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Archive for January, 2016

Department of Justice Reaches Agreement on Consent Decree with Ferguson

ferguson logoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An agreement was reached Wednesday between federal officials and leaders in Ferguson, Mo., to end unlawful arrests and excessive force.

The New York Times reports that the agreement still must be approved by the City Council after undergoing public scrutiny.

The pact comes in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in 2014.

As a result of the consent decree, Ferguson would be spared an expensive, lengthy court battle.

The pact demonstrates the city’s “commitment to refocusing police and municipal court practices on public safety, rather than revenue generation,” Vanita Gupta, the department’s top civil rights prosecutor, said in a letter to Ferguson.

“It was a sweeping report and the settlement, too, is unusual in its breadth,” the New York Times reports. “It demands changes not only to how and when police officers use force, but to the city’s entire criminal justice system.”

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Out of Sight During Oregon Standoff, But They Were Running Surveillance

Burns, Oregon

Burns, Oregon

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

No one could see them, but they were listening.

As local law enforcement publicly handled the armed occupation of the federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, the FBI behind the scenes, running surveillance.

Agents confirmed that the participants were armed and prepared to die, the Los Angeles Times reports, citing allegations in an indictment.

A Harney County sheriff’s officer relayed that a source “had explosives, night vision goggles, and weapons and that if they didn’t get the fight they wanted out there they would bring the fight to town.”

Law enforcement shot and killed an activist, Robert “LaVoy Finicum, 55.

Eight others were arrested.

The FBI largely relied on media reports and activists who broadcast their intentions.

Lead Poisoning in Flint and Future Crime Statistics

featured_water_13312

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

In the plethora of political finger pointing and civil and criminal investigations, as well as the avalanche  of media reports on the lead contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan, one aspect of the debacle has been barely mentioned—the effect of lead poisoning of children on crime rates in future years.

The only media report of this potential is by the online journal thinkprogress (Click here to read).

As this column noted in November 2013 and January 2014, several scientific studies during the past two decades have demonstrated a positive correlation between lead exposure to children and their later propensity toward crime as a juveniles and young adults. Lead in the air and water has been shown to be especially harmful to children, causing or contributing to ADHD, decreased IQs, and emotional problems. These problems are especially present among low income groups.

One such study on this issue has been done by an Amherst College Professor, Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, who compared Massachusetts kids’ 1990 lead exposure with their 2000 test scores and behavior problem records. She found that even moderately elevated blood lead levels could be responsible for increased adult aggressiveness and violent criminal behavior. Reyes hypothesizes that it could also cause a tendency toward impulsive behavior, ADHD, substance abuse and a host of other social ills. Other studies around the world have confirmed these finings.

Other studies have pointed out the striking parallel between the increased lead in the air caused by leaded gasoline between the 1950s and 1991 when it was banned, and the dramatic increase in crime statistics during that same period. Obviously other factors were likely contributors, but the elimination of lead from fuel and paint seems to have been a significant potential factor in the greatly reduced crime statistics of the last two decades.

The question is to what extent will the lead exposure to Flint children affect their future health and development? Moreover, will any such effect result in the emotional and mental problems which will increase their propensity to commit crimes?

The Flint water contamination was a debacle by governments and a tragedy for its people. One potential result, one which should be added to the decision making by policymakers who thus far have been unwilling to spend the money to replace and repair Flint’s lead corroded infrastructure, is the cost to future crime victims.

Flint is not the only city to face these questions. An investigation is already underway in Sebring, Ohio for the same problem. Likely we will learn of other cities in the near future that will face a similar issue. The only silver lining to this tragedy may well be to influence other cities in the United States and around the world to examine their own water systems and the lead in the blood levels of their children and to take corrective action if needed.

As Nontombi Naomi Tutu, daughter of Desmond Tutu, said in a recent speech at the University of Michigan-Flint, “We actually needed the people of Flint to remind the people in this country what happens when political expediency, when financial concerns, overshadow justice and humanity.”

Perhaps a small consolation to the sacrifices by the people of Flint.

Parker: Lead Poisoning in Flint and Future Crime Statistics

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

In the plethora of political finger pointing and civil and criminal investigations, as well as the avalanche  of media reports on the lead contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan, one aspect of the debacle has been barely mentioned—the effect of lead poisoning of children on crime rates in future years.

The only media report of this potential is by the online journal thinkprogress (Click here to read).

As this column noted in November 2013 and January 2014, several scientific studies during the past two decades have demonstrated a positive correlation between lead exposure to children and their later propensity toward crime as a juveniles and young adults. Lead in the air and water has been shown to be especially harmful to children, causing or contributing to ADHD, decreased IQs, and emotional problems. These problems are especially present among low income groups.

One such study on this issue has been done by an Amherst College Professor, Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, who compared Massachusetts kids’ 1990 lead exposure with their 2000 test scores and behavior problem records. She found that even moderately elevated blood lead levels could be responsible for increased adult aggressiveness and violent criminal behavior. Reyes hypothesizes that it could also cause a tendency toward impulsive behavior, ADHD, substance abuse and a host of other social ills. Other studies around the world have confirmed these finings.

Other studies have pointed out the striking parallel between the increased lead in the air caused by leaded gasoline between the 1950s and 1991 when it was banned, and the dramatic increase in crime statistics during that same period. Obviously other factors were likely contributors, but the elimination of lead from fuel and paint seems to have been a significant potential factor in the greatly reduced crime statistics of the last two decades.

The question is to what extent will the lead exposure to Flint children affect their future health and development? Moreover, will any such effect result in the emotional and mental problems which will increase their propensity to commit crimes?

The Flint water contamination was a debacle by governments and a tragedy for its people. One potential result, one which should be added to the decision making by policymakers who thus far have been unwilling to spend the money to replace and repair Flint’s lead corroded infrastructure, is the cost to future crime victims.

Flint is not the only city to face these questions. An investigation is already underway in Sebring, Ohio for the same problem. Likely we will learn of other cities in the near future that will face a similar issue. The only silver lining to this tragedy may well be to influence other cities in the United States and around the world to examine their own water systems and the lead in the blood levels of their children and to take corrective action if needed.

As Nontombi Naomi Tutu, daughter of Desmond Tutu, said in a recent speech at the University of Michigan-Flint, “We actually needed the people of Flint to remind the people in this country what happens when political expediency, when financial concerns, overshadow justice and humanity.”

Perhaps a small consolation to the sacrifices by the people of Flint.

 

Former House Majority Leader: FBI Wants to Indict Hillary Clinton in E-mail Scandal

Ex-Rep. Tom DeLay

Ex-Rep. Tom DeLay

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI wants to indict Hillary Clinton as part of the ongoing e-mail scandal, according to former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom Delay.

“I have friends that are in the FBI and they tell me they’re ready to indict [her],” former Texas Republican Congressman Tom DeLay told Newsmax TV.

Delay claims the FBI will be incensed if the Justice Department does not indict the Democratic frontrunner in the presidential campaign.

“They’re ready to recommend an indictment and they also say that if the attorney general does not indict, they’re going public,” DeLay warned.

Delay insists Clinton will be disciplined “one way or another.”

“One way or another, either she’s going to be indicted and that process begins, or we try her in the public eye with her campaign.”

Other Stories of Interest

Deputy Shot Five Times During DEA Raid in New Orleans

new-orleans-map-istock

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputy was shot five times during a series of raids around Orleans Parish led by the DEA on Tuesday morning, the Times-Picayune reports. 

The seven-month investigation, dubbed “Operation Wild Wild East,” was carried out to capture suspects tied to drug-related violence.

Deputy Stephen Arnold was in critical condition late Tuesday morning.

Authorities arrested the shooting suspect, Jarvis Hardy, 26, who is expected to be charged with attempted first-degree murder and other drug violations.

The deputy was part of a 12-officer multi-jurisdictional DEA task force that was executing search warrants around Orleans Parish.

One Shot Dead As Authorities Arrest Leaders of Oregon Standoff

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The leaders of the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon were arrested, and the de facto spokesman was killed during a dramatic clash with local and federal authorities Tuesday night.

Eight other anti-government activists were arrested or turned themselves in, and another participant was injured, the Washington Post reports. 

Some occupants remained in the refuge after the confrontation with authorities, who had hoped to end a three-week standoff.

A few people voluntarily left after police surrounded the occupiers.

There were no reports of injuries to law enforcement.

FBI Foils Terrorist-Style Plot to Kill Dozens of People in Milwaukee Masonic Center

Samy Mohamed Mamzeh

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI foiled a terrorist-style plot by three Muslims to use automatic weapons to kill dozens of people at a Masonic center in Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reports. 

Authorities arrested Samy Mohamed Mamzeh, who is accused off planning the attack and “eliminating everyone” in the building.

The 23-year-old was charged with possessing a machine gun and silencer, but no terrorism counts were included, at least not yet.

“We are Muslims, defending Muslim religion, we are on our own, my dear, we have organized our own group,” Hamzeh said, according to the criminal complaint.

“Such operations will increase in America, when they hear about it. The people will be scared and the operations will increase, and there will be problems all over,… this will lead to people clashing with each other. This way we will be igniting it. I mean we are marching at the front of the war,” he said, according to the complaint.

It was a “detailed plan to commit a mass shooting intended to kill dozens of people,” said acting U.S. Attorney George J. Hannstad.

“(Hamzeh) also said that he wanted this mass shooting to be ‘known the world over’ and to ‘ignite’ broader clashes. It is difficult to calculate the injury and loss of life that was prevented by concerned citizens coming forward and by the tireless efforts of the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force.”

Hamzeh didn’t appear to be working with an established terrorist group and instead said, “We have our own group, not with Hamas, … we are here defending Islam, young people together join to defend Islam, that’s it, that is what our intention is.”