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Polygamy and the presidential race

Posted by Administrator on April 15, 2012

For a biographer, the emerging matchup in the presidential campaign between Barack Hussein Obama and Willard Mitt Romney is about as American as it can get. Although the candidates are noted for their innate caution, their family histories evoke a kind of exceptionalism that defines the United States — not in some gauzy and false way, but in the reality of a national fabric woven from exotic threads. Where to start? How about polygamy?

Perhaps it is true of most people if you go back far enough, but with Obama and Romney, it can be said with certitude that neither would exist had their ancestors not lived with many wives at once.

The president’s most virulent critics have tried for years to portray him as a stranger in our midst, someone outside the comfortable mainstream of American life; a Muslim socialist born elsewhere, probably in Kenya. The mythology is wrong on all three particulars about Obama, a Christian liberal born in Hawaii, and its distortions are antithetical to historical inquiry, a manipulation of facts for ideological purposes. Yet the real story is colorful enough, and odd in a way that is foreign while familiar. Sit down long enough at any American family’s table, and some strange history is likely to be served.

The line of polygamists in Obama’s family can be traced back generations in western Kenya, where it was an accepted practice within the Luo (pronounced LOO-oh) tribe. His great-grandfather, Obama Opiyo, had five wives, including two who were sisters. His grandfather, Hussein Onyango, had at least four wives, one of whom, Akumu, gave birth to the president’s father, Barack Obama, before fleeing her abusive husband. Obama Sr. was already married when he left Kenya to study at the University of Hawaii, where he married again. His American wife-to-be, Stanley Ann Dunham, was not yet 18 and unaware of his marital situation when she became pregnant with his namesake son in 1961.

The line of polygamists in the Romney family traces back generations, when it was an accepted practice in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His paternal great-grandfathers, Miles Park Romney and Helaman Pratt, were born in the United States but lived for decades in Mexico. Pratt was a Mormon missionary there; Miles Park Romney left Utah for Mexico with a tribe of polygamous Mormons after the practice was outlawed in the United States in 1890.

Pratt had five wives. Miles Park Romney had four, and 30 children, one of whom was Gaskell Romney. The polygamy stopped at Gaskell, who had a single wife and seven children. One of the children, George, was born in a Mormon colony in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, although he was nonetheless a U.S. citizen. He was Mitt’s father.

For both presidential candidates to have fathers born outside the United States — what could be more American than that? And the lives of both were shaped by evangelizing branches of Christianity — one family doing the proselytizing, the other being proselytized, sort of — again, how American.

All of the Romney men were Mormon missionaries at some point; it comes with the religious territory. Old man Pratt did his missionary work in Mexico. George Romney, before becoming governor of Michigan and a candidate for president himself, took his Mormon outreach assignments in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London. His son Mitt went off in search of potential converts in France. It turned out that neither George nor Mitt was particularly good at making converts during their overseas forays. They proved to be much better at making money back home, and were happier doing so.

As a member of the Luo tribe, Hussein Onyango encountered missionaries early in his life; it came with the cultural geography of western Kenya. This was not Mormon meets African, the central conceit of the popular Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon,” which takes place in Uganda. The Latter-day Saints arrived in western Kenya long after the Seventh-Day Adventists.

It is an understatement to say that Mormons came late to a lot of things involving people with black skin. The first evangelist to reach the Obama homestead near Kendu Bay was Arthur Asa Carscallen, an Adventist pastor who grew up in Canada and ventured to western Kenya in 1906, tooling around in an elegant suit and necktie as he peddled the gospel. Carscallen learned the Luo language and built a missionary primary school atop a hill in Gendia, where he taught Luo boys, the first generation to become Westernized. Onyango was one of his students, setting the family on its unlikely path to the White House.

Years after learning English and adapting Western ways, Onyango converted to Islam. He added the name Hussein and lived out his days as a Muslim, although he did not follow all of the religion’s strictures. This is where the myth of his grandson being a Muslim, which has no factual basis, took hold. Hussein Onyango’s son, Barack Obama Sr., was an atheist by the time he reached adulthood. When I die, I will die thoroughly, he would say. Stanley Ann Dunham, the president’s mother, was not religious in a church sense but was spiritual and had a deep interest in many of the world’s religions.

Mitt Romney was born into a home where religion offered meaning and comfort. It suffused him from the beginning, requiring no searching. Barack Obama had to find that meaning and comfort. His father was nowhere in his life, and his mother’s sensibility, although admirable, left him unsatisfied and worried that he would end up like her, “free in a way that my mother was free, yet also alone in the same ways she was ultimately alone.” He had to be his own missionary to himself. The path of his life traced an arc toward home, which he found in Chicago — a community, a black church and a “traditional” American family, one wife and two kids.

David Maraniss, an associate editor of The Washington Post, is the author of “First in His Class: A Biography of Bill Clinton” and the forthcoming “Barack Obama: The Story.”


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6 dead, 3 wounded in shooting at Christian college in Oakland

Posted by Administrator on April 2, 2012

Photo: Bodies are covered on the grass Monday as Oakland police work near Oikos University in Oakland. Credit: Noah Berger / Associated Pres

Photo: Bodies are covered on the grass Monday as Oakland police work near Oikos University in Oakland. Credit: Noah Berger / Associated Pres

Six people were killed and three wounded Monday when a gunman opened fire at a small religious college in Oakland.

Oakland City Councilman Larry Reid, he represents the area, told The Times he was informed about the casualties by Oakland police officials, who plan a 2 p.m. news conference.

A school official said the alleged gunman had been a nursing student at the college.

Pastor Jong Kim, who founded Oikos University about 10 years ago, told the Oakland Tribune he was unsure if the alleged shooter had been expelled from the school or dropped out voluntarily. He said he heard about 30 gunshots while remaining in his office for safety.

Lucas Garcia, a teacher at the school, told KGO-TV he heard a half-dozen shots in the middle of a  lesson before someone yelled that a someone had a gun. Garcia said there are a little more than 100 students enrolled at the university, but not all were on campus at the time. He said the school teaches the Bible, nursing and English.

“It’s a small school,” he told KGO-TV.

Police arrested the suspect several miles away in Alameda at a shopping center Monday afternoon.

Authorities had described the gunman as an Asian man with a heavy build and wearing khaki clothing.

According to its website, Oikos University is a Christian university that “was established specifically to serve the community of Northern California in general and San Francisco and Oakland areas in particular.” The school is not far from Oakland International Airport and the Oakland Coliseum.

Dramatic live television footage showed officers swarming around the small Christian university, with some appearing to enter the main building. Some civilians were seen being rushed from the building and into police vehicles.

Source: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/04/6-dead-6-wounded-oikos-oakland-religious.html

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In America, TV watches you: CIA to spy on people through household items

Posted by Administrator on March 17, 2012

In America, TV watches you: CIA to spy on people through household items. (Reuters / Thomas Peter)

In America, TV watches you: CIA to spy on people through household items. (Reuters / Thomas Peter)

With a growing number of ‘smart gadgets,’ spying on homes may start to become much easier. In fact, CIA Chief David Petraeus admitted that Americans were effectively bugging themselves and making it easy for spy agencies to peek in on their lives.

­Speaking at a summit for In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm, Petraeus noted that new devices that link ‘dumb’ home appliances such as refrigerators, ovens and lighting systems to the Internet could “change our notion of secrecy.”

“‘Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies, particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft,” Petraeus noted.

Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation Internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing,” Petraeus explained. “The latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing.”

In the meantime, the biggest microchip company in the world, ARM, presented new processors that can be implanted into nearly any household appliance and connect it to the Internet so that the appliance could be remotely controlled in tandem with other applications. The company described the concept as the “Internet of things.”

And the National Security Agency is already building a gigantic supercomputer to process this gigantic amount of information. It’s a $2 billion Utah-based facility that can process yottabytes (a quadrillion gigabytes) of data, according to the Gizmondo technology blog. It will be the centerpiece for the Global Information Grid and is set to go live in September 2013.

These latest announcements paint a somewhat Orwellian picture of the future, with TV’s spying on their viewers and beds recording the dreams of those sleeping in them. Perhaps this data would then be sent to the Utah supercomputer, which would assess the person’s pros and cons. And what if the computer uses statistics to decipher the likelihood that that person will commit a crime? A score could land you in jail – for a crime that had not yet happened.

But even now we see how people are being arrested for posting online or clicking the wrong button in the privacy of their own home. A British teenager is set to appear in court on charges of racially aggravated assault after posting comments about six British soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

Source: http://rt.com/news/cia-spy-people-petraeus-795/

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Foreign exchange students sexually abused by their US hosts

Posted by Administrator on March 14, 2012

Dozens of high school foreign exchange students have been raped, sexually abused, or harassed by American host parents in towns and cities across the country, an NBC News investigation has found.

In one of the most egregious cases, at least four exchange students were sexually abused over the course of two years by the same host father, even after the first victim sounded alarms.

“He said ‘this is American culture,’ and I should get used to it,” Christopher Herbon of Germany told NBC News in an exclusive interview to be broadcast Wednesday night on Rock Center.

The organization that placed them with the host father has been accused of orchestrating a cover-up to protect its reputation over the safety of the students.

Every year more than 25,000 teens from around the world come to America as part of a program overseen by the State Department that is hailed as an integral part of U.S. diplomacy.

Most of those teens have a great experience and cases of sexual abuse are rare. But NBC News’ investigation found two major flaws in the system.  A lack of oversight can allow sexual predators to take advantage of the program. And when sexual abuse does happen, there is evidence that the students are sent back to their home countries with little or no support from the exchange organizations or the State Department.

There are more than 80 organizations that pay a fee to get the State Department’s stamp of approval as a “designated sponsor organization.” That distinction allows the organizations to place the students with host families for one academic year.  Each organization in turn must follow regulations designed to protect the students from harm.

The host families do not receive any compensation, but the students’ parents can pay more than $10,000 for their child’s year abroad. The largest organizations for which there are records take in an average of seven million dollars each year, according to an NBC News review of their Internal Revenue Service filings.

The more students they place, the more revenues for the organizations, and critics say the financial incentives create an environment ripe for abuse.

“These sponsoring agencies make a lot of money for each of these kids.  The profit margin is very big, and they’re motivated to get them into some house, somewhere, without the proper vetting.  So it’s a perfect storm.  It’s sort of abuse waiting to happen,” said attorney Irwin Zalkin, who along with attorney Andrea Leavitt represented Herbon and three other exchange students sexually abused by a host father and local coordinator for one of the organizations.


In August 2003, the year before Herbon came to the U.S. as an exchange student, 18-year-old Guillaume Le Mayeur of Belgium was excitedly packing for his American adventure.

Le Mayeur’s parents paid the equivalent of $10,200 for their son’s year abroad.  A Belgian agency, World Education program, made the arrangements with an American organization called Educational Resource Development Trust, ERDT.

Le Mayeur was hoping to live in New York or Los Angeles, but instead ERDT placed him in run-down trailer in rural Arkansas.  His host father was 34-year old Doyle Meyer.

Meyer, his then wife Gigi, and a former exchange student were sharing the cramped trailer when Le Mayeur moved in.

“When I first came there, I [had] a little bit of disappointment about the place … and I said to myself, ‘Well, you’re here now.  You just have to accommodate yourself and….make the best of it and take it,’” Le Mayeur said in an exclusive interview with NBC News’ Rock Center.

Le Mayeur said within a month of his arrival, Meyer started talking about sex, touching and hugging him, and unsuccessfully trying to get him to sleep in his bed with him.

“He would hug me, well, trying to hug me a lot.  He would take my hands and he would ask me to lie on his chest when he was watching TV,” he said.

He said Meyer bought alcohol and marijuana for other exchange students living nearby, showed them pornographic films, encouraged them to show him their genitals and once measured a male student’s anatomy with his bare hand.

On a trip to Washington, D.C. with ERDT students and coordinators, Le Mayeur said Meyer allowed students to videotape two teens having sex, and watched the tape with them.

The students slept two to a bed in a local motel, and Le Mayeur said he was assigned to sleep in the same bed as Meyer, who tried to massage his stomach and touch his genitals. Le Mayeur said he jumped out of the bed.

Once back in Arkansas, Le Mayeur said he tried to report the molestation and Meyer’s irresponsible behavior to his local coordinator, Pat Whitfield.  He said he set a time to meet with Whitfield, but she called Meyer and invited him to sit in on the meeting.

“So I couldn’t say anything I wanted [to say]. But they were like best friends and [Meyer] went to talk to her first,” said Le Mayeur.

Le Mayeur said Meyer became intent on having him expelled from the program in order to silence him. He said Meyer reported him to ERDT executives for driving a car (against the program’s rules) and smoking marijuana, both of which Le Mayeur admits.

ERDT did expel Le Mayeur.  Back home in Belgium, ashamed and shunned by his own family for being kicked out, he found the courage to write an email to ERDT staff detailing what happened to him and other students and warning them that something must be done to protect other students.

“I think that something must be done to stop that as fast as it is possible…because [one] day or another something bad is going to happen,” Le Mayeur wrote in the email.

After receiving the email, ERDT did not go to the police. Instead, the organization launched its own investigation led by staff who later admitted in a 2010 deposition that they had no experience with an investigation of alleged abuse.


Plaintiff attorney Andrea Leavitt said ERDT circled the wagons, protecting the reputation of the organization over the safety of the students for whom the organization was responsible.

“There are no disclosures to parents for the children coming in. There are no disclosures to the kids.  There are no warnings.  Everything is swept under the rug, concealed.  Absolutely every parent’s nightmare,” Leavitt said. “They begin to circle the wagons.  And rather than protect the vulnerable kid, they start to protect themselves from liability and exposure,” she said.

ERDT executive Kelli Jones wrote to her staff asking for anything “positive” they knew about Doyle Meyer as she was preparing a report for the Belgian exchange company, WEP.

In August of 2004, two months after Le Mayeur sent his email, Jones wrote to her staff saying that Meyer should know that ERDT “went to a lot of work, time, and energy to clear his name and support his good reputation.”  She went on to disparage Le Mayeur, writing, “As far as I’m concerned it may not be over with yet. [Le Mayeur] may rear his ugly head again.”

ERDT decided Meyer should not be a host father the following year, but would remain working as a coordinator, whose job it is to supervise students.

According to fellow coordinator Theresa Benevides and host father David Krenn, Meyer was known as a “high placer,” meaning he was able to find an above-average number of families to host students.

“He placed almost 20 kids. He was very valuable to ERDT because he brought in so much money,” Benevides said.


During the fall of 2004, Meyer served as 16-year old Christopher Herbon’s coordinator.   Herbon said he was unhappy living with an unfriendly elderly couple with no children, isolated in a remote area. He told this to Meyer, and in early 2005 Meyer arranged for the teenager to move in with him.  By this time, Meyer had separated from his wife and was living with another current exchange student on the outskirts of Little Rock.

Herbon said Meyer began to give him alcohol and Oxycontin shortly after he arrived.  He said Meyer would press him to show him his genitals once he was intoxicated, and even gave him male enhancement pills.

“I was afraid that if I wouldn’t make him happy, he would kick me out, and that I would be sent home.  I didn’t want to disappoint my parents. I was very afraid that he would send me home because my parents would be very disappointed,” he said.

In addition to Herbon, Meyer was sexually abusing other exchange students that academic year.  When one of them finally told Benevides, she alerted the police and Meyer was arrested in May, 2005.


When word got out about the arrest, Benevides said ERDT executives flew to Arkansas and told the local coordinators not to speak about the abuse.  She said at a meeting convened in Arkansas, Jones told her, “Keep your mouth shut.”

Meyer pleaded guilty to first degree sexual assault and served four of a six year sentence. When NBC News reached him by phone at his mother’s Arkansas chicken farm, he refused to comment on this story, saying that his parole was almost up and he wanted to move on with his life.

In a statement to NBC News, ERDT’s lawyer, Michael Sidley said the organization “never engaged in a cover-up of any sort…it was the conduct of ERDT which led to the arrest of Mr. Meyer.”

In 2010, attorneys Zalkin and Leavitt filed a civil suit against ERDT on behalf of Le Mayeur, Herbon, and two other students. ERDT settled the case for an undisclosed amount without admitting liability.

Kelli Jones, who has since been promoted to President of ERDT, declined to comment on this story.   But in a 2010 deposition, she told Leavitt that she did not consider Le Mayeur’s account of Meyer’s behavior to be sexual abuse, but rather  “immature idiotic boy behavior.”

The ERDT regional coordinator who handled the investigation is still in the same job. Whitfield, who was Meyer’s friend and fellow coordinator, was fired.  She is now working for another exchange organization hosting and placing students in Arkansas. Whitfield  declined to comment on this story.


When asked why ERDT is still operational after a case like this, State Department spokesperson Toria Nuland said that ERDT was one of the organizations that helped the Department draft new regulations in recent years to better protect exchange students from abuse.

“They have been complying as we’ve strengthened the regulations with the improved standards, which is why we’ve kept them on our rolls.  They themselves were horrified and victimized by this situation,” Nuland said.

In 2009 the State Department asked the Inspector General to investigate Youth Exchange Programs following a series of reports of mistreatment of exchange students.

The Inspector General’s scathing report found “insufficient oversight of the youth exchange programs at all levels.” It said communication among staff “borders on unprofessional,” there was a “lack of human and financial resources” in the office running the programs, and an “erroneous assumption” that the exchange organizations monitor themselves.

Nuland said that as a result, the Department increased staff overseeing the program, dropped a number of organizations from the list of designated sponsors, and implemented new regulations to more thoroughly check out host families.

In addition, Nuland said that before exchange students come to America, they now receive a package of information about their rights, and what they should do if they encounter any problems in the U.S. or problems with the host family.

“We are strengthening the checks on the front end, staying with the kids so intensely during the program,” she said.

The State Department did not have a central log of complaints until the 2009-2010 school year, but issued NBC News its data from the 2010-2011 year that showed sexual abuse or harassment was reported by less than one percent of the total number of high school students who spend a year at an American high school. They said that percentage includes any and all harassment, even if it did not involve a host parent.

“The vast majority of high school foreign exchange students have an enormously gratifying, rich, fantastic American experience that lasts with them for a lifetime,” Nuland said.

But problems in the program persist, and ERDT is not the only organization involved.  Rock Center’s investigation found fourteen different organizations where students had alleged being sexually abused or harassed by a host parent.  Several of the organizations have faced lawsuits for placing students in harm’s way.

Wednesday’s broadcast will include an interview with a student who says he was sexually abused by his host father this past Christmas.

Nuland said that from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s point of view even one child abused under these programs is one child too many.

“Our standard has to be zero tolerance.  So to the degree that which we still have cases reported we are not there yet.  Are the reforms that we’ve put in place sufficient?  I think we need to watch that over the next couple of months and see where it goes.  But we are absolutely committed to continuing to tighten these regulations and improve this program until we get to zero.”

Source: http://rockcenter.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/13/10669162-foreign-exchange-students-sexually-abused-in-program-overseen-by-state-department

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Trials conducted in Kenya and Uganda show preexposure HIV prophylaxis effective among couples

Posted by Administrator on March 7, 2012

March 7, 2012 (Seattle, Washington) — The partners of men and women infected with HIV-1 who were treated prophylactically with once-daily oral tenofovir or combination emtricitabine/tenofovir were at reduced risk for infection, according to a study presented here at the 19th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.

The researchers conducted a randomized trial of 4758 heterosexual couples from Kenya and Uganda. In each participating pair, one individual was HIV-1 seropositive and one was HIV-1 seronegative. In 62% of couples, the uninfected partner was male. Seropositive participants were ineligible under national guidelines for antiretroviral therapy at the time of enrolment.

Couples received HIV-1 treatment and prevention services, including counseling and condoms.

Seronegative participants were randomized to receive once-daily tenofovir, combination emtricitabine/tenofovir, or placebo, and were followed for up to 3 years.

Jared Baeten, MD, PhD, associate professor of global health and assistant professor of allergy and infectious diseases at the University of Washington, Seattle, presented the findings. He said that medication adherence was 97% based on monthly pill counts; retention rate was 96%.

During the study period, 82 new HIV-1 infections were diagnosed. Of these, 52 occurred in the placebo group, 17 in the tenofovir group (risk reduction [RR], 67%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 44% to 81%; P < .0001), and 13 in the emtricitabine/tenofovir group (RR, 75%; 95% CI, 55% to 87%; P < .0001).

Risk reduction was observed in both men and women in the 2 treatment groups, but the difference between groups was not significantly (P = .23).

There was no difference in serious medical events in the groups. There were few cases of resistance. Of 8 subjects infected at randomization, 1 developed the K65R resistance mutation and 1 developed the M184V resistance mutation. None of the subjects who acquired HVI-1 infection after randomization developed K65R or M184V mutations.

The placebo group of the study was halted in July 2011 because of demonstrated success.

The researchers saw no evidence of increased incidence of risky behavior. In fact, condom use went up in all 3 groups, Dr. Baeten reported.

These findings are in contrast with other research presented at the meeting, which showed that a once-daily oral emtricitabine/tenofovir combination did not reduce the risk for HIV infection in 2120 women in South Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania.

The women were followed for 52 weeks, during which there were 33 new infections in the emtricitabine/tenofovir group (incidence rate, 4.7/100 person-years) and 35 in the placebo group (5.0/100 person-years; hazard ratio, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.59 to 152; P = .81).

The researchers noted that adherence was inadequate, according to pill counts and serum analysis of drug levels (detected in less than 50% of infected patients and uninfected control subjects).

The results of the couples study are encouraging, especially in light of the protective effect on women, said Chris Beyrer, MD, MPH, professor of epidemiology and international health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, and the North American representative for the International AIDS Society.

The protective effect of treatment on men is fairly consistent. However, “there have been other studies in women where the outcome was not efficacious. This is one of the few trials of [preexposure prophylaxis] in women that showed efficacy…. That’s encouraging,” Dr. Beyrer told Medscape Medical News.

The difference between the 2 trials presented might be attributable to adherence to the protocol, which “is a huge challenge. People think of [pre-exposure prophylaxis] as a biomedical prevention, but it turns out it’s a lot like condoms. It works great if you use it,” said Dr. Beyrer.

Dr. Baeten and Dr. Beyrer have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

19th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI): Abstracts 29 and 32LB. Presented March 6, 2012.

Source: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/759818

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Dad’s punishment for daughter who posted derogatory comments about parents on Facebook

Posted by Administrator on March 7, 2012

From the Dad:…. Parents and Kids… watch. Today was probably the most disappointing day of my life as a father and I don’t know how to correct the situation. Since I can’t seem to make any headway with my daughter on Facebook, I chose instead to remedy the problem permanently.

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Voter photo ID, E-Verify laws to take effect in new year

Posted by Administrator on January 1, 2012

(Reuters) – Laws that require voters to present photo identification at the polls, recognize same-sex civil unions and aim to restrict illegal immigration are among the state measures taking effect on New Year’s Day.

Measures passed in 2011, which numbered nearly 40,000 across the country, often reflected the priorities of Republicans, who held majorities in most state legislative chambers and held the highest number of seats nationally by the party since 1928.

“When Republicans finally got in control in many states … they were able to put those things on the table and pass them pretty quickly,” said Barry Burden, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Immigration was a big issue in 2011. A number of states enacted crackdowns geared toward driving away illegal immigrants, only to see key parts of those efforts halted by federal courts.

But starting on Sunday, many businesses in Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia will be required to enroll in the federal E-Verify program to determine whether their employees are eligible to work in the United States.

On the flip side, a new law taking effect in California will prohibit private businesses from being required to use E-Verify except in cases where federal law mandates it.

The National Conference of State Legislatures said more states are expected to pursue curbs on illegal immigration in 2012, with lawmakers looking to the Supreme Court’s ruling on Arizona’s immigration law in its upcoming term for guidance on how expansive state measures can be.

“They’re extremely frustrated by the lack of action by the federal government on this issue,” Conference spokesman Jon Kuhl said.


Kuhl said additional states were also likely to follow in the footsteps of Kansas and Tennessee, where voters will now have to show photo identification before casting a ballot, or Rhode Island, which will require a non-photo identification from voters.

Well over half of all states already require some form of identification from voters. Proponents say such measures help prevent voter fraud, while critics argue the laws disproportionately affect minorities’ ability to vote.

The Justice Department last week blocked South Carolina’s new voter photo identification law due to such concerns.

“With the presidential election coming up, it’s certainly not an issue that’s going to be going away,” Kuhl said.

New laws in Delaware and Hawaii will make same-sex couples eligible for civil unions in the new year and allow them the same legal rights and benefits as married couples, the NCSL said.

And a first-in-the-nation law in California will require public schools to teach students about the historical accomplishments of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, as well as people with disabilities.

California will be the first state to bar teenagers under age 18 from using tanning beds, while North Dakota will prohibit drivers younger than 18 from using cell phones in their cars and all drivers from text messaging.

A Nevada law will also ban all drivers from texting and using handheld phone devices.

Low-wage workers will see their hourly pay increase on Sunday in the eight states that automatically adjust their minimum wage at the start of each year to keep up with inflation.

Wage increases will take effect in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

Experts said 2012 is likely to bring more state budget cuts and legislative agendas that are easy on the wallet.

“The budget situations are just so tough in so many states that they are going to be looking for things that don’t cost a lot of money,” Burden said.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/31/us-laws-idUSTRE7BU0E220111231

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Video: Couple jumps from a burning house in Detroit Michigan

Posted by Administrator on December 22, 2011

DETROIT — A man and woman are seen jumping from the second floor of a burning Detroit house in video posted online Tuesday.

In the video, bystanders tell them to wait for firefighters. The man suffers minor injuries after jumping first. Then the woman jumps and is seriously injured.

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Facebook ‘virus’ shows hardcore porn and violent images

Posted by Administrator on November 15, 2011

Facebook says it is looking into reports that pornographic and violent images have been posted to its website.

The pictures are reported to have shown up in users’ newsfeeds.

According to the technology site, ZDnet, the material is being spread via a “linkspam virus” which tempts members to click on a seemingly innocuous story link.

A spokeswoman for Facebook said: “[We are] aware of these reports and we are investigating the issue”.

Thousands of the site’s members have posted comments about the breach on Twitter.

“Discovered a new porn site, it’s called Facebook,” wrote one user.

“Facebook should do something about the photoshopped porn images, it’s offensive,” wrote another.

Other users complained they had seen pictures of mutilated animals and people, in some cases adding that they had deactivated their accounts as a consequence.

Several people are linking the attack to the Anonymous hacktivist group after a video appeared on YouTube threatening to “kill” the social network.

However, experts have questioned whether the video was authentic.


Internet security firm Sophos said the images had “flooded” the social network over the past 24 hours or more.

The company’s senior technology consultant, Graham Cluely, said it was not clear how the offending content was being spread, but added that the website could face long term consequences.

“It’s precisely this kind of problem which is likely to drive people away from the site,” he wrote in a company blog.

“Facebook needs to get a handle on this problem quickly, and prevent it from happening on such a scale again.”

The social network requires its members to be at least 13 years old to sign onto the service. Experts say the firm may need to issue warnings if the
pictures have been seen by its youngest users.

“Facebook management may have a duty of care to encourage anyone who is underage and has viewed this to discuss it with their family or a school counsellor,” said Sally Leivesley, managing director of NewRisk, a crisis management consultancy.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/mobile/technology-15740798?SThisFB

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Texas Mulls Arizona-Style Illegal Immigration Law

Posted by Administrator on March 3, 2011

Authorities check vehicles for illegal immigrants and contraband at a roadside checkpoint on June 1, 2010. (credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Authorities check vehicles for illegal immigrants and contraband at a roadside checkpoint on June 1, 2010. (credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)


State and local police officers would be allowed — but not required — to help enforce federal immigration laws under a compromise plan working its way through the Texas Legislature.

The bill is a far cry from some of the harsh crackdowns some lawmakers proposed, but it still sparked often emotional testimony in a House committee Wednesday night. Dozens of supporters and detractors packed a hearing room outside the Texas Capitol, eager for a chance to air their views despite the late hour.

Supporters generally said the legislation would help police identify illegal immigrants who commit crimes in Texas. Critics said it would lead to racial profiling, detract from real police work and give license to rogue agents who want to harass immigrants.

The bill’s author, Republican Rep. Burt Solomons, said it would prohibit so-called “sanctuary cities” and law enforcement entities from adopting policies that keep police and criminal investigators from providing immigration enforcement assistance. Republican Gov. Rick Perry put the issue on the fast track at the Capitol after making it a major theme of his 2010 re-election campaign.

Unlike Arizona’s new immigration law, parts of which are being challenged in court, the legislation known as House Bill 12 does not require police officers to inquire about immigration status or enforce federal laws when people are detained. But the bill would not allow any law enforcement agency from adopting policies that prohibit them from doing so. Solomons said his proposal would establish a “uniform consistent policy” across the state.

“There’s nothing in this bill that requires a police officer to ask one question that they don’t think they need to ask,” Solomons said. “We’re not mandating anything.”

It would allow police to ask about immigration status, maintain records of it and work with federal agents on immigration matters when people are “lawfully detained for the investigation of a criminal offense or arrested.” Other legislation similar to the Arizona law was also proposed, but Perry’s office has been working with Solomons on the compromise bill. The legislation was left pending in a House committee Wednesday night, but other bills were being debated, including one that would make English the official language and create a state database of illegal immigrants arrested in Texas.

An estimated 1.6 million illegal immigrants are in Texas, according to the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington. Nationwide, their numbers declined between 2007 and 2009, from 12 million to 11.1 million, the first significant drop after two decades of growth. But their combined population in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana went up by a statistically significant 240,000, the center reported last month.

Immigration curbs have caught fire nationwide. In 2010, a record number of laws and resolutions were passed by state legislatures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which calculated that 46 states and the District of Columbia had passed 346 measures, with an additional 10 having fallen from gubernatorial vetoes.

Former Houston police officer Rick Salter, who was shot in the face by an illegal immigrant in 2009 and who now speaks through paralyzed vocal chords, was among those urging lawmakers to pass HB 12 Wednesday night. His wife, Sue Salter, broke down in tears when it was her turn to speak.

“We’re not worried about the safety of our own citizens in our wonderful state of Texas,” she said. “You won’t know that until you’re slapped in the face by something that happens to you by an illegal immigrant.”

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, arguing against the legislation, said he sympathized with victims of crime by illegal immigrants. But he said local police already are helping federal officials prosecute and deport illegal immigrants without getting mandates from the state.

“We are leading through emotion and politics instead of good public policy,” Acevedo said.

Other critics said the bill could allow local police agencies, including those run by school districts and college campuses, to become de-facto immigration enforcement agents. Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, said the legislation would let rank-and-file police officers spend all the time they want enforcing immigration laws even if their supervisors don’t want them to.

“This officer … is given the authority to say to the police chief, to the mayor, to the City Council: I don’t care how much time it takes, you can’t stop me from doing this,” Turner said.

Source: http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2011/03/03/texas-mulls-arizona-style-illegal-immigration-law/

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