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In The News This Week US GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES NEW IMMIGRATION PROGRAM Illegal immigrants are scrambling to get passports and other records in order as the Homeland Security Department starts accepting applications. Page 1
Volume 731 Issue 33
August 20, 2012
U S G O V E R N M E N T L A U N C H E S N E W I M M I G R A T I O N P R O G R A M
UN PANEL CONCLUDES WAR CRIMES PERPETRATED IN SYRIA Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces and progovernment shabiha fighters have perpetrated war crimes and crimes against humanity on Syrian civilians, Page 2
NASA PICKS ANOTHER MARS FLIGHT TO EXPLORE ITS CORE After driving all around Mars with four rovers, NASA wants to look deep into the guts of the red planet. Page 3
FLORIDA ACCIDENT STATISTICS Accident Statistics from Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Page 4
FLORIDA ACCIDENT REPORTS This Weeks Accident Reports from Various countys in Florida. Page 5
SYRIA TENSIONS SPILL OVER BORDER TO LEBANON Armed Shiite clansmen in Lebanon said Wednesday they had captured more than 20 Syrians and will hold them until one of their relatives seized by rebels inside Syria is freed. Page 6
GOOD ECONOMIC DATA COULD AFFECT CONTEST The finger-pointing on Medicare, the personal attacks and the overwhelmingly negative ads. Page 7
OBAMA'S CAMPAIGN MORE WIRED THAN ROMNEY'S This year, Obama again holds an advantage over his Republican opponent on the digital front. Page 7
CAYMAN'S IMPERILED BLUE IGUANAS ON THE REBOUND Page 8 ASIAN WILDLIFE TRAFFICKERS ARE UNTOUCHABLE Page 8
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Young illegal immigrants are scrambling to get passports and other records in order as the Homeland Security Department starts accepting applications to allow them to avoid deportation and get work permits. Homeland Security announced the details Tuesday of what documents illegal immigrants would need to prove that they are eligible for the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The announcement came a day before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was set to begin letting people apply for the program. Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants potentially could benefit from the program, which President Barack Obama announced in June. The program is beginning just months before what promises to be a tight contest for the White House in which the Hispanic vote may play an important role. Obama has come under fire from Hispanic voters and others who say he hasn't fulfilled a previous campaign promise to overhaul the nation's immigration laws. The policy change could stop deportations for more than 1 million young illegal immigrants who would have qualified for the failed DREAM Act, formally the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, which Obama has supported in the past.
Republican lawmakers have accused Obama of circumventing Congress with the new program in an effort to boost his political standing and of favoring illegal immigrants over unemployed U.S. citizens. Some, including House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, RTexas, have called the policy backdoor amnesty and said they worry about fraud. "While potentially millions of illegal immigrants will be permitted to compete with American workers for scarce jobs, there seems to be little if any mechanism in place for vetting fraudulent applications and documentation submitted by illegal immigrants," Smith said Tuesday. At the Honduran Consulate on Tuesday, a line of people wrapped around the building before it was open for business, and the office was crowded for much of the day. Evelyn Medina, 23, got in line at about 6:30 a.m., and she wasn't alone. With her passport in hand, Medina was all smiles as she walked out of the building just before 2 p.m., saying "Finally" as she clutched the document. Medina, a Maryland college student studying social work, said she expected to be ready to apply Wednesday. If she is
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Legal Street News Monday August 20, 2012 ___________________________________________________________
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Publisher & Editor
of the report, which covers the period between Feb. 15 and July 20, was conducted during field interviews and in Geneva with Syrian refugees outthe country. side
Jane L Rahim
Design, Production & Layout Joseph Badamo
Records Department Administrator Jane L Rahim
Administrative Assistant The panel conducted 1,062 interviews, but emphasized their lack of ability to carry out their U.N. mandate within Syria hampered their investigation.
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GENEVA (AP) -- Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces and pro-government shabiha fighters have perpetrated war crimes and crimes against humanity on Syrian civilians, a U.N. expert panel concluded Wednesday in a report that provides in chilling detail further evidence of a conflict spiraling out of control. The panel appointed by the U.N.'s 47-nation Human Rights Council blamed the government and allied militia for the killing of more than 100 civilians in the village of Houla in May, nearly half of them children, and said the murders, unlawful killing, torture, sexual violence and indiscriminate attacks "indicate the involvement at the highest levels of the armed and security forces and the government." The panel also concluded in its final report Wednesday to the Geneva-based council that anti-government armed groups committed war crimes, including murder, extrajudicial killings and torture, but at a lesser frequency and scale. Its release came hours after a bomb exploded in the Syrian capital of Damascus outside a hotel where U.N. observers are staying. The bomb was attached to a fuel truck and wounded at least three people, Syrian state TV reported. Activists also reported fighting near the government headquarters and the Iranian embassy, both in Damascus, along with clashes in different parts of Syria. The expert panel appointed to probe abuses in Syria has had hardly any access to Syria, with only its chairman allowed into Damascus. Most
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The commission is headed by Brazilian diplomat and professor Paulo Sergio Pinheiro and also includes Karen Koning AbuZayd, a U.S. citizen and former head of UNRWA, the U.N. agency that aids Palestinian refugees. A third panel member had dropped out. Their report, whose findings are more conclusive about the Houla massacre than previous interim findings, could be used by world powers to justify tougher outside action against Syria, or strengthen calls for an international investigation and prosecution of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity. The council could renew the mandate of the panel or it could appoint Pinheiro to become a special investigator of Syria, a position that the council created in March but has left unfilled until now. Earlier this year, the council said in a resolution that it agreed with U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in her call for action by the International Criminal Court based at The Hague. Activists say more than 20,000 people have been killed since the start of Syria's revolt, inspired by other Arab Spring uprisings against autocratic regimes in the region. The conflict has slowly changed into a full blown civil war that the panel says involves "more brutal tactics and new military capabilities on both sides."
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N A S A P I C K S A N O T H E R M A R S F L I G H T T O E X P L O R E I T S C O R E WASHINGTON (AP) -- After driving all around Mars with four rovers, NASA wants to look deep into the guts of the red planet.
the planet's surface after a daring landing this month. Earlier this year, NASA pulled out of two Mars missions with the European Space Agency because it didn't have the $1.4 billion for the proposed 2016 and 2018 mission.
The space agency decided Monday to launch a relatively low-cost robotic lander in 2016 to check out what makes the Martian core so different from Earth's. NASA's Discovery program picked a project called Insight over missions to a Saturn moon and a comet, drawing complaints from scientists who study other places in our solar system that NASA is too focused on Mars. All three proposed missions were good, but the Mars one showed the best chance of making it within budget and on schedule, said NASA sciences chief John Grunsfeld. The missions cost no more than $425 million. The Insight mission includes two instruments, one French and one German, that would examine the geology of Mars in depth. It would explore the core's size, composition, temperature and wobble. The interior of Mars is a mystery. It has no magnetic field, and scientists aren't sure if
NASA is still working on another possible Mars mission to replace the canceled ones with a decision later this month. the core is solid or liquid or even has frequent quakes like Earth. "What kind of Mars quakes are there? How big is the core of Mars? Does it have remnants of a molten core like the Earth does?" asked Discovery program chief Lindley Johnson. Geologists have been asking for this type of crucial information for decades, said H. Jay Melosh of Purdue University, who said it was about time a project like this was approved. The mission will be run by NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab. The California lab is basking in the success of the $2.5 billion Mars Curiosity rover, which is starting to explore
I M M I G R A T I O N Continued from page 1 allowed to stay in the U.S. and work, she hopes eventually to earn a master's degree. The administration plan is to stop deporting many illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. To be eligible, immigrants must prove they arrived in the United States before they turned 16, are 30 or younger, have been living here at least five years and are in school or graduated or served in the military. They also cannot have been convicted of certain crimes or otherwise pose a safety threat. Under guidelines that the administration announced Tuesday, proof of identity and eligibility could include a passport or birth certificate, school transcripts, medical and financial records and military service records. The DHS said that in some instances, multiple sworn affidavits, signed by a third party under penalty of perjury, also could be used. Anyone found to have committed fraud will be referred to federal immigration agents, the department said. Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said being approved to avoid deportation "does not provide lawful status or a path to citi-
That's just "too much emphasis on Mars in our current plans for planetary exploration," said Carolyn Porco, a prominent scientist who studies Saturn and its moons. "Most of the solar system resides beyond the orbits of the asteroids. There is more to learn there about general planetary processes than on Mars ... Why more Mars?" Mars beat out missions to explore Saturn's moon Titan and its odd methane oceans and a mission to land on a comet as it nears the sun. Opponents of more Mars msissions say that NASA hasn't approved missions to the other outer planets or a comet since a Pluto mission was picked in 2001.
P R O G R A M
zenship." The paperwork for the program can be downloaded from the Immigration Services website. Applicants must pay a $465 fee and provide proof of identity and eligibility. A decision on each application could take several months, and immigrants have been warned not to leave the country while their application is pending. If they are allowed to stay in the United States and want to travel internationally, they will need to apply for permission to come back into the country, a request that would cost $360 more. Honduran Consulate officials said the number of people applying for passports has more than doubled in the past week, and almost all of them have said they were getting passports to apply to stay in the U.S. Mayra Rivera, 47, brought her children, ages 18 and 20, to the consulate Tuesday from Philadelphia to help them apply for passports. "They came here when they were children. So, for them, even though they are from Honduras ... this is their adoptive country and they love it a lot," Rivera said in Spanish. "For them to succeed ... is like
winning the Lotto." Rivera, who came to the U.S. seven years ago from Puerto Cortes, Honduras, is not eligible for the program. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano had said DHS does not intend to use the program to target parents for deportation. Advocacy groups across the country are planning events starting this week to help immigrants fill out their applications and get all their paperwork in order. The Migration Policy Institute and the Pew Hispanic Center estimate that as many as 1.7 million people could be eligible to stay in the U.S. and legally work under the new policy. DHS officials have said repeatedly they don't have an estimate of how many people may apply. In an internal document outlining the program's implementation, officials estimated 1.04 million people would apply in the first year and about 890,000 would be eligible. The document, obtained by The Associated Press, estimated that the program could cost between $467.7 million and $585.4 million. The department anticipated collecting about $484.2 million in fees.
4 Legal Street News Monday August 20, 2012
F L O R I D A
A C C I D E N T
S T A T I S T I C S
Data From the Official Website of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. www.flhsmv.gov
THIS W EEK
__________________________________________Legal Street News Monday, August 20, 2012
IN SOUTH FLORIDA
Two lanes shut on NB I-95 near 54th Street after crash
Woman arrested for DUI after crashing into deputy.
August 16, 2012
August 19, 2012
A tanker truck hauling liquid nitrogen drifted off Interstate 95 early Saturday morning and ran over a car that was stopped along the highway, killing the man inside, state troopers said. The 3:20 a.m. crash ended up blocking one lane of northbound I-95 until at least 9 a.m. as the Florida Highway Patrol investigated. Killed was 40-year-old Christopher White of Titusville, whose 2001 Mitsubishi was parked on the interstate shoulder about two miles south of the Dunlawton Avenue exit when the tanker struck. The tanker's driver, Frank Moceri, was not injured. Both men were listed as Titusville residents. Montes said Moceri's semi drifted toward the emergency lane "for reasons still under investigation." The front of it slammed into the back of White's vehicle, then "drove over (it) as the vehicles came to final rest in the northbound lanes of I-95," according to the FHP's crash report. In the past six months. In December, a dual-trailer semi carrying methly bromide slammed into an overturned log truck and exploded, killing the 68year-old driver of the chemical-filled truck.
Wreck on southbound I-95 near Port St. John Parkway August 17, 2012 All lanes of the Interstate 95 are now clear following a traffic crash this morning that left one person badly injured. The badly injured motorist was airlifted to Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne. The accident happened at about 9:15 a.m. at mile marker 208, just south of the Port St. John Parkway exit after the motorist veered off the interstate and into a nearby wooded area. The crash briefly shut down traffic in the southbound lanes as the helicopter arrived. Both lanes are now clear. No other vehicles were involved in the accident..
Lanes open after crash on I-95 near Belvedere Road
Police arrest Winter Haven man after late-night street-racing crash leads to injuries August 19, 2012
BRADENTON, Florida -- A woman has been arrested after deputies say she struck a patrol car while driving drunk.
Orlando police arrested and filed several charges against a Winter Haven man Sunday night in connection with a pre-dawn, street-racing crash that left several people seriously injured, according to a department spokesman.
According to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, a deputy was traveling north on 14th Street when 62year-old Rhonda Mackin moved into his lane without using a turn signal and struck the rear of his patrol car. The deputy's car spun out, while Mackin's car overturned, coming to a stop upside down.
Lt. John Holysz said Ronald Lastra, 22, was arrested at about 7 p.m. and charged with leaving the scene of an accident, reckless driving that caused serious injuries and unlawful racing.
The deputy was able to get out of his patrol car and cut Mackin out of her vehicle. The sheriff's office says a DUI investigation was conducted and Mackin was arrested. She was also cited for careless driving. Both vehicles were totaled in the accident.
Lehigh man, 18, dies from injuries sustained in car crash August 19, 2012 An 18-year-old Lehigh Acres man has died from injuries he sustained in a crash on Monday.
The crash occurred at 3:02 a.m. Sunday near Orlando International Airport at Heintzelman Boulevard and Wetherbee Road.
Holysz said that according to witnesses Lastra was racing south on Heintzelman when he lost control of his car, which careened into parked cars and a crowd of bystanders who were watching the race. Lastra was driving a 1997, two-door Mitsubishi and hit at least five cars, according to police records. While the number of injured was unclear â€” many apparently were taken to the hospital by others at the race â€” at least four people were seriously hurt, Holysz said. The two men with the worst injuries were Heriberto Marin, 28, of Kissimmee, and Corey S. Sycz, 17, of Orlando, according to police records. Both are at Orlando Regional Medical Center in critical condition.
John Thomas Simpson was driving west on State Road 82 near Rue Labeau Circle when he lost control of his Lincoln Town Car and crossed into the path of a Toyota Prius heading east. The driver of the Prius, identified as Clearwater resident Deborah Cowans, 57, took evasive action, according to deputies, but was unable to avoid the collision. Cowans and her passenger, Bessie Robinson, 68, of Seminole, were taken to Lee Memorial Hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries. Simpson died Tuesday.
Wreck on southbound I-95 near Port St. John Parkway August 19, 2012 All lanes of the Interstate 95 are now clear following a traffic crash this morning that left one person badly injured. The badly injured motorist was airlifted to Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne.
August 17, 2012 All southbound lanes of Interstate-95 near Belvedere Road have reopened after a vehicle accident this morning. The Florida Highway Patrol responded to the scene, just south of the Belvedere Road exit ramp, at about 9:04 a.m. According to the FHP, a single vehicle was involved in the crash. No information regarding injuries was immediately available
3 People Injured In Okeechobee Blvd., Jog Road Car Crash August 17, 2012 WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Three people are injured from a two vehicle crash on Okeechobee Boulevard just west of Jog Road.
The accident happened at about 9:15 a.m. at mile marker 208, just south of the Port St. John Parkway exit after the motorist veered off the interstate and into a nearby wooded area. The crash briefly shut down traffic in the southbound lanes as the helicopter arrived. Both lanes are now clear. No other vehicles were involved in the accident..
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Officials tell us a SUV and pickup collided just after 8 p.m. A total of three people were injured.
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Monday August 20, 2012___________________________________________________________
S Y R I A T E N S I O N S S P I L L O V E R B O R D E R T O L E B A N O N BEIRUT (AP) -- Armed Shiite clansmen in Lebanon said Wednesday they had captured more than 20 Syrians and will hold them until one of their relatives seized by rebels inside Syria is freed. The tensions were a stark reminder of how easily Syria's civil war could spill over to neighboring states. Lebanon is deeply divided between supporters and opponents of President Bashar Assad's regime. The country, which was devastated by its own 15-year civil war that Syria was deeply involved in, has witnessed clashes between proand anti-Syrian groups over the past months, mostly in the northern city of Tripoli. Syrian rebels have adopted a new tactic recently of seizing prisoners from countries or foreign groups allied with the regime to rattle Assad and his allies outside the country. In May, Syrian rebels captured 11 Lebanese Shiites shortly after they crossed from Turkey on their way to Lebanon. Earlier this month, rebels abducted 48 Iranians near the capital Damascus. The Syrian rebels are predominantly Sunni whereas Assad and his inner circle are dominated by Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. The Lebanese prisoner in Syria, Hassane Salim al-Mikdad, appeared in a video released by rebels over the past few days. He said he is a member of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militant group allied with predominantly Shiite Iran and with Syria. The captive, who appeared to have bruises on his face, said he was sent to Syria to fight with Assad regime forces. Hezbollah denied al-Mikdad is a member and his family claimed he has been living in Syria for more than a year. Abu Ali al-Mikdad, a relative, told reporters in Beirut Wednesday that his Shiite clan has abducted "more than 20 Syrians" including a senior member of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA). Later, the clan said it also had seized a Turkish man, and Lebanese state TV displayed a Turkish passport provided by the al-Mikdad family. Turkey is a strong backer of the Syrian rebels. The Beirut-based TV station Al-Mayadeen aired a video purporting to show two of the abducted Syrians who said they are members of the FSA. One of them identified himself as Capt. Mohammed and said his job was to supply the FSA with arms and fighters. "I call them (FSA) upon to free the prisoners they are holding because they are innocent," said one of the two captured men shown on TV who identified himself as Maher Hassan Rabih. The al-Mikdad family is a powerful Shiite
Muslim clan that originally comes from the eastern Bekaa Valley, an area where state control is somewhat tenuous. Like most tribes in this area, they have their own armed elements.
ent Iranian embassy building and the Cabinet headquarters are also nearby, he said.
Activists reported shelling and clashes in the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's largest, where rebels took over several neighborhoods over the past weeks. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rebels were trying to take over a key dam in the northern town of Manbij, just east of Aleppo. It added that the army was using helicopter gunships in the battles near the dam on the strategic Euphrates River.
Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad toured the area of the blast and said none of the U.N. staff was hurt. The explosion occurred as U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos was in the Syrian capital but her team is believed to be staying at a different hotel.
In the northern town of Azaz - where the 11 Lebanese had been held - at least two large explosions leveled dozens of buildings. Associated Press journalists saw at least seven bodies pulled from the rubble. Activists drove some of the wounded to the nearby Turkish border for treatment. U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said Syrian government fighter planes fired rockets that struck the main emergency hospital in an opposition-controlled area of Aleppo a day earlier, wounding two civilians and causing significant damage. Human Rights Watch said its members visited the damaged hospital. The Local Coordination Committees, another activist group said there was also fighting near a border crossing with Turkey that the rebels had captured last month. A local official in the Turkish border town of Reyhanli said clashes could be heard coming from the region on Tuesday but that the situation had calmed by Wednesday morning. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency said 757 Syrians fled their country and streamed into Turkey on Wednesday. The LCC reported violence in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, northwestern region of Idlib, Daraa to the south and in suburbs of the capital Damascus. In Damascus, a bomb attached to a fuel truck exploded Wednesday outside a hotel where U.N. observers are staying, wounding at least three people, Syrian state TV reported. Activists also reported clashes in different parts of Syria, including clashes with rebels near the government headquarters and the Iranian embassy both in Damascus. An activist based in the area said smoke was billowing from behind the Iranian embassy building, which is under construction. The pres-
"We heard shooting and explosions for a while," said the activist Maath al-Shami.
The blast was the latest in a series of explosions that have hit Damascus in the past months as clashes between government troops and rebels reached the capital, which had been relatively quiet since the uprising against Assad erupted in March last year. Wednesday's explosion went off about 300 meters (yards) from the military command. According to an Associated Press reporter at the scene, the blast was inside the parking lot of a military compound. The lot is near the Dama Rose Hotel, popular with the U.N. observers in Syria and where many of the mission staff are staying. The hotel was slightly damaged, with some of its windows shattered. A Labor Union building across from the hotel was also damaged and black smoke was seen billowing high into the sky before the fire was extinguished. Several fire engines arrived shortly after to fight the blaze, which took less than an hour to put out. U.N. officials in Damascus said there was an explosion near the hotel they used adding that no U.N. staffers were hurt. "This is a criminal act that shows what kind of attacks Syria is being subjected to," Mekdad, the deputy foreign minister, told reporters at the scene. "Such explosions will not affect Syria." "I confirm that we are with the U.N. and we will do all we can to guarantee their protection so that they carry out their role," he added. Activists say more than 20,000 people have been killed since the start of Syria's revolt, inspired by other Arab Spring uprisings against autocratic regimes in the region. The conflict has slowly morphed into a full blown civil war. It was not immediately clear who was behind Wednesday's explosion or what was the intended target. There have been several highprofile bombings in the Syrian capital. On July 18, an explosion in a key government headquarters in Damascus killed four top generals, including Assad's brother-in-law. And in March, a double suicide bombing in Damascus killed 27 people. "Those who carry out such terrorist attacks are destroying their country in order to get some pounds," shouted a Damascus resident, Ali Mohammed Ismail, 48, who said he happened to be in the area when the explosion went off.
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G D A
O O D E A T A F F E C T
O N O M I C O U L C O N T E S
Obama risks appearing out of touch with reality if he crows about a few upbeat numbers. He says things are improving but acknowledges challenges remain.
The finger-pointing on Medicare, the personal attacks and the overwhelmingly negative ads now marking the presidential contest are overshadowing the clear No. 1 issue for voters: jobs and the weak economy.
Romney's central theme is he'd do better than Obama at fixing the economy. Period.
The economy remains President Barack Obama's top vulnerability. His campaign has consistently sought to direct attention elsewhere, while Republican challenger Mitt Romney keeps pounding away at Obama's economic stewardship.
Romney Wednesday accused Obama anew of campaigning on "division and attack and hatred" just to keep his job. He rejected a claim by the Obama campaign that he'd appeared "unhinged" in recent jabs.
But guess what? The economy is improving - steadily if modestly. Employers added 163,000 jobs in July, home prices and exports are up, stocks are near this year's highs and July's consumer spending growth was the strongest in five months. The good numbers are easing fears of another recession, despite continued overseas weaknesses, and offering hope for a rebound in the second half of the year.
C D T
"I think `unhinged' would have to characterize what we've seen from the president's campaign," Romney told "CBS This Morning." Unemployment at 8.3 percent remains too high. The new positive data won't bring it down by much before Election Day. But momentum and direction also count in politics. For now, both campaigns are sticking to their story lines.
Obama was wrapping up a three-day Iowa bus trip. Romney had fundraisers in North Carolina and Alabama. Vice President Joe Biden and his GOP counterpart, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, were hitting college campuses Biden at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., and Ryan at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
REPORT: OBAMA'S CAMPAIGN MORE WIRED THAN ROMNEY'S WASHINGTON (AP) -- Four years ago, then-Sen. Barack Obama got a head start on Arizona Sen. John McCain when it came to reaching voters online, on their mobile phones and on social media. Young voters, the group most likely to tune in digitally to the presidential campaign, broke overwhelmingly for Obama, giving him the biggest margin of victory among that age group ever recorded. This year, Obama again holds an advantage over his Republican opponent on the digital front, says a report released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center. The group's Project for Excellent in Journalism analyzed both campaigns' efforts between June 4-17 and found Obama far outpacing Mitt Romney. Obama's team posted almost four times as much content during the period, the report said, and maintained an active presence
on almost twice as many platforms. On Twitter, Romney's campaign tweeted about once a day, while Obama's campaign averaged 29 daily tweets. Obama also posted about twice as many YouTube videos and blog entries. Not content to stick just with Twitter and Facebook, Obama's campaign kept public accounts on Flickr, Google+, Instagram and other social media platforms - nine in all. Romney was active on just five, although his campaign more recently added two more. "I don't believe that posting more is better," Zac Moffatt, Romney's digital director, said in an interview. "Where I really look at it from an engagement standpoint is a site like Facebook where people are really having a back-and-forth." Moffatt pointed out that while Obama has
SYRIA TENSIONS SPILL Continued from page 1 In East Timor, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he could not confirm whether a successor has been named for Syrian peace envoy Kofi Annan. On Tuesday, a spokesman for Annan said Syrian authorities have backed former Algerian Foreign Minister Lakhdar Brahimi as his successor, but it was unclear whether Brahimi had accepted the post. Ban said the international community shares a "sense of collective responsibility" for the bloodshed and a growing humanitarian crisis within Syria and among refugees who fled to neighboring countries. "How long do we have to endure this kind of tragedy?" he told a news conference in Dili.
"This is not justice and this not acceptable. That is why now I am expediting the selection of successor of special envoy and we are trying our best effort to provide humanitarian assistance to more than one million Syrian people affected because of this situation." ---AP writers Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Albert Aji in Damascus and Guido Goulart in Dili , East Timor contributed to this report.
more than six times as many "likes" on Facebook - almost 28 million in total Romney has more Facebook users who are "talking about this" - a metric that measures how many people are actively interacting with his posts, such as by sharing or commenting on them. Romney's campaign also noted that it uses a separate Twitter handle for rapid response to campaign happenings than for direct communication from the candidate. "We treat Mitt Romney's Twitter handle as Mitt Romney," said Moffatt. "He's a part of it." Obama's campaign has also used digital media much more aggressively to target specific voter groups such as seniors, teachers, nurses and parents. Obama's campaign had dedicated web pages oriented toward those groups and others, while Romney did not. But Romney had custom sites for Catholics, lawyers and Polish-Americans, groups that didn't have their own pages on Obama's site. Both candidates emphasized economic issues above all else, even though posts about the economy don't seem to grab the attention of online users. Messages about issues like immigration and health care were much more likely to get shares or retweeted than those about the economy, the report found. Foreign policy was almost completely absent from both candidates' digital campaigns. Which YouTube video has gotten the most attention of the campaign? First lady
Legal Street News Monday, August 20, 2012
C A Y M A N ' S I M P E R I L E D B L U E I G U A N A S O N T H E R E B O U N D QUEEN ELIZABETH II BOTANIC PARK, Cayman Islands (AP) -- The blue iguana has lived on the rocky shores of Grand Cayman for at least a couple of million years, preening like a miniature turquoise dragon as it soaked in the sun or sheltered inside crevices. Yet having survived everything from tropical hurricanes to ice ages, it was driven to near-extinction by dogs, cats and cars. Now, though, a breeding program some see as a global model has worked better than any had hoped to dream for a species that numbered less than a dozen in the wild just a decade ago, preyed upon by escaped pets and struggling to survive in a habitat eroded by the advance of human settlement. Roughly 700 blazing blue iguanas breed and roam free in protected woodlands on the eastern side of Grand Cayman, a 22-mile-long (35-kilometer-long) speck in the western Caribbean that is the only place where the critically endangered animals are found in the wild. "The kind of results that we've gotten show that it's practical and realistic to say you can restore a population of iguanas from practically nothing, just so long as you can capture the genetic variety from the beginning," said Fred Burton, the unsalaried director of the Blue Iguana Recovery Program, a partnership linking the islands' National Trust to local and overseas agencies and groups. In a corner of the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, the "founders," or genetically diverse, wild iguanas captured for the breeding program, mate when the mood strikes in 40-foot-wide pens featuring the rocks, shrubs and trees of their natural habitat. One couple, dubbed "Mad Max" and "Biter," are free to roam outside the pens, scampering after ripened noni, a pungent, potato-sized fruit. On a recent day at the 65-acre garden and woodland preserve, the adult iguanas were shedding skin, which resembles thin, dry paper, revealing a brilliant turquoise underneath. The primarily herbivorous creatures, which have crimson eyes, grow to roughly five feet (1.5 meters) long, weigh over 25 pounds and are at their bluest when they get excited. Near the breeding pens, wood-and-wire cages hold the founders' young descendants, which are outfitted with transponder tags embedded beneath their skin. The iguanas are only released into the botanical park and the 625-acre (253-hectare) Salina Reserve after they reach two years of age and are big enough to defend themselves from rats, snakes and most feral cats. Burton and others concluded in 2001 that young blue iguanas should be released into the wild next to roughhewn wooden shelters with tight passageways that mimic
the rock holes and tree cavities where they naturally shelter from predators. The first year of that experiment, 100 percent of the young survived. "When we started, we didn't know anything, so for years we just let the iguanas loose and we'd never see half of them again. A year after we came up with this very lowtech method of anchoring iguanas to the park, we found all of them were still living," Burton said, adding that young iguanas soon outgrow the wooden shelters and hardwired behavior kicks in, driving them to make homes without any assistance Arthur C. Echternacht, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Tennessee, said the Grand Cayman program has succeeded by building unusually strong relationships with international scientists as well as support from local politicians and citizens. He also credits the tenacity and organization of Burton, a soft-spoken man who has been a steward of the Cayman Islands' environment since he moved to the U.K. Caribbean territory in 1979. "Although Fred can seem to be a rather low-key, unexcitable Brit, he is passionate about the iguanas, very persuasive, and incredibly persistent," Echternacht said in an email. Early on, Burton sought and received the assistance of international conservation groups, zoos and businesses in the effort. Financing and expertise, including veterinary support from the organizations has furthered the program's success. John Binns, of the Tucson, Arizona-based International Reptile Conservation Foundation, said the basic infrastructure and steady focus of the Blue Iguana Breeding Program is "really a model on how to correctly restore a species year after year." When the program started in 1990, most Caymanians
didn't even realize that the island was home to an imperiled reptile species. Confusing matters, invasive green iguanas, escapees from the pet trade, are flourishing in Grand Cayman and can be seen across the island. Now, with growing pride in the blue iguana's rebound, the reptile has inspired stuffed toys, bobblehead dolls and other souvenirs. Visitors landing at the airport are greeted by a poster showing a blue iguana with the words: "His ancestors have been here for 2 million years." A blue iguana dubbed "Gorgeous George" graces the cover of the island's phone book, while tourists go on blue iguana "safaris." But not all has been smooth sailing for the breeding program. In May 2008, about a half-dozen blue iguanas were killed in their pens, prompting a police investigation that netted no suspects. The iguanas were found stomped and gouged, and Burton said humans, possibly with a pet dog, were almost certainly behind the massacre. Two females had been preparing to lay eggs to help the species repopulate. Burton said it was an "acid reminder" that not everything could go the program's way, even while it enjoyed broad support among most Caymanians. To protect the iguanas, the breeding pens are now ringed by a fence and barbed wire. Other researchers have been able to breed captive blue iguanas far from their native environment, though they cannot match the success of the program at home. The overseas program is partly a hedge to make sure the imperiled reptile's genetic footprint survives any calamity. Nearly 50 adult and juvenile blue iguanas live in 14 U.S. zoos and aquariums, which are considered partners of the breeding program, according to Tandora Grant, of the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Ten more hatchlings are due to be born soon, she said. In Europe, two blue iguanas live in the Prague Zoo in the Czech Republic. Nonetheless, the key to restoring the endangered species remains in its native habitat of Grand Cayman, where Burton hopes to have 1,000 blue iguanas living in the wild, perhaps as early as 2015. "Once we hit 1,000 and we have a good genetic range out there we can just let the iguanas handle things themselves out in the wild without us messing around with all this complex genetic planning," Burton said at the park. Gesturing at the breeding pens, Burton said: "Soon this will all be redundant, and that will be a very exciting day."
B I G G E S T A S I A N W I L D L I F E T R A F F I C K E R S A R E U N T O U C H A B L E BANGKOK (AP) -- Squealing tiger cubs stuffed into carry-on bags. Luggage packed with hundreds of squirming tortoises, elephant tusks, even water dragons and American paddlefish. Officials at Thailand's gateway airport proudly tick off the illegally trafficked wildlife they have seized over the past two years. But Thai and foreign law enforcement officers tell another story: Officials working-hand-in-hand with traffickers ensure that other shipments through Suvarnabhumi International Airport are whisked off before they even reach customs inspection. It's a murky mix. A 10-fold increase in wildlife law enforcement actions, including seizures, has been reported in the past six years in Southeast Asia. Yet, the trade's Mr. Bigs, masterful in taking advantage of pervasive corruption, appear immune to arrest and continue to orchestrate the decimation of wildlife in Thailand, the region and beyond. And Southeast Asia's honest cops don't have it easy. "It is very difficult for me. I have to sit among people who are both good and some who are corrupt, says Chanvut Vajrabukka, a retired police general. "If I say, `You have to go out and arrest that target,' some in the room may well warn them,'" says Chanvut, who now advises ASEAN-WEN, the regional wildlife enforcement network. Several kingpins, says wildlife activist Steven Galster, have recently been confronted by authorities, "but in the end, good uniforms are running into, and often stopped by bad uniforms. It's like a bad Hollywood cop movie. "Most high-level traffickers remain untouched and continue to replace arrested underlings with new ones," says Galster, who works for the FREELAND Foundation, an anti-trafficking group. Galster, who earlier worked undercover in Asia and elsewhere, heaps praise on the region's dedicated, honest officers because they persevere knowing they could be sidelined for their efforts. Recently, Lt. Col. Adtaphon Sudsai, a highly regarded, outspoken officer, was instructed to lay off what had seemed an open-and-shut case he cracked four years ago when he penetrated a gang along the Mekong River smuggling pangolin. This led him to Mrs. Daoreung Chaimas, alleged by conservation groups to be one of Southeast Asia's biggest tiger dealers. Despite being arrested twice, having her own assistants testify against her and DNA testing that showed two cubs were not offsprings from zoo-bred parents as she claimed, Daoreung remains free and the case may never go to the prosecutor's office. "Her husband has been exercising his influence," says Adtaphon, referring to her police officer spouse. "It seems that no policeman wants to get involved with this case." The day the officer went to arrest her the
second time, his transfer to another post was announced. "Maybe it was a coincidence," the colonel says. In another not uncommon case, a former Thai police officer who tried to crack down on traders at Bangkok's vast Chatuchak Market got a visit from a senior police general who told him to "chill it or get removed." "I admit that in many cases, I cannot move against the big guys," Chanvut, the retired general, notes. "The syndicates like all organized crime are built like a pyramid. We can capture the small guys but at the top they have money, the best lawyers, protection. What are we going to do?" Chanvut's problems are shared by others in Southeast Asia, the prime funnel for wildlife destined for the world's No. 1 consumer China - where many animal parts are consumed in the belief they have medicinal or aphrodisiacal properties. Most recently, a torrent of rhino horn and elephant tusks has poured through it from Africa, which suffers the greatest slaughter of these two endangered animals in decades. Vietnam was singled out last month by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) as the top destination country for the highly-prized rhino horn. Tens of thousands of birds, mostly parrots and cockatoos plucked from the wild, are being imported from the Solomon Islands into Singapore, often touted as one of Asia's least corrupt nations, in violation of CITES, the international convention on wildlife trade. According to TRAFFIC, the international body monitoring wildlife trade, the imported birds are listed as captive-bred, even though it's widely known that the Pacific Ocean islands have virtually no breeding facilities. Communist Laos continues to harbor Vixay Keosavang, identified as one of the region's half dozen Mr. Bigs, who has been linked by the South African press to a rhino smuggling ring. The 54-year-old former soldier and provincial official is reported to have close ties to senior government officials in Laos and Vietnam. Thai and foreign enforcement agents, who insist on anonymity since most work undercover, say they have accumulated unprecedented details of the gangs, which are increasingly linked to drug and human trafficking syndicates. They say a key Thai smuggler, who runs a shipping company, has a gamut of law enforcement officers in his pocket, allowing him to traffic rhino horns, ivory and tiger parts to China. He frequently entertains his facilitators at a restaurant in his office building. According to the agents, Chinese buyers, informed of incoming shipments, fly to Bangkok, staying at hotels pinpointed by the agents
around the Chatuchak Market, where endangered species are openly sold. There they seal deals with known middlemen and freight operators. The sources say that when they report such investigations seizures are either made for "public relations," sink into a "black hole" - or the information is leaked to the wrongdoers. Such a tip-off from someone at Bangkok airport customs allowed a trafficker to stop shipment of a live giraffe with powdered rhino horn believed to be implanted in its vagina. "The 100,000 passengers moving through this airport from around the world everyday are oblivious to the fact that they are standing in one of the world's hottest wildlife trafficking zones," says Galster. Officials interviewed at the airport, one of Asia's busiest, acknowledge corruption exists, but downplay its extent and say measures are being taken to root it out. Chanvut says corruption is not the sole culprit, pointing out the multiple agencies which often don't cooperate or share information. Each with a role at Bangkok's airport, are the police, national parks department, customs, immigration, the military and CITES, which regulates international trade in endangered species. With poor communication between police and immigration, for example, a trader whose passport has been seized at the airport can obtain a forged one and slip across a land border a few days later. Those arrested frequently abscond by paying bribes or are fined and the case closed without further investigation. "Controlled delivery" - effectively penetrating networks by allowing illicit cargo to pass through to its destination - is rare. Thailand's decades-old wildlife law also awaits revision and the closing of loopholes, such as the lack of protection for African elephants, and far stiffer penalties. "The bottom line is that if wildlife traffickers are not treated as serious criminals in Southeast Asia we are just going to lose more wildlife," says Chris Shepherd, TRAFFIC's Southeast Asia deputy director. "How often is anyone arrested? They just run off, they must be the fastest people on Earth." Chalida Phungravee, who heads the cargo customs bureau at Suvarnabhumi, says just the sheer scale makes her job difficult. The airport each year handles 45 million passengers and 3 million tons of cargo, only some 3 percent of which is X-rayed on arrival. The main customs warehouse is the size of 27 football fields. But seizures are made, she said, including boxes of tusks - the remnants of some 50 felled elephants - aboard a recent Kenya Airlines flight declared as handicrafts and addressed to a nonexistent company.