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State Torture Panel Faces an Abrupt Ending

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© José M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune
David Thomas, executive director of the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission.
Legislature stripped funding for commission, which is to submit its first recommendations Tuesday

On Tuesday, a state commission set up to investigate claims of police torture will refer its first cases to Cook County's chief judge, beginning to fulfill its mandate to plumb one of Chicago's most stubborn scandals by making recommendations for legal relief.

Then it will go out of business.

The Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission was approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn in the summer of 2009, a response to the long-standing scandal around former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge and many of his subordinates, who were accused of torturing suspects to get confessions. After appointing a slate of commissioners and hiring a small staff, it launched investigations of its first cases in September.

Its budget last year: $150,000. Its proposed budget for the coming year, which called for adding a staff attorney: $235,000.

The state House and Senate, however, voted last week to strip the commission of its funding, meaning it will go out of business June 30, although the law that gave the commission its existence will remain on the books. The panel's eight voting members, led by a former judge and including a former public defender and former prosecutor as well as three non-attorneys, were unpaid, said David Thomas, the executive director.

Thomas said he is unsure why the funding was cut or how it happened. He simply got notice that the money would not be there.

Info

TSA Fires, Suspends Dozens for Screening Violations

  • Five workers fired and 38 more suspended after failing to conduct extra screenings on passengers and their bags
  • TSA says probe was conducted over two-month period last year
  • Republican congressman demands answers on whether security lapse put fliers at risk

Five TSA workers are out of the job and another 38 have been suspended after they reportedly failed to conduct random security screenings on passengers and their luggage.

The employees were all based out of Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, and have been replaced by agents from other locations.

The affected workers were employed in different capacities at the airport, including supervisors and front-line security screeners, the News-Press reported.

Comment:
Muslim Baby Ordered Off Plane For Being On No Fly List

5 Things the TSA Doesn't Want You to See


Handcuffs

Luka Rocco Magnotta Will Not Fight Extradition to Canada

Luka Rocco Magnotta
© luka-magnotta.com
Luka Rocco Magnotta
Luka Rocco Magnotta could be back in Canada very soon.

Magnotta, who is accused of the grisly murder of Lin Jun - a 33-year-old Chinese student living in Montreal - made his first court appearance Tuesday after being arrested at German Internet cafe a day earlier.

The German prosecutor responsible for his case says Magnotta will not be fighting extradition and could be in Canada within a week.

"The suspect said that he will not fight the extradition," senior Berlin prosecutor Martin Steltner said in an interview with the Globe and Mail.

"The extradition process is very complicated in Germany, and it can take months, even years - but not in this case," he said. "It will be much easier to get him to Canada."

Blackbox

Accused double-killer might have had vendetta for sex offenders

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© Chris Tucker/Peninsula Daily News
Patrick B. Drum enters the courtroom for his first appearance in Port Angeles on Monday. He is being held in jail without bail.
Washington State - Convicted felon Patrick B. Drum, accused of murder in the weekend shooting deaths of two convicted sex offenders - one of them his roommate - had intended to kill more sex offenders when he was arrested following an extensive manhunt, Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney Deb Kelly said Monday.

A probable-cause statement issued Monday by the Clallam County Sheriff's Department alleged that Drum, 34, of Sequim committed two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree burglary.

The victims were Drum's roommate, Gary Lee Blanton Jr., 28, found dead at the 5011 Sequim-Dungeness Way residence Blanton and Drum shared.

Jerry W. Ray, 56 - earlier accounts had said he was 51 - was found dead at Ray's 31 Heuhslein Road home east of Port Angeles.

Drum was arrested with a shoulder-holstered 9 mm pistol at about 2:30 p.m. Sunday after an intense manhunt by about 65 law enforcement officers from city, county, state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Border Patrol, which deployed a helicopter, authorities said at a news conference Monday afternoon.

Pistol

Traffic stop reveals toddler holding handgun

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© NBC Chicago
Queshawn King was stopped last week in Chicago.
Chicago police received a surprise this week when they reportedly found a three-year-old girl holding a handgun during a routine traffic stop.

Police pulled a car of six people over in East Garfield Park, a community in the west side of Chicago, last Wednesday night . Two children were seated inside, with no car seats or seat belts, police said. When the officer approached the vehicle, he saw the 19-year-old driver, Queshawn King, making "furtive" downward movements to the three-year-old, the Chicago Tribune reported, citing police.

An officer then asked the man, who was described as "nervous," to step out of the car. He heard King yell to the toddler by her nickname, "Fatty" multiple times.

A police sergeant approached the front passenger side of the car and saw the child holding the handgun. When he tried to retrieve it, she threw the 9 mm weapon to the floor.

It was loaded with eight rounds, but did not discharge, police said.

King was charged with felony unlawful use of a weapon for having a loaded weapon inside the vehicle, misdemeanor endangering the life and health of a child, and misdemeanor possession of a firearm without a valid FOID (Firearms Owner's Identification) card.

Besides King and the young girl, four other people were in the car, including another child, the 3-year old's mother, grandmother and a man who was behind the wheel.

The other occupants of the car reportedly told the police the gun did not belong to them, the Tribune reported.

King was subsequently taken to Cook County Jail Thursday after a judge set his bail at $50,000, according to the Cook County sheriff's office.

Bad Guys

The Roots of Tragedy: Lakota People's Law Project Challenges New York Times "Poverty's Poster Child"

Lakota People's Law Project
Nicholas Kristof's portrait of the Pine Ridge Reservation in his piece for the May 9th New York Times "Poverty's Poster Child" is shocking and sympathetic, but, according to the Lakota People's Law Project, it does not address social and economic structures of oppression in South Dakota. While he implies that regular economic investment models could help Native American communities, he does not depict the reservation system's perpetuation of conquest and Native American self-destruction. The Lakota People's Law Project states that Mr. Kristof has completely overlooked South Dakota's systematic abduction of Lakota children from their families, continuing the 150 year policy of destroying the Lakota People's family and societal structures. This omission is more puzzling considering NPR's Peabody Award-winning three-part expose of the South Dakota foster care system last October by Laura Sullivan.

USA

Obama Refuses to Allow Lech Walesa Accept Medal of Freedom for Member of WWII Polish Underground

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Lech Walesa
Lech Walesa was once a trade-union activist. He was often arrested for speaking his mind against Communist oppression behind the Iron Curtain in Poland and for defying the Soviet Union. He was an electrician who, with no higher education, led one of the most profound freedom movements of the 20th century - Solidarity. He became president of Poland and swept in reforms, pushing the Soviet Union out of his homeland and moving the country toward a free-market economy and individual liberty. And President Obama doesn't want him to set foot in the White House.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Polish officials requested that Walesa accept the Medal of Freedom on behalf of Jan Karski, a member of the Polish Underground during World War II who was being honored posthumously this week. The request makes sense. Walesa and Karski shared a burning desire to rid Poland of tyrannical subjugation. But President Obama said no.

Administration officials told the Journal that Walesa is too "political." A man who was arrested by Soviet officials for dissenting against the government for being "political" is being shunned by the United States of America for the same reason 30 years later.

Newspaper

Miss Ohio Claims 'Pretty Woman' Prostitute is a 'Positive Role Model'

Audrey Bolte
© Unknown
On Sunday, Miss Ohio Audrey Bolte named Julia Roberts' prostitute character in the film 'Pretty Woman' as movie a role where women were portrayed in an "accurate and positive way" (video below).

Judge Marilu Henner asked Bolte during Sunday's Miss USA pageant on NBC: "Do you think women are depicted in movies and on television in an accurate and positive way? And please give us an example."

Bolte answered: "I think it depends on the movie. I think there are some movies that depict women in a very positive role, and then some movies that put them in a little bit more of negative role. But by the end of the movie, they show that woman power that I know we all have."

"Such as the movie Pretty Woman. We had a wonderful, beautiful woman, Julia Roberts, and she was having a rough time, but, you know what, she came out on top and she didn't let anybody stand in her path."


Comment: Losing Femininity in the Elusive Search for Kansas


House

War Veteran Sues Peace Activist for Refusal to Rent Him an Apartment

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In Savin Hill, Massachusetts, Sgt. Joel Morgan has sued property owner Janice Roberts, who reportedly refused to rent an apartment to him because he is a national guardsman who has served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.

Roberts told Sgt. Morgan in an April 9 voicemail that renting to him would be a conflict, saying, "We are very adamant about our beliefs," reports the Boston Herald.

"It just is not going to be comfortable for us without a doubt. It probably would be better for you to look for a place that is a little bit less politically active and controversial," Roberts told Dgt. Morgan, according to his lawsuit.

Sgt. Morgan said: "For her to do that to me, it was like a spit in the face. For what we have gone through overseas, to come home to our country and have people ... discriminate against us. ... It made me extremely insecure about being a soldier."

Dollar

Widow Wins $3 Million Lawsuit After her police officer Husband Dies in Threesome Sex

william martinez
© Unknown
In Gwinnett County, Georgia, a jury awarded William Martinez's widow a three million dollar verdict in a medical malpractice case involving Martinez, who suffered a fatal heart attack during a sex act with two other people, reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Before the sexual three-way, William Martinez, a 31-year-old police officer, went to Dr. Sreeni Gangasani at the Cardiovascular Group in Lawrenceville, Georgia after experiencing heart problems.

Martinez estate lawyers said that Dr. Gangasani should have recognized that Martinez's heart symptoms were serious, sent him to the hospital for treatment right away and warned him against getting too physical.

Dr. Gangasani did schedule a stress test for eight days later, but a few days after the doctor's visit, Martinez went to a motel near Hartsfield-Jackson Airport to join a woman and another man for a sexual rendezvous.

Martinez reportedly died after having sex numerous times. The female sex partner found him collapsed on the floor on March 12, 2009.