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US: Michigan man may have intentionally infected hundreds with HIV

A Michigan man has been charged with felony sex offenses after he told police he was HIV-positive and had set out to intentionally infect as many people as he could. Health officials have issued an alert warning that "possibly hundreds of people have been exposed to HIV."


The man, identified as David Dean Smith, 51, of Comstock Park, north of Grand Rapids, was arraigned Wednesday on a second count of "AIDS-sexual penetration with an uninformed partner" after police said they had identified a second possible victim.

Smith was initially charged with one count after he went to Grand Rapids police last week and told them he had intentionally had unprotected sex with as many people as he could over the last three years.

According to documents on file with Grand Rapids 61st District Court, Smith claimed to have had sex with "thousands" of partners, intending to kill them by infecting them with HIV. Some of those people are from outside the Grand Rapids area, including people Smith met over the Internet, he told police, according to documents.

Eye 1

US Federal court revives government wiretapping suit

A federal appeals court has revived two lawsuits challenging the highly secretive National Security Administration's warrantless monitoring of Americans' communications since 9/11.

Two groups of telecom customers had sued the federal government for violating their privacy in the surveillance program authorized by President George W. Bush. Government lawyers have moved to stop such cases, arguing that defending the program in court would jeopardize national security.

In 2009, a San Francisco-based federal judge dismissed the lawsuits. He said the plaintiffs could not sue because they didn't have enough evidence linking the telecom companies to the NSA program.

But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the plaintiffs are eligible to sue.

Handcuffs

US, Maryland: Abortion Doctors Charged with Murder

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© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Maryland is one of 38 states with a law that allows murder charges against someone accused of killing a viable foetus.
Two out-of-state doctors who traveled to Maryland to perform late-term abortions have been arrested and charged with multiple counts of murder under the state's viable fetus law, authorities said.

Dr. Steven Brigham, of Voorhees, N.J., was taken into custody Wednesday night and is being held in the Camden County jail, according to police in Elkton, Md. Authorities also arrested Dr. Nicola Riley in Salt Lake City and she is in jail in Utah. Each is awaiting an extradition hearing.

The two doctors were indicted by a grand jury after a 16-month investigation, police said.

The investigation began in August 2010 after a botched procedure at Brigham's Elkton clinic. An 18-year-old woman who was 21 weeks pregnant had her uterus ruptured and her bowel injured, and rather than call 911, Brigham and Riley drove her to a nearby hospital, where both were uncooperative and Brigham refused to give his name, authorities said.

A search of the clinic after the botched abortion revealed a freezer with 35 late-term fetuses inside, including one believed to have been aborted at 36 weeks, authorities said.

Ambulance

US: 2 Dead, 61 Hurt in 40-Vehicle New Orleans Pileup



Two men died and 61 other people were injured Thursday in a pre-dawn pileup involving about 40 cars, vans and other vehicles on a busy interstate that crosses New Orleans, closing the route for hours both ways, police said.

Drivers said they drove into thick smoke or fog that abruptly limited visibility on westbound lanes of Interstate 10 heading across eastern New Orleans. Those who came upon the scene said they heard injured motorists pleading for assistance.

"You just hear all kinds of calls and people screaming for help," tow truck driver Wesley Ratcliff told local broadcaster WWL-TV. In 13 years responding to wrecks, he added, "this is the worst I've ever seen it."

Officer Garry Flot, a police spokesman, would not talk about possible causes, including whether those may have included smoke or fog.

All lanes were reopened late Thursday afternoon as the investigation continued, letting commuters head home at rush hour.

Handcuffs

US: Facebook Photos Lead to Child Abuse Arrests in Arizona



Two Arizona parents were arrested by sheriff's deputies after apparently posting pictures on Facebook that showed their children, an infant and a toddler, bound with duct tape, authorities said on Thursday.

Coconino County deputies arrested Frankie Almuina, 20, and Kayla Almuina, 19, on suspicion of two counts of child abuse on Wednesday at their northern Arizona home after being alerted to the photos by an anonymous tip.

The children, a 2-year-old toddler and a 10-month-old infant, were seen online bound with duct tape on their wrists and ankles with their mouths taped shut, Commander Rex Gilliland told Reuters. One of the children was shown hanging upside down on an exercise machine.

Handcuffs

The Return Of Debtor's Prisons: Thousands Of Americans Jailed For Not Paying Their Bills

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Federal imprisonment for unpaid debt has been illegal in the U.S. since 1833. It's a practice people associate more with the age of Dickens than modern-day America. But as more Americans struggle to pay their bills in the wake of the recession, collection agencies are using harsher methods to get their money, ushering in the return of debtor's prisons.

NPR reports that it's becoming increasingly common for people to serve jail time as a result of their debt. Because of "sloppy, incomplete or even false documentation," many borrowers facing jail time don't even know they're being sued by creditors:
Take, for example, what happened to Robin Sanders in Illinois. She was driving home when an officer pulled her over for having a loud muffler. But instead of sending her off with a warning, the officer arrested Sanders, and she was taken right to jail.

"That's when I found out [that] I had a warrant for failure to appear in Macoupin County. And I didn't know what it was about." Sanders owed $730 on a medical bill. She says she didn't even know a collection agency had filed a lawsuit against her. [...]

A company will often sell off its debt to a collection agency, generally called a creditor. That creditor files a lawsuit against the debtor requiring a court appearance. A notice to appear in court is supposed to be given to the debtor. If they fail to show up, a warrant is issued for their arrest.

Cell Phone

Taliban ringtones become social camouflage for some in Afghanistan

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© Flickr
Afghan Road Maintenance Team members practices small unit tactics during a three-day combat skills class taught by International Security Assistance Force Special Operations Forces at Forward Operating Base Kutschbach, Afghanistan, Nov. 22, 2010.
A new cottage industry has sprung up in Afghanistan: ringtones.

But it's not just any ringtones. According to a report this week by The Wall Street Journal, merchants are loading some of the favorite songs of the Taliban onto phones, which are being used as a form of social camouflage at checkpoints.

For just a couple dollars, many merchants in the more populated areas will connect mobile phones to a computer and add graphics and music that make the user seem to be a Taliban sympathizer, that way when the phone is checked for any forbidden media, the holder won't be abused by Taliban soldiers.

The prevalence of checkpoints has reportedly led many to begin taking additional precautions, and cleansing mobile devices of all apparent Western influence is only the latest.

Alarm Clock

US: More Louisiana families turning to food stamps

food stamps
© Flickr User Clementine Gallot
College graduates. Two-parent households. Elderly residents with growing medical bills. The working poor.

The face of Louisianians on food stamps has changed and broadened with the worsened economy in a state mired in poverty and repeatedly hit by disasters.

For hundreds of thousands in Louisiana this year, the cost of holiday meals will be at least partly covered by food stamps, which now come in the form of a benefits card that can be swiped. Nearly one in five Louisiana residents depends on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to buy groceries, among the highest percentages in a nation where food stamp rolls continue to rise.

"We're seeing people with college degrees who've had to take minimum-wage jobs. We're also seeing college graduates who have recently graduated but can't find a job," said Viki Dickerson, who oversees all state social services programs, including food stamps, in the Monroe area of northeast Louisiana. "And then the third thing we're seeing is people whose unemployment benefits have run out and they've not found a job."

Alarm Clock

US: More middle-class Iowans hitting food banks

The Iowa caucuses are just 12 days away. Jobs and the economy have dominated the campaign there -- even though the state's unemployment rate is nearly three percentage points below the national average. More Iowans, who've never done it before are seeking help these days.

It is no surprise that the urban poor line up at the downtown Des Moines food bank. But as CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds reports, the surprise is in at the upscale suburb of Urbandale -- where the need is skyrocketing. The number of families coming here is up 80 percent over last year.


To food bank director Elisabeth Ballstadt, it means more and more in Iowa's middle class are falling into the underclass.

Question

War's end asks why we didn't do more to stop it

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© Signs of the Times
Dec. 15 marked the most recent official end of the Iraq war. Remember, when President George W. Bush made a similar declaration May 1, 2003, in a premature "mission accomplished" celebration on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, months after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq marks nine years of a war that never should have happened. It was a pre-emptive, morally unjust war.

No national clergy called it just. U.S. Catholic bishops expressed "grave doubt." Both Pope John Paul II and our current Pope Benedict XV said, "This war did not meet a just war criteria."

Yet America pressed on. The day Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta declared the war ended, 4,487 American troops had died, and 32,226 more were wounded in action. The death toll of Iraqi civilians was in the hundreds of thousands (our government never counted).

Few of us have been able to speak the simple truth: This war was wrong.

We all can prayerfully respond, mea culpa, the Latin phrase from the penitential rite of the Mass -- "through my fault." We did not do enough to stop this war. If we do not confront our history honestly, we are doomed to repeat it.