Society's ChildS


US: F.A.A. Approves iPads in Cockpits, but Not for Passengers

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The Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday that pilots on American Airlines flights would be allowed to use iPads instead of paper flight manuals in the cockpit starting Friday, as reported by ZDNet, even during takeoff and landing. But passengers are still required to shut down anything with the slightest electronic pulse from the moment a plane leaves the gate until it reaches an altitude of 10,000 feet.

The rule barring passengers from using a Kindle, an iPad or even a calculator were originally made to protect the electronics of an aircraft from interference. Yet pilots with iPads will be enclosed in the cockpit just a few inches from critical aviation equipment.

There is some thought that the rule forbidding devices during takeoff and landing was made to ensure that passengers paid attention. The F.A.A. has never claimed this. (If this was the case, passengers would not be allowed to have books, magazines or newspapers during takeoff and landing.)

The F.A.A.'s stance regarding devices on planes has been revised several times. Last month, in my weekly Disruptions column, I noted that the rules requiring passengers to turn off devices, like Kindles and iPads, seem outdated. At the time I spoke with Les Dorr, a spokesman for the F.A.A., who said the reason for the ban was that the agency would rather err on the side of caution when it came to allowing digital devices on planes.


US: Salvation Army Issues Urgent Plea For Help

© Getty ImagesSalvation Army Bell Ringers collect funds for charity.
Times are tough in metro Detroit, so much so that red kettles are as silent as mice, with very little cheerful clanging of change.

The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit is still $5 million away from reaching its $8.2 million 2011 Red Kettle Campaign fundraising goal, and 9 percent below its fundraising pace from last year. Scrambling, the charity issued an "urgent plea" for help Wednesday.

"With 16.8 percent of Michigan residents living in poverty - the highest percentage in four decades - we simply can't afford to miss making our goal of $8.2 million this year," said Major Mark Anderson, general secretary and metro Detroit area commander for The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit.

"We are counting on the generosity of metro Detroiter's to help us keep doing the most good this holiday season and throughout the entire year."

The financial goal of this year's kettle campaign is slightly higher than the funds collected last year, said Major Curtiss Hartley, divisional youth officer of the Salvation Army in Metro Detroit. Why raise the goal when money is so hard to come by?


US: Firearm Sales Way Up During Holiday Season

If you've pulled the trigger on a new firearm this holiday season, join the club.

As in your neighborhood shooting club, because faster than a speeding bullet, guns are going out the door.

Well, not right away, of course - there is that 10-day waiting period, 11 here at TDS Guns in Rocklin, where Bob Norgard wasn't caught off-guard.

He's making his purchase today so he'll have his firearm under the Christmas tree as he joins a growing number of people who say they're simply "doing what they need to do to protect themselves and their family."

This surge in gun sales - the best holiday sales season in three years, according to the Firearms Dealers Association - got a shot in the arm on Black Friday.


US, California: Shooting Doesn't Scare Drivers From In-N-Out

© North County Times/Hayne Palmour IVA shooting wasn't enough to scare drivers away from an In-N-Out drive thru in Pinole.
Pinole Police Department is forced to send burger-lovers home after shooting.

Would you wait in line just feet away from where a shooting took place to eat a burger?

Apparently some people in Pinole will if its an In-N-Out Burger.

On Monday evening at 5 a man in his 20s reportedly shot another man in his 20s just outside the In-N-Out Burger driver thru in Pinole.

The shooter ran away and was not caught but the victim suffered injuries serious enough that he had to be airlifted to a regional trauma center and is in critical condition.

Bizarro Earth

US, South Carolina: Horror as Walmart stays open after husband 'stabs wife to death in front of shoppers in the middle of the store'

© WYFF4Arrested: Avery Blandin, 46, will be taken to Greenville County Detention Center to await a bond hearing on Monday
A South Carolina man has been charged with murder in the death of his wife, who was fatally stabbed inside a Greenville County Walmart this weekend.

But as shoppers looked on in horror, store management roped off the area for homicide investigators and continued to operate as usual.

Avery L Blandin, 46, is accused of killing Lilia Blandin, 38, who worked at the Woodforest Bank inside the discount retail store in Berea.

Greenville County Sheriff's Office Master Deputy Jenning said police were called to at 1:21pm on Saturday to the Walmart at 6134 White Horse Road, where they found Mrs Blandin with stab wounds.

She was transported to the hospital but died shortly after.

Heart - Black

US, New York: Ex-Officer Kills His Wife, a State Tax Agent, in Queens

© Robert Stolarik / The New York TimesA Christmas tree decorated by Tracey Young, her building's “go-to person,” who was shot and killed on Saturday night.
A state tax agent who specialized in investigating the trafficking of illegal cigarettes was shot to death by her husband, a former New York police officer, the authorities said on Sunday.

The body of the investigator, Tracey Young, 42, was discovered by the police and paramedics shortly after 11 p.m. Saturday in her apartment on the eighth floor of 143-41 84th Drive, in Briarwood, Queens. She had been shot several times in the head and torso, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Early Sunday, Ms. Young's husband, Clarence Cash, 49, turned himself in to the police and was charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon, according to a spokeswoman for the Queens district attorney's office.

Ms. Young worked in the Criminal Investigations Division of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. She was involved in surveillance work and undercover stings against illicit cigarette importers. "She was an energetic, enthusiastic, constantly upbeat investigator," said William Comiskey, a former deputy commissioner of the department. "Her focus was on combating bootleg cigarettes, and it put her into regular contact with people who had the potential for doing violence. She is really going to be missed."


US: Facing Budget Cuts, Pennsylvania State Police Forecast Possibility of Laying Off 500 Troopers

© Joe Hermitt/The Patriot-News
Imagine calling 911 for the Pennsylvania State Police and not seeing a trooper for hours, even days.

It's a scenario that state lawmakers and troopers foresee if the department's budget is cut 5 percent next year, forcing what would be the first layoffs in the state police history.

An internal department document obtained by The Patriot-News forecasts the potential for 400 to 500 trooper layoffs under a budget proposal to trim the department's spending. That's approximately 10 percent of the nearly 4,400 troopers currently employed by the department. The cuts would also force stations around the state to close.

The department provides full- or part-time police service to two-thirds of the state's municipalities and is relied upon by virtually all police departments to provide specialized services such as DNA, drug and ballistics testing.

The situation doesn't appear to look much better even if the department's $900 million budget holds steady next year, according to the document.

The document identifies the elimination of state police academy cadet classes until at least July 2013, closing five barracks and a freeze on civilian hiring among the cuts that scenario would require.


US: 18-month-old mystery over Shannan Gilbert's disappearance may be over; reaction in Hudson

© The Jersey JournalFamily photo of Shannan Gilbert
Missing for 18 months from Jersey City, Shannan M. Gilbert may soon rest in peace.

Suffolk County police announced today that they believe they found the skeletal remains of the 24-year-old woman who went missing May 1, 2010 in marshland near Oak Beach, a gated community in Long Island where Gilbert, a prostitute, was visiting a client.

Last Wednesday police announced a major breakthrough in the search for Gilbert after finding her pocketbook with an ID, a pair of jeans, shoes and a cellphone in a swampy area northeast of the gated community.

Today, Suffolk County police detectives and Department of Public Works employees spotted the corpse from an amphibious vehicle one quarter-mile northeast of the belongings found last week, in an area of marshland that had been drained last Thursday to enable the search.

Police had resumed their search last week after studying images of clothing taken by an FBI plane that flew over and photographed the area, police said.

Gilbert's driver, who was one of the last people to see her alive, told The Journal that the morning she disappeared, he had driven Gilbert to the gated community at about 2 a.m. and then waited until 5 a.m., when he received a call from her.

He then went to the john's apartment where Gilbert -- who is bipolar, and has a history of cocaine abuse -- was on the phone making a 23-minute 911 call, "acting "delirious" and "irrational" before fleeing the house, said the driver, who did not want to be identified.

Evil Rays

US, Florida: Broward to TSA: Convince Us Airport Scanners Are Safe

© Transportation Security Administration
County worried about radiation

Federal officials insisted Tuesday that X-ray scanners used at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport are safe for travelers, but Broward County commissioners weren't convinced.

On a split vote Tuesday, a majority of commissioners asked the federal Transportation Security Administration to do more to assure Broward's travelers that the X-ray scanners are safe, or to ban them from use if they're not.

The county's request of the TSA: Find the studies that led Europe to ban the scanners, and explain why the TSA agrees or disagrees; determine whether frequent fliers are at a higher cancer risk from passing through the scanners, and if so, post alerts at the airport informing frequent fliers about how many scans a week might be safe; and if the TSA finds the European Union's studies show a heightened risk, consider banning the use of the backscatter scanners here.

With those actions, Broward County and its airport become the first in the United States to take a stand in an international debate about the so-called "backscatter" airport security scanners, which some studies say would cause cancer in a few travelers out of the millions who fly each year.


US: My Occupy LA Arrest

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My name is Patrick Meighan, and I'm a husband, a father, a writer on the Fox animated sitcom Family Guy, and a member of the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica.

I was arrested at about 1 a.m. Wednesday morning with 291 other people at Occupy LA. I was sitting in City Hall Park with a pillow, a blanket, and a copy of Thich Nhat Hanh's Being Peace when 1,400 heavily-armed LAPD officers in paramilitary SWAT gear streamed in. I was in a group of about 50 peaceful protestors who sat Indian-style, arms interlocked, around a tent (the symbolic image of the Occupy movement). The LAPD officers encircled us, weapons drawn, while we chanted "We Are Peaceful" and "We Are Nonviolent" and "Join Us."

As we sat there, encircled, a separate team of LAPD officers used knives to slice open every personal tent in the park. They forcibly removed anyone sleeping inside, and then yanked out and destroyed any personal property inside those tents, scattering the contents across the park. They then did the same with the communal property of the Occupy LA movement. For example, I watched as the LAPD destroyed a pop-up canopy tent that, until that moment, had been serving as Occupy LA's First Aid and Wellness tent, in which volunteer health professionals gave free medical care to absolutely anyone who requested it. As it happens, my family had personally contributed that exact canopy tent to Occupy LA, at a cost of several hundred of my family's dollars. As I watched, the LAPD sliced that canopy tent to shreds, broke the telescoping poles into pieces and scattered the detritus across the park. Note that these were the objects described in subsequent mainstream press reports as "30 tons of garbage" that was "abandoned" by Occupy LA: personal property forcibly stolen from us, destroyed in front of our eyes and then left for maintenance workers to dispose of while we were sent to prison.