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US: Homeless In New York Highlighted In Aftermath Of Occupy Wall Street Zuccotti Eviction

Image
© Getty Images
When Occupy Wall Street protesters took over a park in Lower Manhattan this fall, they drew attention, perhaps inadvertently, to a problem playing out on the very lowest end of the economic spectrum: Homelessness.

Their cardboard signs demanded all sorts of political and economic reforms -- increased financial regulation, taxes on the rich -- but perhaps the starkest and most complicated indication of the economic problems they drew attention to was a scene unfolding in the park itself, where many people had come to avail themselves of shelter, food and clothing that they could not find or preferred not to seek elsewhere.

Reports spread that some homeless people gathering at the Zuccotti camp were causing problems, both for the protesters and for the surrounding area. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he had to clear out the encampment over "safety concerns," such as reports of EMTs responding to homeless people with mental illness.

But some people saw these issues as indicative of a failure on Bloomberg's part to provide the city's homeless population with the resources it need.

Info

US: House Votes To Ease Airport Screening For Troops

TSA Scanners
© Nautral Society
This past summer I reported on how the TSA gave returning troops a difficult time as they arrived in Indiana. Granted, they were falling protocol, but it seemed a bit "over-the-top." It seems our representatives thought the same.

On Tuesday, 29 November, the House voted unanimously to allow military travelers on official duty to receive special preference in moving through airport security checks faster.

The bill would give the Homeland Security Department six months to devise a preference system for the Armed Forces. The legislation has now gone o the Senate. If the bill becomes law, the earliest beneficiaries would likely be troops returning from Afghanistan next year and would also apply to their family members.

Although it's a policy, not law, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) already makes some accommodations to Servicemembers in uniform with a proper identification card and also expedites screening for wounded troops. (Unless you happen to fly into Indiana.)

So, if you or your loved one is planning on an airport visit here in the next six months, the greeting may be a bit more welcoming!

Bizarro Earth

US: TSA Screenings Aren't Just for Airports Anymore

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© Brian Bennett/Los Angeles Times
A Transportation Security Administration behavior-detection officer patrols a train station in Charlotte, N.C.
Roving security teams increasingly visit train stations, subways and other mass transit sites to deter terrorism. Critics say it's largely political theater.

Rick Vetter was rushing to board the Amtrak train in Charlotte, N.C., on a recent Sunday afternoon when a canine officer suddenly blocked the way.

Three federal air marshals in bulletproof vests and two officers trained to spot suspicious behavior watched closely as Seiko, a German shepherd, nosed Vetter's trousers for chemical traces of a bomb. Radiation detectors carried by the marshals scanned the 57-year-old lawyer for concealed nuclear materials.

When Seiko indicated a scent, his handler, Julian Swaringen, asked Vetter whether he had pets at home in Garner, N.C. Two mutts, Vetter replied. "You can go ahead," Swaringen said.

The Transportation Security Administration isn't just in airports anymore. TSA teams are increasingly conducting searches and screenings at train stations, subways, ferry terminals and other mass transit locations around the country.

Comment: Apparently the TSA have gone beyond transit security checks and road checkpoints and are now bringing the Gestapo checkpoints to a Wal-Mart in the middle of nowhere in Illinois. We hope that you don't shop at Wal-Mart, but if you do.. don't be surprised if you see the TSA Gestapo there wanting to search you for bombs.


Stormtrooper

US: New Claims of Police Brutality in North Chicago


A videotape of an alleged incident of police brutality in North Chicago was played during a packed City Council meeting in the north suburb Monday night.

The video -- in which an officer is seen striking a man and sending his face into a wall -- was shown to aldermen by Ralph Peterson, a cousin of Darrin Hanna, who died last month after being arrested by North Chicago police. State police are investigating his death.

Aldermen confirm that the place where the officer was caught on camera hitting a man in custody is in fact the North Chicago Police Department's booking room. While ABC7 cannot independently confirm when the alleged incident happened or what led up to it, the videotape is fueling further mistrust of the North Chicago Police Department and its chief.

Handcuffs

US: Episcopal Clergy Arrested at Occupy Wall Street Protest

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© The Associated Press
Arrested: Packard was taken to a bus waiting by the demo in Duarte Park, near the city's SoHo neighbourhood
A retired Episcopal Church bishop and at least two other Episcopal priests were arrested on 17 December after they entered a fenced property owned by historic Trinity Episcopal Church in Lower Manhattan as part of an event to mark the three-month anniversary of the anti-corporate Occupy Wall Street movement.

Livestream video showed George Packard, former Episcopal bishop for the armed forces and federal ministries, dressed in a purple robe and wearing a cross, climbing a ladder that protesters erected against the fence and dropping to the ground inside the property, called Duarte Park. Other protesters followed, including the Rev. John Merz and the Rev. Michael Sniffen, Episcopal priests in the Diocese of Long Island (New York), Episcopal News Service (ENS) reports.

Police entered the area and arrested at least 50 people. Merz reportedly was arrested with Packard. Sniffen later confirmed that he had been arrested. The clergy were later released.

V

US: Occupy Wall Street Fights Trinity Church For 'Occupation 2.0′

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© OccupyWallSt.org
A poster for Saturday's planned Occupy Wall Street rally.
After a series of evictions at their encampments around the country, Occupy Wall Street protesters want the next phase of their movement to begin in a vacant lot on Canal Street and Sixth Avenue that's owned by Trinity Church, but the church won't let them use the space. On Saturday, the demonstrators plan to mark the three month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street with a rally. According to a press release sent out by the Occupy Wall Street media team, Saturday's event is designed as "part of a call to re-occupy in the wake of the coordinated attacks and subsequent evictions of occupations" and an effort to "urge Trinity Church to do the right thing."

Occupy Wall Street has struggled to evolve since NYPD officers evicted the protesters from their original home in Zuccotti Park on November 15. Two days later, the occupiers protested the raid with a massive march across the Brooklyn Bridge, but since then, the movement has seemingly lost steam in New York as the number of large scale protest actions here dwindled and Occupy encampments in other cities were raided including Boston, Los Angeles and Portland.

Protesters have had their eyes on Trinity's lot ever since their eviction from Zuccotti Park. Occupiers asked Trinity to let them use the space the morning after the police raid and, earlier this month, attempted to convince the church to let them use the space with a hunger strike. Trinity Wall Street has allowed the protesters to use another space they own near Ground Zero for meeting space, wi fi and power outlets, but the church has opposed allowing the occupiers in the Canal Street lot. When the hunger strike began, Trinity Wall Street sent a statement to the Observer affirming their support for "the vigorous engagement of the issues which Occupy Wall Street has raised" and explaining their objections to letting protesters Occupy the lot.

Clock

Ten-Day DC Occupation Decries Ten Years of Injustice at Guantanamo, January 2012

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© Amnesty International
Marking 10th Anniversary of Guantanamo, Events to Include 10-Day Fast, Courtroom Support for Activists Who Spoke Out in Congress, and a Human Chain from the White House to Congress

December 19 - January 11 will mark the tenth anniversary of the first detainees' arrival at the U.S.-controlled detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. To remember this travesty, Witness Against Torture is planning 10 days of activities in Washington, D.C. demanding an end to torture and indefinite detention at Guantanamo, Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, and elsewhere, and that the president reject the just-passed National Defense Authorization Act.

Jan. 2-12: WAT sponsors Hungering for Justice, a 10-day fast highlighting the ongoing crimes at Guantanamo and Bagram. Dozens of activists are expected to participate in the fast in Washington as well as other cities. Locations of daily activities in support of the fast to be announced.

Jan. 3: The jury trial of 14 anti-torture activists is scheduled to begin in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Moultrie Courthouse, 500 Indiana Ave., N.W. In June 2011, the 14 stood one by one in the Gallery of the House of Representatives to petition lawmakers to uphold the Constitution by not making funding for Guantanamo permanent. WAT will stand with the 14 in the court room, outside the courthouse, and around the city as their trial proceeds.

Bizarro Earth

Britain: 'The state ceased to exist': Damning verdict of police tactics during summer riots

  • Situation 'would have been worse if officers had deployed water cannon or plastic bullets'
  • Youngsters blame poverty for riots, survey finds
Rioting spread across Britain during the summer because police 'lost control of the streets', a devastating report by MPs said today.

The home affairs select committee accused police of failing to appreciate the 'magnitude' of the task they faced.

The committee's chairman, Keith Vaz, said that in some parts of the country 'the state effectively ceased to exist - sometimes for hours at a time'.
Image
© Getty Images
The riots spread from Tottenham to other parts of the capital in August

Stop

Are NDAA, SOPA, Occupy Wall Street and Anonymous Off-Limits on Twitter?

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© Reuters/Tim Chong
A number of controversial Twitter accounts have been shut down over the past two days.
NDAA, SOPA, Occupy Wall Street and Anonymous may be off-limits on Twitter. As Twitter users who extensively discuss those topics continue to find their accounts being shut down or otherwise restricted, it seems increasingly likely that the phenomenon is more than a coincidence.

My Twitter account was severely limited for a little less than an hour Monday afternoon in a pattern of what appears to be censorship sweeping across the social media site.

The account limitations were imposed shortly after I published a story looking into infringements on the accounts of Twitter users who have been criticizing the National Defense Authorization Act and the Stop Online Privacy Act--or backing OWS or Anonymous--too fiercely.

At 11:06 a.m. Monday I published "NDAA and SOPA: Are Provisions of These Bills Already Impacting Web Users?" on the International Business Times website.

Padlock

US, Claifornia: Teen Gets 21 Years in Prison for Slaying of Gay Student

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© unknown
Lawrence King (left) and the person who shot him to death, Brandon McInerney
A California teen was sentenced to 21 years in jail on Monday for shooting to death a 15-year-old gay middle school classmate who he said made unwanted sexual advances.

The sentencing of Brandon McInerney, the result of a plea deal with Ventura County prosecutors, brings to a close an emotionally charged case that previously resulted in a hung jury on a charge of murder and hate crime.

McInerney, who was 14 at the time of the shooting in 2008, was sentenced to 21 years in California state prison with not reduction for good behavior or credit for the four years he already served in prison, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said McInerney, now 17, took a gun to his middle school in Oxnard and sat in a computer lab with classmate Larry King before shooting him in the back of the head and then firing at him as he lay on the ground.