Eight police officers die preventing Mexican drug lord’s escape

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Eight officers have been killed during a bold ambush on a Mexican prison convoy carrying drug cartel suspects, the authorities say.

Gunmen failed in their bid to free the prisoners – who included senior members of the Beltran Leyva cartel – and escaped in three trucks, say officials. The brazen attack came as police drove with the nine detainees to a jail in the western state of Nayarit.

Among the prisoners was alleged Beltran Leyva cartel lieutenant Jeronimo Gamez, known as “The Cousin”, who was arrested in January, said the public security department.

Despite Saturday’s attack, he and the eight other suspects were delivered to prison in the state capital, Tepic.

There is no mention of the obvious conclusion that someone on the inside fingered the ambush. The druggos don’t have their own satellite fleet – yet. So, someone in the government – or at least the police departments involved – passed along the travel route to the gangsters.

Saggy-pants robber shot appropriately while fleeing the scene


Singletary (L) and Williams (R)

The man identified as the “saggy pants robber” was shot in the rear and arrested by Broward Sheriff Office deputies early Saturday morning, putting an end to a crime spree that stretched from Boynton Beach to Miramar since November.

Deputies fired at the bandit they say is responsible for sticking up convenience stores in Broward and Palm Beach counties after interrupting a robbery in progress at a Circle K on 3990 W Hallandale Beach Blvd. just after 3:30 a.m., authorities said…

Officials identified the suspected robber as 19-year-old Luke M. Singletary III, of Fort Lauderdale. Terrence Williams, 20, of Fort Lauderdale was identified by police as the driver.

Early Saturday morning, Singletary was in the passenger seat as Williams drove the Infiniti into the parking lot behind the Circle K. The deputies pulled up just as Singletary was leaving the car and putting on a green ski mask before approaching the store.

The driver of the Infiniti attempted to run over the deputies, who fired at Williams as he fled. The vehicle was later found abandoned a few blocks away.

Singletary ran across Hallandale Beach Boulevard, where deputies shot and wounded him. They recovered a handgun at the scene…

No one else was injured.

News of the arrest especially cheered up one of his previous victims who Singletary had threatened to execute during a robbery. “Good for him, he got it in the end.”

Yes, he did.

Prospect of jobs outside war zones bumps Army recruitment, standards

Daylife/Reuters Pictures

The Army last month stopped accepting felons and recent drug abusers into its ranks as the nation’s economic downturn helped its recruiting, allowing it to reverse a decline in recruiting standards that had alarmed some officers.

While shunning those with criminal backgrounds, the Army is also attracting better-educated recruits. It is on track this year to meet, for the first time since 2004, the Pentagon’s goal of ensuring that 90 percent of recruits have high school diplomas…

Now, though, rising unemployment, security gains in Iraq and other factors have helped make military service more attractive and have allowed recruiters to be more choosy, according to military officials and Pentagon data…

Brig. Gen. Joseph Anderson, deputy commander of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, said, “We are not even going to consider” applicants who test positive for drugs or alcohol, or have adult felony convictions such as assault, arson and robbery…

At the same time, recruiters are being more selective on educational standards. Among active-duty Army recruits this fiscal year, 93 percent had high school diplomas through March, compared with 83 percent for 2008 and 79 percent for 2007…

The gains in recruiting are leading the Army to cut its recruiting budget and scale back some bonuses and incentives. The service plans to cut 1,100 active-duty, Reserve and contract recruiters over the next two years, Anderson said.

Shucks. There goes another job that Cheney is actually qualified for. Not the serving your country part, of course. Just recruiting.

Nurse laid off while assisting doctor in surgery

A Dean Health System nurse assisting in a minor surgery in Madison, Wis., was removed from the procedure to be laid off, a company spokesman said.

Dean spokesman Paul Pitas said the manner in which the nurse, whose identity was not revealed, was laid off was a mistake on the part of a company manager.

Pitas said the manager, whose identity was also not disclosed, was an experienced nurse and a good employee. “This person is very upset and is extremely remorseful over this.”

The nurse was laid off as part of the healthcare provider’s plan to remove 90 employees from its payroll, the State-Journal said.

There’s a health care provider that should instantly drop about 10 notches down in the eyes of any clients – or prospective clients. I know nothing about general staff or treatment record. But, a lack of understanding, thoughtfulness or competent crew management – is disgusting.

Tim Howard Rules! – FA Cup Final will be Chelsea v. Everton

Credit: goal.com photogallery

A hard-fought semi-final between Manchester United and Everton came down to the Toffees winning courtesy of Tim Howard’s heroics in goal. It took double overtime and a penalty shootout to decide the match.

Tim Cahill blew the start-up shot for Everton; followed by U.S. National Team keeper Tim Howard not only stopping Manchester United’s languid Bulgarian, Berbatov; but, Rio Ferdinand, as well.

Tough match, ground out by the defensive backs of each team.

Now, the final will pit Blue against Blue. My heart has to go with the Toffees.

Australia’s capitol city under siege – by kangaroos

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

They bounce across the roof of Parliament House. They collide with cars. They come in through the bedroom window. Canberra, Australia’s capital, has a problem – too many kangaroos.

Authorities have tried giving them vasectomies and oral contraceptives, to no avail. They say trucking them to new and distant pastures is too expensive. Now they’re proposing a cull. But many people are aghast at the idea of their best-known marsupial being shot en masse in the national capital.

A government survey has found that more than 80 percent of Canberra residents think the wild kangaroos should stay. On the other hand, in a different survey, 17 percent of drivers in the district reported colliding with a kangaroo at least once.

Maxine Cooper, environment commissioner for the government of the Australian Capital Territory, says humans aren’t the only ones at risk – the kangaroos are destroying the grassy native habitat of endangered species such as a 15-centimeter-long lizard known as the earless dragon.

But “compare that to anything furry with big eyes – the human emotions generally respond to furriness and big eyes,” Cooper said.

Wild animals overrunning the portion of their natural range that, in turn, has been overrun by humans and artificial habitat – are not an unusual quandary. There are counties a few hours drive from my home that have deer and elk populations that are naturally unsustainable.

In the U.S., we try to kill and eat them – before Mother Nature inflicts more traditional solutions.

DNA databases a growth industry in America

Law enforcement officials are vastly expanding their collection of DNA to include millions more people who have been arrested or detained but not yet convicted. The move, intended to help solve more crimes, is raising concerns about the privacy of petty offenders and people who are presumed innocent.

Know of any local prosecutors who presume you’re innocent until proven guilty?

Until now, the federal government genetically tracked only convicts. But starting this month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation will join 15 states that collect DNA samples from those awaiting trial and will collect DNA from detained immigrants — the vanguard of a growing class of genetic registrants…

Law enforcement officials say that expanding the DNA databanks to include legally innocent people will help solve more violent crimes. They point out that DNA has helped convict thousands of criminals and has exonerated more than 200 wrongfully convicted people.

But criminal justice experts cite Fourth Amendment privacy concerns and worry that the nation is becoming a genetic surveillance society…

Sixteen states now take DNA from some who have been found guilty of misdemeanors. As more police agencies take DNA for a greater variety of lesser and suspected crimes, civil rights advocates say the government’s power is becoming too broadly applied. “What we object to — and what the Constitution prohibits — is the indiscriminate taking of DNA for things like writing an insufficient funds check, shoplifting, drug convictions,” said Michael Risher, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Just in case you haven’t heard this predictable slogan in a while – Rock Harmon, a former prosecutor for Alameda County, Calif., and an adviser to crime laboratories, says…“If you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear.”

Those who would toss out the Constitution haven’t come up with a new excuse since the days of Joe McCarthy – or their more recent matinee idol, George W. Bush. We’re supposed to believe they’re doing everyone a favor in the name of protecting us from crime or terrorists or Martians – by limiting our liberty.

Food processors pay food safety inspectors – let ’em keep paying!

Clipboard in hand, Debra Anderson spent three hours one recent sunny morning trooping through a field of romaine lettuce looking for trouble.

She searched for animal tracks at the Church Brothers field, watched picking crews wash their hands and sampled rinse water to make sure it had enough chlorine to kill germs. Though she is a California state employee, Ms. Anderson was working on behalf of the food industry, part of the latest experiment in improving safety.

Am I supposed to feel safer knowing that an unregulated amount of chlorinated water is being sprayed on the leafy greens headed towards my table?

With huge losses from food-poisoning recalls and little oversight from the federal Food and Drug Administration, some sectors of the food industry are cobbling together their own form of regulation in an attempt to reassure consumers. They are paying other government agencies to do what the F.D.A. rarely does: muck through fields and pore over records to make sure food is handled properly.

These do-it-yourself programs may provide an enhanced safety level in segments of the industry that have embraced them. But with industry itself footing the bill, some safety advocates worry that the approach could introduce new problems and new conflicts of interest. And they contend that the programs lack the rigor of a well-run federal inspection system.

It’s an understandable response when the federal government has left a vacuum,” said Michael R. Taylor, a former officer in two federal food-safety agencies and now a professor at George Washington University. But, he added, “it’s not a substitute” for serious federal regulation.

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Obama given book by Chavez at summit – sales skyrocket

Galeano at an interview in Mexico a few weeks ago
Daylife/AFP/Getty Images

Originally, I was just going to note that Hugo Chavez – treating Barack Obama like someone with a brain – gave him a book as a welcoming present to the Summit of the Americas. It’s been decades since I read “Open Veins of Latin America” by Eduardo Galeano. I planned on working up a note or two about it and recommending it to thoughtful readers.

I guess I’m not alone in that thought.

In just hours, the book rocketed to bestseller status on online book store Amazon.com.

The English version was at No. 14 on the site’s list of top sellers. Friday, it had been No. 60,280.

The book topped Amazon’s “Movers and Shakers” list on Saturday — with a reported 466,378-percent increase in popularity on the site…

After receiving the gift, Obama jokingly said he thought it was a book Chavez had written.

I was going to give him one of mine,” he quipped…

Written in the early ’70s and reissued in several new editions since then, the book is an “analysis of the effects and causes of capitalist underdevelopment in Latin America,” according to one reviewer, who called it a “passionate account of 500 years of Latin American history, written with drama, humor, and compassion.”

The average American may not know that the Monroe Doctrine is considered a license for imperial theft throughout much of Latin America. Reading the book, they may learn why.