman in Newtown, Conn. Saturday, the day after the task force's final meeting with selected members of the public, will mark the one-year anniversary of the mass murder.

Dec. 14, 2012 also marked the beginning of a sometimes acrimonious debate about the various state and federal gun laws throughout the country, with some parents of the murdered children devoting their lives toward seeking stricter gun laws through the organization Newtown Promise.

On Friday, the task force will meet with “a couple of gun dealers and parents of children with mental health issues.”

McDevitt said the task force will review legislation filed by Linsky, Rep. George Peterson, a Grafton Republican, and Gov. Deval Patrick, as well as Naughton's impending bill.

“I can't tell you which ones are going to come out in the report,” said McDevitt, who said the aim was “not to take one side of this issue.”

The eight-person task force also includes former Massachusetts and Louisiana Inspector General Robert Cerasoli; Revere School Superintendent Paul Dakin; Harvard Professor of Health Policy David Hemenway; John Herman, associate chief of the psychiatry department at Massachusetts General Hospital; Natick Police Chief James Hicks, president of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association; Boston College associate professor Marylou Sudders, a mental health expert for the US Department of Justice and a member of the Health Policy Commission; and Raffi Yessayan, a New Bedford attorney, former gang unit prosecutor and crime novelist.




Unique Greenfield program uses St. Bernard dogs to comfort police, firefighters

by Fred Contrada

GREENFIELD – For Rosie and Clarence the comfort dogs, there is no longer anywhere to hide. Their celebrity moment is coming Dec.10, when the Animal Medical Center fetes the Greenfield police dogs along with Barbara Walters at its annual Top Dog Gala in New York City.

They will be celebrated as the first dogs in the nation officially dedicated to comforting first responders – like police, firefighters and other emergency workers – who are hurting from the trauma of their jobs. It's doubtful that fame will go to the dogs' heads.

Rosie and Clarence are already hard-pressed to hide, since they are St. Bernards, the size of small pack animals. The 4-year-old Rosie tips the scale at 140 pounds. Clarence, named after the late Clarence Clemons of the E Street Band, is half Rosie's age and weighs 160.

On Friday, the dogs were the star attractions at the Federal Street School's monthly all-school meeting. When their owners, Greenfield police Lt. William Gordon and Sgt. Laura Gordon, brought the dogs out on stage, a buzz went through the crowd of kindergarten-to-3rd-graders seated on the auditorium floor.

“Their job is to make people feel better when they're in a scary situation,” Lt. Gordon explained in introducing the St. Bernards. “Other police dogs are not as furry and cuddly. These dogs, all they do is love people.”

The Gordons, who are married and own the dogs as pets, realized early on that Rosie and Clarence have some ineffable quality that lets them draw the poison out of people who see awful things.

“As a police officer, we go to a lot of bad calls,” Gordon said later. “You go over and over them in your mind. You can become socially isolated. The dogs help me when I feel alone.”

Last year, the Gordons brought Rosie and Clarence to Newtown, Conn., after a gunman went on a rampage that left 26 students and adults in Sandy Hook Elementary School dead.

Thinking the dogs were there for the families, officials tried to send the Gordons home, explaining that there were no family members present. Then they saw the firefighters on their knees weeping as they hugged the dogs for their own comfort.

The Gordons are among a select few invited back to Newtown for the one-year anniversary of the shooting on Dec. 14.

“It's very difficult for first responders to ask for help,” Gordon said. “They're there to provide help. Dogs don't judge you. They're there to basically listen.”

The Gordon's can't explain exactly what it is about the dogs that brings rescuers to their knees. Rosie, they say, has an “X factor.”

“There's love in her eyes,” Gordon said. “Clarence has a calmness that's hard to explain.”

The Gordons took their dogs to Boston shortly after the Marathon bombing in April. They were invited back in June, when the were mobbed by the participants in a 10-kilometer race .

Rosie and Clarence are also available to help victims of child abuse, rape and domestic violence.

William Gordon himself was helped by Rosie after he was diagnosed with work-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2010, and he first noticed how she comforted other police and firefighters. The Gordons then started Canines Helping Autism and PTSD Survivors (CHAPS), a non-profit.

Nonetheless, they have kept a low profile.

“We don't self-dispatch,” William Gordon said. “We have to be asked.”

They may be getting more calls after Dec. 10.

Greenfield Police Chief Robert Haigh, who was at the Federal Street School event, called the comfort dog program unique.

“First responders don't like to admit any kind of weakness,” he said, “but it's crucial that you get help.”

Haigh acknowledged that Rosie and Clarence have carte blanche to visit his office when they're in the station.

“I've got some slobber on me right now,” he said.