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Archive for January 28th, 2016

Suspect in Plot to Shoot Up Masonic Temple Said Organization ‘Playing the World’

mason symbolBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The man accused of plotting a shooting attack at a Milwaukee Masonic center in Milwaukee in the name of Islam claimed the fraternal organization is “playing the world like a game,” according to federal authorities reached by ABC News.

A member of the center dismissed those claims, saying it isn’t at “the root of some of the world’s problems.”

“We can hardly plan a pancake breakfast,” said Gavin DeGrave, who is a secretary for the Valley of Milwaukee, which includes four Masonic chapters.

Samy Mohamed Hamzeh, 23 was recently charged with possessing a machine gun and improperly firearms as part of an alleged plot to shoot hundreds of people at the Masonic temple.

Hamzeh insisted the charges were “not true” during a court appearance on Tuesday.

Hamzeh told informants, “They are all Masonic; they are playing with the world like a game, man, and … we don’t know what’s going on, these are the ones who are fighting, these are the ones that need to be killed.” He said later, “these are the ones who are making living for us like hell.”

FBI Investigation of Hillary Clinton Shows No Signs of Letting Up

Hillary_Clinton_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait_cropBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The six-month investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server appears to be as strong as ever, The Hill reports. 

The timing isn’t good for the Democratic frontrunner, who former FBI officials said could be charged later this year as the general election campaign heats up.

“I don’t know that there’s any magical cutoff date,” said Ron Hosko, the FBI’s former assistant director of the criminal investigative division and a 30-year veteran of the bureau.

It puts Democrats in an awkward position.

“It does give pause to Democrats who are concerned that there may be another shoe to drop down the road,” said Andrew Smith, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire.

FBI Director James Comey in December pledged that the investigation would be “honest” and “independent.”

“We don’t give a rip about politics,” he told a Senate committee.

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.