Category: Complacency / Apathy


Depriving the homeless of their last shelter is Silicon Valley at its worst – especially when rich cities aren’t doing anything to end homelessness

homeless in california
There are nearly 90,000 homeless people live in Los Angeles County but only 9,000 to 10,000 beds available in homeless shelters, single-room occupancy hotels, and other facilities. Photograph: David McNew / Getty Images

Across the United States, many local governments are responding to skyrocketing levels of inequality and the now decades-long crisis of homelessness among the very poor … by passing laws making it a crime to sleep in a parked car.

This happened most recently in Palo Alto, in California’s Silicon Valley, where new billionaires are seemingly minted every month – and where 92% of homeless people lack shelter of any kind. Dozens of cities have passed similar anti-homeless laws. The largest of them is Los Angeles, the longtime unofficial “homeless capital of America”, where lawyers are currently defending a similar vehicle-sleeping law before a skeptical federal appellate court. Laws against sleeping on sidewalks or in cars are called “quality of life” laws. But they certainly don’t protect the quality of life of the poor.

To be sure, people living in cars cannot be the best neighbors. Some people are able to acquire old and ugly – but still functioning – recreational vehicles with bathrooms; others do the best they can. These same cities have resisted efforts to provide more public toilet facilities, often on the grounds that this will make their city a “magnet” for homeless people from other cities. As a result, anti-homeless ordinances often spread to adjacent cities, leaving entire regions without public facilities of any kind.

Their hope, of course, is that homeless people will go elsewhere, despite the fact that the great majority of homeless people are trying to survive in the same communities in which they were last housed – and where they still maintain connections. Americans sleeping in their own cars literally have nowhere to go.

Indeed, nearly all homelessness in the US begins with a loss of income and an eviction for nonpayment of rent – a rent set entirely by market forces. The waiting lists are years long for the tiny fraction of housing with government subsidies. And rents have risen dramatically in the past two years, in part because long-time tenants must now compete with the millions of former homeowners who lost their homes in the Great Recession.

The paths from eviction to homelessness follow familiar patterns. For the completely destitute without family or friends able to help, that path leads more or less directly to the streets. For those slightly better off, unemployment and the exhaustion of meager savings – along with the good graces of family and friends – eventually leaves people with only two alternatives: a shelter cot or their old automobile.

 

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US ambassador to Kosovo hired by construction firm he lobbied for

  • The Guardian, Monday 14 April 2014 11.53 EDT
Christopher Dell with Kosovo PM
Christopher Dell with Kosovo PM Hashim Thaci in 2009. Dell took joined Bechtel when he finished his career at the State Department. Photo: Office of the Kosovo PM

A US ambassador to Kosovo, who lobbied for the construction of a $1bn road through the war-torn country, has taken up a post with the American construction giant that secured the lucrative contract.

Christopher Dell, a career diplomat nominated by Barack Obama to represent the US in Pristina, was employed by the Bechtel Corporation, which he helped win a contract to build a highway to neighbouring Albania.

Dell took on a role as an African country manager with Bechtel late last year, months after ending a three-decade career at the State Department.

His employment at Bechtel, America’s largest engineering and construction firm, has ignited a debate over the controversial road-building project, named the “Patriotic Highway”.

Pieter Feith, the senior EU diplomat in Kosovo when the contract was secured, criticised the way the US ambassador pushed through the deal, and has called for an inquiry. Feith accused Dell of withholding information about the Bechtel contract, and lobbying Kosovo to agree to what he describes as an ill-advised deal with a US company, which placed enormous pressure on the fledgling country’s budget.

It is routine for western ambassadors to push the business interests of companies from the countries they come from. But it is unusual for a former diplomat to land a job with a major corporation after using their sway to secure lucrative government contracts.

After he was appointed ambassador in 2009, Dell had huge influence in Kosovo, where the US is widely viewed as a supervising power and is feted for its role in securing independence for the tiny Balkan state. A statue of President Clinton adorns the capital, Pristina, and boulevards are named after George W Bush and other US officials.

As the International Civilian Representative in Kosovo between 2008 and 2012, Feith was the other major figure in the country, entrusted with wide-ranging powers by the US and EU, including the ability to overrule Kosovan officials. For several years, Feith and Dell served side by side, the two most senior foreign officials supervising Kosovo’s campaign for recognition as a sovereign state following the 1999 war.

At the time Dell was encouraging Kosovo’s government to sign the highway contract, Feith said he had grave concerns about awarding the enormous contract to a consortium consisting of Bechtel and its partner, Turkish firm Enka. Feith believed the deal risked undermining Pristina’s finances.

Feith said he clashed with Dell over the logic of an impoverished, nascent country undertaking such a huge infrastructure project, and instead argued that the money should be spent on tackling Kosovo’s unemployment rate, which stood at 40%.

Feith also said he asked to see details of the contract, which he believed was part of his mandate, but was denied access by the US embassy. “Information was withheld, and all of a sudden we were presented with a fait accompli of this contract being concluded and being a liability on the budget,” he told the Guardian.

The Bechtel-Enka deal was signed in April 2010, despite concerns from the IMF, the World Bank, EU diplomats, Feith, and the Kosovan government’s own legal adviser. Dell and the State Department declined requests for comment. Bechtel defended its employment of the former ambassador and said any suggestion that his appointment was improper was “unfair and offensive”.

But Andrea Capussela, who served as head of Feith’s economic department in Kosovo and was a vocal critic of the road-building scheme, said: “Ambassador Dell’s employment at Bechtel raises a rather serious question mark over the whole project.”

“This contract was irrational for Kosovo, and caused considerable damage to it,” he added. “The State Department would do well to investigate this.”

Feith declined to comment on Dell’s employment at Bechtel. However, he did say a wider inquiry into the probity of the highway deal was warranted, although he did not specify which organisation would conduct such an investigation.

“We have been involved in the fight against corruption in Kosovo, and anything that can help, ex-post, to clarify, elucidate or provide transparency about what has happened is beneficial for the future of the young state,” he said. “If there is an investigation, I would welcome it.”

The government in Pristina argues that the Patriotic Highway has connected northern Albania and Kosovo, replacing crumbling mountain roads with a four-lane highway, and will provide an economic injection into the region. However, critics point out that its costs have more than doubled from the original estimate.

The initial offer was to complete the Kosovo section of the highway for $555m (€400m). The price subsequently rose to $916m (€660m), to pay for 102km of road. In the end, the project cost $1.13bn (€820m) for what turned out be only a 77km stretch of highway. By comparison, Kosovo’s total government budget in 2012 was €1.5bn.

 

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Bechtel Delivers Second Stretch of the Kosovo Motorway Ahead of Schedule and Within Budget

Completion Marked With Launch of Motorway Safety Campaign

By Marketwired .  July 13, 2012 02:48 PM EDT

LONDON — (Marketwire) — 07/13/12 — Bechtel and its joint venture partner, Enka, have completed an additional 2.8 miles (4.5 kilometers) of the Kosovo motorway bringing the total distance completed to 26.4 miles (42.5 km). The new section, which opened today, connects to the stretch of motorway delivered in November 2011 which goes from Morinë at the border with Albania to Suhareka. The motorway now extends to the Dule interchange in Northern Kosovo. The latest stretch of motorway was built in less than a year, ahead of schedule and within budget.

“Each day we are getting closer to our dream of achieving the Kosovo motorway, thanks to Bechtel-Enka. The motorway is already making a huge difference to the lives of Kosovans with reduced journey times but people should drive safely too,” said Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi.

To mark the opening of the new motorway section, Bechtel and Enka, together with the Kosovo government, launched a new safety campaign along the Kosovo motorway with the slogan: “Yes to Safety, No to Speed.” The week-long campaign aims to encourage responsible driving on Kosovo’s first motorway and includes postcards and promotional cars along the route displaying the safety message.

“Safety is one of our core values. We hope our motorway safety awareness campaign will make drivers think twice about driving safely and not speeding on the new motorway,” said Mike Adams, president of Bechtel’s civil infrastructure unit.

When complete, the full 63.4-mile (102-km) motorway will extend from Morinë to the north of Kosovo’s capital, Pristina, and will serve as the centerpiece of Kosovo’s national transport system, helping to promote trade and economic development in Kosovo and throughout the region. The motorway is scheduled for completion in 2013.

 

 

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Army rejects clemency for Chelsea Manning

Published time: April 14, 2014 17:14
Edited time: April 14, 2014 17:48

Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley (Reuters/Gary Cameron)

Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley (Reuters/Gary Cameron)

WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning will not receive clemency from the United States military, the US Army said on Monday afternoon.

A news release circulated by the US Army Military District of Washington early Monday confirmed that the Pentagon official who could have agreed to reduce or eliminate the sentence imposed last year on the former intelligence analyst declined to do so. The case will next automatically be sent to the Army Court of Criminals Appeals.

According to the press release, the convening authority, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, approved the findings and sentence adjudged at last summer’s court-martial, in turn rejecting requests for Manning to receive clemency.

As convening authority, Buchanan could have elected to disapprove of Army Col. Denise Lind’s decision last summer to sentence Manning to 35 years in prison after the analyst admitted to sharing a trove of classified military documents with the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. Lind sentenced the solder to 35 years in prison and demoted her to private first class after finding the soldier guilty of multiple counts, including espionage, theft and computer fraud.

 

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Chelsea Manning’s 35-year prison sentence upheld by US army general

Chelsea Manning
Manning pleaded guilty to 10 charges but was convicted last year on 20 counts, including espionage and theft. Photo: Ho/AFP/Getty Images

A US army general has denied clemency for Chelsea Manning and upheld the former soldier’s 35-year prison sentence for providing secret files to WikiLeaks in the biggest breach of classified materials in US history, the army said Monday.

Major General Jeffrey S Buchanan’s decision to uphold the findings of Manning’s 2013 court-martial will automatically send the case to the army court of criminal appeals, an Army statement said.

The soldier, formerly known as Bradley Manning, was working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad in 2010 when she gave the pro-transparency site WikiLeaks 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts.

The trove included a 2007 video of a US Apache helicopter firing at suspected insurgents in Iraq, killing a dozen people, including two Reuters news staffers.

 

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Historic! Feds Forced to Surrender to American Citizens

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 Liberty Blitzkrieg

Why the Standoff at the Bundy Ranch is a Very Big Deal

If you haven’t been following the unfolding drama at the Bundy Ranch about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas you need to start now. The escalating confrontation between irate local residents and federal agents of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has the potential to take a very dangerous turn for the worse at any moment, as hundreds of militia members from states across the country are expected to descend upon the area and make a stand with 67-year-old Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.

Before I get into any sort of analysis about what this means within the bigger picture of American politics and society, we need a little background on the situation. The saga itself has been ongoing for two decades and the issue at hand is whether or not Mr. Bundy can graze his 900 head of cattle on a particular section of public lands in Clark County. Cliven Bundy has been ordered to stop on environmental grounds to protect the desert tortoise, but he has stood his ground time and time again. As a result, the feds have now entered the area and are impounding his cattle. According to CNN, Between Saturday and Wednesday, contracted wranglers impounded a total of 352 cattle. The Bundy family, as well as a variety of local residents have already had confrontations with the BLM agents. Tasers have been used and some minor injuries reported. Most significantly, militia members from across the country have already descended upon the area and it seems possible that hundreds may ultimately make it down there.

To me, the argument of who is right and who is wrong in this situation is the least interesting part of the story. I have noted time and time again that the feds are becoming increasingly out of control and belligerent to American citizens. We know the stories (think Aaron Swartz) and we know the overall trend. However, the reason the Bundy Ranch confrontation is so interesting, is that for whatever reason this particular incident seems to be striking a chord of dissent. It is often times the most random, unforeseen and innocuous things that spark social/political movements. This standoff has it all.

…..This picture basically says it all:

Bundy ranch

 

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The Truth About the Nevada Rancher’s Standoff

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Nevada Cattle Rancher Wins ‘Range War’ With Feds

PHOTO: Federal agents clash with armed protestors over a ranchers 20-year tax fight.

A Nevada cattle rancher appears to have won his week-long battle with the federal government over a controversial cattle roundup that had led to the arrest of several protesters.

Cliven Bundy went head to head with the Bureau of Land Management over the removal of hundreds of his cattle from federal land, where the government said they were grazing illegally.

Bundy claims his herd of roughly 900 cattle have grazed on the land along the riverbed near Bunkerville, 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, since 1870 and threatened a “range war” against the BLM on the Bundy Ranch website after one of his sons was arrested while protesting the removal of the cattle.

“I have no contract with the United States government,” Bundy said. “I was paying grazing fees for management and that’s what BLM was supposed to be, land managers and they were managing my ranch out of business, so I refused to pay.”

The federal government had countered that Bundy “owes the American people in excess of $1 million ” in unpaid grazing fees and “refuses to abide by the law of land, despite many opportunities over the last 20 years to do so.”

However, today the BLM said it would not enforce a court order to remove the cattle and was pulling out of the area.

“Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public,” BLM Director Neil Kornze said.

“We ask that all parties in the area remain peaceful and law-abiding as the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service work to end the operation in an orderly manner,” he said.

The roundup began April 5, following lengthy court proceedings dating back to 1993, federal officials said. Federal officers began impounding the first lot of cows last weekend, and Bundy responded by inviting supporters onto his land to protest the action.

“It’s not about cows, it’s about freedom,” Utah resident Yonna Winget told ABC News affiliate KTNV in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“People are getting tired of the federal government having unlimited power,” Bundy’s wife, Carol Bundy told ABC News.

 

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Screenshots  Of  FAA Records For No Fly Zone Over  The Bundy Ranch

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Federal agents back down in stand-off with armed cowboys: BLM release cattle after they were surrounded by militia following agreement to stop targeting rancher in modern-day ‘range war’

  • Bureau of Land Management would not enforce court order to remove  cattle and was pulling out of the area
  • Politicians have compared the standoff to Tienanmen Square
  • The Bundy family says they’ve owned the 600,000 acres since 1870 but the Bureau of Land Management says they are illegally grazing
  • The dispute began in 1993 when land was reclassified as to federal property to protect a rare desert tortoise, the government claimed
  • Federal officers stormed the property this week with helicopters and snipers to back up about 200 armed agents
  • They have reportedly seized around 350 of Cliven Bundy’s 900 cattle
  • Cattle were handed back to rancher after tense standoff
  • Tensions escalated after private militias poured in to support the family

By Ryan Gorman and Dan Miller and Meghan Keneally and Jessica Jerreat

Hundreds of heavily armed militia members celebrated their victory over federal law enforcement officers on Saturday after they secured the release of Cliven Bundy’s captured cattle.

In an embarrassing climbdown, the Bureau of Land Management retreated from its high profile standoff with Bundy and his rag-tag bunch of anti-federalists after the BLM attempted to forcibly capture nearly 1,000 of his cattle.

The militia member showed up at corrals outside Mesquite to demand the animals’ return to rancher Cliven Bundy. Some protesters were armed with handguns and rifles at the corrals and at an earlier nearby rally.

Victory: The Bundy family and their supporters fly the American flag as their cattle were released by the Bureau of Land Management back onto public land outside of Bunkerville, Nevada

Victory: The Bundy family and their supporters fly the American flag as their cattle were released by the Bureau of Land Management back onto public land outside of Bunkerville, Nevada

Thanks: Rancher Cliven Bundy, middle, addresses his supporters along side Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie, right, on April 12, 2014

Thanks: Rancher Cliven Bundy, middle, addresses his supporters along side Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie, right, on April 12, 2014

 

Bundy, 67, doesn’t recognize federal authority on land he insists belongs to Nevada. His Mormon family has operated a ranch since the 1870s near the small town of Bunkerville and the Utah and Arizona lines.

‘Good morning America, good morning world, isn’t it a beautiful day in Bunkerville?’ Bundy told a cheering crowd after his cattle were released, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

A number of Bundy’s supporters, who included militia members from California, Idaho and other states, dressed in camouflage and carried rifles and sidearms. During the stand-off, some chanted ‘open that gate’ and ‘free the people.’

A man who identified himself as Scott, 43, said he had traveled from Idaho along with two fellow militia members to support Bundy.

‘If we don’t show up everywhere, there is no reason to show up anywhere,’ said the man, dressed in camouflage pants and a black flak jacket crouched behind a concrete highway barrier, holding an AR-15 rifle. ‘I’m ready to pull the trigger if fired upon,’ Scott said.

Wild west: The Bundy family and their supporters drive their cattle back onto public land outside of Bunkerville, Nev. after they were released by the Bureau of Land Management on Saturday

 

Fanatical: The edge of a Cliven Bundy supporter camp is shown near the Virgin River Saturday, April 12, 2014, near Bunkerville, Nevada

Fanatical: The edge of a Cliven Bundy supporter camp is shown near the Virgin River Saturday, April 12, 2014, near Bunkerville, Nevada

 

The dispute between Bundy and federal land managers began in 1993 when he stopped paying monthly fees of about $1.35 per cow-calf pair to graze public lands that are also home to imperiled animals such as the Mojave Desert tortoise.

Support: An armed civilian waits nearby in some bushes as the Bundy family and their supporters gather together under the I-15 highway just outside of Bunkerville, Nevada

Support: An armed civilian waits nearby in some bushes as the Bundy family and their supporters gather together under the I-15 highway just outside of Bunkerville, Nevada

 

Land managers limited the Bundy herd to just 150 head on a land which the rancher claims has been in his family for more than 140 years.

The government also claims Bundy has ignored cancellation of his grazing leases and defied federal court orders to remove his cattle.

‘We won the battle,’ said Ammon Bundy, one of the rancher’s sons.

Hundreds of Bundy supporters, some heavily armed, had camped on the road leading to his ranch in a high desert spotted with sagebrush and mesquite trees.

Some held signs reading ‘Americans united against government thugs,’ while others were calling the rally the ‘Battle of Bunkerville,’ a reference to a American Revolutionary War battle of Bunker Hill in Boston.

The large crowd at one point blocked all traffic on Interstate 15. Later, as lanes opened up, motorists honked to support the demonstrators and gave them a thumbs-up sign.

Las Vegas Police Lt. Dan Zehnder said the showdown was resolved with no injuries and no violence. Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie was able to negotiate a resolution after talking with Bundy, he said.

The fight between Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management widened into a debate about states’ rights and federal land-use policy.

Anti-federalist: Armed militia members stand guard on a hilltop overlooking a Clive Bundy supporter camp near the Virgin River Saturday, April 12, 2014, near Bunkerville, Nevada

Anti-federalist: Armed militia members stand guard on a hilltop overlooking a Clive Bundy supporter camp near the Virgin River Saturday, April 12, 2014, near Bunkerville, Nevada

 

The dispute that ultimately triggered the roundup dates to 1993, when the bureau cited concern for the federally protected tortoise in the region.

The bureau revoked Bundy’s grazing rights after he stopped paying grazing fees and disregarded federal court orders to remove his animals.

Kornze’s announcement came after Bundy repeatedly promised to “do whatever it takes” to protect his property and after a string of raucous confrontations between his family members and supporters and federal agents during the weeklong operation.

Bundy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Republican Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval issued a statement praising the agency for its willingness to listen to the state’s concerns.

 

 

Victor: Rancher Cliven Bundy at his home in Bunkerville, after officials called off the government's roundup of cattle

Victor: Rancher Cliven Bundy at his home in Bunkerville, after officials called off the government’s roundup of cattle

 

And they're out: The Bundy family and their supporters drive their cattle back onto public land outside of Bunkerville, Nev. after they were released by the Bureau of Land Management

And they’re out: The Bundy family and their supporters drive their cattle back onto public land outside of Bunkerville, Nev. after they were released by the Bureau of Land Management

He earlier criticized the agency for creating “an atmosphere of intimidation” and trying to confine protesters to a fenced-in “First Amendment area” well away from the sprawling roundup area.

‘The safety of all individuals involved in this matter has been my highest priority,’ Sandoval said.

‘Given the circumstances, today’s outcome is the best we could have hoped for.’

Nevada’s congressional delegation urged the protesters to be calm and to leave the area.

‘The dispute is over, the BLM is leaving, but emotions and tensions are still near the boiling point, and we desperately need a peaceful conclusion to this conflict,’ U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said in a statement.

‘I urge all the people involved to please return to your homes and allow the BLM officers to collect their equipment and depart without interference.’

The 400 cows gathered during the roundup were short of the BLM’s goal of 900 cows that it says have been trespassing on U.S. land without required grazing permits for over 20 years.

The dispute less than 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas between rancher Cliven Bundy and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management had simmered for days.

Bundy had stopped paying fees for grazing his cattle on the government land and officials said he had ignored court orders.

Mission accomplished: Supporters of the Bundy family hang a sign on the I-15 highway just outside of Bunkerville, Nevada

Mission accomplished: Supporters of the Bundy family hang a sign on the I-15 highway just outside of Bunkerville, Nevada

 

The dispute between Bundy and federal land managers began in 1993 when he stopped paying monthly fees of about $1.35 per cow-calf pair to graze public lands

The dispute between Bundy and federal land managers began in 1993 when he stopped paying monthly fees of about $1.35 per cow-calf pair to graze public lands

 

Cowboys and patriots: Kholten Gleave, right, of Utah, pauses for the National Anthem outside of Bunkerville , Nev. while gathering with other supporters of the Bundy family to challenge the Bureau of Land Management

Cowboys and patriots: Kholten Gleave, right, of Utah, pauses for the National Anthem outside of Bunkerville , Nev. while gathering with other supporters of the Bundy family to challenge the Bureau of Land Management

 

Anti-government groups, right-wing politicians and gun-rights activists camped around Bundy’s ranch to support him, in a standoff that tapped into long-simmering anger in Nevada and other Western states, where vast tracts of land are owned and governed by federal agencies.

The bureau had called in a team of armed rangers to Nevada to seize the 1,000 head of cattle on Saturday but backed down in the interests of safety.

‘Based on information about conditions on the ground and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public,’ the bureau’s director, Neil Kornze, said in a statement.

The protesters, who at the height of the standoff numbered about 1,000, met the news with applause. Then they quickly advanced on the metal pens where the cattle confiscated earlier in the week were being held.

After consultations with the rancher’s family, the bureau decided to release the cattle it had rounded up, and the crowd began to disperse.

‘This is what I prayed for,’ said Margaret Houston, one of Bundy’s sisters. ‘We are so proud of the American people for being here with us and standing with us.

No horsing around: The Bundy family and their supporters fly the American flag as their cattle were released from a corral

No horsing around: The Bundy family and their supporters fly the American flag as their cattle were released from a corral

 

Cheers: Protesters pump their fists as cowboys herd cattle that belongs to rancher Cliven Bundy

Cheers: Protesters pump their fists as cowboys herd cattle that belongs to rancher Cliven Bundy

 

Firepower: Protester Eric Parker from central Idaho aims his weapon from a bridge next to the Bureau of Land Management's base camp where seized cattle

Firepower: Protester Eric Parker from central Idaho aims his weapon from a bridge next to the Bureau of Land Management’s base camp where seized cattle

 

Victory speech: Rancher Cliven Bundy, middle, addresses his supporters along side Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie, right, informing the public that the BLM has agreed to cease the roundup of his family's cattle

Victory speech: Rancher Cliven Bundy, middle, addresses his supporters along side Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie, right, informing the public that the BLM has agreed to cease the roundup of his family’s cattle

 

In an interview prior to the bureau’s announcement, Bundy said he was impressed by the level of support he had received.

‘I’m excited that we are really fighting for our freedom. We’ve been losing it for a long time,’ Bundy said.

An official with an environmental group that had notified the government it would sue unless federal land managers sought to protect tortoises on the grazing allotment used by Bundy’s cattle expressed outrage at the end of the cattle roundup.

‘The sovereign militias are ruling the day,’ said Rob Mrowka, senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. ‘Now that this precedent has been set and they’re emboldened by the government’s capitulation, what’s to stop them from applying the same tactics and threats elsewhere?’

Roger Taylor, retired district manager with the Bureau of Land Management in Arizona, also said the agency’s decision to release the cattle will have repercussions.

‘The (agency) is going to be in a worse situation where they will have a much more difficult time getting those cattle off the land and getting Bundy in compliance with regulations,’ he said.

Deal: Cliven Bundy shakes hands with Sheiff Doug Gillespie on Saturday morning as the rancher comes to a deal to stop federal agents rounding up his cattle

Deal: Cliven Bundy shakes hands with Sheiff Doug Gillespie on Saturday morning as the rancher comes to a deal to stop federal agents rounding up his cattle

Show down: Ranchers on horseback and protesters gather at the BLM camp to try to claim back cattle the agency has already rounded up

Show down: Ranchers on horseback and protesters gather at the BLM camp to try to claim back cattle the agency has already rounded up

 

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Bundy Ranch Showdown! The Bigger Picture!

 

Published on Apr 12, 2014

 

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A dirty secret of the American judicial system is that juries are hardly fair and impartial

Jury selection these days is done with a wink and a nod.
Jury selection these days is done with a wink and a nod. (REUTERS/Art Lien)

Imagine you are a defendant awaiting trial on criminal charges that could send you to prison for the rest of your life. You are sitting at the counsel table during voir dire, the process by which a jury is selected before a trial.

The prosecutor asks a potential juror: “You haven’t heard any evidence. How would you vote?” The potential juror responds: “I would have to vote guilty.”

Your trial judge pipes up. He’s supposed to ensure that you receive a fair trial and that the jurors who will sit in judgment upon you are neutral, objective, and willing to see and hear the evidence with an open mind. The judge asks the prospective juror: “Could you return a verdict of not guilty if the government doesn’t prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt?” The would-be juror responds: “I don’t think I would be able to.”

The prosecutor — who wants this juror on the panel because he wants to convict you — presses on. He asks the juror: “Let’s say the victim takes the stand [and] you flat-out don’t believe her. In fact, you think she’s lying. You look at her [and conclude], ‘I don’t believe a word coming out of her mouth.’ Are you going to convict this man anyway?”

The potential juror responds: “That depends. I still feel he was at fault.”

How would you feel if this juror were allowed to join the panel that determined your fate? Would you feel as though you had received a fair trial by an impartial panel, as the Sixth Amendment commands? Or would you feel that the trial judge had failed to protect your presumption of innocence?

My guess is you would feel cheated. I know I would. But yet this precise scenario unfolded in California in 2009. This juror was allowed to serve on this trial. And to date, no judge has declared it a violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights.

Now, in this particular case, the defendant, Jose Felipe Velasco, was accused of an extremely heinous crime. He was an alleged serial child rapist who had gotten a 14-year-old girl pregnant after having some form of sex with her 21 times. But that should not change our minds about whether this man should be presumed innocent and be entitled to a fair trial. Indeed, this is precisely why we have constitutional rights in criminal cases — so that fairness and due process come even to the despised.

R. Scott Moxley, a veteran reporter and columnist for OC Weekly, brought this story to national prominence this week — and it’s a remarkably ugly picture in every way. Not only were the charges awful, not only is this defendant as unsympathetic a figure as the criminal justice system churns out, but the way the case was handled was ignoble, too. Thousands of years’ worth of the presumption of innocence shouldn’t go out the window just because a defendant is accused of heinous crimes.

 

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The myth of the impartial juror

Crazy story from the OC Weekly about a sex crimes case in California.

After an Orange County prosecutor gave an opening statement, Juror 112 notified [Judge David] Hoffer that based on her own experiences she believes criminals should forgo trials in such sexual assault cases and go straight to prison to spare victims additional turmoil.

The prosecutor then asked the juror: “You haven’t heard any evidence. How would you vote?”

Juror 112 responded, “I would have to vote guilty.”

Statements by lawyers are not evidence, and Hoffer followed up with the juror, according to court transcripts reviewed by the Weekly.

The judge asked if she could return a verdict of not guilty if the government couldn’t prove it’s case beyond a reasonable doubt.

“I don’t think I would be able to,” the juror replied.

 

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‘Not bug splats’: Artists use poster-child in Pakistan drone protest

Published time: April 07, 2014 13:29

Image from notabugsplat.com

Image from notabugsplat.com

A poster of a young child has appeared in north-west Pakistan to raise awareness of the numerous drone attacks the region suffered. Artists who created the image hope military commanders will think twice about shooting after seeing the portrait.

More than 200 children are believed to have died in the heavily-bombed Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa according to the website notabugsplat.com. ‘Bug splat’ is the name given by the military to a person who has been killed by a drone. Viewing the body through a grainy computer image gives the impression that an insect has been crushed.

Now a giant portrait of a young child has been produced to try and raise awareness of civilian casualties in the region. The hope is now the drone operator will see a child’s face on his or her computer screen, rather than just a small white dot and may think twice before attacking indiscriminately.

The child featured in the poster is nameless, but according to the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, who helped to launch the project in collaboration with a number of artists, both parents were lost to a drone attack.

Drone raids in Pakistan started in 2004 under George W. Bush’s administration as part of the US War on Terror. The vast majority of strikes have focused on the Federally Administered Tribal Area’s and the Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa area due to their proximity to Afghanistan, which the country invaded following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

 

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Protesters descend on Albuquerque City Hall to decry deadly shootings

Published time: April 08, 2014 03:59

Downtown Albuquerque (Photo from wikipedia.org)

Downtown Albuquerque (Photo from wikipedia.org)

Protesters filled Albuquerque City Hall on Monday evening, forcing the city council to clear its legislative agenda and turn the podium over to citizens furious with police over a spiking number of fatal shootings.

City Council President Ken Sanchez told the Albuquerque Journal that more police officers would be assigned to make sure the meeting was peaceful, and that the meeting would be adjourned if tempers flared, but said the council is mulling legislation that would create more oversight over the department.

We need to make some dramatic changes,” he said. “We’re confronting a crisis situation at this time.”

Tension have been building between police and the public for years. Wynema and Michael Gonzagowski told Cindy Carcamo of the Los Angeles Times that, upon moving to Albuquerque, friends warned them to avoid the police. They did not take those warnings seriously until they watched police fatally shoot their neighbor, Alfred Lionel Redwine on March 25.

I’ve never been scared of crops, but out here, the cops terrify me,” said Michael, age 39. “They treat you like you’re out looking to cause trouble every time they talk to you.”

Chief Eden said in a press conference that Redwine brandished a weapon and shot at police during a standoff at a public housing complex, forcing the officers to return fire. Wynemda Gonzagowski disagreed, telling the Times that Redwine had surrendered to police with his arms out when he was hit.

They didn’t warn him, they didn’t tell him to freeze and get on the ground or to put his hand behind his hand,” she said.

 

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This Is What Employment In America Really Looks Like…

By Michael Snyder, on April 6th, 2014

Warren Buffett - Photo by Mark Hirschey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The level of employment in the United States has been declining since the year 2000.  There have been moments when things have appeared to have been getting better for a short period of time, and then the decline has resumed.  Thanks to the offshoring of millions of jobs, the replacement of millions of workers with technology and the overall weakness of the U.S. economy, the percentage of Americans that are actually working is significantly lower than it was when this century began.  And even though things have stabilized at a reduced level over the past few years, it is only a matter of time until the next major wave of the economic collapse strikes and the employment level goes even lower.  And the truth is that more good jobs are being lost every single day in America.  For example, as you will read about below, Warren Buffett is shutting down a Fruit of the Loom factory in Kentucky and moving it to Honduras just so that he can make a little bit more money.  We see this kind of betrayal over and over again, and it is absolutely ripping the middle class of America to shreds.

Below I have posted a chart that you never hear any of our politicians talk about.  It is a chart that shows how the percentage of working age Americans with a job has steadily declined since the turn of the century.  Just before the last recession, we were sitting at about 63 percent, but now we have been below 59 percent since the end of 2009…

Employment Population Ratio 2014

We should be thankful that things have stabilized at this lower level for the past few years.

At least things have not been getting worse.

But anyone that believes that “things have returned to normal” is just being delusional.

And nothing is being done about the long-term trends that are absolutely crippling our economy.  One of those trends is the offshoring of middle class jobs.  As I mentioned above, Fruit of the Loom (which is essentially owned by Warren Buffett) has made the decision to close their factory in Jamestown, Kentucky and lay off all the workers at that factory by the end of 2014

Clothing company Fruit of the Loom announced Thursday that it will permanently close its plant in Jamestown and lay off all 600 employees by the end of the year.

The Jamestown plant is the last Fruit of the Loom plant in a state where the company had once been a manufacturing titan second only to General Electric.

This isn’t being done because Fruit of the Loom is going out of business.  They are still going to be making t-shirts and underwear.  They are just going to be making them in Honduras from now on…

The company, owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway but headquartered in Bowling Green, said the move is “part of the company’s ongoing efforts to align its global supply chain” and will allow the company to better use its existing investments to provide products cheaper and faster.

The company said it is moving the plant’s textile operations to Honduras to save money.

So what are those workers supposed to do?

Go on welfare?

The number of Americans that are dependent on the government is already at an all-time record high.

And doesn’t Warren Buffett already have enough money?

In business school, they teach you that the sole responsibility of a corporation is to maximize wealth for the shareholders.

And so when business students get out into “the real world”, that is how they behave.

But the truth is that corporations have a responsibility to treat their workers, their customers and the communities in which they operate well.  This responsibility exists whether corporate executives want to admit it or not.

And we all have a responsibility to our fellow citizens.  When we stand aside and do nothing as millions of good paying American jobs are shipped overseas so that the “one world economic agenda” can be advanced and so that men like Warren Buffett can stuff their pockets just a little bit more, we are failing our fellow countrymen.

Because so many of us have fallen for the lie that “globalism is good”, we have allowed our once great manufacturing cities to crumble and die.  Just consider what is happening to Detroit.  It was once the greatest manufacturing city in the history of the planet, but now foreign newspapers publish stories about what a horror show that it has become…

 

Read More Here

 

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U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics | Division of Labor Force Statistic

 

Employment Situation Summary

Transmission of material in this release is embargoed until                    USDL-14-0530
8:30 a.m. (EDT) Friday, April 4, 2014

Technical information: 
  Household data:         (202) 691-6378  •  cpsinfo@bls.gov  •  www.bls.gov/cps
  Establishment data:     (202) 691-6555  •  cesinfo@bls.gov  •  www.bls.gov/ces

Media contact:	          (202) 691-5902  •  PressOffice@bls.gov


                              THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- MARCH 2014


Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 192,000 in March, and the unemployment rate
was unchanged at 6.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
Employment grew in professional and business services, in health care, and in mining
and logging.

Household Survey Data

In March, the number of unemployed persons was essentially unchanged at 10.5 million,
and the unemployment rate held at 6.7 percent. Both measures have shown little movement
since December 2013. Over the year, the number of unemployed persons and the unemployment
rate were down by 1.2 million and 0.8 percentage point, respectively. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult women increased to 6.2
percent in March, and the rate for adult men decreased to 6.2 percent. The rates for
teenagers (20.9 percent), whites (5.8 percent), blacks (12.4 percent), and Hispanics
(7.9 percent) showed little or no change. The jobless rate for Asians was 5.4 percent
(not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier. (See tables A-1, A-2,
and A-3.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more), at 3.7 million,
changed little in March; these individuals accounted for 35.8 percent of the unemployed.
The number of long-term unemployed was down by 837,000 over the year. (See table A-12.)

Both the civilian labor force and total employment increased in March. The labor force
participation rate (63.2 percent) and the employment-population ratio (58.9 percent)
changed little over the month. (See table A-1.) The number of persons employed part
time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was
little changed at 7.4 million in March. These individuals were working part time because
their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time work. (See
table A-8.)

In March, 2.2 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, little changed
from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not
in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime
in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched
for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 698,000 discouraged workers in March, down 
slightly from a year earlier. (These data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged
workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are
available for them. The remaining 1.5 million persons marginally attached to the labor
force in March had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family
responsibilities. (See table A-16.)

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 192,000 in March. Job growth averaged 183,000
per month over the prior 12 months. In March, employment grew in professional and business
services, in health care, and in mining and logging. (See table B-1.)

Professional and business services added 57,000 jobs in March, in line with its average
monthly gain of 56,000 over the prior 12 months. Within the industry, employment increased
in March in temporary help services (+29,000), in computer systems design and related
services (+6,000), and in architectural and engineering services (+5,000).

In March, health care added 19,000 jobs. Employment in ambulatory health care services
rose by 20,000, with a gain of 9,000 jobs in home health care services. Nursing care
facilities lost 5,000 jobs over the month. Job growth in health care averaged 17,000 per
month over the prior 12 months.

Employment in mining and logging rose in March (+7,000), with the bulk of the increase
occurring in support activities for mining (+5,000). Over the prior 12 months, the mining
and logging industry added an average of 3,000 jobs per month.

Employment continued to trend up in March in food services and drinking places (+30,000).
Over the past year, food services and drinking places has added 323,000 jobs.

Construction employment continued to trend up in March (+19,000). Over the past year,
construction employment has risen by 151,000.

Employment in government was unchanged in March. A decline of 9,000 jobs in federal
government was mostly offset by an increase of 8,000 jobs in local government, excluding
education. Over the past year, employment in federal government has fallen by 85,000.

Employment in other major industries, including manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail
trade, transportation and warehousing, information, and financial activities, changed
little over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.2
hour in March to 34.5 hours, offsetting a net decline over the prior 3 months. The
manufacturing workweek rose by 0.3 hour in March to 41.1 hours, and factory overtime
rose by 0.1 hour to 3.5 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory
employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.3 hour to 33.7 hours. (See
tables B-2 and B-7.)

In March, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged
down by 1 cent to $24.30, following a 9 cent increase in February. Over the year,
average hourly earnings have risen by 49 cents, or 2.1 percent. In March, average
hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees edged down
by 2 cents to $20.47. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for January was revised from +129,000 to
+144,000, and the change for February was revised from +175,000 to +197,000. With these
revisions, employment gains in January and February were 37,000 higher than previously
reported.

_____________
The Employment Situation for April is scheduled to be released on Friday, May 2, 2014,
at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).



 

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Another Fraudulent Jobs Report — Paul Craig Roberts

Another Fraudulent Jobs Report

Paul Craig Roberts

The March payroll jobs report released April 4 claims 192,000 new private sector jobs.
Here is what John Williams has to say about the claim:

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) deliberately publishes its seasonally-adjusted historical payroll-employment and household-survey (unemployment) data so that the numbers are neither consistent nor comparable with current headline reporting.  The upside revisions to the January and February monthly jobs gains, and the relatively strong March payroll showing, reflected nothing more than concealed, favorable shifts in underlying seasonal factors, hidden by the lack of consistent BLS reporting.  In like manner, consistent month-to-month changes in the unemployment rate or labor force simply are not knowable, because the BLS cloaks the consistent and comparable numbers.”

Here is what Dave Kranzler has to say: “the employment report is probably the most deceptively fraudulent report produced by the Government.”

As I have pointed out for a decade, the “New Economy” jobs that we were promised in exchange for our manufacturing jobs and tradable professional service jobs that were offshored have never shown up. The transnational corporations and their hired shills among economists lied to us. Not even a jobs report as deceptive and fraudulent as the BLS payroll jobs report can hide the fact that Congress, the White House, and the American people have sat sucking their thumbs while corporations maximized profits for the one percent at the expense of everyone else in the United States.

Let’s look at where the alleged jobs are. The BLS jobs report says that 28,400 jobs were created in March in wholesale and retail sales. March is the month that Macy’s, Sears, JC Penny, Staples, Radio Shack, Office Depot, and other retailers announced combined closings of several thousand stores, but more retail clerks were hired.

The BLS payroll jobs report claims 57,000 jobs in “professional and business services.” Are these jobs for lawyers, accountants, architects, engineers, and managers? No. The combined new jobs for these middle class professional skills totaled 10,400. Employment services accounted for 42,000 of the jobs in “professional and business services” of which temporary help accounted for 28,500.

 

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Healthcare cuts canceled after Dem complaints

Getty Images

The Obama administration announced Monday that planned cuts to Medicare Advantage would not go through as anticipated amid election-year opposition from congressional Democrats.

The cuts would have reduced benefits that seniors receive from health plans in the program, which is intended as an alternative to Medicare.

Under cuts planned by the administration, insurers offering the plans were to see their federal payments reduced by 1.9 percent, which likely would have necessitated cuts for customers.

Instead, the administration said the federal payments to insurers will increase next year by .40 percent.

The healthcare law included $200 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage over 10 years, in part to pay for ObamaCare.

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) on Monday said changes in the healthcare market meant it did not need to make those cuts to Medicare Advantage this year.

It cited an increase in healthy beneficiaries under Medicare, which it said has lowered projected costs for that program.

CMS separately is delaying a risk assessment proposal that was set to take affect under ObamaCare.

 

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Obama administration proposes 1.9% cut in Medicare Advantage payments

February 21, 2014 8:08 pm by

Barack ObamaMedicare Advantage plans could see payment reductions of 1.9 percent next year under proposed rates announced Friday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Insurers, who have led a fierce lobbying campaign against payment reductions, have said the combination of the health law’s lower payment rates, new fees on health plans and other factors, including automatic federalspending cuts known as “sequestration,” mean that Medicare Advantage plans will see their Medicare payment rates drop by 6 percent – or even more — in 2015.

CMS said Friday its preliminary estimate is “the combined effect of the Medicare Advantage growth percentage and the fee-for-service growth percentage.”

America’s Health Insurance Plans said they are reviewing the details of the announcement to determine the total impact of the federal payment rates. In a statement, AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni was critical of the proposed rates, saying, “The new proposed Medicare Advantage cuts would cause seniors in the program to lose benefits and choices on which they depend.”

 

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Obama flip-flops on Medicare drug coverage

(REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman)

The Obama administration, in an abrupt about-face, said on Monday it would drop proposed changes to Medicare drug coverage that met wide opposition on grounds they would harm health benefits for the elderly and disabled.

Late last week, more than 370 organizations representing insurers, drug makers, pharmacies, health providers and patients urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to withdraw changes it had proposed for Medicare Part D.

One of the federal government’s most successful and cost-effective healthcare programs, Part D provides drug benefits for the elderly and disabled through private insurers to 36 million enrollees.

Critics said the changes, if adopted in coming months, could not only undermine Part D benefits but impact drug benefits available through Medicare Advantage, a program that allows Medicare beneficiaries to obtain their major medical coverage through private insurers.

“Given the complexities of these issues and stakeholder input, we do not plan to finalize these proposals at this time. We will engage in further stakeholder input before advancing some or all of the changes in these areas in future years,” CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner advised in a letter sent on Monday to members of the Senate and House of Representatives.

The proposals were opposed by both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. The Republican Party had already begun to look for ways to leverage popular anger over the changes into campaign attacks on Democratic incumbents who could be vulnerable in November’s election showdown for control of Congress.

Elated critics of the proposed changes said the government had effectively agreed to start over in the face of broad, bipartisan opposition.

 

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New York Times SundayReview

The Obama administration’s proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage plans — the private insurance plans that cover almost 30 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries — are fair and reasonable. As it happens, they are also mandated by law. Yet Republicans, sensing a campaign issue, are telling older and disabled Americans that the administration is “raiding Medicare Advantage to pay for Obamacare.” The health insurance industry, for its part, is warning that enrollees will suffer higher premiums, lower benefits and fewer choices among doctors if the cuts go into force.

Some of this could in fact happen, although the industry has cried wolf before and continues to thrive. But the key point is this: Over the past decade, enrollees in Medicare Advantage have received lots of extra benefits, thanks to unjustified federal subsidies to the insurance companies. Now they will have to do with somewhat less, unless the insurers are willing to absorb the cuts while maintaining benefits. Enrollment in these private plans, offered by companies like UnitedHealth and Humana, has more than doubled since 2006, in part because of lower premiums and extra benefits, like gym memberships, that are not included in traditional fee-for-service Medicare.

What made these perks possible was, in effect, a subsidy from taxpayers and other Medicare beneficiaries. The federal government paid the private plans, on average, 14 percent more in 2009 than it would cost to treat the same people in traditional Medicare. The insurers used this extra money to reduce enrollees’ costs and add benefits.

The 2010 Affordable Care Act rightly required that these subsidies be reduced, although it stopped short of completely eliminating them. The reductions began to take effect in 2012, and have not, so far, visibly harmed beneficiaries or the plans. Since enactment of the law, Medicare Advantage premiums have fallen by 10 percent, the opposite of what some expected, and enrollment has increased by nearly 33 percent, according to the administration. But as the law intended, federal payments to the private plans dropped — from 7 percent more than services under traditional Medicare in 2012 to 4 percent more last year. The administration now proposes to further reduce the payments to Medicare Advantage plans in 2015. The loudest criticism has come from Republicans, but plenty of Democrats have chimed in.

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Soldier’s ‘Courageous Act’ Remembered as Fort Hood Begins Healing

 

Image: Sergeant First Class Daniel Ferguson, of Florida, who served as a transportation supervisor and had been deployed to Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan, is pictured in this undated handout Fort Hood Public Affairs Office via Reuters

Sergeant First Class Daniel Ferguson, 39, of Florida, who served as a transportation supervisor and had been deployed to Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan, is pictured in this undated handout from Fort Hood Public Affairs Office. Ferguson was one of three victims killed at the shooting at Fort Hood.

 

In a final heroic act, Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Ferguson threw his body against the entryway of a door as a fellow soldier-turned-gunman blasted away in a terrifying rampage at Fort Hood.

Ferguson, 39, was fatally hit in the moment he became a human shield — a sacrifice remembered in a news conference Saturday.

Ferguson’s “courageous act of blocking the door with his own body prevented further bloodshed,” said Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas.

Also killed in Wednesday’s shooting were Sgt. Timothy Owens, 37, and Staff Sgt. Carlos Lazaney-Rodriguez, 38. Sixteen others were wounded. Gunman Spc. Ivan Lopez died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, officials said.

Rep. Williams, along with Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, met some of the wounded soldiers Saturday, and commended them on their valor. Among the victims was Maj. Patrick Miller, who was shot in the stomach with Lopez’s .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol.

Miller had called 911 as he tended to his own wounds.

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Slain Fort Hood counselor found his calling in Army

Courtesy of Mary Muntean – Timothy Wayne Owens, with his mother, Mary Muntean, at his wedding in August 2013.

 

Timothy Wayne Owens, a counselor at Fort Hood, was known to friends as a stand-up guy who triumphed over a hardscrabble upbringing to become an empathetic military man, one who helped people and defused conflicts.

So, it was no surprise to residents in his home town of Effingham, Ill., to hear that Owens lost his life trying to calm the shooter in Wednesday’s Fort Hood killings.

“He was a brave man,” said Owens’s mother, Mary Muntean, 77, who said she learned that her son had been killed as he tried to talk with Ivan Lopez, who has been identified as the man who killed three people and injured 16 in the shooting on the Army post.

Muntean said she received a call at her Effingham home from her son’s wife, Billy Owens, on Wednesday evening telling her that he had been shot five times after trying to calm Lopez in a post parking lot. Military officials have not released the names of those killed or injured or confirmed reports of how the violence unfolded. But friends of Owens said the account provided by his family fits the man they knew.

 

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Photo

Sgt. Timothy Owens was killed Wednesday night. Credit Courtesy of Glen Welton, via Associated Press

NYT Now

The names of the victims of the shooting in Fort Hood began to come out on Thursday, released by relatives and by officials offering their condolences.

In Effingham, Ill., family members told The Associated Press that Army Sgt. Timothy Owens was one of the three soldiers killed Wednesday in a mass shooting by Specialist Ivan Antonio Lopez. Sixteen others were wounded in the shooting. The Army has not released a list of the victims, pending notification of relatives.

The mother of Sergeant Owens, Mary Muntean, 77, of Effingham, told The Associated Press that she had learned of her son’s death in a telephone call with her daughter-in-law.

Unable to reach her son, she called his wife, Billie Owens, who first said he was in the hospital. Before long, Sergeant Owens’s wife called back, and Mrs. Muntean had her worst fears confirmed. “She said, ‘Mom, I want to tell you how sorry I am. Tim’s gone,’ ” Mrs. Muntean said, according to The A.P. “I broke down.”

Sergeant Owens dropped out of high school in 1995. But his mother said he earned his high school equivalency after joining the Army in 2004.

Photo

Maj. Patrick Miller was wounded in the shootings.

A friend and former roommate, Paul Eatherton, said Sergeant Owens, whose family moved back to Effingham from Missouri in the mid-1990s, worked at Pizza Hut and studied tae kwon do at a local gym. Mr. Eatherton, a martial arts instructor at the time, said Sergeant Owens got his black belt and started teaching at a gym in Effingham.

“He was the best student I’d ever seen or known,” Mr. Eatherton said. “We’d go to tournaments, and he’d bring first places home every time.”

He said Sergeant Owens, who was in his mid-30s, had recently signed up for another six years in the Army. “I think he was going to be a lifer,” he said. He said he had not talked to Sergeant Owens for several months, but when he heard news of the shooting, he texted him immediately. He got no reply. “That really worried me,” he said.

The commander of Fort Hood, Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley, said in an afternoon news conference, that nine of the 16 people wounded in the attack were taken to Scott & White Memorial Hospital in nearby Temple, Tex., for treatment. Three were upgraded to serious condition on Thursday. Hospital officials said doctors had operated on two patients, a man and a woman, who had been shot in the abdomen and neck. The third person had an abdominal wound. The other victims taken there were discharged.

Read More Here

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Photo

Specialist Ivan Lopez served in Iraq but did not see combat.

Specialist Ivan Antonio Lopez had seen a military psychiatrist as recently as last month. He was being treated for depression and anxiety, and had been prescribed Ambien to help him sleep. He had come back from a four-month deployment to Iraq in 2011 and told superiors he had suffered a traumatic head injury there. But military officials said he had never seen combat, and there was no record of any combat-related injury. He was being evaluated for possible post-traumatic stress disorder.

Still, military officials said, they had seen nothing to indicate that Specialist Lopez, 34 — who killed three people and himself and wounded 16 others on Wednesday in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Tex. — was violent or suicidal.

“He had a clean record,” Secretary of the Army John McHugh said Thursday morning in testimony before a Senate panel in Washington. “No outstanding bad marks for any kinds of major misbehaviors that we’re yet aware of.”

Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Fort Hood commander, said Thursday at a news conference that there were “very strong indications” that there had been a “verbal altercation” between Specialist Lopez and one or more other soldiers in the minutes before the shooting started, but the authorities were still investigating what role, if any, that played in the attack.

Photo

Before joining the Army, Specialist Lopez was in the Puerto Rico National Guard. Credit Puerto Rico National Guard, via Reuters

“We have very strong evidence looking into his medical history that indicated an unstable psychiatric condition,” General Milley said.

Friends from his hometown in Puerto Rico said that Specialist Lopez was angry with the Army when he returned home for his mother’s funeral in November. Ismael Gonzalez, a former schoolmate who had kept in contact with Specialist Lopez on Facebook, said the soldier was very upset that he had initially been given only 24 hours to attend the funeral.

In addition, Mr. Gonzalez said, Specialist Lopez, who was earning $28,000 a year, told him that he was “in a precarious economic situation” trying to support his family in Texas and two children in Puerto Rico from his first marriage. And he was angry that the Army would not allow him to move his family onto the base at Fort Hood, Mr. Gonzalez said.

None of this had found its way into Specialist Lopez’s official record, though.

“This was an experienced soldier,” said Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff. “He spent actually nine years in the Puerto Rico National Guard before coming on active duty, so he’s a very experienced soldier.”

Those who knew Specialist Lopez as a young man, obsessed with the high school band, were even more stunned to learn what he was suspected of doing.

“I cannot believe you are speaking about the same guy,” said Sgt. Maj. Nelson Bigas, one of Specialist Lopez’s superiors in the National Guard. “He was the most responsible, obedient, humble person, and one of the most skillful guys on the line.”

For a year beginning in 2006, Specialist Lopez was deployed with his guard unit on the Sinai Peninsula, watching the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

But, the authorities say, it was Specialist Lopez who went into Guns Galore in Killeen, Tex., near Fort Hood on March 1 and bought the .45-caliber Smith & Wesson semiautomatic pistol that was used in the shootings on Wednesday.

It was the same gun store where Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army major, had bought at least one of the weapons used in a 2009 mass shooting on the base.

Photo

Specialist Lopez in an image from Facebook.

So information was emerging slowly on Thursday about Mr. Lopez. He was raised in the small fishing village of Guayanilla on the southern coast of Puerto Rico, about an hour and a half from San Juan. While there, he attended the School of Asunción Rodríguez de Sala, where he was active in the band and an enthusiastic drummer.

In 1999, he joined the National Guard, where he also played in the band. Later, he joined the Puerto Rico Police Department and became a member of its band. Officials said his record with the force was clean, with no disciplinary or behavioral problems.

His main job for the police was visiting schools and hospitals around Puerto Rico to give demonstrations on his percussion instruments. After he finished, other police officers would speak to the students or patients about gun violence, drugs and bullying, said Jeann Correa, the director of the unit for which he worked. His pay was $2,400 a month.

In 2010, getting a special leave from the police force, he shifted into the Army as a private first class and was quickly promoted to specialist and stationed with the First Armored Division at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Tex. He was an infantryman there but his military record shows that in November, because of a medical condition identified as plantar fasciitis, a painful foot ailment, he moved to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, where he trained to become a truck driver. In February, he was posted to Fort Hood in that capacity.

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