some libertarians f*ck up things.
A man’s bizarre odyssey to infamy
By Le Templar, Tribune
July 3, 2005
Yuri Downing was looking for some fast money on a cool March evening this year as he drove the dark, narrow road through Indian farmlands just east of Scottsdale.
A buddy had told Downing he scored $5,000 after cashing a pair of forged checks at Casino Arizona. In on the scheme from the beginning, Downing agreed to meet at a lonely spot about a mile south of the casino to get his share of the loot.
But the other guy never showed. Then Downing saw patrol lights flashing in the rearview mirror of his white Mercedes. He knew he was in trouble.
A loaded pistol was wrapped in a towel on the passenger-side floorboard. In the trunk, mixed in with piles of clothes, were hundreds of contraband documents, including stolen utility bills and fake Mexican identification cards.
The IDs featured Downing’s photo and a variety of different names.
The man who once spent more than $40,000 on a state Senate race in the East Valley suddenly looked more like a garden-variety criminal.
In 2002, Downing, the son of a prominent Tucson politician, was more likely to be found at a political debate, his car full of campaign brochures that touted the law school graduate as the perfect Libertarian. Or maybe at a posh Scottsdale nightclub, picking up tidbits for a slick and successful entertainment magazine he’d helped start.
But Downing’s failed legislative bid was a dubious adventure that turned into a disaster.
He had temporarily dropped out of sight in January this year after pleading guilty to a felony charge of misusing tax dollars in his 2002 campaign. He didn’t report to probation officers and missed his required drug testing.
State prosecutor Edward Noyes, frustrated that Downing wasn’t living up to a plea deal, asked a judge to keep Downing behind bars until he was formally sentenced.
But Downing’s family and close friends rallied — as always — to his defense, promising to post a new bond and find him a job.
"Yuri certainly isn’t a harm to society," Jeffrey Dunn, owner of two Scottsdale restaurants, testified in court. "He would give his shirt off his back to anyone who needs help."
So in April, the judge agreed to let Downing go. He warned him to follow the rules this time.
Instead, Downing walked out of a Maricopa County jail and disappeared.
His friends and family say they have no idea where he is. And, if he doesn’t come forward before Aug. 10, his dad, state Rep. Ted Downing, DTucson, stands to lose $18,000 in bail money.
CLEAN ELECTIONS FRAUD
For the 2002 election, Yuri Downing had wanted to make a splash as a Senate candidate seeking to represent Tempe and southern Scottsdale. He figured he could easily get on the ballot as a Libertarian because only a handful of voter signatures were required.
He also realized he could get access to more state campaign funds if he combined his efforts with other candidates. So he recruited friends Trevor "Trey" Clevenger and Paul DeDonati to run with him as a team.
Downing served as the master strategist and key decisionmaker for all three campaigns. And he determined how to spend the $101,000 in taxpayer funds collected by the three.
Downing insisted every dime he spent was within the bounds of the law, but state elections officials said it looked more like a three-month-long party. By July 2004, he had been indicted on six felony counts and ordered to repay his share of the money.
Six months later, Downing pleaded guilty to one of the charges against him. Then he faded from public view.
It turns out the Clean Elections debacle was just the start of a downward spiral for the 34-year-old Downing. Intrigued by the blatant — and seemingly easy — misuse of public money in the state’s fledgling campaign finance system, the Tribune looked into Downing’s past and present and his flaunting of the law.
Most of Downing’s friends either won’t talk about him or ignored requests for interviews. To tell this story, the Tribune reviewed election records and other state documents, police reports and depositions, and attended several court hearings while Downing was in custody.
Police investigators say Downing likely has a methamphetamine habit. Since his felony conviction, they have linked him to a stash of illegal automatic weapons and an identity theft ring that is under federal investigation.
But other than a series of traffic tickets, Downing only has been charged for his role in the wild spending spree of the three Libertarians.
Downing continues to generate fierce loyalty among family and friends who describe him as bright and generous, eager to debate and willing to fight government bureaucracy on its own terms. Clevenger said his friend has been badly misjudged.
"He’s a good man," Clevenger said at an April 6 court hearing. "If there’s anyone out there who needs help, he will do it."
‘A GREAT MANY PARTIES’
Downing earned a political science degree from the University of Arizona in 1993, and then enrolled in law school at Arizona State University. He dropped out just before graduation, but later received his law degree in May 2002.
In the meantime, Downing wandered between Phoenix and Tucson, searching for a career and drifting deeper and deeper into the Scottsdale party scene.
Downing told state officials during a 2003 deposition he tried several ways to break into the business of bringing people together to drink and dance. Over the years, he took jobs passing out fliers to promote upcoming events, advising friends who wanted to start a bar or restaurant, and even was a partner for a couple of years in a former Scottsdale nightclub called Mecca.
"I’ve been involved in a great number of parties," Downing said two years ago.
Downing might have found real success with a 2001 venture, if his ill-fated legislative bid hadn’t sidetracked him. He had joined with several young investors to create a new magazine called 944, which focuses on celebrities and the glitzy nightlife of Scottsdale, Tempe and other parts of the Valley. Downing and the magazine’s current managers disagreed on the extent of his contribution, but he clearly was involved from the beginning.
"We were a bunch of young people trying to start a magazine and we brought in this stranger who claimed he was brilliant and really knew the industry," said Andrew Bailis, 944's production director.
Bailis said Downing offered his help on the magazine for free, and his involvement ended once the 2002 campaign for the state Senate began. But the magazine listed Downing as a contributing editor as late as March 2003.
In his July 2003 deposition, Downing said it was mere coincidence he rented an office for his legislative campaign just across the street from the magazine’s headquarters in downtown Scottsdale, and a couple of miles outside of the district he wanted to represent.
944 has taken off since Downing left, expanding to San Diego and launching a third edition last week in Las Vegas.
THE 2002 CAMPAIGN
While getting on the 2002 ballot was easy, collecting enough $5 donations to qualify for campaign public funds turned out to be more difficult. But Yuri Downing and his partners managed to get their funding a week before the September 2002 primary. They set out to spend all of the money.
Downing described the constant bar-hopping, campaign payments to friends and picking up the tab for dinners from central Phoenix to Tucson as part of an "unorthodox" approach to attracting the youth vote.
"I was essentially out seven nights a week, seven days a week doing this strategy, going to night clubs," Downing told state officials in 2003.
This campaign was supposed to be a warm-up for 2006, when Downing wanted to run for governor as a Libertarian or independent candidate. His younger brother, Demitri, hinted in an interview last week at what might have happened if Downing had access to the minimum of $1 million that gubernatorial candidates receive as Clean Elections candidates.
"Why not have the most creative, innovative campaign you can imagine?" Demitri Downing said. "Why not? The taxpayers are paying for it."
But the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission was deeply troubled. In April 2003, the commission ordered Yuri Downing to repay all of his campaign funding of $41,155, while Clevenger and DeDonati were required to repay about $15,000 each.
Downing tried to fight the commission on his own, without hiring an attorney. In December 2003, he finally dropped his appeal and accepted the commission’s order. But he hasn’t repaid the state any money.
‘SOMETHING JUST SNAPPED’
In July 2004, a state grand jury indicted Downing on six felony charges that described the entire 2002 campaign as a fraud. Downing faced up to 46 years in prison.
Demitri Downing said his brother was devastated.
"Something just snapped in him. I think he just said, ‘Forget this. Forget doing the right thing.’ "
Prosecutor Edward Noyes agreed to let Downing plead guilty to one felony count of perjury. That means he can never run for office again. Noyes also agreed to probation instead of a prison sentence, but asked the court to send Downing to county jail for four months.
As a first-time offender charged with a white-collar crime, Downing had been free for months without posting a bond. His attorney convinced Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Hotham to delay his sentencing hearing, scheduled for Jan. 26 of this year, because Downing "was having a mental crisis." But Hotham required Downing to check in weekly with the county probation office and to start drug testing.
Downing didn’t follow the judge’s order, and missed a March court hearing. Noyes told the judge that Downing had said he didn’t take the required drug tests "because there was no point, he had drugs in his system."
That prompted Hotham to issue a bench warrant on March 16.
Meanwhile, a month earlier, Phoenix police had pulled a number of illegal automatic weapons from a self-storage unit. A report accompanying the search warrant identified Yuri Downing as one of four people who had access to the storage space.
Phoenix officers also said in the report that Downing appeared to have a daily meth habit.
On March 28, the night he was arrested in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, police had set up a sting. Two men at Casino Arizona were caught with forged checks in their possession. The men told police the checks had been supplied by Downing, so the cops asked one of them to arrange a meeting with Downing.
The pistol hidden in the car brought a misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. But Downing has not been charged in connection with the Mexican IDs or the stolen utility bills.
Once in custody, Downing was kept in isolation by Maricopa County jailers, allowed to see only the lawyer hired by his family. Six weeks later, Hotham revealed during a court hearing that Downing was cooperating with an FBI task force looking into possible connections to an identity theft ring.
Local law enforcement agencies referred questions about Downing to the FBI; a Phoenix spokeswoman for the federal agency said she wasn’t aware of any investigation involving Downing.
At the hearing in April, Ted Downing urged the judge to use an electronic monitoring bracelet to track his son. In the Legislature, the elder Downing had been a supporter of the use of electronic monitoring as a way to reduce jail overcrowding.
Hotham reluctantly agreed to the bracelet, and also ordered an $18,000 cash bond that was paid by Downing’s parents.
Everyone in the courtroom expected the bracelet would be installed while Downing was still in custody, making it hard to slip away. But court officials misunderstood the process, and Downing was set free without it.
He just walked away, and his friends and family say they haven’t heard from him since.
Downing’s parents will lose their $18,000 if he doesn’t turn himself in by Aug. 10. But his father said the money’s not that important; he’s worried he will never see his son again.
"This is the largest tragedy of my life," Ted Downing said. "Who wants to lose his firstborn?"
Contact Le Templar by email, or phone (602) 542-5813
it cost a little over a dollar for every man, woman, and child in the usa to send this space probe to smash into a commet. i dont think i got my moneys worth from this government service. pluse where in the constitution does it say it is the duty of the feds to smash comets?
Countdown to a comet collision
NASA hopes to learn much on solar system
Thomas H. Maugh II
Los Angeles Times
Jul. 3, 2005 12:00 AM
NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft is closing in on its historic rendezvous with comet Tempel 1, a culmination of what Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director Charles Elachi called "one of the most daring and risky missions we have ever undertaken."
If all goes well, the spacecraft's 820-pound impactor will smash into the comet's core at 10:52 p.m. today Arizona time. The cosmic collision and its aftermath will be observed by three telescopes in orbit and every major telescope on the Earth's surface.
Images of the collision will provide not only "the most detailed pictures we have ever seen of a comet," said Lindley Johnson, the program executive, but also a first glimpse of the material inside a comet. That, in turn, could give valuable new information about the formation of the solar system.
Researchers at JPL north of downtown Los Angeles "are all sitting on the edge of their seats," said Rick Grammier, the project manager. "If I could bottle all the adrenaline I've seen in the last couple of days, I wouldn't have to sleep for a year."
Their target is a "jet-black, pickle-shaped icy dirtball the size of Washington, D.C.," said JPL's Don Yeomans, a co-investigator for the mission. It is about 9 miles long and 3 miles wide.
Deep Impact's goal of crashing a small probe into a comet is unprecedented. Scientists have compared the mission with trying to hit one speeding bullet with a second, while trying to observe the process with a third bullet.
That's not quite a fair comparison, Elachi said. The spacecraft and comet actually are moving 20 times faster than the fastest bullet. To make it even more challenging, he added, scientists want to strike Tempel 1 on its sunny side so they will be able to observe the effects of the collision better.
"There are no trails for us to follow," he said.
So far, the mission has gone perfectly. Deep Impact, launched on a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Station in Florida on Jan. 12, has been streaking across the solar system at nearly 50,000 mph to intercept Tempel 1 near its perihelion, the closest point in its orbit to the sun, just short of the orbit of Mars, about 83 million miles from Earth.
After it releases the impactor, the compact-car-sized mother ship will fire thrusters to slow down by about 220 mph so it misses the comet, coming no closer than about 300 miles from the comet's nucleus.
The battery-powered impactor, which has its own guidance system and thrusters, will settle into Tempel 1's orbit, waiting to be overtaken from behind at a relative speed of about 23,000 mph. It is capable of making three maneuvers on its own over the last two hours to ensure that it strikes the comet properly.
The craft will take progressively sharper pictures of the nucleus and transmit them to the mother ship for relay to Earth. The last one could be snapped as few as three seconds before impact, said Monte Henderson, the Deep Impact program manager for Boulder, Colo.-based Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., which built the craft.
Meanwhile, the mother ship will be monitoring the collision and aftermath with its own telescope and other instruments to identify the composition of ejected materials.
If, for some unforeseen reason, the impactor does not separate from the mother ship, engineers will crash the entire assembly into the comet, Grammier said. That will yield a larger impact but produce somewhat less information, he said.
Images from Deep Impact should be spectacular, Yeomans said. The 1986 Giotto spacecraft that flew by Halley's comet could resolve objects about twice the size of a football field. The 2004 Stardust mission to comet Wild-2 could reveal objects about a quarter the size of the field.
"Deep Impact will resolve objects the size of a football," Yeomans said.
Comets are so valuable scientifically because they are leftover matter from the formation of the planets about 4.6 billion years ago. They have circled the sun on the far fringes of the solar system ever since.
Occasionally, gravitational forces perturb a comet's orbit, causing it to drop into the inner solar system, where it circles the sun for several cycles before dissipating.
The materials inside Tempel 1's nucleus "have not seen the light of day for 4.6 billion years," said Jessica M. Sunshine, a co-investigator from San Diego-based Science Applications International Corp.
They are a perfectly frozen specimen from our distant past.
"It's pretty well certain we are, in fact, made up of cometary stuff," Yeomans said.
Fourth of July fireworks expected when NASA blows up a comet
Jun. 26, 2005 09:30 AM
LOS ANGELES - Not all dazzling fireworks displays will be on Earth this Independence Day.
NASA hopes to shoot off its own celestial sparks in an audacious mission that will blast a stadium-sized hole in a comet half the size of Manhattan. It would give astronomers their first peek at the inside of one of these heavenly bodies.
If all goes as planned, the Deep Impact spacecraft will release a wine barrel-sized probe on a suicide journey, hurtling toward the comet Tempel 1 - about 80 million miles away from Earth at the time of impact.
"It's a bullet trying to hit a second bullet with a third bullet in the right place at the right time," said Rick Grammier, project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.
Scientists hope the July 4 collision will gouge a crater in the comet's surface large enough to reveal its pristine core and perhaps yield cosmic clues to the origin of the solar system.
NASA's fleet of space-based observatories - including the Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra telescopes - along with an army of ground-based telescopes around the world are expected to record the impact and resulting crater.
The big question is: What kind of fireworks can sky-gazers expect to see from Earth?
Scientists do not know yet. But if the probe hits the bull's-eye, the impact could temporarily light up the comet as much as 40 times brighter than normal, possibly making it visible to the naked eye in parts of the Western Hemisphere.
"We're getting closer by the minute," Andrew Dantzler, the director of NASA's solar system division, said earlier this month. "I'm looking forward to a great encounter on the Fourth of July."
If the $333 million mission is successful, Deep Impact will be the first spacecraft to touch the surface of a comet. In 2004, NASA's Stardust craft flew within 147 miles of Comet Wild 2 on its way back to Earth carrying interstellar dust samples.
Scientists say Deep Impact has real science value that will hopefully answer basic questions about the solar system's birth.
Comets - frozen balls of dirty ice, rocks and dust - are leftover building blocks of the solar system after a cloud of gas and dust condensed to form the sun and planets 4 1/2 billion years ago. As comets arc around the sun, their surfaces heat up so that only their frozen interiors possess original space material.
Very little is known about comets and even less is known about their primordial cores. What exactly will happen when Tempel 1 is hit on the Fourth of July is anybody's guess. Scientists believe that the impact will form a circular depression that will eject a cone-shaped plume of debris into space.
But not to worry. NASA guarantees that its experiment will not significantly change the comet's orbit nor will the smash-up put the comet or any remnants of it on a collision course with Earth.
Discovered in 1867, Tempel 1 is a short-period comet, meaning that it moves around the sun in an elliptical orbit between Mars and Jupiter and can be sighted every six or so years.
The Deep Impact spacecraft shares the same name as a 1998 Hollywood disaster movie about a comet headed straight for Earth. NASA says that the names for the space mission and blockbuster movie were arrived at independently around the same time and by pure coincidence.
The spacecraft blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., in mid-January to make its six-month, 268 million-mile voyage. In March, scientists got a scare when test images from one of Deep Impact's telescopes were slightly out of focus. The problem was fixed, and a month later, Deep Impact took its first picture of Tempel 1 from 40 million miles away, revealing a big snowball of dirty ice and rock. Last week, scientists processed the first images of the comet's bright core taken from 20 million miles away, which should help the probe zero in on its target.
The real action starts in the early morning of July 3 (Eastern time) when the spacecraft separates, releasing an 820-pound copper probe called the "impactor" on a one-way trip straight into the path of the comet. During the next 22 hours, mission control at Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena will steer both craft toward Tempel 1.
Two hours before the July 4 encounter, the impactor kicks into autopilot, relying on its self-navigating software and thrusters for the rest of the journey to steer toward the sunlit part of the comet's nucleus so that space and Earth-based telescopes can get the best view.
Meanwhile, the spacecraft - with its high-resolution camera ready - will veer out of harm's way some 5,000 miles away, as it stakes out a ringside seat for recording the collision. The spacecraft will make its closest flyby minutes after impact, approaching within 310 miles.
The collision is expected to occur around 1:52 a.m. EDT when the comet, traveling through space at 6 miles per second, runs over the impactor, which will be shooting some of the most close-up pictures of Tempel 1 up until its death.
Grammier has likened it to standing in the middle of the road and being hit by a semi-truck going 23,000 mph - "you know, just bam!" The energy produced by the crash will be like detonating nearly 5 tons of TNT.
The high-speed collision is expected to excavate a crater that can range anywhere from the size of a house to a football stadium, and from two to 14 stories deep. A spew of ice and dust debris will likely shoot out from the newly formed hole, possibly revealing a glimpse of the comet's core.
Scientists say if the comet is porous like a sponge, the impact should produce a stadium-sized crater about 150 feet deep and 650 feet wide. This suggests that the comet's inside holds some of the pristine material of the early solar system.
But if the comet is packed like a snowball, the crater formed would be much smaller. Another scenario is that the comet is so porous that most of the impactor's energy is absorbed, creating an even smaller but deep crater.
The mothership has less than 15 minutes to snap images from the cosmic collision and resulting crater before it's bombarded with a blizzard of debris. Scientists expect to receive near real-time data from the impactor and spacecraft.
"We get one chance," said Michael A'Hearn, a professor of astronomy at the University of Maryland and Deep Impact principal investigator.
On the Net:
Deep Impact page: http://www.nasa.gov/deepimpact
Phoenix messy yard laws will cause 150 people to become homeless when they force this hotel to close.
Inspections bust low-cost hotels
Many face eviction; rooms don't live up to fire codes
Lindsey Collom and Susie Steckner
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 3, 2005 12:00 AM
Ronald Matel took a drag from his cigarette and shook his head.
"There's no place to move to, no place for affordable rent," Matel said, his voice barely audible over the rumble of the air-conditioner. "If you're on Social Security, there's no other place."
The 62-year-old arrived in Phoenix last October on a Greyhound bus. He was looking for a reprieve from the high cost of living in California, which was the case even in Blythe, a tiny town near the Arizona-California line best known as a place for travelers to refuel and refresh.
When he arrived, he moved into the aging 7th Avenue Hotel at Washington Street and Seventh Avenue, where he pays $240 a month for a room. But not for long.
The deadline is looming for Matel and his neighbors, who likely will be forced to leave within the next month because of fire code violations. The owner told residents she can't afford to make the changes required by the city.
About a month ago, when the city inspection hit, the hotel was home to about 150 people looking for an inexpensive place to live, with cot rooms costing $60 a week and traditional hotel rooms $80 a week. Residents ran the gamut from homeless to disabled to elderly. Some had lived at the hotel for more than two decades, according to Jackie Lee Ferrier, an assistant hotel manager.
As of Friday, there were about 45 residents left. Some have gone to a nearby hotel, but there's no telling where the others went, Ferrier said.
At least one former resident has come to Central Arizona Shelter Services, or CASS, at Ninth Avenue and Madison Street, said Mark Holleran, the agency's chief executive officer.
Holleran, whose shelter is just over capacity, said the staff is preparing for a possible spike in demand.
Holleran said that as low-cost hotels and motels close, for whatever reason, nothing is replacing them. That leaves dwindling options for people in need.
In March 2004, city inspectors shut down the $10-a-night Golden West hotel after finding multiple violations. The hotel, near Monroe Street and Central Avenue, had 109 rooms.
The Phoenix Fire Department inspected the 7th Avenue Hotel about a month ago after receiving a complaint. It found one or more violations that were eventually resolved by the hotel, according to Assistant Chief Bob Khan.
At the same time, the city's Development Services Department and the Fire Department were conducting random inspections of several properties such as hotels, motels and other daily or weekly rental properties. Khan said the task force was looking at six to 12 such places.
Khan said the city was willing to work with the hotel as long as the owners were making progress toward correcting violations. The city did not issue a cease and desist order, he said.
Hotel owner Dolores Pritzky was unavailable for comment, but Ferrier said she is trying to stave off the city as long as possible.
She estimated it would cost at least $200,000 to bring the building up to code.
It's money Pritzky doesn't have, Ferrier said.
Ruling reduces Americans to serfs
Those of us educated in the government public schools have always been taught that the people are the master and the government is just a powerful servant.
The Supreme Court ruling on Kelo et al v. City of New London which says the govenment can seize homes and property if the government has a better use for it then the citizen who owns it.
This court ruling clearly says the government is the master and that the people are just serfs of the government. the ruling destroys 200 years of logic that said the people are the masters of the government. If George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were around they would be getting out the guns.
Getting people to pray apparently takes a lot of money
Jul. 4, 2005 12:00 AM
The Presidential Prayer Team began with a simple idea: Encourage people to pray for the president daily. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 2001, it was an appealing plea. No politics, no agenda, no dogma. Just pray for the country's leaders.
The idea caught on. The Scottsdale-based charity became one of the most successful and fastest-growing non-profits in the country. Nearly 3 million people have signed up at the organization's Web site, and donations have topped $6 million.
But operating the charity has not been so easy. John Lind, its president, said the challenge is to keep people motivated to pray daily. And sustaining that energy costs money. Lots of it.
Financial records show the Presidential Prayer Team has been deeply in debt since its inception. Currently, it's in the hole by $531,891.
Lind, during an interview at the charity's Scottsdale office, said there is no danger of the group going out of business. "We have a viable organization that's growing, and we're financially viable," he said. "We do have debt we need to pay off, and we're doing it."
The red ink seems surprising considering the wild success the charity has enjoyed and the simplicity of its mission. It doesn't seem like it would take millions of dollars to get people to pray, after all.
It certainly didn't at the group's beginning.
It started with Bill Hunter, a Scottsdale retiree who took up sculpture. After the 2000 elections, he created a coin depicting George Washington kneeling in prayer. It was popular with his Sunday school class, and Hunter talked with a friend, Cornell "Corkie" Haan, about a Web site that would encourage people to pray for the president. The initiative took on urgency after Sept. 11, 2001. The Web site, www.presidentialprayerteam.org was launched Sept. 18, 2001.
"Out of 9/11," Lind said, "people were, I believe, trying to answer the question 'What can I do?' " The Presidential Prayer Team offered an answer. "I know I can pray," Lind said. "I can do something tangible that I know makes a difference."
Word spread over the Internet and by word-of-mouth. Some days, as many as 30,000 people signed up to get the free weekly prayer reminders delivered to their e-mail address. Early on, new members received a coin with the original logo on it. Now, that's been replaced with a sticker.
"We are calling people to daily prayer," Lind said, "not just after crisis. That, I think, is distinctive."
People were easily called to prayer after 9/11 and then again at the beginnings of military conflict. But as life got seemingly back to normal, that motivation could wane. So it's Lind's task to keep the prayers coming.
"If we're going to ask them and encourage them to pray daily, we need to provide resources to help them do that," Lind said.
Some might find that encouragement by buying a Presidential Prayer Team souvenir to serve as a daily reminder. A gold logo coin in a display case goes for a suggested donation of $30. The coffee mug with a gold seal is $20. A wristband is $10.
The main "enhancer," though, is the weekly prayer e-mail update. It's equal parts plea for divine intervention and news digest.
This week, for example, members are being asked to pray for President Bush as he attends the G8 summit in Scotland.
"Pray that God will guide the meetings, accomplishing His will in ways that will impact the world for good," the prayer reads.
Maybe the people reading the prayer know all about the meeting between the world's industrialized nations. If not, they might be motivated to find out.
Same goes with similar prayers regarding judicial nominees, a proposed energy bill or stem-cell research.
"We've had some people say it's almost like an educational experience," Lind said. "We just look at it as part of our mission of encouraging them to pray. Part of, I think, that encouragement is educating them on the issues.
"The worst thing that could happen is for people to be apathetic or not to care."
And since apathy and prayer are not compatible, the Presidential Prayer Team could have the side effect of producing an army of educated, motivated, Christian voters.
Lind's next step is to create similar prayer team efforts on a local level. This month, the group offered members the opportunity to be Presidential Prayer Team Ambassadors. Those selected would lead a neighborhood group.
To get selected, members must sign a statement that says the Bible is inerrant and that non-believers will suffer the "resurrection of damnation." They also must agree to donate at least $180 a year. Lind said interest in the program has been high.
Such fund-raising might sustain the group's incredible growth rate and wipe out its debt.
Lind said the group started with an interest-free loan of $250,000 from a person who wishes to stay anonymous.
But the debt continued to balloon each year. Even as 2002 brought more than $2.2 million in donations, the group's records show it spent more than $2.5 million. The next year, the group raked in $2.5 million but again overspent. Its debt at the end of 2003 was $845,769.
The financial records show some spectacular figures. Management and consulting fees cost $770,000 over the past few years. Legal fees cost $600,000. Postage has cost $1 million. Last year, the group spent $500,000 on a direct-mail appeal, Lind said.
The records also show that, in 2002, the Presidential Prayer Team gave away more than $1.1 million in grants to other unspecified groups. Lind said that was a paperwork error and that no money has left the Prayer Team.
Lind, who was hired in late 2002 with a salary of $108,000, said the group has cut back on costs, partly by having him run the charity instead of hiring outsiders. This past year, 2004, was the first in which spending didn't surpass revenue.
Lind has extensive experience in the non-profit world. He co-founded another non-profit in 2003 called Institute of Organizational Management. Its purpose is to groom Christian leaders. For a while, it shared the same address as the Presidential Prayer Team. The other five members of the board of directors have varying levels of non-profit experience, but all are currently involved in at least one other Christian non-profit organization. None appears to be in debt.
Lind said maintaining the Presidential Prayer Team is his top priority. The team has expanded itself to include a Prayer Team for Kids, an Adopt the Troops campaign and, during the last election cycle, a Pray the Vote program.
Lind said the simple idea that started the group remains.
"Our focus has not wavered. We have not been way out there endorsing candidates or issues. We've been endorsing prayer. That's our issue. That's our passion."
Reach Ruelas at (602) 444-8473 or email@example.com.
Runaway bride's case puts Georgia prosecutor in the spotlight
Jul. 4, 2005 12:00 AM
LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - A one-page, computer-printed letter mailed from Colorado leaves little doubt about the writer's opinion of Danny Porter: "What an idiot!!! Pressing charges because a woman freaked out."
It's just one of the thousands of letters, cards and e-mails that the suburban Atlanta district attorney has received since he decided to prosecute runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks.
"It amazed me not only the amount of attention the case received but also the amount of feeling people had about a case that I considered a real minor case," Porter said in a recent interview. "False-statements cases we see all the time."
Criticism is nothing new to the 50-year-old Gwinnett County prosecutor, who keeps a pair of samurai swords in his office and wears knit shirts on non-trial days with an embroidered gold badge that says "District Attorney."
This year, Porter has made national headlines like few other small-town prosecutors. His prosecution of Wilbanks for lying to police about being kidnapped and raped was the fodder for weeks on talk radio and cable television shows. In addition, a national civil rights group has targeted Porter for protest after he refused to revisit the case of Frederick Williams, a Black man who died after being shocked with a Taser in jail.
Porter persuaded a grand jury to indict Wilbanks, whose disappearance just days before her 600-guest wedding led to a national search that ended when she turned up in Albuquerque.
She pleaded no contest to making false statements and was sentenced to two years' probation, 120 hours of community service and $2,550 in restitution.
In the other case, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference has vowed to "shut Gwinnett County down" through sit-ins, marches and economic boycotts because Porter declined to show a videotape of the Taser incident to a grand jury. Porter says no one tells him what evidence to present in a courtroom.
"Danny Porter got cold feet and caught the first Greyhound to Albuquerque," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said in an editorial about his refusal to reopen the Williams case, comparing his lack of taking action with Wilbanks' flight from her wedding. "It is hard to believe that the grand jury would have declined to see the tape if Porter had believed it was important."
Porter has spent his entire 24-year career with the Gwinnett Judicial District prosecutor's office.
bible bashing phoenix ruler ban dirty pictures on library computers
Libraries ban 14 from using city computers
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 6, 2005 12:00 AM
PHOENIX - Library officials have banned 14 patrons from using public computers since January for violating the "no pornography" policy at city libraries.
The City Council approved the policy banning patrons from viewing pornography on city computers in September, despite objections from civil liberties groups.
"There is no constitutional right to view (pornography) in our libraries," Mayor Phil Gordon said. "Our libraries are not adult bookstores or adult video stores, rather places for families. And that's the way it's going to stay, and why I fought so hard for it."
Since then, officials have been keeping a 30-day log of what people are uploading and downloading from library computers. The information will be released only by a court order.
The offending patrons were banned for varying lengths of time. Still, officials stress that they make up a small percentage of the tens of thousands of people who use library computers each week.
In addition to new Internet filters that block most adult sites, the city also hired more staff to monitor public computers at Burton Barr Central Library.
Four positions were added to help patrons with computer questions, as well as to make sure library-goers follow the new city rules. The new positions cost the city about $175,000.
Other steps have been taken, including moving printers closer to reference desks, and starting next month, everything sent to library printers will come out face up.
how do you spell a waste of money????
Arizona moves to track down 957 missing sexual predators
Sherry Anne Rubiano
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 6, 2005 12:00 AM
The state unveiled a campaign Tuesday to begin tracking down nearly 1,000 sex offenders, many of whom are considered a potential danger to Arizona's children.
Arizona has lost track of 957 sex offenders who moved without notifying authorities and are not included in an official registry, according to the state Department of Public Safety. This includes 126 Level 3 sex offenders, those considered most dangerous.
Sex offenders are required by law to register so authorities can keep track of them and to let officials know when they move. The DPS is adding money and workers, hoping to cut down substantially on the number of missing sex offenders within six months.
"To protect the public safety and to protect our children, DPS needs to be able to keep up," Gov. Janet Napolitano said in announcing the program, part of her Operation Safe Neighborhoods initiative.
This measure is the latest in Arizona recently designed to crack down on sex offenders. The state Legislature passed a law earlier this year restricting the number of sex offenders on probation who can live in one apartment complex. Phoenix officials are developing an ordinance to prohibit offenders from living close to schools.
The initiative comes at a time when groups throughout the country are pushing to keep better track of sex offenders, motivated by cases such as the abduction in January of an 11-year-old Florida boy by a sex offender who had moved without notifying authorities.
There are roughly 14,000 convicted sex offenders in Arizona, and 1,000 are added to the registry each year, Napolitano said. The DPS has six full-time workers who track and verify sex offenders in the state. The department will hire four more within 120 days, said Roger Vanderpool, DPS director.
Finding these individuals isn't easy. They usually aren't located unless someone turns them in or they cross paths again with police. The names of these sex offenders are flagged in state police computers so patrol officers know they are wanted.
Napolitano said the department's specially trained SWAT team and fugitive unit will be more aggressive in its search for these individuals. She didn't specify exactly how they will try to track them down.
Once authorities think they have found a missing sex offender, the department's staff members must correctly identify the person and make sure they do not mislabel an innocent person. This involves searches in databases, including driver's license registration and public assistance databases, among other tasks.
Vanderpool said a lack of staff and the often exhaustive requirements of the searches caused the backlog.
Sex offenders are required to notify the county sheriff within 72 hours of relocating. If they don't, they can be charged with a Class 4 felony.
The department's online sex offender InfoCenter posts the names, physical descriptions and photographs of 278 sex offenders who have moved without notifying authorities.
In addition to this initiative, a new law is putting restrictions on where sex offenders on probation can live.
In May, Napolitano signed a law that restricts the number of sex offenders who live in a multifamily dwelling, such as an apartment complex, to 10 percent of the total units.
On Friday, Phoenix leaders asked the city attorney to draft an ordinance that further limits where sex offenders can live.
The proposal would prohibit any sex offender from living 2,000 feet from where children gather, such as churches, schools and bus stops. This proposal mirrors Iowa's 2002 law, which prohibits such offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or day-care center. Iowa's law was challenged as unconstitutional, but it was upheld in a federal Appeals Court last week.
The proposal is expected to go before the City Council in the fall.
Family is suing in jail death of diabetic inmate
$20 mil claim filed vs. county
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 6, 2005 12:00 AM
The family of a diabetic woman is accusing Sheriff Joe Arpaio and other Maricopa County officials of gross medical negligence in her death, saying they denied her treatment despite knowing her medical condition.
The allegations are contained in a $20 million claim filed by Barry Leigh Garman and Jennifer Braillard, surviving father and daughter of Deborah Ann Braillard, 46, who died Jan. 25.
Deborah was placed on three years' probation in November 2003 after being convicted of drug and credit-card violations, court records show.
Without disclosing the reasons, the claim said she was arrested by Phoenix police and booked in jail Jan. 2.
Deborah, known to jailers as a diabetic because of a previous incarceration, was denied insulin for more than two days before "showing obvious signs of physical and mental deterioration," the claim says.
On Jan. 5, her pain became so unbearable "that she was groaning loudly" and she was transferred to Maricopa Medical Center, where she died more than two weeks later, according to the claim.
The claim, filed Friday with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, is a procedural requirement under Arizona law before a lawsuit can be brought against a government agency or official.
Sgt. Travis Anglin, a sheriff's spokesman, said the Sheriff's Office had not seen or reviewed the claim, so he was unable to comment on it.
The action is the latest in a series of claims and lawsuits that take Arpaio to task over the operation of the jails.
Michael Manning, a high-profile Phoenix attorney who represents Deborah Braillaird's estate, argues in the claim that Arpaio is draining the public coffers.
"His (Arpaio's) tactics, his jailers and his jails have now evolved into a deadly, expensive and lawless culture, which burdens our county, endangers the least among us and degrades us all," Manning wrote in the seven-page document.
In 1999, the county's insurers agreed to pay $8.25 million to settle a wrongful-death suit filed by survivors of Scott Norberg, 35, who accused jailers of excessive force resulting in his death in 1996.
Since then, there have been a number of lesser settlements in other actions alleging mistreatment of jail inmates.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or (602) 444-6937.
Texan arrested after rescuing man from river
Jul. 6, 2005 12:00 AM
SAN MARCOS, Texas - A man who rescued a swimmer caught in swirling currents of the San Marcos River found himself in trouble soon afterward when he was arrested by authorities who say he was interfering with public duties.
Dave Newman, 48, disobeyed orders by emergency personnel to leave the water, police said.
The police report does not mention Newman's rescue Sunday afternoon of 35-year-old Abed Duamni.
"I was amazed," Newman said Monday after his release on $2,000 bail.
"I had a very uncomfortable night after saving that guy's life. He thanked me for it in front of the police, and then they took me to jail."
Duamni said he did not see signs warning swimmers about any danger.
Newman said he pulled Duamni from the water, swimming under a waterfall and over to the shore opposite from the restaurant.
He could hear law enforcement personnel telling him to come back to the other side.
State targeting fake IDs
Napolitano launches fight vs. illegal immigration
Chip Scutari and Robbie Sherwood
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 6, 2005 12:00 AM
A week before Gov. Janet Napolitano's statewide immigration summit, her staff began revealing details Tuesday of her strategy to fight illegal immigration, beginning with a campaign to curb the widespread use of fake identification.
A new group of three undercover agents will target human smuggling by focusing on individuals who make or sell fake IDs for undocumented immigrants, including passports, birth certificates, driver's licenses and international ID cards.
A goal of the experts, working out of a counterintelligence center in Phoenix, is to prevent undocumented immigrants from using false IDs to get jobs. The approach is one of several Napolitano may announce today related to illegal immigration.
"Anything that we can do to stop human trafficking and prevent the use of fake IDs to assist smugglers from bringing illegal aliens into the country is a step in the right direction," said Leesa Berens Morrison, director of the state Department of Liquor Licenses and Control who is leading the project. "Our officers are experts at ascertaining what's fake and what is not. We started finding more and more that people are using fake Mexican voter-ID cards."
Napolitano has called an immigration summit for next Tuesday in Flagstaff, where local and federal law enforcement officials are expected to develop proposals for cracking down on crime related to illegal immigration. She has been criticized by Republican leaders for vetoing several anti-illegal immigration bills they passed during this year's session.
Republican National Committeeman Randy Pullen said he suspects the motives behind Napolitano's immigration plans are political. Pullen worked to get Proposition 200, the anti-illegal immigration initiative, approved by voters last year.
"It seems amazing to me that after all the bills that went through the Legislature that addressed so many issues with respect to illegal immigration, to bring this stuff out now seems very political to me," Pullen said. "I'd like to see the meat of it first, but most of what the governor has proposed with regard to immigration does nothing. She's under tremendous pressure, and this is most likely politics as usual from her."
Napolitano's two-year project to reduce the use of fake IDs is fueled by a $500,000 grant from the Arizona Department of Homeland Security. Before launching the statewide crackdown, the Liquor Department conducted three stings that yielded more than 1,000 fake IDs from seized computers.
Morrison said the widespread use of fraudulent IDs contributes to the state's immigration problems because it allows people to get jobs illegally.
Napolitano spokeswoman Jeanine L'Ecuyer said the governor today would also announce an "unprecedented partnership" aimed at reducing incidents where local police "catch and release" undocumented immigrants because understaffed federal authorities are either unwilling or unable to take custody.
L'Ecuyer said criticism such as Pullen's is off base.
"We have been working on this for a long time, way before legislation was introduced," L'Ecuyer said. "What the governor has been looking for and has been actively pursuing . . . is things that we could actually do within the construct of state law to start to pick up the slack for what the federal government is not doing."
Illegal immigration has emerged as the dominant issue in Arizona politics. The state has been invaded by a heavy flow of undocumented immigrants since the government tightened enforcement in Texas and California during the 1990s. Arizona, like other states, incurs massive costs for the health care and education for undocumented workers and their families.
Once considered a taboo in politics, illegal immigration could be one of the top issues in next year's governor's race.
Morrison said she hopes the task force grows as the two-year project develops. In recent weeks, the Liquor Department found people selling fraudulent documents out of their homes in Tucson, Tempe and Scottsdale. She said the use of the Internet and the accessibility of sophisticated equipment has made it much easier for people to get fake IDs.
Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon says he has perfect 20/20 hindsight :) i guess that means he can fix his stupid mistakes quicker then other people can fix their stupid mistakes.
"I would challenge anyone to name another airport that would, within 24 hours, be able to make changes as a result of a problem," Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon said.
Task force looks into Sky Harbor
Airport security scrutinized after man crashes into fence
Ginger D. Richardson and Jack Gillum
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 6, 2005 12:00 AM
A special security task force is conducting a comprehensive review of the perimeter at Sky Harbor International Airport after a man driving a stolen truck was able to crash through a wrought-iron fence last week and drive onto the taxiway.
Six days after the security breach, airport officials remain adamant that security at the airport, one of the nation's busiest, was - and is - more than adequate.
Still, they have already shored up the damaged fence area with 18-inch high concrete barriers, and are considering installing similar deterrents in other potentially vulnerable locations, including the employee parking lots.
"I would challenge anyone to name another airport that would, within 24 hours, be able to make changes as a result of a problem," Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon said. "This city is committed to public safety."
The task force is expected to recommend changes in addition to the enhancements already in place. The evaluation will be completed within the next two weeks, at which time a full report will be submitted to Aviation Director David Krietor and the Phoenix City Council.
Task force members include airline employees, airport personnel and representatives from such agencies as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Transportation Security Administration.
Last week's incident began when a man stole a car in north Phoenix and then led officers on a chase through city streets and to the airport. Once there, the man drove the late-model Nissan pickup through a perimeter fence and sped past several passenger-filled planes, delaying at least 50 departing flights in the process. Police fired several rounds at the truck, which crashed through another fence west of Terminal 2 before stopping.
Police identified the suspect as Damian L. Holmes, 28, of Phoenix. They believe he was intoxicated at the time of the incident, according to court records. He has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, unlawful flight from law enforcement and probation violation.
He is being held on $108,000 bond. It is still unknown what federal charges he may face if any, Phoenix police Sgt. Randy Force said.
Last week's incident was the second time in about 18 months that a car has breached the perimeter at Sky Harbor. In November 2003, two men were arrested after stealing a car, crashing through a chain-link fence and leading officers onto an airfield near Terminal 3.
At the time, airport authorities said that security worked well but that they were evaluating whether a chain-link fence, the most required by federal Transportation Security Administration standards, was adequate.
Tuesday, the bent 8-foot wrought-iron fence that Holmes originally broke through was easily visible, still marked by yellow police tape. But now, new concrete barriers block any entrance to the airport's main taxiways.
They are part of about $1 million in improvements to the airport's perimeter in the last year or so, said Assistant Aviation Director Carl Newman.
Phoenix officials say they have spent an extraordinary amount of money on security enhancements since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
About $100 million has been earmarked over 10 years for such improvements, which have so far included bomb-proofing key areas of the airport, installing explosive-proof garbage cans, instituting a new fingerprinting system, placing barricades in front of doors and beefing up the number of bomb dog teams on the premises.
Nico Melendez, a field communications director for the Transportation Security Administration, said Tuesday that Sky Harbor had previously submitted an airport security plan and that it was deemed acceptable. The agency will not be requiring officials to make any improvements to the fence-line at Sky Harbor in light of last week's incident, he said.
something i agree with 100% :)
We need more topless clubs
Jul. 6, 2005 12:00 AM
" 'Cause darling, darling,
I bet you danced a good one in your time.
And if this were a party advertisement
I'd really make sure the next one would be mine.
Yes, you with the broken heart."
- Ray Davies, Don't Forget to Dance
According to a recent Republic story, Phoenix officials "are looking to keep sexually oriented businesses out of parts of downtown, saying such shops clash with the image the city is trying to promote."
So, one might assume that business pressure will bring the joys of topless dancing to Tempe and Mesa in the not too distant future. Such businesses don't just go away, they move.
It has been many years since I was in such a club. I was in the theater then and a gypsy (a Broadway chorus girl, for the uninitiated) asked me to check out her new routine. She was named Barbara, and she was little short of gorgeous. She performed topless at a club called Robbie's Mardi Gras. She was quite good, and her performance was such that topless or clothed was irrelevant to the art of the dance. Having seen that, I'm not sure Phoenix is not violating the Constitution in attempting a censorship of art.
As a practical matter, downtown Phoenix needs more such clubs, not less. They should be grouped around convention centers and the hotels that serve these centers. Why? Because conventioneers are notorious for patronizing them, and keeping them within walking distance of where conventioneers stay prevents drunken driving to and from Tempe, Mesa or wherever the Phoenix ban forces them to move.
How many people is the Phoenix City Council willing to sacrifice for obscure Puritan principles?
City councils throughout the Valley also need to make a point of putting such clubs along the light-rail route, along with encouraging bars and restaurants to locate along it. Good public transportation, location of drinking establishments of all types near convention centers and along public transportation routes will do more to prevent drunken driving than all of the task forces ever assembled by all of the police departments in the Valley, and the tickets they write.
Phoenix, along with Mesa, Tempe and Glendale, need to put more thought into their zoning decisions, seeing that those who enjoy watching a pretty woman dance don't wipe out a family driving back to the hotel.
Image? Promotion? Well, I'd sooner be attracted to a place with a very low incidence of drunken-driving fatalities than I would a government-hyped Puritan paradise.
So Phoenix, before you go shooting yourself, and those of us who will inherit the fallout of your ban, in the foot: "Don't forget to dance."
Rick Russell is the Editor of AB Bookman's Weekly and can be reached at email@example.com.
Decidirá jurado si Tempe discriminó a trabajadores latinos
Por Valeria Fernández
Junio 29, 2005
Un jurado que decidirá si la Ciudad de Tempe discriminó contra 9 empleados hispanos en el Departamento de Obras Públicas todavía se encontraba deliberando hacia el cierre de esta edición el día de ayer.
El juicio civil que se inició en la Corte Federal del Distrito de Arizona el 24 de mayo, llegó a su fin la semana pasada y desde entonces un jurado de 8 integrantes se encuentra evaluando el caso.
Si la decisión es en favor de los demandantes, el jurado podría dictaminar que la ciudad les otorgue una compensación monetaria.
En la demanda, los empleados acusaban a la ciudad de Tempe de permitir un ambiente hostil donde eran sujetos a insultos racistas por parte de sus propios supervisores, y de tomar represarías cuando se quejaban negándoles promociones y dándoles los peores trabajos.
La demanda presentada en el año 2000 fue el punto cúspide de una serie de investigaciones y quejas acusando a la ciudad de discriminar contra los empleados del Departamento de Obras Públicas.
Durante ese año la Procuraduría General realizó una encuesta en que se descubrieron instancias de discriminación, entre otras cosas que los empleados hispanos de ese departamento eran puestos a trabajar en una de las peores unidades de limpieza.
Al menos 5 de los demandantes todavía continúan trabajando para la ciudad.
Pedro Amaya, de 54 años, aseguró que en sus 24 años de trabajar en Tempe jamás recibió una promoción si no todo lo contrario.
Amaya declaró que cuando se quejó por discriminación lo cambiaron de sus quehaceres como operador de barredoras a trabajar recolectando basura en callejones y parques.
“Ningún dinero en el mundo puede reparar mi corazón”, dijo Eddy Fernández, otro de los demandantes que todavía trabaja para la ciudad.
Fernández aseguró que muchos de los empleados en su unidad eran insultados por su origen étnico.
“Cuando a uno le dicen que es lo peor que hay y lo insultan uno se empieza a creer eso”.
Las controversias que provocaron las quejas de los empleados y los reportes en varias investigaciones que detectaron discriminación en el Departamento de Obras Públicas resultaron en el despido de algunos trabajadores e incluso la creación de la Oficina de Diversidad en la ciudad.
Durante los argumentos finales del juicio, la semana pasada, el abogado de los demandantes, Stephen Montoya, criticó a la ciudad por no haber presentado a testigos que consideró claves. Entre ellos, algunos de los supervisores que fueron acusados de discriminar contra los empleados.
Montoya enfatizó que los 9 empleados al menos merecían una disculpa por parte de la Ciudad la cual jamás les fue dada.
Por su parte, Andrew Ching, abogado de la Ciudad de Tempe, señaló que la ciudad les había ofrecido más que suficientes maneras para presentar sus quejas y negó que la administración hubiera perpetuado un clima de discriminación.
“Nosotros nos quejábamos pero nadie hacía nada”, dijo Daniel Domínguez, de 60 años, otro de los demandantes que se jubiló hace dos años. “Todo lo que queríamos por un tiempo es que la gente que estaba tratándonos mal se disculpara. Pero ni eso hicieron, por eso los demandamos”, agregó.
Entre una de varias quejas los demandantes que trabajaban para una unidad en especial de Obras Públicas, acusaban a la ciudad de segregarlos y darles trato diferencial a la hora de recibir promociones.
“La ciudad podría haber corregido este problema inmediatamente pero en cambio perpetuaron la discriminación”, dijo Ed Valenzuela, ex director de la Oficina de Igualdad de Empleos (EEOC, por sus siglas en inglés).
Valenzuela asistió a los trabajadores en el 2000 a través de la organización Hispanic Forum. El grupo intentó negociar con el administrador de la ciudad en ese entonces sin llegar a un acuerdo.
Finalmente los trabajadores presentaron una queja con la EEOC que en un tiempo record investigó sus denuncias y encontró instancias de discriminación.
Desde comienzos del año 2000 hasta la fecha la Ciudad de Tempe fue demandada en 7 ocasiones por discriminación. Seis de estos casos fueron resueltos mediante compensaciones monetarias entre los dos mil 100 dólares hasta los 30 mil.
La mayoría de las demandas por discriminación contra una ciudad se resuelven mediante acuerdos que acaban en una compensación monetaria, por eso es poco frecuente que los municipios lleguen a tener que defenderse ante un tribunal y un jurado, como en este caso, dijo Phill Austin, abogado y director de la Asociación de Ciudadanos Hispanos de Mesa.
County to pay $700,000 to mother of strangled inmate
Jul. 7, 2005 07:40 AM
LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles County agreed to pay $700,000 to the mother of a jail inmate who was strangled in his cell after he testified against another inmate in a murder case.
Raul Tinajero, 20, was found dead on his cot on April 20, 2004, five weeks after a judge ordered him isolated from other inmates for his safety.
Silvia Tinajero originally sought more than $35 million in her lawsuit, which alleged negligence and a violation of her son's civil rights, according to court papers filed Wednesday in the settlement.
Tinajero, a convicted car thief, testified that he saw a neighbor, Santiago Pineda, 23, kill a man by running over him with his car.
Sheriff Lee Baca said at the time that he believed Pineda managed to find his way to Tinajero's cell and kill him. Pineda has since been charged with Tinajero's murder.
Tinajero was one of five inmates killed during a string of attacks by fellow jail inmates. Twenty-five Sheriff's Department employees were disciplined for violating policies that may have contributed to the deaths.
3 officers wounded in Sky Harbor shootout
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 8, 2005 01:50 AM
Three Phoenix police officers were wounded during an exchange of gunfire with a suspect outside a terminal at Sky Harbor International Airport late Thursday, a police spokesman said.
Details about the officers' injuries were not available but they were expected to survive, said Sgt. Randy Force, a Phoenix police spokesman. The suspect died at the scene, though it wasn't immediately clear whether he was shot by police or if his wound was self inflicted, Force said.
Force gave the following account:
The incident began about 11:40 p.m. when police attempted to stop a vehicle with a stolen license plate. The driver exited Interstate 10 at Buckeye Road near the airport where police attempted to spike his tires. He backed into a patrol car, then took off onto airport grounds. He dropped off a female passenger then stopped east of Terminal 4 where the shootings occurred shortly before midnight.
Police have the woman in custody.
Thursday's shooting comes one week after another driver plowed through an airport fence and onto a taxiway before crashing through a second airport fence west of Terminal 2 where police took him into custody.
A special security task force was formed after that incident and is conducting a comprehensive review of the perimeter at the airport.
the american government wont let saddam have a fair trial.
Chief Saddam lawyer quits
Jul. 8, 2005 12:00 AM
AMMAN, Jordan - Saddam Hussein's chief lawyer quit the Iraqi dictator's legal team, saying Thursday that some of the team's American members were trying to run the defense and soft-pedal the U.S. occupation of the country.
Ziad al-Khasawneh said he tendered his resignation in a telephone call Tuesday to Saddam's wife, Sajida, who is believed to be in Yemen.
"I told her I was resigning because some American lawyers in the defense team want to take control of it and isolate their Arab counterparts," said Khasawneh, an Arab nationalist who has often expressed support for Iraqi resistance.
The Americans on the team include ex-U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark.
free money for maricopa county government buerocrats
2 accused of shopping on county credit cards
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 8, 2005 12:00 AM
Officials believe two former Maricopa County employees charged nearly $12,000 in personal purchases to their county credit cards, everything from digital cameras and vacuums to area rugs and coffee tables, according to an internal audit released last week.
The internal review revealed the employees may have shopped on the taxpayers' dime since 2003. Auditors blamed the problem on poor oversight.
County officials earlier this week turned the information over to the Sheriff's Office, which is conducting a criminal investigation.
Officials would not release the employees' identities Thursday, but both were administrators with the county's Solid Waste Department.
During a routine review of the department's credit-card transactions, administrators who issue the cards noticed unusual activity. When auditors dug deeper, they discovered several suspicious purchases.
The two cardholders made 211 separate fuel purchases totaling more than $5,550, but neither employee was assigned to a county vehicle and "had no business reason for purchasing fuel."
Other purchases included: a $345 video camera, $190 for framed art, $60 for curtains, $28 for a blender and $17 for floral arrangements.
In all, auditors discovered $11,812 in personal purchases, the audit stated.
When the county issues a procurement card to employees, their supervisors are supposed to authorize and check their purchases.
"If the supervisor isn't reviewing what's going on, there's nobody else that's going to catch it," County Auditor Ross Tate said.
Auditors also discovered more than $90,000 in credit-card transactions made without maintaining proper receipts and transaction logs or were not approved.
The county has canceled all other procurement cards within the department. Department officials have agreed to shore up their policies and procedures to ensure compliance.
Pentagon funding for Boy Scout program blocked
July 8, 2005
BY NATASHA KORECKI Federal Courts Reporter
A federal judge in Chicago has issued an injunction barring the Pentagon from spending up to $8 million on a summer Boy Scout youth function after local religious leaders challenged the funding, the American Civil Liberties Union announced Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Blanche Manning issued the injunction late last month after a March ruling in favor of the ACLU and two lead plaintiffs in the case -- Rev. Eugene Winkler, former pastor at the First United Methodist Church in Chicago, and Rabbi Gary Gerson of Oak Park Temple.
Held every four years
The plaintiffs challenged public funding of the Boy Scouts' summer Jamboree, arguing public money shouldn't go toward a group that excludes people who do not swear an oath to God.
They argued the Boy Scouts were getting favorable treatment because no other youth organization could compete for the same funding.
Summer Jamborees are held every four years and draw thousands of scouts. The injunction does not cover the Jamboree already scheduled for this summer.
"We think government should be neutral," ACLU spokesman Edwin C. Yohnka said. "It shouldn't entangle itself in favoring people who practice a particular religion in its funding schemes and its support."
CPS also was sued
Defendants in the case have said in court filings that the Boy Scouts of America is not controlled by organized religion and that while the Jamboree has some religious aspects to it, participation in religious activity is optional.
The Jamboree issue is one aspect of the lawsuit filed in 1999. The ACLU sued the Pentagon, Chicago Public Schools and other government agencies, saying their funding of the Boy Scouts was unconstitutional.
Parties resolved most of the matters late last year when the Department of Defense agreed to drop its Boy Scout funding. The Chicago schools also previously agreed to stop sponsorship of Boy Scout troops.
Councilman is arrested on DUI charge
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 8, 2005 12:00 AM
FOUNTAIN HILLS - Fountain Hills Town Councilman Keith McMahan has been arrested on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol.
McMahan, 75, was cited for DUI after a Maricopa County Sheriff's Office deputy observed him June 28 driving his Pontiac Grand Am erratically in downtown Fountain Hills.
The councilman's blood-alcohol content was reportedly 0.126 percent to 0.132 percent, according to the incident report. To be a violation of the law in Arizona, blood-alcohol content must be 0.08 percent or higher.
McMahan, who was not jailed, told the arresting officer he drank four bourbon cocktails and one beer. He was arrested at 10 p.m.
The councilman, elected in a close race in 2003, said he was discussing town issues with constituents at the TapHouse bar in Fountain Hills the night of his arrest.
"They were asking me about the downtown development and the senior center," McMahan said. "We got to chatting, then the free drinks came."
He is scheduled to appear in court at an undetermined date. He was cited and released upon written agreement to appear in court.
McMahan handed the arresting deputy a credit card and the business card of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio before he was given field sobriety tests, according to the incident report.
Jul 8, 12:30 PM EDT
3 police officers wounded in shootout outside airport terminal
PHOENIX (AP) -- Three Phoenix police officers were wounded late Thursday night in a shootout following a vehicle pursuit that ended outside a terminal at Sky Harbor International Airport, authorities said.
None of the officers' injuries were considered life-threatening, said Sgt. Randy Force, a police spokesman.
According to Force, one officer was grazed in the forehead with a bullet; Another was shot in the forehead with a pellet, but the pellet didn't penetrate the bone; The most seriously injured officer was shot in the arm and in the neck. All three officers were listed in stable condition, Force said.
The suspect was dead at the scene but police are not sure if he killed himself or died in the shootout, according to Force.
The officers were taken to Phoenix-area hospitals for treatment. Their conditions were not immediately known and police did not immediately release their names.
Force said officers tried to stop a vehicle with a stolen license plate and a pursuit began on Interstate 10.
A female passenger in the suspect vehicle was dropped off before the male driver drove to an area near Sky Harbor's Terminal 4, where he stopped the vehicle and a shootout with police ensued just before midnight, Force said.
"The suspect is deceased at the scene. It is not clear if it is from our gunfire or he took his own life," Force said.
The suspect's name wasn't immediately known. Force said the unidentified female passenger was questioned and was going to be released, if she had not already been.
It appeared the woman, who police had not identified early Friday, didn't know the suspect very well.
"She was picked up by the guy or took a ride with him," Force said. "He dropped her off before he did what he knew he was going to do, which was die in a shootout with police. He dropped her off so she wouldn't get caught in the middle of it."
Last Thursday, police chased a stolen pickup into the airport. That chase ended with the truck smashing through a fence and speeding past taxiing aircraft before it was stopped. Police shot at the pickup, but the driver wasn't hit.
Flights were operating normally at the airport on Friday. However, access to the east economy parking lot was restricted because of the shooting.
3 officers hurt in Sky Harbor shootout; suspect dead
Ginger D. Richardson
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 8, 2005 12:50 PM
Three Phoenix police officers were wounded late Thursday after a suspect driving a stolen car opened fire at them while driving near a terminal at Sky Harbor International Airport.
The suspect died at the scene, but it was not clear whether he was killed by police fire or by a self-inflicted shot. His name was not released Friday.
“This is going to take much, much more investigation, including a reconstruction of the crime scene,” said Detective Tony Morales, a police department spokesman. Another police spokesman suggested that the suspect wanted to die in a suicide-by-cops scenario.
Phoenix police believe more than 10 officers were involved in the shooting, which occurred shortly before midnight.
None of the wounded officers’ injuries are life threatening, but all remained hospitalized midday Friday, police said. They were identified as Officer Chris Parese, Officer Alex Beaver and Officer Jacob Helms.
Of the three, Parese suffered the worst wounds, taking gunshots to the neck and shoulder. It marks the second time in a year that Parese has been shot while in the line of duty. The officer also was wounded last August during a gunbattle that killed Phoenix police Officers Jason Wolfe and Eric White.
Thursday’s incident — the second in a week at Sky Harbor — began after police attempted to stop the suspect, who was driving a stolen 2004 red Mustang convertible with stolen plates. The driver led police on a high-speed pursuit from Interstate 17 and Thomas Road, where he headed south toward Interstate 10.
At I-10 and Buckeye Road, police attempted to stop the vehicle by spiking its tires, but the suspect backed up, possibly hitting a patrol car. The suspect then drove on to the airport grounds, driving both eastbound and westbound on Sky Harbor Boulevard. Sometime during the pursuit, he stopped the car and dropped off a female passenger. The passenger, who has not been identified, has been questioned and released, officials said.
"She was picked up by the guy or took a ride with him," said Sgt. Randy Force, another police spokesman. "He dropped her off before he did what he knew he was going to do, which was die in a shootout with police. He dropped her off so she wouldn't get caught in the middle of it."
Morales said the suspect fired several shots from a “semi-automatic type assault weapon” while he was driving the vehicle on Sky Harbor Boulevard. The car was eventually forced to stop after the suspect jumped the curb and blew out the tires, police said.
Officers surrounded the car, and the suspect opened fire again, this time with a shotgun, Morales said.
Thursday’s incident comes one week after another suspect in a stolen vehicle plowed through a perimeter fence at the airport and drove onto a taxiway, speeding past several fully loaded planes in the process. More than 50 flights were delayed.
The security breach prompted airport officials to ask a security task force to analyze the fence line and make recommendations on possible security improvements.
No flights were delayed because of the most recent police chase, and airport operations continued as usual, officials said. However, the chase did temporarily force the closure of Sky Harbor Boulevard, which in turn has limited access to the East Economy Parking Garage, spokeswoman Julie Rodriguez said.
Airport officials are asking that those needing to park at the airport use the West Economy garage until further notice.
Includes information from the Associated Press
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (602) 444-2474.
we are only in it for the money!!!!
Tom Horne said the criticism comes because some school districts don't want to lose the extra money, about $350 per English-language learner. He said some schools have kept students designated as English-language learners for years because it means more money.
English-learner test disputed
Some call exam too easy; state tutor funds at stake
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 9, 2005 12:00 AM
Thousands of Arizona students struggling to learn English are about to lose extra help because a new state test shows they can read and write in English, though educators fear many of them really can't.
In some districts, students are passing a new state test that says they are proficient in English at nearly double the rate of last year. But educators say the test is just easier and these kids aren't likely to pass regular classes without help.
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne said the criticism comes because some school districts don't want to lose the extra money, about $350 per English-language learner. He said some schools have kept students designated as English-language learners for years because it means more money.
If students test as proficient in English, they no longer qualify for the program that provides trained teachers, extra materials and after-school tutoring.
Arizona school districts used to have the choice of one of four language tests, but the federal government now requires states to select one test for consistency. Arizona chose a Harcourt Assessment test, along with several other states.
Horne said the new test is objective and is an accurate measure of whether students are proficient in English.
Proficient means the student can speak, understand, read and write enough English to function in a regular classroom.
"They need to be mainstreamed and competing with all those students and excelling academically as individuals and not kept in a dependency environment," Horne said.
But educators aren't convinced.
"We're very concerned," said Cindy Segotta-Jones, director of language acquisition for Cartwright Elementary School District in Phoenix. She said about 2,200 Cartwright students passed the language test, nearly double the usual rate.
Students who pass the test are monitored for two years and can be pulled back into the program, with parental permission. Also, many schools offer after-school tutoring, summer school and other programs to help students learn English. Those programs are not tied to the new test.
Scottsdale parent Reese Welsh, who works as a volunteer with English-language learners, has concerns about the high numbers of students passing.
"The kids haven't improved all of a sudden," he said.
Students who are no longer eligible for the English-learner program in the fall will receive a letter home informing their parents.
Arizona has about 160,000 English-language learners in school, with Spanish being the predominant language. Other languages include Vietnamese, Russian, Arabic and Bosnian.
Federal law requires schools to test these students every year and continue to provide intensive language services for those who don't pass. The questions of how long the services should last, the type of instruction and the level of funding for English-language learners have been hotly debated for years by educators and policymakers.
Arizona is under a federal court order to spend more money on English-language learners. The order stemmed from a 1992 lawsuit filed by a Nogales family.
In May, Gov. Janet Napolitano vetoed a Republican bill on the issue and offered up her own plan a month later.
Her plan would boost the per-student allocation for every student classified as English-language learners. She hopes to call a legislative special session later this summer to resolve the issue.
Advocates for English-language learners worry that even if the Arizona Legislature approves more funding per child, the latest test results still will mean fewer students eligible for services.
In the past, about 10 percent of Arizona's English-language learners tested proficient each year.
Statewide figures for the new language test won't be available until after July 31. But many individual school districts already know their scores.
In the Murphy Elementary School District in Phoenix, 220 students are declared proficient, up from 31 last year.
Gloria Rivera, who oversees language services for the Murphy district, worries that students will be taken out of the program too soon.
"We're going through all this, and we'll have to bring them back into the program a year down the road when they are even further behind," she said.
Sal Gabaldon, a language acquisition specialist for the Tucson Unified School District, said the new test is far different from previous ones used in Tucson schools.
The previous test used in Tucson required students to pass all three parts - reading, writing and oral - to be declared proficient in English, he said. The new test uses a composite score so it's possible that a somewhat lower score in writing could be offset by a higher oral score.
Tim Hogan, a Phoenix attorney for the Center for Law in the Public Interest, said he is checking into the test after receiving complaints from school district officials.
"If this test allows you to be deemed proficient without being proficient in reading and writing, then it's going to violate federal law," he said.
Horne, the state schools chief, said he is "absolutely certain" the new test is within the law.
The Stanford English Language Proficiency Test made its statewide debut in Arizona this past school year.
"All our tests are fair and accurate measures," said Mark Slitt, spokesman for Harcourt Assessment, which publishes the test.
Several schools in other states use the test, Slitt said, and seven other states besides Arizona have selected the test for statewide use.
Horne said the state has taken a big step forward by using a single test.
"This allows us to have accurate statistics," he said. "Before there was no way to have accurate statistics because students were taking different tests."
In the Scottsdale Unified School District, officials expect about 500 students to pass the language test, up from about 300 the last few years. Cathy Rivera, who oversees language services, is taking a wait-and-see approach.
"I won't have concerns unless the kids are not successful," she said. "I don't have that data."
Sen. Linda Aquirre, D-Phoenix, said the state needs to make changes in the test, "otherwise you will set these kids up for definite failure."
Horne said there are no plans to change the test.
"It's an accurate measure," he said.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com (602) 444-8072.
London bombs described as simple
July 9, 2005
LONDON - The bombs that destroyed three London Underground cars and a double-decker bus each weighed less than 10 pounds and could be carried in a backpack, police said Friday. An explosives expert said they were likely crude homemade devices set off with a simple timer.
Experts say Thursday’s attacks had all the hallmarks of an al-Qaida strike, and authorities were gathering evidence on the ground and investigating a purported claim of responsibility.
Sir Ian Blair, commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police, said no arrests had been made but officials have ‘‘lots and lots’’ of leads.
Home Secretary Charles Clarke, the Cabinet minister responsible for law and order, said it was a ‘‘strong possibility’’ that al-Qaida or a sympathetic group had carried out the attack.
In Washington, current and former American counterterrorism officials said they were taking seriously an Internet claim by a little-known group calling itself
The Secret Organization of al-Qaida in Europe that it staged the attacks.
A U.S. law enforcement official said authorities had vague information from Abu Farraj al-Libbi, reputedly No. 3 in the al-Qaida terror network, that al-Qaida was seeking to mount an attack similar to the 2004 train bombings in Madrid.
Al-Libbi was arrested by Pakistani agents on May 2. The information contained no specifics about location or timing, the official said.
The bombs were probably made from simple, relatively easy-to-obtain plastic explosives, not the higher-grade military plastics like Semtex that would have killed far more people, said Andy Oppenheimer, a weapons expert who consults for Jane’s Information Group.
‘‘Any crook with ready cash could obtain this stuff if they knew where to look for it,’’ said Alex Standish, the editor of Jane’s Intelligence Digest.
Plastic explosives are readily available on the black market in the Czech Republic and other central and eastern European countries or through the Russian mafia, Standish said. Large amounts of plastic explosives not tagged by the chemical markers that enable dogs to detect it are missing from Czech stocks, he added.
Police said the four bombs that hit the London transportation network on Thursday weighed less than 10 pounds each and were left on the floor of the Underground trains and either a seat or the floor of the No. 30 bus that was ripped apart in the Bloomsbury neighborhood, said assistant police commissioner Andy Hayman.
Ten pounds is a relatively small bomb, although a blast’s power depends more on the type of explosive than the amount. The 10 bombs that killed 191 people on commuter trains in Madrid, Spain last year averaged 22 pounds each; the bombs that killed 33 bystanders and 12 suicide attackers at five targets in Casablanca, Morocco, two years ago were 18 to 22 pounds each.
Hayman said investigators had so far obtained little detailed forensic information on the bombs. Their investigation has been hindered by the inaccessibility of one of the wrecked trains, 70 feet below street level, he said.
Oppenheimer said the bombers likely used a fairly basic timer that would have been set a half hour or less in advance. More sophisticated detonators like those the Irish Republican Army has used can give far longer lead times, up to several days.
‘‘You wouldn’t need very advanced knowledge to make one of these,’’ Oppenheimer said.
Law enforcement officials declined to respond to questions about a U.S. official’s statement that evidence indicating timers were used was found in the debris. London police also played down the possibility the devices were detonated by remote control using cell phones.
Some experts believe the bomber on the double-decker bus may have blundered, blowing up the wrong target and accidentally killing himself. Media reports have quoted an witness who got off the crowded bus just before it exploded as saying he saw an agitated man in his 20s fiddling anxiously with something in his bag.
3 officers hurt in airport shootout
July 9, 2005
A shootout at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport left three Phoenix police officers with gunshot wounds, and the man they had been pursuing killed himself with a shotgun blast to the head.
None of the officers’ injuries from Thursday night’s shooting were considered lifethreatening, Sgt. Randy Force, a police spokesman, said Friday.
The gun battle near Sky Harbor’s Terminal 4 broke out just before midnight.
It followed a pursuit from Interstate 10 that began when police tried to stop a 2004 Ford Mustang with stolen plates.
The car was reported missing from a car rental business after it was not returned on time in June, Force said.
The man stopped briefly at the airport to let his girlfriend out before speeding off and then attempting to get police to shoot him, Force said.
Police said the man shot at them first and nine officers fired back.
However, the man died when he shot himself in the head with a 12-gauge shotgun — one of two guns he had in the car. The other was a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun.
‘‘He was shooting before they finally got him stopped. The car became disabled and then he grabbed his second weapon,’’ said Tony Morales, another police spokesman. ‘‘By that time, all hell broke loose.’’
Police wouldn’t name the 35-year-old man until his identity was confirmed through fingerprints and his family was notified.
The three injured officers were identified as Alex Beaver, 30; Jake Helms, 28; and Chris Parese, 27.
Force said Beaver was grazed in the forehead and was listed in good condition. Helms was hit with a ‘bird shot’ pellet in the forehead, which did not penetrate his skull, and also was in good condition.
Parese was grazed in the forehead, but was also shot in the shoulder, Force said. He was listed as stable, Force said.
This was the second time in less than a year that Parese has been wounded on duty.
In August, he was shot in the abdomen at a Phoenix apartment complex in an incident that also left two fellow officers dead.
Police identified the driver’s girlfriend as 22-year-old Dovie Chestnutwood.
She was questioned and released by police but couldn’t be reached by The Associated Press for comment.
The nine officers who opened fire Thursday have been placed on administrative leave, which is routine after any shooting.
Thursday’s shooting came a week after another police chase ended at the airport.
In that case, a man driving a stolen pickup truck smashed through a fence and sped past taxiing aircraft before being stopped.
Police shot at the pickup in that incident, but didn’t hit the driver.
Posted on Fri, Jul. 08, 2005
As Dennis looms, some in Key West put faith in power of prayer
BY MAYA BELL
The Orlando Sentinel
ISLAMORADA, Fla. - (KRT) - The prayer Ryan Gembala whispered when he and his pals ducked into an Episcopal church in Key West this week was not answered. He is not enjoying Duval Street right now.
Instead, the co-founder of a nonprofit in Atlanta was stuck in a rental car on clogged U.S. Highway 1 in
Islamorada, eating baked potato chips and bemoaning his disrupted vacation.
"We had to buy mahi-mahi, instead of catch it ourselves," said Gembala, 24.
But if a small shrine known simply as the grotto kept its protective hold on Key West when Hurricane Dennis passed the island early Saturday, Gembala and his friends will be back on Duval Street soon, paying homage to the chapel themselves.
"You'd have to," said Ben Stricker, 25, an Atlanta human-resources consultant whose family owns a house in Key West. "You'd have to believe."
The grotto, formally known as Our Lady of Lourdes, has stood in the gardens of St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church since Sister Louis Gabriel dedicated it in 1922 with the words that launched a legion of believers.
As long as this grotto is standing, she said, Key West would never feel the full brunt of a hurricane.
And for the next 83 years, the capital of the Conch Republic, hasn't - at least not the brunt of a major hurricane.
Oh, there have been near misses, close calls and a visit by relatively minor Hurricane Georges in 1998, but nothing like what the Middle Keys suffered when the Labor Day Storm of 1935 killed more than 400 people. Key West was largely spared by that monster as well.
Coincidence? Not to the 15 faithful who lit candles at the grotto and prayed Friday morning for Dennis to bypass Key West. Not to those who gathered for a Mass at the grotto Friday evening.
"It does protect Key West," said longtime Deacon Peter Batty. "Not the grotto itself. People coming in and praying protects the island."
That's why Batty and other church employees had few second thoughts about defying a mandatory evacuation order issued Thursday for all visitors and all Keys residents who live south of the Seven Mile Bridge.
"There's a higher power," said receptionist Kathy Sheldon.
About 80 miles up U.S. 1, Richard Truffa, a resident of the Seabreeze Trailer Park, was relying more on his wits than the power of prayer. Nevermind that the fire department had already been through with a bullhorn reminding mobile-home dwellers of the mandatory evacuation order. Nevermind that Georges left 2 feet of water in the park.
As the skies darkened above and the seas churned a foamy green, the maintenance man vowed to ride out Dennis' wrath in the little tin box he calls home.
"That's all I got - that trailer - and I ain't losing it," he said, sucking on a Marlboro as the rain pelted his bare chest. "It's a gamble, but I'm a gambler.
But nearby at the aptly named Rain Barrel - an artist's village in a series of old clapboard buildings - Claire Carrier was pretty sure she and the rest of those staying weren't gambling.
"Don't you know," she said to colleague, "Key West has the holy grotto? So we're safe."
© 2005, The Orlando Sentinel (Fla.).
Visit the Sentinel on the World Wide Web at http://www.orlandosentinel.com.
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.
wow 200 cops sit around everyday in front of computers in a secret location in north phoenix protecting us from terrorists!!!! dont you feel safer? me? i keep looking at my pocket book wondering how much money the government is removing from it to pay for this foolishnes.
Phoenix center a hub for coordinating terrorism data
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 9, 2005 12:00 AM
This is fighting terrorism in the 21st century: spending hours in front of a computer processing information from police and federal agencies and keeping tabs on the world through Fox News and CNN.
More than 200 employees from police and fire departments and federal agencies do it every day at the
Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center, and other than going on a 24-hour rotation until the federal government says otherwise, their jobs haven't changed much since bombs exploded in London early Thursday morning.
When the first of the blasts occurred, about 1 a.m. Arizona time, the center sat quiet and empty; workers wouldn't arrive for another five hours. Once they did, counterterrorism specialists contacted officers at every police department in the state and gave them a briefing on how the situation would affect Arizona.
"It was clear from the beginning this was a terrorist incident. It had all the earmarks of an al-Qaida-type operation," state Department of Public Safety Maj. Norm Beasley said. "We're always concerned with follow-up on attacks. Whenever there's a major incident somewhere, we ramp up to make sure there's no nexus to Arizona."
Once the experts from around the Valley realized there wasn't a threat in Arizona, they sent out a message to increase visibility with extra police patrols at transportation hubs like bus, plane and train stations and went about their daily duties of fighting crime in the state.
With more than 3 million residents in the Valley, there's plenty to do, Beasley said. It has become easier since October, when employees from more than 20 agencies joined forces in the nondescript brick building in north Phoenix. The Department of Homeland Security paid for the $5.3 million complex; Arizona taxpayers pick up the salaries for employees, who all work for different state agencies.
AcTIC, as the center is known, has played a role in responding to the most notorious criminal incidents in the Valley this year. In May, it funneled information about suspects into research and analysis databases following the fatal shooting of Phoenix police Officer David Uribe; in June, AcTIC workers responded to the ricin scare in Mesa; and when the fences at Sky Harbor International Airport are crashed, AcTIC agents are among the first to know.
When a call comes in to the center, either from a police officer or a citizen who has seen something suspicious, it goes to an AcTIC agent, who enters the information in a database and funnels it to the right department. Everyone from the FBI to Phoenix Police to Glendale Fire can keep track of the case through the system.
That collaboration is what makes the center unique, said Lori Norris, a lieutenant with DPS. Norris works in the watch center, a large room with eight or nine agents from around the Valley keeping track of developments with everything from the Homeland Security Information Network to azcentral.com. As the watch center's commander, Norris witnesses that fruits of that collaboration on a daily basis.
"Each one brings their own expertise," she said.
Residents' help needed
But for Phoenix to fight terror, it will take more than officers working together, Beasley said. AcTIC counts on residents to provide information, but few are even aware of the center. After bombs went off in central London, the center received two calls from concerned local residents. On most days, they don't get any.
With terrorist groups concentrating on "soft targets" such as buses, trains and nightclubs, everyday people need to be the eyes and ears of law enforcement, Beasley said.
"(Terrorists) tend to shy away from those facilities where their chances of success are reduced," he said, adding that lately terrorist groups have split into smaller and smaller cells. "When you have groups like that, it's extremely difficult. It's difficult to penetrate and difficult to gather intelligence."
That's where residents come in: reporting suspicious events and people. Though Arizona might not have a lot of visible terrorist targets, Beasley said, the state does have connections to America's worst incidents to date.
"Two of the 9/11 hijackers were here. Timothy McVeigh was here," he said, referring to the Oklahoma City bomber. "Arizona, in one way, shape or form, has been touched."
the heartless american empire!!!
Sending woman 'home' to Mexico truly un-American
Jul. 9, 2005 12:00 AM
Her favorite food is pancakes with strawberries and cream, which explains her favorite restaurant: IHOP. Her favorite TV show is Friends. She loves the movie Titanic for the romance, and for reasons I can't quite figure out, she, at 20 years old, loves the Beatles.
She is what you might call the all-American girl. In every way but one, that is.
By month's end, Yuliana Huicochea will likely be ordered to leave the only country she's ever known, exiled to a place she's never been. At least, not since she was a baby.
Yuliana is worried and understandably so.
"I don't have anywhere to go," she told me. "I don't know any other country. I've always lived here since I was 4 years old. I consider this my country. I consider myself an American."
So why, you might wonder, is Yuliana being given the bum's rush across the border? What offense has she given, what crimes did she commit that this country will be a stronger, safer place once she has left it?
She had the audacity at 4 years old to enter this country illegally.
Yuliana grew up in Phoenix. She's never been in trouble. She learned the Pledge of Allegiance in kindergarten, got good grades in school and even graduated a year early
from Wilson Charter High School so she could pursue her dream of one day becoming a lawyer. She might never have drawn the attention of the Department of Homeland Security but for the fact that she exhibited a bit too much ingenuity and good old-fashioned American can-do spirit. In 2002, she was part of a team at Wilson that spent nine months designing and building a solar-powered boat. So good was their work that they were invited to an international competition in upstate New York.
Yuliana and three others on the team caught the eye of immigration authorities when their teacher took them to Niagara Falls on the U.S.-Canadian border.
Like Yuliana, Jaime Damian, Luis Nava and Oscar Corona were babies when they were brought here illegally from Mexico. And like her, they face the very real prospect of being sent to a country they don't know when they go before U.S. Immigration Judge John Richardson on July 21.
Richardson has twice put off deporting the four, in hopes that Congress might pass a law allowing them to stay. But that hasn't happened.
The four, and others like them, are caught center stage in a national uproar over illegal immigration where it seems any more that there is black and there is white and nothing in between. Either you are here legally or you are not.
Unfortunately, like our immigration laws, that sort of thinking doesn't work. Sending Yuliana to Mexico would be like sending you or me to a foreign country.
Like it or not and through no fault of her own, Yuliana is an American. Blame the parents who brought her here. Blame a corrupt country that encourages its citizens to flee north. Blame U.S. politicians who have long looked the other way and businesses that crave cheap labor.
Blame them all and certainly, fix our broken border. But it strikes me as decidedly un-American to punish Yuliana for a crime she didn't commit.
Like it or not, we've got a generation of children who have grown up American, hundreds of thousands who were brought here as babies and now they're stuck in a no man's land between a country they don't know and a country that doesn't want them.
And so, in a few weeks, Yuliana must go, proving that there is law and there is justice. And sometimes the one has nothing to do with the other.
Reach Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (602) 444-8635.
Hundreds busted under bogus law
News discovers alarming number of arrests using unconsitutional statute
By THOMAS ZAMBITO and RUSS BUETTNER
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
A woman begs for money at the intersection of Park and 55th street on Thursday afternoon.
An anti-begging law ruled unconstitutional in 1992 has since been used in more than 1,800 arrests and prosecutions statewide, a Daily News analysis of court data found.Among The News' findings:
The arrests, 71% of them in New York City, resulted in hundreds of people being held in jail while awaiting court hearings.
Some of those arrested on charges they had loitered for the purpose of begging were ultimately sentenced to jail time on a charge that was supposedly no longer on the books.
Hundreds more were the subjects of outstanding arrest warrants based on the charge.
The numbers documented by The News are far greater than officials acknowledged last month, when a class-action lawsuit alleged that 140 people were prosecuted under the statute in 2003 and last year.
The total of 1,876 found by The News doesn't include cases that resulted in an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, a term that means all charges are dropped if the defendant stays out of trouble for six months.
The numbers could be higher still: The News analysis included arrests only through June 2004, so arrests since then are not included.
Legal experts said arrests on bogus charges go to the heart of the justice system's integrity.
"The decision to arrest someone and take away their freedom should not be treated lightly," said Eugene O'Donnell, a law and police science professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "But there's a kind of mind-set in some circles that they can arrest first and figure out the propriety later."
The recent lawsuit focused on arrests in the Bronx, where District Attorney Robert Johnson and police officials immediately acknowledged the problem and vowed to stop prosecuting cases under the old law.
But the analysis found other counties actually made more arrests after the charge was ruled unconstitutional Oct. 1, 1992.
Brooklyn led the city with 504 arrests on the charge up to the June 2004 data cutoff. Nearly half - 234 - took place in the 75th Precinct in East New York, Brooklyn, where beat cops have alleged they were ordered to meet quotas on quality-of-life summonses.
Most of the Brooklyn arrests resulted from police summonses, cases that district attorneys don't prosecute. But 102 of the arrests appear to have been handled by the DA's office.
Amy Feinstein, the borough's chief assistant DA, she she suspected that some of the cases on The News' list may have been caused by clerical errors during plea negotiations. But she said her office would support anyone who sought to have a conviction on the charge overturned.
"We should have zero, frankly," she said.
Erie County, with 512 cases, edged out Brooklyn for the most arrests statewide, apparently the result of a 1990s anti-panhandling initiative.
Yvonne Vertlieb, Erie County's deputy DA, said the office likely would go along with anyone who sought to have such convictions overturned, though she said she didn't trust court data. She also said the office wouldn't search out the unjustly convicted.
"I would say we're pretty much going to do nothing," Vertlieb said.
Of the 1,876 arrested statewide, 341 couldn't come up with a bond to make bail - averaging $1,317 - and were held in jail while awaiting a hearing.
Defendants pleaded guilty to the unconstitutional charge in 307 cases. Of those, 233 pleaded guilty only to the unconstitutional charge; 74 also pleaded guilty to another charge, typically disorderly conduct.
Among those convicted on the unconstitutional charge, categorized as a violation, 29 were sentenced to jail for two to 15 days. An additional 124 were sentenced to time served while awaiting trial.
The unconstitutional count was dropped in 897 cases in which the defendant pleaded guilty to another charge, again most often disorderly conduct but also cases of drug possession or resisting arrest.
Guilty pleas on the other charges could be thrown out if the begging charge was the basis for the search and arrest, said attorney Joshua Dratel, president of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
In ruling that the "loitering for begging" statute was unconstitutional, Manhattan Federal Judge Robert Sweet wrote in his Oct. 1, 1992, decision that "the message that begging sends" was protected by the First Amendment.
In 1996, the city pushed through a law banning aggressive panhandling.
But the old section of the banned loitering law - 240.35(1) - remained on the state's official Web site and in publications of the laws of the state.
Cops, judges, district attorneys and defense lawyers all blamed the others for not recognizing sooner that the old charge had never really died.
An NYPD spokesman said only that the department had recently notified cops to stop using the banned charge.
More than half of the 1,328 city cases that included the charge originated with a summons from a police officer. Judges who work in courtrooms that handle summonses show up with the most appearances in the cases.
Judge Eugene Schwartzwald, who works in Brooklyn's summons part, led all judges, appearing in 213 cases and issuing 179 warrants on the charge.
Schwartzwald says he didn't know the law was unconstitutional until he read news accounts of the lawsuit. "No one said anything. ... They had lawyers and no one made the argument.
Originally published on July 3, 2005
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
NO POKER, NO PEACE!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NO POKER, NO PEACE: Card Tournament at One Police Plaza to Protest NYPD Hijackings
New York, 7/5/05 – Libertarian candidate for Public Advocate Jim Lesczynski announced today that the No Poker, No Peace Penny Poker Tournament will be played at the entrance to One Police Plaza beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the evening of Thursday, July 14. The tournament, which will be preceded by a 5:30 p.m. press conference, will protest the NYPD’s recent raid of two popular Manhattan poker clubs and the wrongful seizure of $100,000 in players’ money.
On May 26, the NYPD Vice Squad raided the Play Station poker club on Union Square and the Players Club on the upper west side. In addition to confiscating $100,000 from the tables at the two clubs, the police arrested 39 employees. Although it is not illegal to play poker for money, it may be illegal to “promote” gambling.
“The Manhattan District attorney admits the players themselves did nothing illegal, yet the police walked off with $100,000,” Lesczynski charges. “They claim the money was confiscated for ‘evidence’—as if anyone needs evidence that poker is played for money. The police say they have no plans to return the money to the players and that it will eventually become city property. It is not hyperbole to say that is simply armed robbery by the NYPD.”
Lesczynski demands that the police make a good-faith effort to return the confiscated money to the players to whom it rightfully belongs. He also wants the NYPD to refrain from future poker club hijackings.
The No Poker, No Peace tournament at the foot of police headquarters is open to all—seasoned gamblers and novices alike. At penny-ante stakes, the participants don’t stand to make a bundle, but the winner will get bragging rights as the Poker Protest Champion.
Gary Popkin, the Libertarian candidate for Brooklyn Borough President, will participate. “I hardly know how to play poker,” says Popkin, “but I knew enough, when one of my nephews suggested playing with two decks because there were so many players, to ask, ‘Does five eights beat a royal flush?’”
Congress announced that the office of President of the United States of America will be outsourced to overseas interests as of July 30th. The move is being made to save not only a significant portion of the President's $400K yearly salary, but also a record $521 billion
in deficit expenditures and related overhead. We believe this is a wise move financially. The cost savings should be significant, stated Congressman Thomas Reynolds (R-Wash.).
Reynolds, with the aid of the Government Accountability Office, has studied outsourcing of American jobs extensively. We cannot expect to remain competitive on the world stage with the current level of cash outlay, Reynolds noted. Mr. Bush was informed by email this morning of his termination. Preparations for the job move have been underway for some time.
Sanji Gurvinder Singh of Indus Teleservices, Mumbai, India will be assuming the office of President as of August 1. Mr. Singh was born in the United States while his Indian parents were vacationing at Niagara Falls, thus
making him eligible for the position. He will receive a salary of $320 (USD) a month but with no health coverage or other benefits. It is believed that Mr. Singh will be able to handle his job responsibilities without support staff. Due to the time difference between the US and India, he will be working primarily at night, when few offices of the US Government will be open. “Working nights will allow me to keep my day job at the American Express call center,” stated Mr. Singh in an exclusive interview. “I am excited about this position. I always hoped I would be President someday. “
A Congressional spokesperson noted that while Mr. Singh may not be fully aware of all the issues involved in the office of President, this should not be a problem. Mr. Singh will rely upon a script tree that will enable him to respond effectively to most topics of concern. “Using this tree, he can address common concerns without having to understand the underlying issues at all. We know these scripting tools work,” stated the Spokesperson. Mr. Bush has used them successfully for years. Mr. Bush will receive health coverage, expenses, and salary until his final day of employment.
Following a two week waiting period, he will be eligible for $240 dollars a week unemployment for 13 weeks. Unfortunately he will not be eligible for Medicaid as his unemployment benefits will exceed the allowed limit. Mr. Bush has been provided the outplacement services of Manpower, Inc. to help him write a resume and prepare for his upcoming job transition. According to Manpower, Mr. Bush may have difficulties in securing a new position due to limited practical work experience. One possibility is re-enlistment in the Air National Guard. Should he choose this option, he would likely be stationed in Iraq, a country he has visited. “I've been there, I know all about Iraq,” stated Mr. Bush, who gained invaluable knowledge of the country in a visit to the Baghdad Airport's terminal and gift shop. Sources in Baghdad and Falluja say Mr. Bush would receive a warm reception from local Iraqis. They have asked to be provided with details of his arrival so that they might arrange an appropriate welcome.
ACLU leader challenges arrest
By Gary Grado, Tribune
July 13, 2005
The arrest of Arizona’s ACLU leader was caught on video, but it’s up to a U.S. District Court jury to determine whether police arrested her unnecessarily or whether she had it coming.
During opening statements at a civil trial Tuesday in Phoenix, a jury of seven women watched portions of the video — jerky footage from a roller-skating photographer. Eleanor Eisenberg, executive director of the Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, is suing Phoenix and two police officers who were assigned crowd control for a presidential visit on Sept. 27, 2002.
Eisenberg was at Third and Washington streets in downtown Phoenix shooting a video to document the arrests of demonstrators who marched to the Civic Center, where President Bush held a fundraiser for East Valley gubernatorial candidate Matt Salmon.
Eisenberg’s attorney, Stephen Montoya, said the 64-year-old political activist was simply shooting the arrest of a demonstrator when Phoenix police officer Wesley Martin started yelling at her and then used his horse to shove her.
Martin then pointed her out and detective John Bottoms of the Arizona Department of Public Safety arrested her.
Eisenberg, less than 5 feet tall, was hobbled from foot surgery at the time and was about to leave, Montoya said.
They handcuffed her and lifted her over a barricade, which she objected to because she didn’t want people looking up her skirt, Montoya said.
"It shook her," Montoya said. "For months after the arrest she was paranoid."
Defense attorney Georgia Staton said Martin warned her repeatedly not to get near a restricted area and used his horse to get between her and the scuffle she was shooting.
Martin considered her a danger to the officers arresting the demonstrator because their backs were turned, and when it comes to protecting the president, a person’s size doesn’t matter, Staton said.
Contact Gary Grado by email, or phone (602) 258-1746
Here some crooked cops illegally force a Latino man to show his tattoos to a photographer from the Spanish language newspaper La Voz. The pigs are accusing the man of being a gang banger. When you can’t trust the government who can you trust? Anybody but the government!
Valley Boy Scouts to cut ties with schools
By Garin Groff, Tribune
July 15, 2005
Valley Boy Scouts are severing formal ties to schools, fearful the American Civil Liberties Union will sue because the boys pledge allegiance to God.
The Boy Scouts of America has ordered groups across the nation to split from schools by year’s end. Valley Scout officials have set Aug. 3 as the deadline here.
The decision will affect dozens of Valley Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout packs and their roughly 2,300 members. Scout officials said they don’t know how many of about 2.8 million Scouts nationwide are affected.
Scout officials made the move because they anticipate the ACLU would file lawsuits that challenge the constitutionality of having government entities sponsor an organization that makes boys swear allegiance to God.
The ACLU has filed such a suit against Chicago schools, the Pentagon and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The suits didn’t harm the Boy Scouts directly but could hurt schools, said Gregg Shields, the national spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America in Irving, Texas.
"That would just sap thousands or millions of dollars from schools that are already financially strapped to do their job of educating students," Shields said. "We don’t want that to happen."
The ACLU of Illinois sued Chicago schools in 1999 for chartering the Scouts, though the Scouts satisfied the civil liberties group last year by dropping schools in favor of private charters, said Ed Yohnka, spokesman for the ACLU of Illinois.
"You have to swear an allegiance or an oath to God," Yohnka said. "It is simply not constitutional for a government entity to sponsor an activity in which one of the requirements is a religious test."
The change is a historic one for the Scouts, who have always relied on schools to hold some of the charter documents required for each unit to exist. The charter requires little of school officials. They generally sign chartering paperwork and pledge to help identify local leaders for Scout units.
Most Valley Scouts are chartered through private groups, such as churches, charter schools or civic groups. The minority of school-chartered units will need to find similar groups. They can continue to meet on school grounds, however, just as any nonprofit group can.
That should make for a seamless transition, Shields said. The real burden will fall on Scout officials and parent volunteers who will have to find a new charter organization.
"I don’t think it will be that much of a challenge," said Jim Dolberg, director of field service for the Grand Canyon Council in Arizona. "We have a good base of community support."
The situation nonetheless frustrates the Scouts, who complain of a "relentless" legal assault on the organization. There have been at least 14 lawsuits since 1981, Shields said.
The ACLU doesn’t anticipate further legal action, Yohnka said.
"Our view is this is a good resolution," Yohnka said. "I think that it reflects an appropriate reading of constitutional law and constitutional principles."
Contact Garin Groff by email, or phone (480) 898-6554
making a big deal about nothing! arent all of these legal??
In his Phoenix apartment, authorities found black powder,
smokeless powder, metal end caps and precursor chemicals
for pipe bombs
Jul 15, 10:19 AM EDT
Authorities search Arizona, Vilas County residences for explosives
MANITOWISH WATERS, Wis. (AP) -- A 58-year-old Army veteran is facing state and federal charges for possessing explosive materials in two states.
State and federal investigators searched Denys Ray Hughes' family home in Manitowish Waters and his Phoenix apartment Thursday, authorities said.
He made an initial appearance Thursday in federal court, stemming from an Arizona complaint that accuses him of possessing pipe bombs and manufacturing a silencer, said Tom Mangan, spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Mangan said Hughes told investigators he was a survivalist or a militiaman, although authorities don't believe he has ties to any terrorist group or organization.
Authorities found the silencer and a 6-inch galvanized pipe bomb about three-fourths of an inch in diameter with two metal end caps in his apartment.
The investigation started after Hughes, a discharged Army veteran, was stopped July 8 for a traffic violation in Russell County, Kan. Sheriff's officials found glass containers, firearms, reloading supplies and books referencing bomb-making in his car and passed the information to the ATF.
Vilas County, Wis., sheriff's deputies later arrested Hughes.
In his Phoenix apartment, authorities found black powder, smokeless powder, metal end caps and precursor chemicals for pipe bombs and a silencer, Mangan said.
Vilas County Sheriff John Niebuhr said in a news release his office acted with help from the state Division of Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI.
"The scene has been secured," the sheriff said. "There is no threat from this incident to the general public."
The search warrant in Phoenix was being executed by the FBI and ATF, he said.
Study casts doubt on medicinal value of prayer
Heart patients no less likely to die
By ROB STEIN
THE WASHINGTON POST
• Praying for sick strangers doesn’t improve their prospects of recovering, according to a large, carefully designed study that casts doubt on the widely held belief that praying for someone can help them heal.
The study of more than 700 heart patients, one of the most ambitious attempts to test the medicinal power of prayer, showed that those who had people praying for them from a distance, and without their knowledge, were no less likely to suffer a major complication, end up back in the hospital or die.
While skeptics of prayer welcomed the results, other researchers questioned the findings, and proponents of prayer maintained God’s influence lies beyond the reach of scientific validation.
Surveys have shown that millions of Americans routinely pray for themselves and for others when they or someone they know is sick. A growing body of evidence has found that religious people tend to be healthier than average, and that people who pray when they are ill are likely to fare better than those who do not. Many researchers think religious belief and practice can help people by providing social support and fostering positive emotions, which may produce beneficial responses by the body.
But the idea that praying for someone else can affect a person’s health has been much more controversial.
Iraqi arms deals wasted $300M
Vast corruption risks training, lives, officials say
By HANNAH ALLAM
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
• The Iraqi Defense Ministry has squandered more than $300 million buying faulty and outdated military equipment in what appears to be a massive web of corruption that flourished under Americanappointed supervisors for a year or longer, U.S. and Iraqi military officials said this week.
Vendors are suspected of vastly overcharging for substandard equipment, including helicopters, machine guns and armored vehicles, and kicking back money to Iraqi Defense Ministry buyers.
The defective equipment has jeopardized the lives of Iraq’s embattled security forces and exposed a startling lack of oversight for one of the country’s most crucial rebuilding projects.
Officials of Iraq’s recently elected government have fired the main suspects in the scandal, and several former defense overseers are under investigation for possible criminal charges, Iraqi Defense Minister Saadoun al-Duleimi said.
‘‘I view corruption as an incubator for terrorism,’’ said al-Duleimi, who took office in May and isn’t implicated in the scandal. ‘‘If you can’t defend against corruption, you can’t defend against terrorism.’’
The suspected fraud slowed progress in training and equipping Iraqi forces, whose performance against deadly insurgents is the key gauge for when the U.S. military can begin withdrawing its 135,000 troops from Iraq. Lt. Gen. David Petraeus is the senior U.S. officer in charge of training and equipping Iraqi forces. He declined to comment on the allegations, saying it was a matter for the sovereign government of Iraq to resolve.
Al-Duleimi said investigators are looking at more than 40 questionable contracts that officials claim sent a huge chunk of the ministry’s annual budget into the pockets of senior Iraqi defense officials and their foreign business partners.
Investigators are looking at purchases dating back to the June 28, 2004, transfer of sovereignty from American administrator Paul Bremer to the caretaker government of U.S.-backed Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. Many Iraqi administrators hired under Bremer’s Coalition Provisional Authority kept their jobs after the handover of the ministry, but after that the U.S. military no longer had the final say in awarding contracts.
However, Americans still ran the show behind the scenes, said several Iraqi bureaucrats involved with the ministry at the time. It’s implausible to them that U.S. officials, who held daily briefings with Iraqi defense chiefs, didn’t catch wind of the alleged wrongdoing.
The official said American advisers had warned the government about some suspicious activity, but they weren’t aware of the extent of the problem.
The official emphasized that it wasn’t U.S. taxpayer funds involved in the possible corruption, though he added that commanders have had to dip into American money to correct the losses and keep Iraqi training on track.
Many of the deals were brokered by former Iraqi exile Ziad Tareq Cattan, who was hired by the provisional authority in 2004 and quickly rose from district councilman to be the Iraqi defense ministry’s chief weapons buyer.
Cattan, who oversaw the ministry’s acquisitions, logistics and infrastructure portfolio, was known as a man who flew around the world spending millions of government cash with little accountability.
Defense officials said he sometimes submitted scraps of paper as receipts for multimillion-dollar weapons deals and was notorious for charging a 10 percent ‘‘finder’s fee’’ for the contracts he negotiated.
‘‘There is no doubt he took advantage of opportunities,’’ said John Noble, senior Western adviser to Iraq’s defense ministry. ‘‘Certainly millions, possibly even hundreds of millions’’ of dollars were lost through Cattan’s business ventures, Noble said.
Cattan was fired last month. U.S. military officials said he tried to flee the country, but was stopped. Knight Ridder obtained a copy of an Iraqi court’s arrest warrant filed against him July 7 on charges related to abuse of an employer’s funds.
The warrant ordered Cattan ‘‘to the aforementioned court as soon as possible.’’ Cattan phoned Knight Ridder on Thursday, saying he was in Irbil, the capital of the semiautonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq. Cattan said the accusations against him were made up by Americans angry that he questioned their training procedures for Iraqi troops and by newly elected Shiite Muslim leaders jealous of a rival Sunni Muslim in such an important ministry post. He denied taking a 10 percent finder’s fee for contracts.
Cattan said he plans to return to Baghdad next week to answer charges in the arrest warrant. He said he looks forward to continuing his work on rebuilding Iraq and hasn’t ruled out running in the next elections.
‘‘They want to destroy my reputation, destroy my position,’’ Cattan said. ‘‘If they have one document that shows one cent of corruption, show me. They can prove nothing.’’
its a jobs program for the batf! read this nasty article accusing this guy of being a menance to society.
"Recovered chemicals may be dangerous"
if they may be dangerous why did they even write an article about them if they dont know. well to slander the guy.
"and the improvised pipe bomb - a 6-inch galvanized pipe, about three-fourths of an inch in diameter with two metal end caps"
since when is a pipe with no explosives in it a pipe bomb? it isnt execpt when the reporter wants to slander a person.
"for actions that potentially could have threatened homeland security."
what were the actions? and how might they have threatened homeland security. why doesnt the reporter give us some facts? probably cuz the reporter wants to slander the guy who was arrested.
"police and federal agents found black powder, smokeless powder, metal end caps and precursor chemicals for pipe bombs"
these are all 100% legal. what is the big deal? well i guess the reporter wants to help the BATF slander the guy.
"In June, a Mesa man was caught manufacturing ricin for use as a weapon"
that is a lie. he TRIED to make ricin but failed.
"The chemicals are being tested to determine what they are."
they dont even know what the chemicals are? but they are calling them dangerous? thats not reporting that is making up lies to scare people and create jobs for BATF agents.
Recovered chemicals may be dangerous
Apartment resident appears in court
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 15, 2005 12:00 AM
Federal and state officials continued Thursday to try to identify potentially dangerous chemicals found along with a pipe bomb inside a north Phoenix apartment.
The motives of the man who lived in the cluttered one-bedroom apartment remain unknown, although officials said they don't believe he was involved in terrorism. Denys Ray Hughes, 58, an honorably discharged Army veteran, is in custody in Madison, Wisc., facing federal and state charges for possessing explosive materials, authorities said.
"Certainly if you're making destructive devices, you're posing a threat," said Tom Mangan, spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. advertisement
"We're certainly taking this very seriously."
Hughes reportedly made admissions about being a survivalist or a militiaman, although "there's no ties to any group or organization that we're aware of," Mangan said.
Hughes made an initial appearance Thursday in front of a federal magistrate in Wisconsin, stemming from an Arizona complaint, accusing him of possessing a pipe bomb and manufacturing a silencer, Mangan said.
Officials found the silencer and the improvised pipe bomb - a 6-inch galvanized pipe, about three-fourths of an inch in diameter with two metal end caps - inside Hughes' apartment, near Cave Creek and Bell roads.
The bomb "wasn't primed with a fusing mechanism to initiate it," Mangan said. "But given the culmination of parts . . . obviously, he was only a step away from priming that particular device."
"Just because it isn't primed to explode doesn't mean it can't do damage," Mangan added.
There was no immediate indication Hughes was targeting anyone or anything specific with the explosives.
Still, Cam Hunter, spokeswoman for the Arizona Office of Homeland Security, said, "Any time we have information to indicate anyone is manufacturing chemicals and bombs, it's a grave concern."
Hughes is the third Valley man in the past six weeks to draw the attention of authorities for actions that potentially could have threatened homeland security.
In June, a Mesa man was caught manufacturing ricin for use as a weapon, although subsequent tests found the substance was not the deadly poison. Tuesday, a man from Surprise, thought to be suicidal, was arrested after police found three pipe bombs in his home.
Hughes came onto the radar screen July 8 when he was stopped in the early morning for a traffic violation in Russell County, Kan. Sheriff's officers there found glass containers, firearms, reloading supplies and books referencing bomb-making in his car, and passed the information along to ATF, officials said.
Hughes was arrested by the Vilas County Sheriff's Department in Wisconsin, and authorities there were serving a search warrant Thursday at his family home in Manitowish Waters, Wisc., a bucolic community four hours north of Madison.
Early Thursday, Arizona authorities served a federal search warrant at the apartment Hughes had rented since 1990. A dozen nearby apartments were evacuated Wednesday when authorities first converged on the complex.
Inside Hughes' apartment, police and federal agents found black powder, smokeless powder, metal end caps and precursor chemicals for pipe bombs, as well as the silencer, Mangan said. Phoenix police detonated the pipe bomb, and authorities still were trying to determine if other explosives were inside.
A hazardous materials team from the FBI in Los Angeles was called in to help.
The chemicals are being tested to determine what they are. But Mangan said, "We're not running into any chemicals of any substantial size or quantity," to indicate Hughes was manufacturing weapons of mass destruction.
Identifying the chemicals was difficult because containers were not labeled, and some were crystallized and possibly unstable.
Evacuated residents have not been allowed home.
"This is for their own safety," Mangan said. "We want to make sure when we're done cleaning up that it's safe to live here."
someone we can look at for moral guidance?
Priest off the hook in criminal case
Diocese still hoping to recoup $250,000 in a settlement
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 16, 2005 12:00 AM
No criminal charges will be filed against a suspended Catholic priest who was suspected of financial misconduct at his Gilbert parish.
The Rev. John Cunningham committed "no offense . . . that would result in a reasonable likelihood of conviction," said Bill FitzGerald of the Maricopa County Attorney's Office. He blamed the financial irregularities on "poor bookkeeping or business practices."
However, Phoenix Diocese officials said they still plan to try to recoup $250,000 from Cunningham, church money they say he spent to renovate his private property.
The priest's troubles began in April 2004 when he was accused of violating church law by celebrating a wedding Mass with a clergyman from another Christian group. Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted placed him on administrative leave.
The leave triggered an audit of Cunningham's parish, St. Mary Magdalene in Gilbert, which turned up financial irregularities between church accounts and the priest's personal accounts.
Cunningham, who has been a priest in the diocese for 25 years, was fired as pastor a month later.
Cunningham, who is in Ireland, was unavailable for comment. His brother, attorney Jim Cunningham, acknowledged that the priest had mixed up church funds with his personal accounts but said it wasn't with criminal intent. He said it was necessary because the diocese failed to financially support the 2002 start-up of the new parish.
According to the lawyer, the priest had to use his own money to buy an office building for the church. He then used church money for renovation work but has since repaid it, Jim Cunningham said. The building has remained in John Cunningham's name and was never signed over to the parish.
Joe Anderson, chief financial officer of the diocese, contends Cunningham spent the bulk of $250,000 in church funds to pay workers to keep up his private property.
"Impossible," Jim Cunningham said. "It didn't happen."
Anderson said the diocese has an insurance policy that covers it against theft and fraud and officials expect a settlement in the case. The insurance company then could sue Cunningham for the amount.
As for the Mass question, the Rev. Tim Davern said his report would go to the bishop next week. Then the bishop and two other experts on church law, as well as a church lawyer hired by Cunningham, will decide whether there was a violation.
"The issue is whether a non-Catholic clergyman concelebrated Mass with a priest," Davern said. "It's pretty clear, either he did or he didn't."
The penalty, if the priest is found to have concelebrated, likely would be a formal suspension, Davern said.
prepare for the kangaroo court and trials
Pentagon cleared to try enemy fighters
Terror suspect to face tribunal
Jul. 16, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - A Guantanamo detainee who once was Osama bin Laden's driver can be tried by a military tribunal, a federal appeals court ruled Friday, apparently clearing the way for the Pentagon to resume trials suspended when a lower court ruled the procedures unlawful.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled unanimously against Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni.
More broadly, it said that the 1949 Geneva Convention governing prisoners of war does not apply to al-Qaida and its members. That supports a key assertion of the Bush administration, which has faced international criticism for holding hundreds of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay without full POW protections.
"I think pretty much the entire opinion would be welcomed by the administration. I think there's nothing in there that is adverse to the administration's positions," Carl Tobias, professor of law at the University of Richmond, said in a telephone interview. "It's a very pro-administration decision."
The Pentagon has argued that it is justified in using what it calls military commissions, or tribunals, to try terror suspects like Hamdan, who were captured in the war in Afghanistan, because they are "enemy combatants."
The panel emphatically overturned a decision on Nov. 8 by a federal district judge in Washington, James Robertson, who had ruled that in setting up military commissions to try the detainees President Bush overstepped his constitutional authority and improperly brushed aside Geneva Convention provisions on handling prisoners of war.
"The president found that Hamdan was not a prisoner of war under the convention," Judge A. Raymond Randolph wrote for the panel in Friday's ruling. "Nothing in the regulations, and nothing Hamdan argues, suggests that the president is not a 'competent authority' for these purposes."
Lawyers for Hamdan, a Yemeni in his mid-30s who has denied he is a terrorist, can now appeal to the full court of the D.C. Circuit or they can seek to appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Hamdan's lawyers vowed to appeal. Both sides have said they expect the issue to reach the Supreme Court. The full 12-member Appeals Court could hear the case first.
It was unclear, however, whether the Defense Department would reconvene its so-called military commissions in the interim.
Retired Maj. Gen. John Altenburg Jr., commander of the process, froze all Guantanamo commissions in November after a federal judge found the process unconstitutional.
Altenburg now can order the three-colonel commission to meet or can wait for the appeal by Hamdan's lawyers.
Robertson had held that the commissions could not go on because they did not provide minimally fair procedures and violated international law.
His conclusion threw into doubt the legal proceedings devised by the administration to deal with hundreds of terror suspects captured by the United States in Afghanistan during the military campaign that toppled the Taliban after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Bush has declared all Taliban and al-Qaida fighters to be unlawful enemy combatants and, as such, not entitled to be treated as legitimate POWs.
Hamdan, who was captured in Afghanistan in November 2001, denies conspiring to engage in acts of terrorism and denies he was a member of al-Qaida. His lawyers say that by working as bin Laden's driver, he simply wanted to earn enough money to return to Yemen, buy his own vehicle and support his family as a driver.
Two lawyers representing Hamdan, Georgetown University law Professor Neal Katyal and Navy Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, said the appellate ruling "is contrary to 200 years of constitutional law."
"Today's ruling places absolute trust in the president, unchecked by the Constitution, statutes of Congress and long-standing treaties ratified by the Senate of the United States," the two defense lawyers said in a statement.
Katyal said that the detainee's legal team plans a further appeal.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales issued a brief statement praising the decision.
"The president's authority under the laws of our nation to try enemy combatants is a vital part of the global war on terror, and today's decision reaffirms this critical authority," Gonzales said.
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, a critic of the commissions, said the Pentagon would be better off using the normal court-martial process under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
"By permitting trials before military commissions, the court gave the administration enough rope to hang itself," Roth said.
"That's because, as currently conceived, the military commissions are deeply flawed."
Hamdan's lawyers said Bush violated the separation of powers in the Constitution when he established military commissions.
The Appeals Court disagreed, saying Bush relied on Congress' joint resolution authorizing the use of force after Sept. 11 as well as two congressionally enacted laws.
"We think it no answer to say, as Hamdan does, that this case is different because Congress did not formally declare war," said the decision by Judge A. Raymond Randolph, who was appointed to the Appeals Court by the first President Bush. He was joined in the ruling by Stephen Williams, a Reagan appointee, and Judge John Roberts, placed on the court by the current President Bush.
One of the leading critics of the Pentagon's military commissions, the Center for Constitutional Rights, called Friday's ruling "misguided" and said it could have an impact beyond the status of Hamdan.
"The ramifications of the decision may be enormous in terms of the danger created for U.S. soldiers stationed abroad," it said.
"If the United States does not use fair and just procedures that guarantee military detainees due-process protections in the 'war on terror,' no other country will feel the need to do so, either."
Government regulations say enemy combatants can be held until the war on terrorism is over or until military authorities decide on a case-by-case basis it is safe to release a prisoner.
The policy is geared to deal with captured fighters who neither fight for a particular nation nor fit the traditional criteria for criminal charges.
Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, New York Times, Bloomberg News and Knight Ridder Newspapers.
Death penalty push in traffic fatality goes too far
Jul. 16, 2005 12:00 AM
The despicable behavior and criminal irresponsibility attributed to accused Loop 101 killer David James Szymanski screams for justice.
Society's visceral gut reaction might be to support Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas' decision to pursue the death penalty in the vehicular-homicide case.
But when reason kicks in, Thomas' rationale for capital punishment is a stretch in this case.
That feeling does not stem from any particular sympathy for Szymanski, the 22-year-old Fountain Hills man accused of first-degree murder in the April 7 collision on Loop 101 that killed Cody Brett Morrison of Scottsdale and hurt two others.
Szymanski, who may have been impaired by alcohol, was driving the wrong way, apparently in an attempt to flee Scottsdale police. Before the deadly chase, he menaced a woman with a knife and confronted two men at her apartment, according to police accounts.
The escape attempt that resulted in the crash that killed Morrison constitutes unlawful flight, opening the door to the death penalty, prosecutors say.
Szymanski's alleged actions are cold-blooded, reckless and chilling. No details have emerged about the case that would prompt a call for leniency. Vigorous prosecution is a must.
But Thomas' push for the death penalty seems a step too far.
Besides the legal discussion about whether the death penalty is even applicable under state law in this instance, questions linger about the police chase.
The Scottsdale Police Department is conducting an internal investigation into the pursuit, but early indications are that policies were not followed. For one thing, the police cars did not turn on lights and sirens.
Thomas absolutely is correct when he says that a car can be as lethal a weapon as a gun or a knife and a case of vehicular homicide may lend itself to the death penalty. The facts suggest that this isn't the one.
El Departamento de Licores combatirá a los “miqueros”
Por Valeria Fernández
Julio 13, 2005
El Departamento de Licores (DLLC por sus siglas en inglés) encabezará una nueva unidad integrada por oficiales de varias agencias para combatir la proliferación de redes criminales que venden documentos falsificados.
Lo anterior formará parte de una nueva estrategia delineada la semana pasada por la gobernadora Janet Napolitano para combatir a los traficantes de seres humanos.
Los llamados “miqueros” que se dedican a la venta de licencias de conducir falsas, tarjetas de residencia y números de seguro social que muchos indocumentados utilizan para obtener un trabajo estarán en la mira de las autoridades.
El equipo integrado por al menos 6 agentes de DLLC, el Departamento de Seguridad Pública y la División de Motores y Vehículos se ubicará en el Centro de Información Anti-Terrorista de Arizona (ACTIC por sus siglas en inglés) donde centralizarán sus operativos contra las redes de falsificadores.
“Durante el último año nuestro departamento ha visto un incremento en el número de identificaciones falsas, no sólo licencias de conducir para menores de edad que quieren consumir alcohol, sino también tarjetas de residencia”, dijo Leesa Berens Morrison, directora de DLLC.
El Departamento de Licores fue seleccionado para liderar la nueva unidad debido a la frecuencia con la que decomisan documentos falsos.
En una semana esta agencia pueden incautar al menos cien identificaciones fraudulentas que pueden ser desde toscas imitaciones de una licencia de conducir de Arizona a elaboradas copias de tarjetas de residencia, credenciales de elector de México, matrículas consulares y licencias de conducir de Sonora.
La facilidad con que se pueden obtener este tipo de documentos pagando entre cien a doscientos dólares en un mercado que se extiende de boca en boca, preocupa a las autoridades.
La compra de documentos falsos que se ha convertido en un mal “necesario” para los indocumentados es una arma de doble filo.
Según Berens Morrison, así como los “miqueros” venden tarjetas “verdes” y “social security” a un inmigrante que quiere trabajar, también pueden facilitarlas a un terrorista.
Como parte de una investigación, varios agentes encubiertos lograron obtener documentos con nombres falsos de personas provenientes del Medio Oriente, dijo.
El operativo, que duró 9 meses, resultó en la confiscación de mil documentos falsos y en el arresto de varios ciudadanos estadounidenses.
“Nuestras fronteras son muy vulnerables a potenciales terroristas por la facilidad con la que se puede ingresar, conseguir estas identificaciones fraudulentas y establecer una identidad falsa”, agregó.
Berens Morrison argumentó también que muchos traficantes venden un paquete completo a los indocumentados al ofrecerles la posibilidad de acceder a documentos falsos con lo cuales pueden conseguir un empleo.
La directora espera forzar a los que muchos conocen como “miqueros” a desaparecer obligándolos a salir del negocio al ver que ya no es tan fácil vender masivamente.
La venta de documentos falsos consiste en un delito mayor castigado con varios años en la cárcel, mientras que la posesión de documentos fraudulentos constituye un delito menor.
La directora de DLLC aclaró que se enfocarán en arrestar a los que se dediquen de forma organizada a la venta.
El equipo contra identificaciones fraudulentas funcionará con medio millón de dólares de fondos otorgados por el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (DHS, por sus siglas en inglés).
Para otorgar pistas anónimas sobre la venta de documentos fraudulentos se puede contactar al teniente Randy Reyer, al 602-644-5843.
Jul 16, 4:30 AM EDT
Teenager charged in police chase involving stolen earthmover
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- The Pima County Attorney's Office has filed charges against the 14-year-old boy who was shot after leading Tucson police on a chase while driving a stolen earthmover last month.
Duncan Dresner was charged with 14 counts on a variety of crimes, the most serious being seven felony counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one felony count of theft.
Other felony charges are one count of burglary, one count of unlawful use of transportation and two counts of criminal damage. He's also charged with two misdemeanor counts of endangerment, police said Friday.
Dresner is paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the shooting.
Last week, the County Attorney's Office cleared the officers of any wrongdoing and said they were justified in firing at Dresner, hitting him twice.
Police said Dresner stole the large piece of machinery from a construction site on June 2 and drove it 12 miles across the city, running red lights, swerving at officers and ignoring police commands.
a long history of mixing government and religion.
Historically, laws helped make Americans rest. Blue laws restricted alcohol sales. During the 19th century, gardening, bicycling and sports were also banned on Sundays.
By the turn of the 20th century, there was a shift in what rest meant, McCrossen said, recreation was embraced.
By the 1960s and 1970s, legal mandates regulating Sundays were fading away, and then came the Internet paving the way for 24-hour commerce. "Today you can do practically anything you want at any time of day, without boundaries or limits."
Sundays no longer day of rest
Angela Cara Pancrazio
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 17, 2005 12:00 AM
New car scent has replaced the aroma of roast beef and potatoes on Sunday.
Phoenix's Los Olivos Car Wash, once closed Sundays, now stays open because of customer demand. It's a change emblematic of a societal shift, where the day traditionally known for rest, reflection and togetherness is now filled with work, chores and errands.
Whatever happened to Sunday? advertisement
Carwash owner Coletta Spurling can remember watching her mother slide a roast in the oven before heading off for church. "We never did these choresy type of things," said Spurling, 51 and a Sunday worker.
The day has become an extension of Saturday, another day needed for errands, soccer practice or shopping.
The observance of Sunday has disappeared, said Alexis McCrossen, a history professor at Southern Methodist University. McCrossen, 38, wrote Holy Day, Holiday - The American Sunday, a book about the history that shaped Sundays because of her own confusion about the disappearance of the day of rest that she enjoyed as a child with her family.
It's not news to IHOP waitress Natasha Lopez, 22. "It's gone. There's no longer a Sunday. It shouldn't even be on a calendar," she said. "When I was little we didn't even watch TV on Sunday, now it's work, work, work."
On an average weekend or holiday, 33 percent of full-time workers are on the job, according to a 2003 survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The same survey found that full-time workers spent about eight hours working on an average weekday compared with about six hours working on an average weekend.
Even those who do go to church, also mow their lawns or run errands on Sunday.
Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University, said he believes Sunday mornings still have a slightly Norman Rockwell feel to them.
"It's almost as though, Sunday morning still has a little bit of a sacred air to it: you hear church bells, you get to sleep in."
But that all comes to a screeching halt by midafternoon, he said, when malls open and sports game begin.
"The big change is that you do have a lot of people where Sunday isn't organized around church and the family dinner," Thompson said.
According to the North American Religion Atlas, Arizona is among the least churched states in the nation, with 59 percent of its population unaffiliated or uncounted by any religious body.
So that image of honoring Sundays as the Lord's day doesn't resonate as it once did.
That troubles church leaders like Baptist Rev. Henry Barnwell and Catholic Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted.
Barnwell, 70, who just retired after 39 years as senior pastor of Phoenix's First New Life Missionary Baptist Church, sees declining numbers filling the pews.
"The Lord has not changed, the day has not changed," Barnwell said. "The people have changed.
"They've lost respect, they don't recognize the importance of worshiping the Lord on the Lord's day."
People have gone so far away from Sunday in the bishop's eyes, that Olmsted decided to say so recently during the ordination of the diocese's newest priest.
"Keep the Lord's day holy," he told the congregants. " . . . refrain from all shopping and enjoy Sunday as a day of rest, a day of leisure, a day for family, a day for celebrating the Eucharist."
When Isaias Maldonado was a boy growing up in Obregon, Mexico, his Sundays were spent doing exactly that. Going to Mass, a family dinner, strolling inside the town's plaza filled with families eating ice cream and people-watching.
But on a recent Sunday, the 28-year-old was doing just the opposite: working.
Maldonado tinkered with a bike inside the Slippery Pig bike shop in Phoenix. "It's not a family day anymore, it's a work day," he said. "I have to go to church on Saturday or I have to skip."
As Maldonado repaired the bike, his customer, Jed Solheim waited. Dressed in his biking clothes, it was clear that this was Solheim's day off.
Or was it?
He answered his chiming cellphone. "I faxed mine in," he told the caller.
Work beckoned on a Sunday. A corporate customer's computer system had failed and Solheim was troubleshooting midday while waiting for a bike repair so he could finish his ride.
"I'm a company man," said Solheim, 37. "I'll do what it takes."
Bill Devine, who ran errands on a recent Sunday, said people make choices that fill up almost every hour of every day.
"We almost feel guilty if were not working or doing something," said Devine, 46, who grew up in a small farming community in Iowa, where everything was shut down Sundays. "We got on this treadmill. We're a society run by the clock."
So what happened?
Historically, laws helped make Americans rest. Blue laws restricted alcohol sales. During the 19th century, gardening, bicycling and sports were also banned on Sundays.
By the turn of the 20th century, there was a shift in what rest meant, McCrossen said, recreation was embraced.
By the 1960s and 1970s, legal mandates regulating Sundays were fading away, and then came the Internet paving the way for 24-hour commerce. "Today you can do practically anything you want at any time of day, without boundaries or limits."
"There's no rhythm anymore to our common life, you can schedule things at any time," McCrossen said.
When Spurling decided to open her carwash on Sundays, she thought she would have a hard time finding workers. It hasn't been a problem.
She expected a relatively slow stream of customers. They were slammed.
A stream of more than 200 cars flowed past service writer Jovel Clark, who was asking customers if they wanted a "complete" or "the works" and to pick out one of the nine scents from new car to piña colada.
"You almost have to be opened on Sundays," Clark, 41, said. "There's so much competition, you have to be."
"Nobody relaxes on Sunday anymore."
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or (602) 444-8126.
Staff research librarian Paula Stevens and news assistant Matt Dempsey contributed to this article.
On July 4, 2005 the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors ran a full page self promating ad saying what a great job they were doing in the Arizona Republic and the Arizona Tribune. The ad in the Arizona Republic according to this article cost $25,000. I suspect the ad in the Tribune also costed about $25,000, maybe a little less because the Tribune is a smaller paper. Gee they spent close to $50,000 of money they tooks from us at gun point to tell us that they are doing a great job robbing us!
Impressed? Not so much . . . The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors decided to spend about $25,000 for a full-page ad in The Arizona Republic on July Fourth. The ad, titled "Best in the U.S.," touted the county's accomplishments, featured photos of all five supervisors and even reminded folks to watch their kids and pets during Independence Day festivities.
New 'Deep Throat' comes out in past Arizona political melee
Jul. 17, 2005 12:00 AM
Political Insider is a tongue-in-cheek look at the past week in Arizona politics.
Inspired by the recent unmasking of Mark Felt as "Deep Throat," and also thanks to a little thing called the statute of limitations, Arizona's own version of the double-super-secret source has come forward.
Let's take a ride in the way-back machine to early March 1991: Republic reporters Charles Kelly and Randy Collier had just broken AzScam, one of the most absurdly embarrassing political stories in a state history filled with some doozies.
Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley was set to indict seven lawmakers caught on tape taking bribes from a paid informant posing as a mob-connected gambling lobbyist.
A few days later, Associated Press reporter Larry Lopez knocked out a scoop of his own. A secret source broke state law and slipped Lopez copies of Republican Romley's grand-jury transcripts.
They showed that the original targets of the probe had been two of the Legislature's top-ranking Democrats: House Minority Leader Art Hamilton and Senate Majority Leader Alan Stephens. But jurors could not be convinced the pair had done anything wrong, so the investigation aimed at lower-level targets.
There was much consternation over the leak and intense speculation over who it might have been. One popular theory was that the transcripts had been leaked by the lawyer for Stephens, since the story made he and Hamilton look comparatively good. Stephens' lawyer, old-timers might remember, was a young up-and-comer named Janet Napolitano.
An outside prosecutor was brought in to ferret out the leak, but Lopez kept quiet and nothing ever came of it.
Until now. (Drum roll, please). But first we have to tell you that it was not Napolitano, so don't get excited, all you GOP governor wannabes.
OK, for real this time, the leaker was . . . former attorney Gary Peter Klahr.
Klahr represented former Democratic Rep. Sue Laybe, one of those indicted in the investigation. Klahr said he turned informant because he was outraged that the state's top Dems had apparently been targeted with no credible evidence that bribes (except those offered by informant Joe Stedino) were being accepted at the Legislature.
"The whole thing was a scam by the prosecutors, not to justify the stupid things some people did," Klahr said. "Larry agreed to go to jail for me. Now they can't do anything to either of us. It may not be a profile in courage to release this now, but better late than never."
DeGreen, DeGone . . . Here's a Sunday morning imponderable: If a long-shot candidate whose name barely qualifies as vaguely familiar, and who never officially announced his candidacy for governor, drops out of the race, does it make a sound?
For months, financial adviser Keith DeGreen has been saying that he "fully intends to run for governor." Which, we now know, is like saying you "fully intend to run a marathon" or "fully intend to write a novel."
DeGreen even "welcomed" former Senate President John Greene to the race when he announced for governor a few weeks ago.
Then DeGreen decided this week not to run for governor. He said in a news release that his wife was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. DeGreen's withdrawing from the race is an admirable act, and we wish his wife the best. But he couldn't get off the gubernatorial stage without patting himself on the back, adding that his decision is "consistent with his family focused beliefs: focus on his own family and put political aspirations aside."
Impressed? Not so much . . . The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors decided to spend about $25,000 for a full-page ad in The Arizona Republic on July Fourth. The ad, titled "Best in the U.S.," touted the county's accomplishments, featured photos of all five supervisors and even reminded folks to watch their kids and pets during Independence Day festivities.
But some readers weren't impressed.
In fact, Edward McMahon of Surprise wrote Chairman Max Wilson a scathing e-mail: "I remain unimpressed with your service on the county board and do not need a self-promoting ad to remind me that you supposedly represent my interests. From my view the ad was unwarranted - it served no unique purpose for the citizens of the county - all it did was to spend tax money to show us your miserable smiling face."
Tell us how you really feel.
Wilson responded to the criticism with the logic that because they don't print an annual report, they actually saved taxpayers money. Not sure if Ed's going to buy that, but Wilson also suggested that they "saved lots of paper," too.
Compiled by Republic political reporters Robbie Sherwood, Chip Scutari and Christina Leonard.
does this mean if your a mexican and you get busted for sneaking into the USA that if you deny being a mexican and lie and say you from El Salvador or some other central american country that you won't get deported? I hope so! it is a good scam to keep you from being deported. f*ck la migra, f*ck the INS. rip down the f*cking fence that seperates mexico and the USA.
Non-Mexicans are 'caught, released'
Some say this practice reveals gap in security
Cox News Service
Jul. 17, 2005 12:00 AM
McALLEN, Texas - Illegal immigrants from Brazil, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and other nations routinely descend on the bus station just steps from the New World discount store in this bustling, sweltering city 10 miles from a U.S.-Mexico bridge.
They openly gather in groups, make phone calls and buy bus tickets to cities across the United States. They have little fear of being arrested: Most already have been. Happily.
Many, in fact, illegally crossed the border hoping to get caught right away and slip through a crack in the nation's immigration system known as "catch and release."
Although Mexicans can be easily bused back to their country, arranging to deport non-Mexican immigrants can take months. There are few jails to hold them while arrangements are made. So non-Mexican immigrants deemed not to be a safety or security risk are given a summons for a distant court date at the nearby Harlingen immigration court and set free.
Between the time they are released and the date they are supposed to appear in court - which more than 90 percent of them will not do - they can legally move about the country and ultimately meld into an illegal immigrant population now estimated at 11 million.
Central and South Americans - Brazilians in particular - represent a new and rapidly multiplying wave of illegal immigration from countries other than Mexico, a trend that is frustrating the Border Patrol and federal lawmakers.
Critics charge that the relative ease with which non-Mexicans can enter the United States through Mexico, which doesn't require visas for Brazilians, reveals a weakness in the post-2001 era of homeland security.
"It simply means that an avenue by which a worker could come into the country illegally is available also to a terrorist who would want to come into our country and do us harm," U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said last month in Austin.
"I think it's unconscionable that at a time when (President Bush) talks about homeland security, that he allows a catch-and-release policy for non-Mexicans," said Democratic U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes of El Paso, a former Border Patrol chief in McAllen and El Paso.
"If an attack like (the London bombings) occurs here and it's traced back to one of these people who were released in south Texas, I think it could be grounds for impeachment."
A White House spokeswoman referred questions to the Department of Homeland Security.
"No one is released from Homeland Security custody that is considered to present any risk whatsoever to public safety or national security," said Russ Knocke with the department.
Nationally, with about four months still left in this fiscal year, Border Patrol agents have caught about 115,000 non-Mexicans - 153 percent more than during 2004, which itself was a record year. Of those, more than 26,000 were Brazilians, more than three times the number arrested last year.
"We have instances where they are actually flagging down our agents, and they are asking local residents to call the Border Patrol so they can get what they call their permiso," Spanish for permit or permission, Reyes said on the House floor in May. Agents are demoralized, he said.
Federal officials are supposed to return undocumented immigrants to their home countries. But with 85 percent to 90 percent of the nation's detention beds already taken by immigrants considered mandatory holds, officials release immigrants who don't have criminal records or pose a security risk.
Arrest warrants are issued for those who miss court dates, and the agency has a fugitive operations team working nationwide that "has become effective for us," Deason said.
Non-Mexicans represent a fraction of the flow of illegal immigrants. The Border Patrol caught 1.1 million immigrants entering the country illegally last year.
Trafficking rings are encouraging record Brazilian migration, the New York Times reported recently. Door-to-door transport to Boston, a popular destination for Brazilians, runs about $10,500, more than two years' income for the average Brazilian. Brazil's economy is doing well, and those who are leaving are mostly young and more educated, from the lower middle class and searching for opportunity.
Cornyn, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on immigration and border security and has been conducting hearings on security and immigration issues, said catching and releasing non-Mexican immigrants is unacceptable because it doesn't work.
About 85 percent of non-Mexican undocumented immigrants ordered deported remain illegally in the United States, federal officials told the Senate subcommittee.
14 July 2005
I did not go on trial. I chose to accept a plea bargain. I plead guilty to one count of aggravated assault for causing a knee injury to officer Redmon and to one count of disorderly conduct for recklessly handling a weapon. For the aggravated assault I will get probation (one to five years). For the disorderly conduct I will get 1 1/2 to 2 1/4 years in prison. That means I will be locked up for another six months to one year, though I’m not sure where I will be kept.
My lawyer is asking my friends to send her letters to be addressed to Judge Gregory Martin on why I deserve a light sentence. Please send the letters to:
11 W. Jefferson STE 5
Phoenix, Az 85003
Sentencing will be 8 August, so the letter must have reached her before then.
Magazine articles are considered unauthorized material(1), unless the magazine is sent directly from the publisher. It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is. I don’t recall having received other pink slips for letters you wrote(2), at least not recently anyway.
(1) This refers to a article from the New Times titled “Thunder Road” about
Luciano Arriaga Jr. who was screwed over by the Phoenix Police in many ways that Kevin was screwed over. I grabbed the letter off the web, printed it and mailed to Kevin. The people who search Kevin’s mail returned it claiming it contained contra-band.
(2) I have sent two letters to Kevin that we’re returned because they contained contra-band. The first letter was a very insulting letter which said Sheriff Joe’s jail was a gulag which was known internationally for its inhumane conditions. The guards who search Kevin’s mail blacked out the insulting parts with a magic marker and returned the letter to me. They didn’t bother to tell Kevin that his mail had been returned. I filed a claim with the Maricopa County government claiming I had been damaged and that my civil rights had been violated and asked for the ridiculous claim of $1 million in damages. I suspect when they had returned prior letters they had not been following some jail policy that requires them to notify inmates when they return their mail. My filing a claim probably caused them to fill out a pink slip and give it to Kevin telling him his mail had been returned when they returned the letter to me which had the New Times article “Thunder Road” in it.
Library readers’ records seized in Scottsdale
By Ryan Gabrielson, Tribune
July 17, 2005
The U.S. Department of Justice used court orders three times in early 2004 to obtain documents from the Scottsdale Public Library containing reader account information, according to records released by the city.
The federal grand jury subpoenas arrived during March and April of last year. Records provided to the Tribune do not detail exactly what documents federal investigators obtained, making it impossible to determine how many people were targeted in the probe and what information was sought.
The orders do, however, include information suggesting they are connected to the investigation of a mail bomb attack against Scottsdale Diversity director Don Logan. Attached to the subpoenas were letters from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix requesting city officials keep the orders a secret.
Laura Thomas Sullivan, Arizona Library Association president, said she does not know of any other libraries in the state being served subpoenas. It is unknown whether that is because there have been none, or whether they have been kept under wraps.
Arizona law protects library records from being released unless the institutions are presented with a court order, making it impossible for taxpayer-funded libraries to fight a subpoena.
Sullivan, director of the Tucson-Pima Public Library, said libraries do not object to the state law, but are worried over the expanded discretion the federal government is giving law enforcement.
"It’s the (USA) Patriot Act that has generated the concern," she said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office did not use the Patriot Act in the subpoenas presented to Scottsdale’s library, records show.
But Scottsdale’s disclosure of the subpoenas comes against the backdrop of library organizations and American civil liberties advocates campaigning for increased oversight of a federal government they deem too quick to step on citizens’ right to read without being watched over.
"It seems to me a fairly fundamental American freedom to read what the hell you please without the government putting its fingers into it," said Michael Gorman, president of the American Library Association.
Federal law enforcement officials defend their practices, arguing they have shown restraint and never used a provision in the USA Patriot Act granting law enforcement easier access to information on reading habits and purchases from libraries and book stores.
"Look, we know they already used (libraries)," Kim Smith, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said of terrorists. "Then why on earth would we carve it out for it to be a safe haven for them. Why would we want to support an amendment that says the government cannot seek library records, period, end of discussion?"
In Scottsdale’s case, a letter from U.S. Attorney for Arizona Paul Charlton and assistant U.S. attorney for Arizona Ann Scheel accompanied each subpoena, calling on Scottsdale Library director Rita Hamilton to produce certain documents.
Hamilton said she turned over the documents, as state law mandates.
The city’s disclosure of the subpoenas marks a rare instance in which federal investigators’ acquisition of reading histories becomes public, library advocates said.
Scottsdale declined to release to the Tribune what information it turned over to the grand jury.
To do so might disrupt an investigation, said Jay Osborn, a senior lawyer in the city attorney’s office.
Scheel, who applied for the subpoenas according to records, asked Hamilton to keep even the orders themselves secret. In a March 3, 2004, letter, Scheel stated that: "Any such disclosure could impede the investigation being conducted and thereby interfere with the enforcement of the law."
Osborn said the city has released them now because there is no law barring it from doing so.
The Justice Department, Smith said, does not require that grand jury subpoenas ask that the orders remain secret. That is a decision made by the local U.S. attorney, she said.
Charlton and Scheel did not return calls for comment. Sandy Raynor, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s Phoenix office, said the agency does not comment on open investigations.
On February 26, 2004, Scottsdale diversity director Don Logan opened a package bomb at his desk. The resulting explosion shredded Logan’s hands, driving shrapnel into his body as well as the wall, ceiling and floor of his office. Shrapnel also injured two other employees.
The subpoenas contain information indicating they are tied to an investigation of the Logan bombing.
The court orders are dated March 3, March 19 and April 6 of 2004. The orders also show that a special agent with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the federal mail agency’s investigative arm, was to receive the subpoenaed documents.
The U.S. Postal Service transported the package, investigators said last year. The Postal Service has been the lead agency investigating the Logan bombing.
Hamilton said the subpoenas are tied to a single "incident."
Jose Obando, the postal inspection’s special agent named in the subpoenas, confirmed he was involved in the bombing investigation. There have been no arrests in the in the 16-month-old case.
Last year’s subpoenas are the only such court orders that Scottsdale has received, Hamilton said.
The only other requests for patron information have been informal inquiries by Scottsdale Police Department beat officers and detectives, Hamilton said. Library employees have been instructed not to turn over any information to police and to direct officers to Hamilton.
"There have been occasions, times a police officer will ask who was using a computer at ‘X’ time of day. We always have to tell them we don’t keep those records, or you have to get a subpoena," Hamilton said. "And that dissolves it."
Besides the Justice Department, no other law enforcement agency has ever subpoenaed documents from the library, Osborn said.
Scottsdale Police Chief Alan Rodbell said he has never been informed that one of his officers had asked the library for information. Due to the chain of command, Rodbell said those details do not usually make their way to his desk.
And there is no department policy regarding acquiring information from the library, he said.
"I don’t know if we’ve ever done that. We may have gotten subpoenas 20 times. The bottom line is, officers can ask for things," Rodbell said. "We try to get things . . . lawfully."
Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment that would strip the Patriot Act of a provision giving federal investigators easier access to library records. In turn, President Bush has threatened to veto any bill that weakens authority granted to law enforcement under the act.
Federal investigators have long had access to library records through grand jury subpoenas, such as those issued to Scottsdale.
The Patriot Act allows the FBI to sidestep that and apply for an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in cases where the agency is investigating international terrorism.
If Hamilton had received subpoenas from the intelligence court, she said no one could know about it. People know about them now only because the city rebuffed the Justice Department’s request and made the records public.
The key, she said, is that there is appropriate oversight to ensure law enforcement has good cause before forcing libraries to hand over information.
"It has to be a major investigation with an evidence trail leading to us that a judge can see," Hamilton said. Before turning over patrons’ private information, "we like to know that there is a bona fide reason."
Contact Ryan Gabrielson by email, or phone (480)-898-2341
Jul 17, 2:21 PM EDT
Groups question Taser gun safety after suspects' deaths
By ANGELA K. BROWN
Associated Press Writer
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- En route to his Midland home after visiting his sister in Arkansas, architect Eric Hammock seemed fine as he called his wife while passing through North Texas.
But a few hours later, he was dead.
Fort Worth police say Hammock trespassed onto a company's private property and after a chase with an off-duty officer guarding the property, he got out of his car and tried to hit the officer. The officer then shocked the 43-year-old with a Taser gun and placed him in handcuffs; Hammock struggled to breathe and died an hour later, police say.
The Tarrant County medical examiner said Hammock's April death was from cocaine intoxication but that the Taser played a role. Hammock was shocked between three and six times.
"They overdid it," said Kathi Hammock, his wife of 18 years who is suing the gun's manufacturer, Arizona-based Taser International. "I don't care what he did. He didn't deserve the death penalty."
In the past nine months, at least six people in Texas - including three in Fort Worth - have died after authorities shocked them with a Taser gun. Just last week in the Dallas suburb of Euless, a 17-year-old died two days after being shocked three times with a Taser. Police say he was high on drugs and violent.
National statistics on Taser-related deaths vary. The American Civil Liberties Union reports more than 130 deaths in the U.S., while Amnesty International reports more than 120 deaths in the U.S. and Canada - both figures since June 2001. The groups want Taser use suspended until studies are done on how the device affects people on drugs or with heart conditions.
Taser International, the primary manufacturer of stun guns, did not return several calls seeking comment for this story. The company said in a May interview with The Associated Press that its product is safe, based on independent studies, and in only about 10 percent of deaths cited by Amnesty International did medical examiners list Tasers as a contributing factor. The company also contends Tasers have saved more than 6,000 lives - suspects who otherwise might have been fatally shot by police.
The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Arizona attorney general have said they are examining Taser's safety claims. Amnesty International and the ACLU say studies cited by the company were done on healthy people and only found no significant heart effects immediately after a shock. In one study, Taser's top medical officer was a consultant.
A Taser shoots two streams of electricity that deliver a 50,000-volt jolt for 5 seconds, temporarily immobilizing a person by over-stimulating the nervous system and causing muscles to lock up. Officers can use the device from 15-35 feet away from a suspect.
A Taser also can be used like cattle prods, affecting only the muscles in the area where it touches someone's skin. However, because a Taser is not a firearm, it is not regulated by the government.
About 100,000 people own a Taser, and about 7,300 law enforcement agencies and military installations worldwide use the stun guns, according to the company.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police says Tasers are effective if used properly but that more studies are needed.
The group's Taser policy urges officers to use it only to subdue suspects who are violent or about to injure someone; not to use it on a handcuffed person unless he is "overtly assaultive"; to use it the least number of times; and to seek medical attention for anyone who has been shocked.
"We're not saying pull them off the streets, by any means," said Albert Arena, a project manager for the 20,000-member association based in Alexandria, Va. "You want to have an option where you don't have to kill somebody to subdue them. In the right situation, it's the appropriate tool."
In Atlanta in May, a murder suspect perched atop an 18-story crane for two days was brought down safely after being shocked with a Taser. Earlier this year a Miami-Dade grand jury recommended that police use Tasers more often as an alternative to guns during a crisis.
But some law enforcement agencies have suspended Taser use because of concerns. Last week the mayor of Birmingham, Ala., ordered local authorities to stop using the devices after the death of an inmate. He was found dead in his jail cell more than 12 hours after corrections officers used the electric stun gun to subdue him.
The Fort Worth Police Department would not say whether it was reviewing its Taser policy or discuss any of the deaths in which its officers and Tasers were involved, Lt. Dean Sullivan said.
Nizam Peerwani, the medical examiner, said he plans to meet with Fort Worth police soon to discuss his findings. He said people who take stimulant drugs, have heart conditions or are highly agitated because of psychological problems are already more likely to die from heart problems - so a Taser's effect on these people should be carefully considered.
Many people, like Trevor Goodchild, 22, survive Taser shocks, but suffer some injuries.
In February, Goodchild was playing his guitar on Austin's Sixth Street, a well-known strip known for its live music clubs, when several police officers approached him and said he needed a permit or would be jailed. When he asked which law he had broken, they grabbed his guitar and slammed him to the ground, splitting open his cheek, he said.
Goodchild, who is white, said he never cursed or resisted arrest, but yelled "Rodney King!" - referring to the black motorist beaten by Los Angeles officers in 1991. Austin officers then shocked Goodchild with a Taser at least seven times, plus two times after he was handcuffed, he said. His back and left arm were covered with up to 20 bloody burn holes the size of the end of a pencil, he said.
Austin police said they didn't know how many times Goodchild was shocked but that he fought with them before the stun gun was used. Goodchild was sentenced to several hours of community service after being convicted of blocking a sidewalk; his resisting arrest case is pending.
"I didn't do anything to provoke this," Goodchild said. "It's the most profound pain I've ever felt in my life. It's complete submission. You can't move. You can't even blink."
On the Net:
Taser International: http://www.taser.com
Jul 17, 2:22 PM EDT
Tasers at a glance
How Tasers work, according to officials at Arizona-based Taser International:
A Taser temporarily immobilizes a person by using pulsing electricity to over-stimulate the nervous system, which locks up muscles while the current is flowing.
The guns shoot two fishhook-like electric darts about 25 feet. Each time the trigger is pulled, the darts deliver a 50,000-volt jolt for 5 full seconds. The triggers can be activated as many times as needed for the life of the gun's battery.
Following each 5-second jolt, people who are shocked generally regain all muscle control.
Tasers can also be used like cattle prods, but the effect is more isolated and less painful.
By the numbers:
- Tasers emit 50,000 volts of electricity, or 0.36 joule per second. By comparison, a defibrillator, which shocks the heart back into a normal rhythm, emits 200 to 400 joules per second.
- 7,300 law enforcement agencies and military installations around the world use Tasers.
- 130,000 Taser guns are being used by law enforcement in the United States.
- An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 people have been shocked by Tasers during law enforcement confrontations since the device hit the market in 1998.
- 100,000 civilians own a Taser. (this number seems wrong!!)
DO NOT DRINK BEER ON THE RAILROAD TRACKS!!!
Jul 18, 4:40 AM EDT
Man hit, killed by train in Tucson
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Tucson Police Department is investigating the death of a man hit by a train Saturday morning.
Sgt. Mark Robinson said the man, whose identity was not yet available, may have been sitting on the tracks and drinking a beer when he was hit at 1 a.m.
No further information was immediately available.