Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Illegal immigrant bouncer escapes deportation TWICE before raping a woman in her home

Idreez Popoola, 34, should have been booted out of Britain in 2006 after his temporary UK visa expired but he was allowed to continue living and working in the country.

In December 2011 he was arrested and told to return to his native Nigeria but he successfully appealed the ruling.

Judges granted the nightclub bouncer temporary leave to stay in January 2012 because he had a wife and child.

Just 11 months later on December 29 last year, he brutally attacked and raped a woman in her home in Northampton.

Sentencing Popoola, Judge Lynn Tayton told him: "It was a serious aggravating factor that the rape took place in the victim's own home as this was an abuse of the trust placed in you by the victim and has undermined her feelings of safety in her own space."
He was jailed for seven years at Northampton Crown Court on October 18 after he was found guilty of rape following a four day trial last month.

He was also ordered to sign the Sex Offenders' Register for life.

Judge Tayton also told him he would be automatically deported back to Nigeria on his release from prison.

The court heard Popoola met his victim while working as an agency-employed bouncer outside Bar So in Northampton town centre.

Gordon Aspden, prosecuting, said: "Mr Popoola met his victim at a McDonald's restaurant in Northampton before taking her to a pub.

"He then persuaded the woman to take him back to her home, she said she was reassured by the fact he was a bouncer and thought he would have been subject to background security checks."

The court heard that almost as soon as he was inside the woman's house in Northampton, Popoola made strong sexual advances towards her before raping her.

A victim impact statement revealed the woman had suffered depression since the attack and had also been forced to move address as she felt her home had been “violated” by Popoola. 
-------Owen Bennett, Telegraph/UK

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Nina Fabunmi's "When Nature Speaks" Art Exhibition


NOVEMBER 1 - 30, 2013


African Woman: Taiye Selasai

No question, a woman's good looks captivates a man's mind and especially when that is combined with some brilliant stuff. Selasai has combined  her looks with talent and the sky is ultimately the limit. Born of a Nigerian mother, a pediatrician; and a Ghanaian father, a surgeon, and raised in Boston, she shuttles in-between cities where she calls home but lives in Rome. In 2011,  Granta published her short stories which was selected for the Best American Short Stories. In March 2013, Penguin Press published her first novel "Ghana Must Go." Image: Donatella Giagnori,

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Liechtenstein Helps Protect the World’s Most Vulnerable Children Against Polio

 Press Release

World Health Organization program to immunize young children against polio with two drops administered oraly in Burgilo Payam (village) in the morning early in the wet season. Date: May 1, 2009. Image: George Steinmetz

The United Nations Foundation applauds a generous, three-year commitment of US$75,000 from the government of the Principality of Liechtenstein to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). Championed by Liechtenstein’s Ambassador to the U.S. Claudia Fritsche, the gift will contribute to polio immunization programs in some of the world's poorest and most marginalized communities where the disease still survives.
“Liechtenstein’s pledge demonstrates that every country, no matter the size, can help thousands of children never experience the crippling effects of polio,” said Ambassador Fritsche. “We all have a part to play in ensuring that future generations are healthy and able to reach their full potential.”

The number of new cases of polio, a disease that once paralyzed 1,000 children a day, dropped by over 99 percent from 1988 to last year. This all-time low presents the best opportunity in history to end polio, which could otherwise spread quickly from the remaining three countries where polio transmission has not yet been stopped—Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Challenges remain, and recent outbreaks make it clear that global support is critical to ending this crippling and sometimes fatal disease.

“We are grateful for Liechtenstein’s contribution to help polio eradication succeed, and look forward to working with governments around the world to stop this disease once and for all,” said Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of the UN Foundation.

Liechtenstein’s commitment also contributes to Every Woman Every Child, an unprecedented global movement, spearheaded by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, to mobilize and intensify global action to improve the health of women and children around the world. Working with leaders from governments, multilateral organizations, the private sector and civil society, Every Woman Every Child aims to save the lives of 16 million women and children and improve the lives of millions more.

Thanks to immunization advocacy by the partners leading GPEI, which include Rotary International, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UN Foundation, most of the world is now polio-free. Since the founding of the GPEI in 1988, the overall number of polio cases worldwide has decreased from 350,000 to 223 in 2012.

Media Contact: Tina Musoke | 202.496.6386 | tmusoke(at)unfoundation(dot)org

About the United Nations Foundation

The United Nations Foundation, a public charity, was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. The UN Foundation builds and implements public/private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and works to broaden support for the UN through advocacy and public outreach. Through campaigns and partnerships, the organization connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The campaigns reduce child mortality, empower women and girls, create a new energy future, secure peace and human rights, and promote technology innovation to improve health outcomes. These solutions are helping the UN advance the eight global targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). For more information, visit http://www.unfoundation.org.

About the Global Polio Eradication Initiative

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is a public-private partnership led by national governments and spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Its goal is to eradicate polio worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.polioeradication.org.

US Senator Apologises For 419 Jibe At Nigerians

United States Senator Ted Cruz on Thursday said he did not mean to offend Nigerians when he took a jibe at the technical glitches being experienced by the website of a new US healthcare law commonly known as Obamacare.

During an appearance in his home state of Texas this week, the Republican Party lawmaker referenced what he called "Nigerian e-mail scammers."

Senator Cruz was speaking about technical glitches on a new US government website that have prevented Americans from buying health insurance under the Affordable Health Care Act, or Obamacare.

Cruz, who has voiced opposition to the measure, jokingly said, "You know the Nigerian e-mail scammers? They have been a lot less active lately because they have all been hired to run the Obamacare web site."

His comments stirred outrage among Nigerians and some political commentators across the world, as they demanded an apology from the controversial senator.

The Texas-based KTRK broadcast station reports that a spokesman for Senator Cruz reacted, saying: "The senator was making a joke based on the official term of a commonly utilised type of scam. He meant no offence."

The Nigerian embassy in Washington has called Cruz's remarks "unguided."

In a statement, the Deputy Chief of Mission, Ambassador B.E. Archibong, said the embassy views the comments as a "very expensive joke that was taken too far," VOA reports.

Senator Cruz's comments have also been criticized by the Nigerian-American Leadership Council.
In a VOA interview, Executive Director Sam Okey Mbonu said Cruz should issue a "clarification."
"It is certainly not the most responsible statement from a United States senator," he said.

"We believe that partisanship has its limits and one does not establish credibility on a national platform by running down a section of the American community."

Okey Mbonu said some Nigerian Americans would consider the joke offensive.

"It is certainly insensitive," he said.

"For a senator who perhaps has some medium-term plans for being in the public for a long period of time, we think that those kinds of comments should be well thought out."

Pastor Felix Awotula with Redeemed Christian Church of God says he fielded calls at his church throughout the day.

"I'm not too sure of the motive behind that. But anyway, the statement has been made, and it has a devastating effect in the mind of Nigerians because we don't want to identify the country with anything negative. I'm not saying all Nigerians are perfect," Awotula said.

A commentator, Dallas Jones, with Elite Change, Inc, said: "That type of dialogue is inflammatory. I think it is one that will divide us, as opposed to unite us, and I think that's what the country wants right now; they want to be united, they want real leadership that's not going to be culturally insensitive."

Some viewers say they've contacted the senator's office, asking for an apology.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Calif. Sheriff's Deputies Shoot, Kill 13-Year-Old

A replica gun that was being carried by a 13-year-old boy in Santa Rosa, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013. Two Sonoma County deputies saw the boy walking with the replica assault weapon at about 3 p.m. local time Tuesday in Santa Rosa. Lt. Dennis O'Leary says they repeatedly ordered him to drop what appeared to be a rifle before firing several rounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — Northern California sheriff's deputies have shot and killed a 13-year-old boy after repeatedly telling him to drop what turned out to be a replica assault rifle, sheriff's officials and family members said.
Two Sonoma County deputies on patrol saw the boy walking with what appeared to be a high-powered weapon Tuesday afternoon in Santa Rosa, sheriff's Lt. Dennis O'Leary said. The replica gun resembled an AK-47 with a black magazine cartridge and brown butt, according to a photograph released by the sheriff's office. Deputies would only learn after the shooting that it wasn't an actual firearm, according to O'Leary.
Rodrigo Lopez identified the boy as his son, Andy, to a newspaper and said the young teen was carrying a toy gun that belonged to a friend. After spotting the boy, the deputies called for backup and repeatedly ordered him to drop the gun, O'Leary said in a news release. It wasn't clear whether he pointed the replica assault rifle at the deputies or made any type of threatening gesture. The sheriff's office referred calls to the Santa Rosa Police Department, which did not immediately return a call for comment.
O'Leary said the deputies fired several rounds from their handguns immediately after issuing the orders to drop the rifle. A neighbor in the area, Brian Zastrow, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat (http://bit.ly/1eJymxx ) he heard seven shots.
"First, I heard a single siren and within seconds I heard seven shots go off, sounded like a nail gun, is what I thought it was," he said. The boy fell to the ground on top of the rifle, according to O'Leary. He said the deputies ordered him to move away before approaching him and putting him in handcuffs.
They began administering first aid and called for paramedics, who pronounced him dead at the scene. Deputies also found a plastic handgun in the boy's waistband, O'Leary said. The deputies, who have not been identified, have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard after a shooting, O'Leary said.
Community members left candles, teddy bears and flowers at the edge of the field where the teen was shot and questioned deputies' decision to open fire. "I'm sure you can tell he's a 13-year-old boy," Abrey Martin told KGO-TV. "He's not some maniac."
Rodrigo Lopez told the Press Democrat he last saw his son Tuesday morning. "I told him what I tell him every day," he said in Spanish. "Behave yourself." The family was back at their mobile home Tuesday night after identifying the boy's body, the Press Democrat reported.
The newspaper quoted the boy's mother, Sujey Annel Cruz Cazarez, as saying, ""Why did they kill him? Why?" Andy Lopez was an eighth-grader at Lawrence Cook Middle School, where assistant principal Linsey Gannon said he played trumpet in the band.
"Andy was a very loved student, a very popular, very handsome young man, very smart and capable,'" she said Wednesday. "Our community has been rocked by his loss."

6 Tunisian Police Killed; Protests Hit Capital

A man shouts during a protest in Tunis, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, calling for the resignation of the government. Some thousands demonstrated in Tunisia on the day of the opening of the country's national dialogue calling for the Islamist-led government to keep its promise and resign to allow fresh elections.

UNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Suspected Islamic militants killed six Tunisian policemen in the impoverished south of the country on Wednesday, while thousands of protesters in the capital called for the government's resignation, citing growing insecurity in the country.
Members of the National Guard converged on an isolated home in the southern village of Sidi Ali Bououn, where they had been tipped off that a suspicious group was hiding, said Lotfi Hidouri, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior.
They were met with gunfire, and in the ensuing clash at least one alleged militant was killed and one wounded, he added. Four other policemen were injured. Tunisia kicked off the Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa when it overthrew its long-ruling dictator in January 2011, and its rocky transition to democracy is being closely watched.
The North African country has been beset by a faltering economy and attacks by al-Qaida-linked militants, including the assassination of two left-wing politicians this year. The developments have spurred opposition to the government, which is led by the moderate Islamist Ennahda party.
Two years ago to the day, Tunisians voted in Ennahda in the country's first free and competitive elections. The Islamists formed a government in alliance with two secular parties. There has been wide dissatisfaction with the government, however, and after talks with the opposition, it agreed to resign following a national dialogue and the formation of a technocratic government to oversee new elections.
Thousands of opposition supporters protested in the center of the capital, Tunis, on Wednesday to keep pressure on the government and ensure that it would keep its promise to resign. Following the overthrow of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's secular dictatorship, hardline Islamist groups have gained popularity in Tunisia, some of whom started arming themselves with weapons from nearby Libya.
Government troops have battled cells of armed militants in the mountains along the border with Algeria as well as in the north, where two policemen were killed in another clash on Oct. 17.

Why I Left Medicine: A Burnt-Out Doctor’s Decision To Quit


Dr. Diane Shannon — plagued by constant worry about her patients and fear of medical errors — walked away from a career as a physician. 

When I introduce myself as a physician who left clinical practice, non-physicians ask me why I left. They’re generally intrigued that someone who sacrificed many years and many dollars for medical training would then change her mind. But physicians, almost universally, never ask me why I left. Instead, they ask me how. They call and email me with logistical questions, wanting to learn the secret of how I managed the transition out of clinical medicine (read “escape”).
Earlier this month I attended a conference on physician well-being at the Massachusetts Medical Society where I heard an alarming statistic: the suicide rate among women physicians is more than two times that of women in the general population.
It may be dramatic and self-serving to frame my career change as a way to avoid suicide, but I can attest that medicine was not conducive to my health. As an internist, working in adult outpatient clinics around Boston, I had trouble leaving my work at work. I’d go for a run and spend the entire 30 minutes wondering if I’d ordered the right diagnostic test. I suffered from chronic early morning wakening, even on my weekends off. I startled easily. I found it impossible to relax. I worried constantly that I’d make a mistake, like ordering the wrong dosage of a medication, or that a system flaw, like an abnormal lab report getting overlooked, would harm a patient. I no longer remembered the joy I’d felt when I first began medical school, and I couldn’t imagine surviving life as a doctor.
I no longer believe it was weakness or selfishness that led me to abandon clinical practice. I believe it was self-preservation. I knew I didn’t have the stamina and single-mindedness to try to provide high-quality, compassionate care within the existing environment. Perhaps, due to temperament or timing, I was less immune than others to the stresses of practicing medicine in a health care system that often seemed blind to humanness, both mine and my patients’.
That’s not to say that I don’t miss practicing medicine. I do. I miss engaging in meaningful interactions and being of service, reassuring an elderly woman that we could make her emphysema easier to endure, bearing witness to a cancer patient’s grace in the face of death, supporting a college student facing an unexpected pregnancy. I miss spending my days in deeply meaningful work. But given my choices at the time, I have no regrets.
I recently interviewed Mark Linzer, M.D., who researches physician burnout, and learned that the underlying causes are fairly predictable. Linzer and his research team found that four factors are associated with higher rates of burnout: time pressure, degree of control regarding work, work pace and level of chaos, and values alignment between the physician and administration. I experienced all four, but I think the greatest source of stress for me was the high level of chaos. I didn’t trust that patients would consistently receive the care they needed. Orders were sometimes incorrect, illegible (in the days before electronic medical records), or overlooked once written. An intravenous catheter left in too long led to widespread infection. Care providers forgot to wash their hands and spread serious infections from one patient to the next. EKGs and x-rays were misread. I’m someone who tends to imagine the worst. In the maelstrom of a chaotic work environment, I was worn down by worry.
Tactics to prevent medical errors have advanced since I practiced medicine. Checklists now remind care providers to replace intravenous catheters. Hand sanitizing gels and handwashing reminders are commonplace in hospitals and clinics now. Electronic ordering systems prevent handwriting errors and signal care providers about drug interactions and duplicate orders. It’s possible that with these improvements my greatest source of stress is now less of an issue, but physician burnout remains a widespread problem.
A 2012 study found that almost half of the practicing physicians surveyed had one or more symptoms of burnout. An online poll in the same year of more than 24,000 physicians found that only 54 percent would choose medicine again as a career, compared with 69 percent in 2011. From personal experience, I know the importance of creating a system in which physicians can fulfill their potential and connect with patients. I believe that until we see physicians as humans, prioritize their well-being, and create systems in which they can provide safe and compassionate care, we cannot expect them to heal others.
Hospital leaders are beginning to understand this equation. At the MMS conference, a panel of hospital executives spoke about the additional pressures on physicians within the current economic climate. I found it encouraging that the hospital leaders saw physician burnout as a serious problem and that many of the changes they were using to combat burnout were relatively simple. At one medical center, leaders attend patient rounds on a regular basis to better understand the physicians’ experience at the frontlines of care. They hold retreats to listen to physician complaints—then follow up on identified issues. Another leader sends thank you notes to physicians each time the hospital receives a complimentary letter from a patient. At another hospital, leaders decided to allow physicians to have more say about their daily schedule at the outpatient clinics. These were not costly interventions, and according to the executives, they seem to be helping.
Some of the solutions to physician burnout may be relatively simple and inexpensive — administration taking the time to understand physicians’ work experience and the barriers they encounter daily. Others are complex and resource-intensive, such as revamping the reimbursement system to measure and reward high quality compassionate care rather than the volume of procedures, tests, and physician visits.
Whether simple or complex, none of the solutions will be easy to execute, especially in the midst of the seismic changes taken place with health reform. But I believe that it’s possible to create a health system that supports physicians in their quest to provide high-quality, safe, compassionate care. I don’t think we can fix the U.S. health care system by expecting superhuman performance from humans under super-sized stress. We will only succeed if we instill safety and compassion for patients and providers in every aspect of care. If I suppress my humanness to survive in an environment that requires such a sacrifice, how will I be able to see yours?
Many groups across the nation are working on ways to infuse more humanity into health care. One example, the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, founded by a health care attorney diagnosed with advanced lung cancer at age 40, helps health care organizations set up meetings where care providers can speak openly about the feelings of distress triggered by their daily work. If I’d had a safe place like “Schwartz Center Rounds” to express my emotions — fear, overwhelm, anger, guilt –perhaps I would have developed the resilience I needed to continue practicing medicine.
Given that I recently celebrated my fiftieth birthday and am happily ensconced in a writing career, it is unlikely that I will return to clinical practice. Sometimes this realization saddens me, but I no longer feel that leaving was weak or selfish.
Instead I believe that because I’ve survived in the trenches and now have a bit of perspective, I can help advocate for changes that will allow other physicians to practice medicine in a way that is life-giving to themselves and the patients they are privileged to serve — the way I had hoped to practice when I first donned my white coat.
Diane W. Shannon, M.D., MPH, is a freelance writer who focuses on performance improvement in health care. She lives in Chestnut Hill.

Kansas Woman Tied To Nigeria Internet Scam Arrested

A tip from a confidential source has helped police arrest a woman involved with internet scams tied to Nigeria.
Lt. Jim Norton with the Salina Police Special Enforcement Bureau said Wednesday, that police received a tip October 17th about someone in Salina involved in internet scams involving the purchase of items off of Craigslist.
Norton said 51-year-old Simone Wortham may have been involved in the scams for the last two years. She was arrested Tuesday after a search of her apartment at 619 S. Santa Fe turned up evidence of the internet fraud, with the recovery of more than $50,000 in bogus money orders made out for the amount of $975.
Investigators have been able to contact 6 of 8 victims of Wortham who were sent the money orders between July 20th and August 14th of this year that were to pay for purchases around $100. They then received a call from Wortham sounding panicked ,and asking them to send money by Western Union for the difference as soon as possible.
Norton said Wortham became involved with the scam through the internet, and that the scams are tied to Nigeria.
Norton said he wants the public to be aware that anytime they sell products on the internet and they receive a money order for an amount that is much higher than the sale price, to either wait 48 to 72 hours to make sure the order clears the bank, or send it back and ask for a money order for the correct amount.
Wortham was booked into the Saline County Jail on requested charges including felony theft, forgery, and making a false writing. The amount of money lost by the victims is $5,425. All of the victims live outside of Kansas.
Norton did not expect any further arrest in Salina, but information is being passed on to the Secret Service and F.B.I. for further investigation.

Six Returnee Pilgrims With Boko Haram Ties Arrested

The 7 Division of the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri on Wednesday confirmed the arrest of six pilgrims, who returned from Saudi Arabia, for allegedly being high ranking members of the Boko Haram sect.
Capt. Aliyu Danja, spokesman of the division, said this while addressing newsmen in Maiduguri. Danja said the suspects were arrested shortly after returning from the Hajj.
“I can confirm to you that six pilgrims were arrested at the Maiduguri International Airport on Monday shortly after their return from Saudi Arabia for allegedly being Boko Haram sect members.
“They were arrested for questioning by the authorities,” he said.
Danja said three of the suspects had, however, been released after being found to be innocent of the allegation.
“Three of the suspects have been released while the rest three are still being investigated,” he said.
Danja said that the division had also introduced “aggressive patrol” along the major highways in the state to curtail Boko Haram attacks on travellers.
“My commander does not joke with issues concerning Boko Haram threats. He has ordered for an aggressive patrol along major highways in the state to prevent attacks on innocent souls,” he said.

----PM News, October 23, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Woman Faces Immigration Charges For Israel Bombing

Rasmieh Yousef Odeh departs the federal courthouse after her initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Mason Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013, in Chicago. Odeh, 66, who was arrested Tuesday, has been ordered to appear before a federal judge in Detroit on Nov. 1 on charges she allegedly lied about her conviction for a deadly bombing more than 40 years ago in Israel.

CHICAGO (AP) — An Arab-American community activist from the Chicago suburbs was arrested Tuesday on immigration charges for allegedly lying about her conviction for a deadly bombing more than 40 years ago in Israel.

Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, 66, spent a decade in an Israeli prison for her involvement in a 1969 attack that involved bombs planted at a crowded Jerusalem supermarket and a British consulate, according to a federal indictment. Only one bomb — one of two placed at the supermarket — exploded, killing the two people and wounding several others. Israeli authorities have said the attacks were planned by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

An Israeli military court sentenced Odeh to life in prison in 1970, but she was released 10 years later in a prisoner exchange with the Popular Front. Israel released 76 prisoners in exchange for an Israeli soldier captured in Lebanon, according to Odeh's indictment.

But U.S. authorities accuse Odeh of failing to mention her conviction and time in prison on immigration papers when she came to the U.S. from Jordan in 1995 and before she became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2004, the indictment says.

Odeh was arrested Tuesday morning at her home in Evergreen Park, just southwest of Chicago, according to prosecutors. She moved to the Chicago area shortly after gaining citizenship in Detroit in 2004, said Khaalid Walls, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Her defense attorney James Fennerty said Odeh has been a close friend of his for years and he never discussed her conviction in Israel or the 10 years she spent in prison. "I never really asked her," he said. "She's one of the nicest people. ... She's always caring. She's not a threat to anyone."

Odeh works as an associate director at the Arab American Action Network, a Chicago-area nonprofit group that advocates for new immigrants and tries to combat anti-Muslim and anti-Arab prejudice, according to its director, Hatem Abudayyeh. According to the network's website, Odeh has a law degree and has worked as a lawyer. It says one of her focuses has been working with domestic-violence groups and addressing various women's issues.

"She is a leader in the community — a stalwart, an icon," said Abudayyeh, who appeared at the Chicago federal court building to support Odeh. He added about her arrest, "It's an escalation of attacks on our community. ... We are very, very angry."

Abudayyeh was one of 23 Palestinian and left-wing activists in Chicago, Minneapolis and Grand Rapids, Mich., whose homes were raided by the FBI around 2010. The government has divulged almost nothing about the investigation since, and no one has been indicted.

Odeh's attorney said there could be a link between his client's arrest and the FBI raids. "Maybe someone is vindictive, (thinking that), 'We didn't get the 23, so we can go after her," Fennerty told reporters.

A message seeking additional comment a spokeswoman for federal prosecutors in Detroit was not returned Tuesday evening. During her initial court appearance, Odeh appeared confused at times during, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Mason repeatedly asked her if she understood what was happening. She later was released from custody on a $15,000 bond, and the judge ordered her to report by Nov. 1 to the federal courthouse in Detroit, where the indictment was handed down. Among other conditions, he barred Odeh from traveling abroad.

If convicted of immigration fraud, Odeh could face up to 10 years in a U.S. prison. She could also be stripped of her U.S. citizenship. The PFLP rose to prominence with a series of hijackings and other attacks in the 1960's and 1970's that killed scores of people. These days, it's a small militant Palestinian faction. The group's leader, Ahmad Saadat, is in jail for his role in the assassination of an Israeli Cabinet minister in 2001.
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara L. McQuade said in a statement that anyone convicted of terrorist attack is barred from entering the United States. "Upon discovery that someone convicted of a terrorist attack is in the United States illegally, we will seek to use our criminal justice system to remove that individual," she said.

Associated Press writers Jamal Halaby in Amman, Jordan, and Ian Deitch in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

Follow Michael Tarm at www.twitter.com/mtarm

Monday, October 21, 2013

France Summons US Ambassador Over Spying

United States Ambassador to France Charles Rivkin (C) summoned for answers Monday, October 21, 2013 that the U.S. National Security Agency swept up 70.3 million French phone records in a 30-day period. The French government has joined a growing list of angry allies over US invasion of its privacy in its aggressive surveillance tactics. Image: AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — France joined a growing list of angry allies Monday who are demanding answers from the United States over aggressive surveillance tactics by the National Security Agency, this time, that it swept up — and in some cases recorded — 70.3 million French telephone calls and emails in one 30 day period.

Keeping tabs on allies is classic spy craft but the sweep and scope of the National Security Agency program have irritated Germany, Britain, Brazil, and most recently Mexico and France. Calling the practice "totally unacceptable,'" an indignant French government demanded an explanation and summoned U.S. Ambassador Charles Rivkin for answers.

Visiting Paris on an unrelated and previously scheduled trip for talks on the Middle East, Secretary of State John Kerry was unapologetic, but told reporters that the U.S. would discuss the matters privately with officials from France and other concerned countries.

"Protecting the security of our citizens in today's world is a very complicated, very challenging task and it is an everyday 24/7/365 task unfortunately because there are lots of people out there seeking to do harm to other people," he said a news conference with Qatar's foreign minister.

"We will have ongoing bilateral consultations, including with our French partners, to address this question of any reports by the U.S. government gathering information from some of the agencies and those consultations are going to continue," Kerry said.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the U.S. already is reviewing its intelligence gathering to strike a "balance between the legitimate security concerns that our citizens have and the privacy concerns that we and our allies have as well about some of these alleged intelligence activities."

"We certainly hope that it doesn't" damage the United States' close working relationship with France, she added. In his meeting with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius' chief of staff Rivken "expressed his appreciation of the importance of the exchange, and promised to convey the points made back to Washington," a statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Paris said.

The level of the meeting, between the U.S. ambassador and an aide to Fabius suggested that while France was talking a tough line in public, it might not be overly outraged by the revelations. Kerry, who landed in Paris early Monday, could have been contacted if relations were in danger.

The report in Le Monde, co-written by Glenn Greenwald, who originally revealed the surveillance program based on leaks from former NSA contractor Snowden, found that when certain numbers were used, the conversations were automatically recorded. The surveillance operation also swept up text messages based on key words, Le Monde reported, based on records from Dec. 10 to Jan 7.

The French government, which wants the surveillance to cease, also renewed demands for talks on protection of personal data. "This sort of practice between partners that invades privacy is totally unacceptable and we have to make sure, very quickly, that this no longer happens," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said during a meeting in Luxembourg with his European counterparts. Fabius said the U.S. ambassador had been summoned to the Foreign Ministry.

The most recent documents cited by Le Monde, dated to April 2013, also indicated the NSA's interest in email addresses linked to Wanadoo — once part of France Telecom — and Alcatel-Lucent, the French-American telecom company. One of the documents instructed analysts to draw not only from the electronic surveillance program, but also from another initiative dubbed Upstream, which allowed surveillance on undersea communications cables.

Associated Press writer Lori Hinnant in Paris contributed to this report.

Former Informant Suing US For Abandoning Her

Lawyer Ignacio J. Alvarez talks about freedom of press in San Jose, Costa Rica. Alvarez is one of two lawyers representing Astrid Hurtado, 52, a former confidential informant working for the United States in Colombia, in a lawsuit claim that the U.S. government abandoned her when she got in legal trouble for her undercover operations, and wound up spending three years in a Colombian jail. Hurtado first worked as an informant for the Internal Revenue Service in 1997-1998, then for the "El Dorado Task Force,” a premier U.S. government unit established by the then-U.S. Customs Service to investigate money laundering. She is seeking $15 million in damages.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A former confidential informant working for the United States in Colombia claims in a lawsuit that the U.S. government abandoned her when she got into legal trouble for her undercover operations, and she wound up spending three years in a Colombian jail.

Astrid Hurtado is seeking $15 million in damages. Hurtado, 52, first worked as an informant for the Internal Revenue Service in 1997-1998, then for the "El Dorado Task Force," a premier U.S. government unit established by the then-U.S. Customs Service to investigate money laundering.

Her job was to impersonate a money launderer in Colombia and provide information to the U.S. In return, she received a percentage of money seized by the United States. Hurtado told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that she was paid around $120,000 for her work over a roughly 18-month period from 1998 to 2000.

According to a 2006 sworn statement by a federal prosecutor, Hurtado's work led to the investigation, trial and guilty pleas of three people on drug-money-laundering charges. Hurtado provided information to federal agents about drug money in the United States and would direct people she had contracted with to deliver money to undercover agents, the sworn statement said.

Hurtado, a Colombian citizen, is currently living in Florida, but her visa under the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Humanitarian Parole Program expires Wednesday, according to her lawyers, Ignacio J. Alvarez and Piper Hendricks. They said they are taking steps to request that she can legally remain in the United States, and they have filed a petition for asylum.

Hurtado said she's sure she would be killed by Colombian criminals because of her undercover work if she were to return there. She said she was arrested in Colombia in 2003 for the money-laundering work she had been doing for the U.S. government. According to her lawsuit, pending in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, it wasn't until four months later that the U.S. Embassy in Colombia sent a letter to the Colombian government confirming that Hurtado was an active informant for the money-laundering investigations unit. But a Colombian judge ruled the letter was inadmissible, according to the lawsuit.

Repeated attempts by the judge and the Colombian government to get a U.S. Embassy official to testify at Hurtado's trial or answer a questionnaire were met with silence, according to the lawsuit. Nor did officials in the United States respond in time to a separate request from the Colombian judge for information about Hurtado's role as an informant.

In early 2006, she was convicted of money laundering, sentenced to 7 ½ years in prison and fined the equivalent of $1.6 million. In jail, "I was treated as if I was the worst criminal," Hurtado said in the interview with AP, speaking Spanish as her lawyers translated. "For the first two years, I had a jail guard beside me even to go to the bathroom. I was mixed with people who I had transmitted information on, and there was a rumor they were going to kill an informant."

"I feel very sad, very betrayed, and I hope I find some justice," she said. In August 2006, after three years in behind bars, Hurtado was released on probation. About a month later, the U.S. government finally responded to the judge's inquiry with the six-page sworn statement from a federal prosecutor detailing Hurtado's informant work for the El Dorado Task Force. The document also included a copy of a check made out to Hurtado from the U.S. Customs Service.

In the lawsuit, Hurtado's lawyers argue that the U.S. breached its duties to Hurtado by failing to negotiate protection for her with the Colombian government. U.S. government officials declined to discuss the case.
In a court filing, the Justice Department has asked the federal claims court to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that Hurtado can't establish that any U.S. official with the "requisite authority" had contractually obligated the government to intervene or assist her in litigation. Neither that filing nor a subsequent one addressed the facts in Hurtado's claims.

A former U.S. law enforcement official familiar with Hurtado's case said that U.S. officials were prepared to tell the Colombian government that Hurtado was working under the direction of the United States and that she should be released. But Hurtado's family refused that offer, fearful about the impact of outing her as an informant, said the official, who lacked authorization to discuss the case and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Hurtado denied that. She said that before working for the U.S., she would purchase American dollars at a reduced rate, then sell them to businesspeople and receive a commission. She said the United States then approached her to work undercover.

According to an International Narcotics Control Strategy Report issued by the State Department this year, money laundering from Colombia's cocaine and heroin trade "continues to penetrate its economy and affect its financial institutions." It says laundered money in Colombia is derived from activities such as commercial smuggling for tax and import duty evasion, kidnapping, arms trafficking and terrorism.

Associated Press writer Libardo Cardona in Bogota, Colombia, contributed to this report.
Follow Fred Frommer on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ffrommer

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Boko Haram Slaughters 19 At Checkpoint In Yobe


Suspected members of the Boko Haram militant sect has launched another attack on Sunday, killing no fewer than 19 people, mostly by slitting their throats, at a checkpoint in Yobe.

In the operation, members of the sect also burnt about five trucks, our correspondent gathered.
It was learnt that the members of the sect disguised as soldiers to carry out the assault.

Our correspondent also gathered that unlike the terrorism sect's previous operations, knives were used to on Sunday.

One of the survivors, Adamu Mallam, said he was dragged out of his vehicle, adding that in the process, men dressed in military uniforms shot two people dead.

"They made me lie face down on the ground. I was next to be killed," he told Reuters by telephone in a quaking voice.

Mallam, who is a trader, added, "I heard a man close to me screaming. They slaughtered him with a knife. They set five trucks ablaze during the assault."

Mallam said he escaped when the attackers got a call telling them that a military patrol was coming, which made them ride off.

"One of the attackers received a phone call and they all rode off on motorbikes," Mallam and another trader said.

Another trader assumed that the call received by the suspected Boko Haram members was an alert informing them to flee.

"I suspect they were alerted to a security presence so had to flee. That call saved our lives," said the other trader, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals.

However, Boko Haram, which is Nigeria's top security threat despite an all-out military offensive against it ordered by President Goodluck Jonathan in May.

Suspected Boko Haram gunmen killed 159 people in two roadside attacks in northeast Nigeria last month, also involving fake checkpoints.

In one of the most harrowing last month, suspected Boko Haram fighters stormed a college in northeastern Nigeria and shot dead around 40 male students.

Amnesty International reported last week that around 1,000 people, mostly Boko Haram suspects, had died in Nigerian jails in the first half of the year.

It said some starved to death while others died after being shot or badly beaten without medical attention.
But, the government says detainees are well treated and rarely dealt with.


Authorities Capture 2 Fla. Prisoners At Motel

oseph Jenkins poses for a photo. Within days of strolling out of prison without a hitch, convicted killers Charles Walker and Jenkins, freed by bogus paperwork went to a jail about 300 miles away and registered as felons, records showed. They were even fingerprinted and filled out paperwork to apparently keep up the ruse.

PANAMA CITY BEACH, FlORIDA. (AP) — Two convicted killers who were freed from prison by phony documents were captured together without incident Saturday night at a motel here, authorities said.
Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker, both 34, were not armed when they were taken into custody at the Coconut Grove Motor Inn in a touristy area near putt-putt courses and go-kart tracks. Several hours earlier, their families had held a news conference in Orlando — some 300 miles away — urging them to surrender.

A woman who answered the phone at the motel said she saw police coming and they went into room 227. After authorities had left, the parking lot of the two-story motel next to Big Willy's Swimwear was mostly empty. Authorities think the men had been in the area since Wednesday.

Jenkins and Walker were both serving life sentences at the Franklin Correctional Facility in the Panhandle before they walked out without anyone realizing the paperwork, complete with case numbers and a judge's forged signature, was bogus. The documents reduced their life sentences to 15 years.

Jenkins was released first on Sept. 27. His uncle and father figure, Henry Pearson, said when prison officials called him in Orlando he jumped in the car with fresh clothes for Jenkins and picked him up from prison.
He drove him to see his mother and grandmother. Jenkins hung around Pearson's home for a couple of days and registered as a felon Sept. 30 at an Orlando jail, as he was required by law. He filled out paperwork, had his photograph taken and his fingerprints were checked against a database to make sure he didn't have any outstanding warrants for his arrest.

The Orange County jail official who interacted with him had no idea he was supposed to be locked up, Sheriff Jerry Demings said. Pearson planned a birthday party for Jenkins on Oct. 1, but he didn't show. Pearson thought little of it because Jenkins had friends in the area, and after all, he had been locked up since the 1998 killing and botched robbery of Roscoe Pugh, an Orlando man.

About a week later, on Oct. 8, Walker was let out of the same prison when similar legitimate-looking documents duped prison officials. His mother, Lillie Danzy, said the family thought their prayers had been answered when she got a call saying her son was being released. She called prison officials back to make sure it was actually happening.

There wasn't time to pick him up, so prison officials took him to a bus station, gave him a ticket — as they would any other ex-inmate — and sent him along. Walker had been in prison since his conviction of second-degree murder in the 1999 Orange County slaying of 23-year-old Cedric Slater. Like Jenkins, he registered at the Orange County jail three days after his release without raising any alarms.

He knocked around town and went to church last Sunday, but at some point, he and Jenkins went underground. On Tuesday, one of Pugh's relatives contacted the state attorney's office to let them know Jenkins had been let out. Pugh's family had been notified by mail, which is typical for families of violent crime victims.

Prosecutors reviewed Jenkins' case file and quickly discovered the forged paperwork, including motions from prosecutors to correct "illegal" sentences, accompanied by orders allegedly filed by Judge Belvin Perry within the last couple of months. The orders granted a 15-year sentence.

They soon discovered Walker's paperwork was also falsified, and a manhunt was launched for both men. At this point, Jenkins had been free for more than two weeks. Walker had been out for a week. Had Pugh's family not contacted prosecutors, it's not clear how long they may have been on the run unnoticed.

For the past four days, authorities believe the men were in the Panama City area, said Frank Chiumento, a chief inspector with the U.S. Marshals Service. Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey said authorities were able to track down the men through interviews with people who visited them at the prison, called them there or made deposits into their canteen account. That included family members and ex-girlfriends and others, he said.

"The key piece of this was an individual or individuals that had made deposits into their canteen accounts at the prison," Bailey said. The men weren't planning on staying in Panama City Beach very long, he said. Someone from Atlanta was coming to pick them up and take them somewhere else, Bailey said. The investigation will now turn to the forgeries, he said.

"Now that we have them in custody, we're hoping to get something from the interviews with them," Bailey said. "We seized printers from the prisons, now we're going to be able to throw a lot of resources at this part of the investigation. We're already working it and there's already a lot going on."

Forensic experts were reviewing the documents, he said. The falsified paperwork exposed gaps in Florida's judicial system. In light of the errors, the Corrections Department changed the way it verifies early releases and prison officials will now verify with judges — not just court clerks — before releasing prisoners early.
Pearson said he was shocked to learn earlier this week that his nephew was not supposed to be out of prison. He said it took him a day or two to actually process what had happened. On Saturday night, he heard about the captures while watching TV. Soon after, a law enforcement agent called his home unexpectedly and let Jenkins talk to his wife.

"He just said that he was OK and that he loved us," Pearson said. "We have a great sense of relief because we did not know how this would end up."

Associated Press photographer John Raoux in Orlando and reporter Jonathan Drew in Atlanta contributed to this report.

Follow Farrington at www.twitter.com/bsfarrington

Kennedy's Vision For Mental Health Never Realized

President John F. Kennedy signs a bill authorizing $329 million for mental health programs at the White House in Washington. The Community Mental Health Act, the last legislation that Kennedy signed, aimed to build 1,500 mental health centers so those with mental illnesses could be treated while living at home, rather than being kept in state institutions. It brought positive changes, but was never fully funded. Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy will host a conference on Oct. 24, 2013 in Boston, to mark the 50th anniversary of the act, and formulate an agenda to continue improving mental health care.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The last piece of legislation President John F. Kennedy signed turns 50 this month: the Community Mental Health Act, which helped transform the way people with mental illness are treated and cared for in the United States.

Signed on Oct. 31, 1963, weeks before Kennedy was assassinated, the legislation aimed to build mental health centers accessible to all Americans so that those with mental illnesses could be treated while working and living at home, rather than being kept in neglectful and often abusive state institutions, sometimes for years on end.

Kennedy said when he signed the bill that the legislation to build 1,500 centers would mean the population of those living in state mental hospitals — at that time more than 500,000 people — could be cut in half. In a special message to Congress earlier that year, he said the idea was to successfully and quickly treat patients in their own communities and then return them to "a useful place in society."

Recent deadly mass shootings, including at the Washington Navy Yard and a Colorado movie theater, have been perpetrated by men who were apparently not being adequately treated for serious mental illnesses. Those tragedies have focused public attention on the mental health system and made clear that Kennedy's vision was never fully realized.

The legislation did help to usher in positive life-altering changes for people with serious illnesses such as schizophrenia, many of whom now live normal, productive lives with jobs and families. In 1963, the average stay in a state institution for someone with schizophrenia was 11 years. But only half of the proposed centers were ever built, and those were never fully funded.

Meanwhile, about 90 percent of beds have been cut at state hospitals, according to Paul Appelbaum, a Columbia University psychiatry professor and expert in how the law affects the practice of medicine. In many cases, several mental health experts said, that has left nowhere for the sickest people to turn, so they end up homeless, abusing substances or in prison. The three largest mental health providers in the nation today are jails: Cook County in Illinois, Los Angeles County and Rikers Island in New York.

"The rhetoric was very highfalutin. The reality was a little more complicated, and the funds that were provided were not adequate to the task," said Steven Sharfstein, president and CEO of Sheppard Pratt Health System, a nonprofit behavioral health organization in Baltimore.

"The goals of deinstitutionalization were perverted. People who did need institutional care got thrown out, and there weren't the programs in place to keep them supported," said former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, the president's nephew. "We don't have an alternate policy to address the needs of the severely mentally ill."
He is gathering advocates in Boston this week for the Kennedy Forum, a meeting to mark the 50th anniversary of his uncle's legislation and an attempt to come up with an agenda for improving mental health care.

The 1963 legislation came amid other changes in treatments for the mentally ill and health care policy in general, Appelbaum said. Chlorpromazine or Thorazine, the first effective antipsychotic medicine, was released in the 1950s. That allowed many people who were mentally ill to leave institutions and live at home.
In 1965, with the adoption of Medicaid, deinstitutionalization accelerated, experts said, because states now had an incentive to move patients out of state hospitals, where they shouldered the entire cost of their care, and into communities where the federal government would pick up part of the tab.

Later, a movement grew to guarantee rights to people with mental illness. Laws were changed in every state to limit involuntary hospitalization so people can't be committed without their consent, unless there is a danger of hurting themselves or others.

Kennedy's legislation provided for $329 million to build mental health centers that were supposed to provide services to people who had formerly been in institutions, as well as to reach into communities to try to prevent the occurrence of new mental disorders. Had the act been fully implemented, there would have been a single place in every community for people to go for mental health services.

But one problem with the legislation was that it didn't provide money to operate the centers long-term. "Having gotten them off the ground, the federal government left it to states and localities to support," Appelbaum said. "That support by and large never came through."

Later, during the Reagan administration, the remaining funding for the act was converted into a mental health block grant for states, allowing them to spend it however they chose. Appelbaum called it a death knell because it left the community health centers that did exist on their own for funding.

Robert Drake, a professor of psychiatry and community and family medicine at Dartmouth College, said some states have tried to provide good community mental health care. "But it's been very hard for them to sustain that because when state budget crunches come, it's always easiest to defund mental health programs because the state legislature gets relatively little pushback," he said. "Services are at a very low level right now. It's really kind of a disaster situation in most states."

Sharfstein points out that most mentally ill people are at a very low risk of becoming violent. He said it's unthinkable we would go back to the era when people were housed in "nightmare" conditions at overcrowded, understaffed and sometimes dangerous state hospitals.

"The opportunity to recover is much greater now than it was in 1963," he said. But for those who do not take their medication, don't recover from their first episode of illness and don't seek treatment and support from professionals, they are vulnerable to homelessness, incarceration and death, he said.

Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health, counts among its 2,100 member organizations many of the original community mental health centers that were built under the 1963 legislation.

"Whenever you pass a piece of legislation, people would like to think that you've solved the problem," she said. "It did some very important things. It laid some ground work. It's up to us now to move forward."

Associated Press news researcher Judith Ausuebel in New York contributed to this report.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Iran Talks With West But Battles Over Outreach

Photo: AP Iranian girls, one of them holding up a caricature of President Barack Obama while others hold pro-government posters, attend an annual state-backed rally in front of the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran, commemorating 33rd anniversary of the embassy takeover by militant students. On Nov. 4, 1979, students who believed the embassy was a center of plots against Iran held 52 Americans hostages for 444 days, and the US severed formal diplomatic ties in response. In a sharp counterpoint to the Western outreach by President Hassan Rouhani’s government, hard-line factions in Iran have amplified their bluster and backlash in messages that they cannot be ignored in any diplomatic moves with Washington either in the nuclear talks or beyond.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The Iranian foreign minister's parting words in Geneva carried hopes that the U.S. and other world powers could begin closing the gap with Tehran over its nuclear program. He returns home with perhaps an even tougher challenge at finding common ground.

In a sharp counterpoint to the Western outreach by President Hassan Rouhani's government, hard-line factions in Iran have amplified their bluster and backlash in messages that they cannot be ignored in any diplomatic moves with Washington either in the nuclear talks or beyond.

They also hold important sway over the pace and direction of Iran's nuclear program through the Revolutionary Guard, the single most powerful institution in Iran. Without its clear backing, the West and its allies could grow increasingly skeptical over Rouhani's ability to deliver on efforts to ease fears that Iran could be moving toward an atomic weapon or a so-called threshold state — without an actual bomb, but with all the expertise and material in place.

"Iran's hard-liners are the not-so-silent partners in everything that Rouhani has set in motion," said Scott Lucas, an Iranian affairs expert at Britain's Birmingham University. "The Revolutionary Guard is never a bystander in Iran."

It's still unclear whether the Guard would agree to potential demands such as increased U.N. monitoring at nuclear and related sites. So far, however, there have few smooth patches with Rouhani. His outreach has brought swift criticism from the Guard and its wide network, including a national paramilitary force known as the Basij.

Even the smallest gestures toward the U.S. by Iran poke at a nest of complications: Deep historical grievances, perceptions of national pride and a culture of "enemy" resistance that runs to the core of groups such as the Revolutionary Guard, which is instinctively wary about anything that could chip away at its vast influence that stretches from the military to the economy.

For Rouhani and his allies, it also means a possibly short leash. Iran's top decision-maker, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has allowed Rouhani to reach out to the U.S. The immediate goal is trying to address concerns over Iran's nuclear program and getting painful economic sanctions rolled back in return. Two days of talks in Geneva this week between Iran and envoys from six nations — the permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany — ended with rare optimism that at least some new paths have been opened to explore.

But all noted that the negotiating process could drift well into next year, and it remains unclear whether Iran could offer verifiable concessions needed to end the deadlock. In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Iran had offered "a proposed approach" on moving the talks forward.
The West fears Iran's uranium enrichment labs eventually could churn out weapons-grade material, and some in Israel and elsewhere worry the outreach and goodwill by Rouhani is merely a ploy to buy time. Iran insists it does not seek nuclear weapons.

It's likely that Khamenei will keep his backing for Rouhani's initiatives as long as it seems Iran is moving toward it objectives of easing sanctions, which have strangled the economy by cutting into vital oil exports and blocking the country from international banking networks.

But any stumbles — such as the West demanding sweeping United Nations inspections — certainly would bring a barrage of outrage from Iranian hard-liners. That, in turn, could pressure Khamenei to reconsider his support for Rouhani's bid at historic detente with Washington.

"The Rouhani government understands that," said Ehsan Ahrari, a Virginia-based strategic affairs analyst. "It is operating under a very short window of opportunity." This is part of the motivation behind Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif's insistence for talks to quickly reconvene. The next two-day round is scheduled to begin Nov. 7 in Geneva.

At the same time, Iran's Revolutionary Guard and others are making it clear that Rouhani's government will get no free pass in expanding dialogue with Washington after a nearly 34-year diplomatic freeze.

Hard-line factions, including Guard commanders, have pledged to stage a major anti-U.S. rally Nov. 4, the anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in 1979 in the wake of the Islamic Revolution. The date is marked each year by gatherings outside the former embassy's brick walls, which are covered with anti-American murals. But the fervor has waned in recent years, with authorities bringing school children by bus to help fill out the crowds.

Gen. Masoud Jazayeri, a senior Guard commander, said a "death to the U.S. committee" will be set up to organize next month's rally, promising chants of "death to America" louder than any previous years.

It's a direct response to appeals this month by Rouhani's political mentor, former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, to drop the familiar slogan from events such as Friday prayers at Tehran University. In a speech Tuesday in the western city of Kermanshah, Rafsanjani repeatedly was interrupted by opponents bellowing anti-American chants.

Rafsanjani countered that Rouhani's critics are holding the nation back. "If extremists allow us to have relations with the world, many of the problems of the country will be resolved," he told a group of industrialists and businessmen. "Otherwise, we will get nowhere."

These kind of ideological collisions are not new in Iran. They flared nonstop during the 1997-2005 presidency of reformist Mohammad Khatami. In 2009, they triggered the worst domestic unrest since the Islamic Revolution following the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

But even deeper questions have been dredged up by the overtures to Washington opened by Rouhani at the U.N. in New York, which included a groundbreaking phone call from President Barack Obama. It challenges a power structure that gives the Revolutionary Guard and other hard-liners vast controls over policymaking, and forces many Iranians to re-evaluate generations of anti-American views that go back to a U.S.-backed coup that reinstalled the pro-Western shah dynasty in 1953.

"It scares Iran's hard-liners like almost nothing else can," Mustafa Alani, a political analyst at the Gulf Research Center in Geneva. "Taking away the fear of the 'enemy' — even if just a little bit for now — strikes directly at the cornerstones of groups like the Revolutionary Guard."

Rouhani's government has proposed conducting an opinion poll on U.S. relations in a maneuver to possible muffle hard-liners. The idea, however, has been blasted by former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Khamenei.

"To offer their opinion, the people need to have access to secret information," he said. "And it will be contrary to national interests to expose the secrets because the enemy will learn about it."

Murphy reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Forged Docs Led To Release Of 2 Killers In Florida

Joseph Jenkins. Jenkins and Charles Walker were mistakenly released from prison in Franklin County, Fla., in late September and early October. According to authorities,  the two convicted murderers were released with forged documents. A manhunt is under way for the two men.

ORLANDO, FLORIDA. (AP) — At first glance, the paperwork ordering the release of two convicted murderers serving life sentences in a Florida prison looked legitimate.

So the guards at Franklin Correctional Institution put one of the men on a bus and opened the gates for the other to ride away with family. Authorities now say prison officials were duped by the court documents, which included a fake motion from a prosecutor and a judge's forged signature.

The release led to a manhunt across Central Florida, but the inmates have a significant head start. Joseph Jenkins was let out Sept. 27, and Charles Walker was freed Oct. 8. Both are 34. Chief Circuit Judge Belvin Perry said Thursday there were several red flags that should have attracted attention from the court clerk's office or the Corrections Department. Namely, it's rare for a judge to order a sentencing reduction, and even more uncommon for the request to come from prosecutors.

"One of the things we have never taken a close look at is the verification of a particular document to make sure it's the real McCoy," said Perry, whose name was forged on the paperwork. "I knew that that was always a possibility, but you never want that possibility occurring in the way that it did."

It wasn't clear exactly who wrote the paperwork or how authorities discovered the error. Local, state and prison officials were searching for the men. "These two individuals are out. They shouldn't be, and we want to get them back in custody," Orange County Sheriff's Office spokesman Angelo Nieves said.

Jenkins was found guilty of first-degree murder in the 1998 killing of an Orlando man. Jenkins and his cousin were convicted in the shooting death of Roscoe Pugh in a botched robbery. Upon hearing of Jenkins' release, his former attorney, Bob Wesley, said he was sure "it wasn't a cunning master plan."

Wesley, now the public defender for metro Orlando, recalled his client's crime and said Jenkins broke into a home of someone he knew and was "not smart enough to pull his ski mask down." Jenkins' cousin Angelo Pearson was also sentenced to life and is serving time at a different Florida prison.

Walker was convicted of second-degree murder in a 1999 slaying in Orange County. He told investigators that 23-year-old Cedric Slater was bullying him and he fired three shots intending to scare him. Walker's then-defense attorney, Robert LeBlanc, now a judge in Orlando, refused to comment.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Misty Cash didn't know which man had been dropped off at the bus station, but said prison officials routinely work with inmates who are getting out. "If they need a bus ticket, we'll provide that for them," she said.

In a statement, Corrections Secretary Michael Crews said his agency was reviewing records to make sure no other inmates had been released in a similar fashion. The agency said in a statement later Thursday it verified the prisoners' release information with the clerk's office, though it said this could have been done by checking the court's website or contacting the office directly. The statement didn't say which one the agency did.

State Rep. Darryl Rouson, the Democratic ranking member of the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee, said the Legislature should hold hearings to examine the agency's procedures. "This is unconscionable, almost unthinkable," said Rouson, a St. Petersburg lawyer. "People have faith in government that will keep the peace and justice."

Republican Gov. Rick Scott said once the men are apprehended, he will focus on making sure it doesn't happen again. "The first thing you do when something like this happens is solve the problem you have at hand," he said. "We need to apprehend these individuals and that's what we're doing."

In both cases, the forged paperwork included motions from an Orlando prosecutor to correct "illegal" sentences, accompanied by orders filed by Perry within the last couple of months granting a 15-year sentence. Perry is best known for presiding over the Casey Anthony murder trial in 2011.

Leesa Bainbridge, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Clerk of Courts, said the office moves thousands of pages of court documents a day and currently has no way of authenticating those that pass through to other agencies.

"We're kind of like the post office," Bainbridge said. "It comes in and we move it along." Bainbridge said officials in the clerk's office plan to talk about what measures, if any, can be put in place to make sure something similar doesn't happen again.

"This is something we take very seriously," she said. "We don't find this funny." Perry said changing the type of paper orders are printed on or requiring a phone call to the judge's office when an order involves sentencing could help.

Newer, more technologically advanced measures may have to be implemented as Florida's court system finishes transitioning into a paperless system, he said. "I think this will open that discussion," Perry said.

Farrington reported from Tallahassee.

Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter: http://twitter.com/mikeschneiderap
Follow Brendan Farrington on Twitter: http://twitter.com/bsfarrington

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Italy Remembers 1943 Roundup Of Jews Amid Turmoil

In this photo provided by the Presidential Press service, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano meets some survivors of the deportation of Jews from Rome's ghetto at the end of a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the roundup, at the Rome Sinagogue Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013. Italy marked the 70th anniversary of the roundup and deportation of Jews from Rome's ghetto amid turmoil over the late Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke and his Holocaust-denying final statement.

ROME (AP) — Italy on Wednesday marked the 70th anniversary of the roundup and deportation of Jews from Rome's ghetto amid deep anger over the late Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke and his Holocaust-denying final statement.

Priebke died Friday in Rome, where he was serving a life term for his role in the 1944 massacre of 335 civilians at the Ardeatine Caves outside the capital. It was one of the worst atrocities of Germany's World War II occupation of Italy.

His death at age 100 has unleashed a torrent of emotion, because he left behind a document in which he not only defended his actions but denied that Jews were gassed in Nazi death camps. His stance enraged Rome's Jewish community, which gathered Wednesday in Rome's main synagogue to commemorate the Oct. 16, 1943, roundup of Jews bound for Auschwitz and to warn of the continued dangers posed by Holocaust deniers like Priebke.

The head of Italy's Jewish communities, Renzo Gattegna, referred to Priebke in his remarks but refused to pronounce his name "to not profane this sacred place." He said the Nazis were assassins of innocents.
"Their followers are assassins of memory. They will never win," he declared. On Tuesday, a Senate committee passed a bill criminalizing such Holocaust denial — passage that was given greater impulse because of the outcry over Priebke's final words. The head of Rome's Jewish community, Riccardo Pacifici, urged full passage of the bill in Parliament.

Pacifici said the uproar over Priebke had at least one positive outcome in that it showed the "beautiful face of Italy." Both civil and Catholic Church officials in Rome denied Priebke a church funeral and burial, fearing such an event could have turned into a pilgrimage for neo-Nazis.

Those fears were borne out on Tuesday, when plans by a fringe Catholic church to celebrate a funeral Mass for Priebke were called off amid clashes between Priebke's right-wing supporters and protesters in the city of Albano Laziale, south of Rome.

There remained the question of what to do with Priebke's remains, which reportedly were spirited out of the Albano church overnight and taken to a military air base. Rome's mayor and prefect announced that negotiations were underway with Germany to take them.

In Berlin, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer confirmed there had been "informal contacts" with Italian authorities. He said he wasn't aware of anything that would prevent a German citizen from being buried in Germany but that it was a matter for Priebke's family and the Italian authorities to work out.

Wednesday's anniversary commemorations began at 5:30 a.m. with the sounding of the shofar, a ram's horn trumpet, to commemorate the moment when Nazi forces rounded up more than 1,000 Jews from Rome's ghetto and nearby neighborhoods and sent them by train to Auschwitz. Only 16 survived.

Two of them are still alive, including Enzo Camerino, 84, who was 14 when he, his mother, father, brother, sister and uncle were taken from their home at Viale delle Milizie near the Vatican. In an interview Wednesday, Camerino told The Associated Press what happened next — a story he told Pope Francis in person during a private audience earlier in the day: how the family was kept at Rome's military college for two days, then taken by train and brought to Auschwitz in a railway car chock full of women, children and the sick.

"In the first years after, I didn't talk about it with anyone," Camerino said over coffee with his daughter Julia, who is named for his late mother. "Then we started going back to the concentration camps and I started to talk about the past."

He rolled up his sleeve to reveal the individual prisoner number that was tattooed onto the forearms of Auschwitz inmates: 158509. He also immediately recalled the prisoner numbers of his father and uncle, who both died in the Nazi death camp.

Asked how the recent furor over Priebke has affected him, Camerino said he felt little emotion but acknowledged the unfairness of life. "For me, he never should have lived to be 100," he told the AP.

Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed.

Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfield