Police Kill 95-Year-Old Nursing Home Resident With Taser, Bean Bag Shot

A 95-year-old resident of a Chicago-area assisted-living nursing home was killed after police attempted to subdue him Friday with a Taser and bean bag rounds shot from a gun.

According to a press release issued by the police department in Park Forest, Ill., officers were called to assist with subduing 95-year-old John Warna, allegedly combative because he did not want to be restrained and forced to undergo an “involuntary” medical procedure at the Victory Centre of Park Forest, the assisted-living facility where he resided.

Warna allegedly had held the medical staff at bay with a long shoehorn and a walking cane. When police arrived, he allegedly dropped the shoehorn and picked up a 12-inch kitchen knife.

After resisting the cops’ demands that he put down the knife and cane and surrender for his treatment, Warna was shot with a Taser, but apparently he remained undeterred. So the cops fired bean bag rounds at Warna, which indeed forced him to drop the knife. He was taken into custody and transported to an Oak Lawn hospital, and remained responsive in the immediate aftermath of the ordeal.

However, he died early Saturday from stomach bleeding. The Cook County medical examiner’s office attributed the bleeding to “blunt force trauma” to his midsection caused by the bean bag shots. The examiner ruled the man’s death a homicide.

Bean bag rounds are made of lead shot, which is encased in a fabric bag. They can be fired from a traditional shotgun, and, like Tasers, are used to immobilize noncompliant suspects. Fired at close range, bean bag rounds typically cause traumatic injuries, such as broken ribs and internal bleeding.

Nursing home staff said Warna had not been an unruly resident before Friday’s incident.

The Park Forest Police Department is reviewing the incident. Other than the press release, which was emailed to The Chicago Tribune, there has been no other official statement from Park Forest Police Chief Clifford Butz. The Illinois State Police Public Integrity Unit is also reviewing the case.

Congress Moving To Kill Citizen Journalism

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is calling on Congress (and voters who elect Senators and Congressmen) to back off a pair of bills that take direct aim at the freedoms of bloggers, independent journalists and small media outlets to gain access to information while protecting their sources.

Introduced in May, the pair of bills (H.R. 1962 and S.B. 987) attempt to define who “journalists” are in such a way that favors the mainstream media while excluding just about everybody else. That’s accomplished with the phrase “covered person,” which the legislation goes on to define as someone who makes his living from researching and reporting the news or who regularly researches and reports news.

The problem with that, says EFF, is that the legislation seeks to endorse a professional class of journalists — ironically so, since the professional class of journalists is often most ineffectual, as industry maverick Gay Talese once observed. Why can’t Congress just do the Constitutional thing and submit to the idea that anyone, at any time, can be a “journalist?” If today’s lawmakers just have to fill their time in Washington by drafting more legislation, why can’t they at least do a little less harm by simply defining the practice of journalism instead of the person engaged in it?

If these bills–support for which the White House reaffirmed in its DOJ report–pass without change, Congress effectively will create two tiers of journalists: the institutional press licensed by the government, and everyone else. That’s a pretty flimsy shield if what we are really trying to protect is the free flow of information.

…So what’s the solution? Congress should link shield law protections to the practice of journalism as opposed to the profession. Not only does this fix ensure that bloggers and freelancers are not categorically denied access to the protections to which they should be entitled under the law, but also it addresses lawmakers’ concerns, recently voiced by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) in a June 26 op-ed, that in the absence of a legal definition of journalist anyone can claim to be one, thereby diluting the law by stretching it beyond any relevant boundaries. We can have a line in the sand; it simply needs to be one that is meaningfully tied to what journalism actually is…

It won’t be long before each bill comes up for a vote. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to begin marking up its version of the bill within a week. The House already has referred its version to two judiciary subcommittees. And the legislation, of course, has President Barack Obama’s full support.

Shock Poll: Americans Want To Mind Their Own Business

Nearly half of all Americans believe the U.S. should mind its own business concerning foreign policy, and should allow other countries to mind theirs without our intervention – whether for good or ill.

According to a poll by the Pew Research Center, 46 percent of Americans – a historic high ever since the poll began in the early 1960s – believe the United States should worry only about the United States.

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According to Pew, Americans’ resentment at recent Presidential Administrations over Mideast interventionist policies has fostered an unprecedented degree of isolationist philosophy among average Americans.

“Getting the American public’s attention, let alone commitment to deal with international issues is as challenging as it has ever been in the modern era,” said Pew Founding Director Andrew Kohut. “Feeling burned by Iraq and Afghanistan and burdened by domestic concerns, the public feels little responsibility and inclination to deal with international problems that are not seen as direct threats to the national interest. The depth and duration of the public’s disengagement these days goes well beyond the periodic spikes in isolationist sentiment that have been observed over the past 50 years.”

Syrian Fatwa Ordered Against Evil…Crescent Rolls

A new fatwa in the Syrian city of Aleppo targets people who dare to eat croissants.

According to an interview at China’s English-language Sina news website, one man who’s frustrated with the growing post-revolutionary power of Islamist extremists in Syria explains how fundamentalists are tightening their grip on local rule to an absurd extent.

“Al-Nusra Front fighters come up every day with a new unimaginable fatwa, or religious edict,” such as the fatwa against croissants, said the Syrian, identified only as “Ahmed.” The fundamentalists claim croissants are particularly relished by European infidels as a celebratory food (because of their “symbolic” crescent shape), which they allegedly tear into with gusto to commemorate historic victories over the Muslims.

Syrians originally inspired by a revolution they hoped would ensure stability and expanded freedoms are now taking to the internet to criticize al-Nusra’s growing intolerance of behaviors that fall outside various factions’ interpretations of sharia law. Other recent fatwas have involved women drivers, unveiled young girls, smoking and even listening to music.

Islamic fundamentalists continue to take control of large parts of Aleppo and other northern towns, which are being ruled by a cabal of “chieftains” who regard all of Syria as a “liberated Islamic emirate.”

“We were looking for more freedom and felt the revolution would give us more benefits… However, we now feel we are moving backwards and will soon return to the medieval era,” said one Syrian woman, adding that there’s nothing liberating about the land’s stale, Islamist-hijacked “revolution.”

“How could they bring us freedom if they (the al-Nusra rebels) themselves are captives held by the extremists?” she said.

 

Pope: God Judges Gays – Not Me; Carter To Visit North Korea; EMTs Wait Hours For New York Cops; Take Down That American Flag; FRANKENMEAT! – Monday Morning News Roundup 7-29-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories making the Internet rounds this morning. Click the links for the full stories.

  • Pope Francis has said gay people should not be marginalized but integrated into society. Speaking to reporters on a flight back from Brazil, he reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church’s position that homosexual acts were sinful, but homosexual orientation was not. “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?” Source: BBC…
  • Former President Jimmy Carter is planning to visit North Korea soon to try to win the release of Kenneth Bae, a U.S. citizen held for committing crimes against the reclusive state. Source: Reuters…
  • An injured veteran of the war in Afghanistan has been told to take down the American flag she has flying from her balcony by her apartment’s management company. “I was very upset and very offended by it,” said Jen Elliott. “We live in America. Why shouldn’t we fly our flag proudly?” Source: CBS Sacramento…
  • Frustrated EMTs in New York City are sometimes stuck waiting for hours watching over dead bodies — lengthy delays that make city ambulances unavailable for emergencies for long stretches of time. The NYPD said there’s not much they can do to speed things up on their end. Source: New York Daily News…
  • The world’s first test-tube burger will be served in London next week. It is made from meat grown in a laboratory, rather than cattle raised in pastures. The 5-ounce ‘Frankenburger’ is made from 3,000 tiny strips of meat grown from the stem cells of a cow. The raw meat is said to be grey with a slippery texture similar to squid or scallop. Source: Daily Mail… 

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

Report: Government Secretly Asks For Americans’ Individual Passwords, Account Access

Two sources within the computing industry have told CNET that the U.S. government frequently demands major online service providers to hand over their individual users’ passwords in order to access their private information or to impersonate account holders.

Microsoft, Google and Yahoo all declined to say whether they had received such requests from the Feds. But then, they all but revealed that they do, telling CNET that they don’t provide that kind of information whenever they’ve been approached with orders to do so in the past. Of course, nearly all of the Nation’s major email and online service providers similarly — and, it turned out, falsely — denied that the National Security Agency (NSA) had tapped into their servers under the so-called PRISM program.

It’s not that these companies are eager to work with the government to undermine privacy. The profit motive offers a good incentive to keep the confidence of their millions of users.

But the government has been demonstrated to operate much of its surveillance, even at the service provider level, in secret. Or it obscures what it’s really going after by requesting batch data dumps and using a different body of terminology when dealing with computer companies than that which it uses internally, as Edward Snowden’s leaked documents demonstrate.

Too, the incredibly esoteric tech involved in decrypting password information has been a big boon to the NSA. The fact that almost no one outside the tech world understands how a company can legally divulge “password information” without revealing a user’s actual password has created an immense grey area in which transgressing or abiding by the spirit of standing laws may be easy to discern, but stretching the meaning of — while still adhering to — the letter of the law is anything but.

According to CNET:

Some details remain unclear, including when the requests began and whether the government demands are always targeted at individuals or seek entire password database dumps. The Patriot Act has been used to demand entire database dumps of phone call logs, and critics have suggested its use is broader.

…If the government can subsequently determine the password, “there’s a concern that the provider is enabling unauthorized access to the user’s account if they do that,” [Stanford professor Jennifer] Granick said. That could, she said, raise legal issues under the Stored Communications Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

The Justice Department has argued in court proceedings before that it has broad legal authority to obtain passwords.

Watch for a new round of test-case lawsuits from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) or the American Civil Liberties Union to suss out just how far the government can go in obtaining any level of an individual’s private account information without a warrant. The EFF already is suing the NSA over the agency’s interpretation of what’s permitted by the surveillance warrants it obtains from the secret, unConstitutional Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).

A Lobbyist’s Dream: Senate Guaranteed 50 Years’ Secrecy On Tax Reform Ideas

Senate leaders have collaborated to secure a supposedly airtight 50-year guarantee of secrecy from the Finance Committee not to publicly disclose tax reform proposals from all 100 Senators, nor reveal the lobbying pressures influencing many of their suggestions, ahead of major tax reform legislation to be written this fall.

The agreement, forged by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), “assured lawmakers that any submission they receive will be kept under lock and key by the committee and the National Archives until the end of 2064,” according to The Hill.

In other words, the American public can find out all the ways the government defrauded them to protect politically active corporations after everyone in the Senate is dead.

Baucus and Hatch will co-sponsor tax reform later this year. Ostensibly, their vow of secrecy is intended to ensure all members of the Senate feel equally free to involve themselves in what could be a ground-up rewrite of the tax code. If it has the side effect of concealing the Senators’ true motives for positing changes in the way the Nation’s wealth is being redistributed, well, that’s unintentional.

From The Hill:

The lengths Baucus and Hatch have gone to reassure their colleagues underscores the importance the tax writers are placing on the blank-slate plan, and it shows they are working hard to ensure that all 100 senators engage in the process.

Baucus told The Hill he fully expects more senators to participate in writing because of the secrecy guarantee.

…It also illustrates the enormous pressure being brought to bear by K Street lobbyists, who are working furiously to protect their clients and the tax provisions that benefit them.

Only 10 staffers will be authorized to review Senators’ suggestions, each of which is to be assigned a unique ID number and stored on password-protected computers servers on both the Democrat and Republican sides. Hard copies are to be kept in locked safes.

That’s a lot of skullduggery just to make sure Americans have a tough time figuring out the obscure connections that link Senators in landlocked rural States with lobby-backed proposals — to envision just one relatively benign example — to offer major breaks to coastal industries far from their constituent base. With one less way of monitoring backroom agreements between government and private influence, expect the Nation’s tax code to fester into an even uglier, more confusing, more inequitable mess. Outrageously, the Senate is doing its best to make sure there won’t be anywhere to lay the blame.

Leave Numbers-Based Suspicion To Vegas – Not The NSA, FBI and DOJ

What does it mean to be “51 percent” certain that something is true? It means you’re more certain than not – but certainly not certain. It might mean you’re fine with admitting you’d been wrong, if it turns out the other 49 percent in that simplistic ratio proved correct.

When the National Security Agency (NSA) or a Federal law enforcement entity – whether it’s the Department of Justice, FBI or Department of homeland Security – starts querying its massive computer databases for specific “non-U.S. persons” as defined by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), all they need is a 51 percent suspicion that the person they’re about to secretly track online isn’t an American citizen.

From the original Washington Post story that revealed details about the NSA’s PRISM internet spy program:

Analysts who use the system from a Web portal at Fort Meade, Md., key in “selectors,” or search terms, that are designed to produce at least 51 percent confidence in a target’s “foreignness.” That is not a very stringent test. Training materials obtained by The Post instruct new analysts to make quarterly reports of any accidental collection of U.S. content, but add that “it’s nothing to worry about.”

Those of you who gamble: if an oddsmaker told you to bet your fortune because he was “51 percent sure” that your sports team would cover the spread, would you flinch when he told you the 49 percent of doubt was “nothing to worry about?”

When and if Congress revises the bevy of laws governing what the NSA, DOJ, FBI and DHS can and can’t do, it needs to leave numeric-based probability to the Vegas bookies – and leave it out of the burgeoning U.S. surveillance state.

Halliburton Destroyed Evidence In BP Spill; Pays $200,000 Fine

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is expected to accept a guilty plea from Halliburton Company to a charge of destroying evidence in the aftermath of the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Halliburton will also serve three years of probation, and, despite admitting to destroying evidence, has pledged to cooperate with all remaining criminal investigations into the circumstances surrounding the explosion. The settlement agreement is pending court approval.

As part of its oil field support role, Halliburton helped British Petroleum (BP), which owned a majority stake in the Macondo oil well, in sealing taps through a technique called “cementing.”

DOJ alleged that Halliburton had advised BP to use 21 metal collars to help ensure the effectiveness of the cementing process at the Macondo well, but that BP elected to use only six. DOJ accused Halliburton of destroying evidence held in computer simulations that demonstrated using a smaller number of collars didn’t pose a disproportionate safety risk.

According to the government, Halliburton recommended to BP that the Macondo well contain 21 centralizers, metal collars that can improve cementing, but BP chose to use six.

The government said that, during an internal probe into the cementing after the blowout, Halliburton ordered workers to destroy computer simulations that showed little difference between using six and 21 centralizers. Efforts to forensically locate the simulations were unsuccessful, the government said.

BP agreed to pay $4.5 billion late last year as part of a settlement in which it pleaded guilty to 11 felony charges related to the deaths of the 11 workers who lost their lives in the disaster. Transocean Deepwater Inc., which owned another large stake in the well, agreed to pay $1.4 billion in fines.

Both companies are also involved in ongoing civil litigation, with findings that have so far exacted hundreds of millions of dollars out of billions of dollars in funds each company set aside in anticipation of a deluge of civil claims.

Halliburton, which is also named in the civil litigation, voluntarily agreed to give $55 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation as part of Thursday’s criminal settlement.

Obama’s Racial Hypocrisy: Trayvon ‘Could Have Been Me’ But I’m Nominating Ray ‘Stop And Frisk’ Kelly, King Of Racial Profiling

Why would President Barack Obama nominate a man to a top security post who, by the President’s own standard, would have profiled him as a potential criminal on the streets of New York City as a younger man? And by implication, why does he endorse the idea that it’s fine for cops to randomly stop and frisk people based on their race, but that it’s a civil rights crime if a private citizen on neighborhood watch patrol might have done the same thing?

The President’s nomination of New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to replace departed Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano came only days before Obama joined his colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus, along with friends in the entertainment industry and the NAACP, in the public immolation of an exonerated George Zimmerman.

For the Left, Zimmerman is a dead-horse straw man target, an involuntary Bull Connor figure who ought to be receiving royalty payments from people like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Jay-Z — and now Obama – who have ridden his unassuming coattails to a re-emergence as race-baiting firebrands whose relevance depends on how successful they are at bringing out the worst in the characters of uninformed people. Obama seized an opportunity to do just that, telling the Nation: “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”

The President’s July 19 comments are actually remarkable for the extent to which they betray Obama’s dismissal of black-on-black violence (blame history), his self-identity (our President is, first and foremost, a “hyphen”-American who’s been feared by white women on the street) and, most tellingly, his propensity to group people into a racial category and proceed to speak for their behaviors, beliefs and feelings (“black folks interpret…understand…get frustrated…”):

You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.

There are very few African American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me — at least before I was a senator. There are very few African Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.

And I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear. The African American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws — everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

Now, this isn’t to say that the African American community is naïve about the fact that African American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system; that they’re disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It’s not to make excuses for that fact — although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context. They understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.

And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration. And the fact that a lot of African American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African American boys are more violent — using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.

I think the African American community is also not naïve in understanding that, statistically, somebody like Trayvon Martin was statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else. So folks understand the challenges that exist for African American boys. But they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it and that context is being denied.

Like Sharpton and Jackson, Obama is now speaking on behalf of American blacks, a gesture he knows automatically implies a divisive wedge that exempts one American from believing he shares — and that he should share — common ground with another. That’s vile, especially coming from the elected leader of the free world.

Equally vile is the brazen hypocrisy of burnishing the reputation of Kelly. With vocal support from otherwise-liberal New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Kelly has expanded the NYPD’s “stop-and-frisk” practice into a racial profiling juggernaut, requiring street cops to randomly pick out black and Hispanic individuals because they’re black and Hispanic and to frisk them without probable cause that they’re involved in anything criminal. Bloomberg notoriously said last month that the cops were stopping too many white people and not enough minorities — even though minorities comprise nearly 90 percent of all NYPD stops.

For Reason’s Jacob Sullum, something in Obama’s Janus-like positions on Zimmerman and Kelly doesn’t gibe:

The juxtaposition of [the President’s] comments suggests Obama would rather attack an easy target than confront issues with much clearer implications for equality under the law.

In contrast with Zimmerman, who has never been credibly accused of shooting Martin because of his race, Kelly is named in a federal lawsuit that charges the NYPD with routinely violating the Fourth and 14th Amendments through a program of street stops that target blacks or Hispanics 87 percent of the time. The number of such stops septupled during Kelly’s first nine years as Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s police commissioner…

… As Obama noted on Friday, “there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws—everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws.” In New York City under Ray Kelly, that history is still being made.