Archive | January 2013

Wis. sheriff urges citizens to get gun training

A Wisconsin sheriff says he released an ad calling on residents to defend themselves because the old model of having a citizen call 911 and wait for help isn’t always the best option.

In the ad, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. tells residents that when it comes to personal safety: “I need you in the game.” He urges citizens to learn to use firearms so they can “fight back” until authorities arrive.

The ad has drawn sharp criticism from other area officials. The president of the Milwaukee Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, Roy Felber, says it sounds like a call to vigilantism.

But Clarke says he can either whine about budget cuts that have reduced the number of deputies or call on citizens to work with officers in some situations.

Advertisements

Could North Korea hit the US with a missile?

Could North Korea hit the United States with a ballistic missile? Could it mount a nuclear warhead on the tip of that missile?

The short answers to these questions are “in theory maybe, in practice probably not” and “no, not yet.” Longer answers revolve around the fact that experts in and outside the US intelligence community have struggled for decades to understand North Korea’s weapons programs and geopolitical intent.

Yet North Korea’s current and future military capabilities are among the most profound national-security issues facing the US. They’ve taken on a new urgency this week in the face of renewed threats from the secretive Pyongyang regime. A launcher-rattling statement from North Korea on Thursday described the US as its “sworn enemy” and announced plans for a third nuclear test and more tests of long-range missiles in the months ahead.

RECOMMENDED: Kim 101: How well do you know North Korea’s leaders?

“Settling accounts with the US needs to be done with force, not with words as it regards jungle law as the rule of its survival,” said the statement from North Korea’s National Defense Commission.

When it comes to ballistic missile capabilities, official US intelligence comments about North Korea tend to be fairly bland.

“North Korea continues to pursue the development, production and deployment of ballistic missiles with increasing range and sophistication,” judges a 2012 unclassified report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to Congress on threatening technology developments, for instance.

Get our FREE 2013 Global Security Forecast now

Yet sometimes top officials sound more concerned in their public statements. In January, a few weeks after North Korea had successfully placed a satellite in orbit with the Unha-3 space-launch variant of its longest-range missile, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told American troops, “North Korea just fired a missile. It’s an intercontinental ballistic missile, for God sakes. That means they have the capability to strike the United States.”

Secretary Panetta’s predecessor, Robert Gates, before he left office, warned that North Korea would have missiles capable of reaching the continental US by 2015 or 2016. US officials have also talked about a new, road-mobile North Korean missile that may or may not have intercontinental capabilities.

In theory, a ballistic missile based on the Unha rocket would be able to deliver a nuclear warhead-sized payload as far as Alaska, Hawaii, or part of the Lower 48, according to an analysis from the Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California.

But previous launches of Unha-based rockets in 2006 and 2009 failed, raising questions about the technology’s reliability, CNS points out. In addition, it is a liquid-fueled rocket. This means it has to stand on the launchpad for hours, indeed days, for fueling. During that time it would be a sitting duck for attack.

“Although the Unha is clearly a step toward such a capability, it does not in itself represent a reliable system capable of delivering a nuclear weapon to the continental United States,” CNS judges.

North Korea has carried out two nuclear weapons tests and now says it is planning a third. The ability to produce a nuclear explosion, however, is not nearly the same thing as the ability to produce a device small enough to fit on the top of a missile.

As noted in a recent Congressional Research Service report, it is possible that Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan provided North Korea with the same Chinese-based design for a small nuclear weapon that he provided to Libya and Iran. But most experts judge that North Korean scientists have yet to shrink their nuclear technology into a package small enough for missile delivery.

North Korean officials have long talked with bellicosity unmatched in geostrategic circles. Some say that when it comes to their nuclear missile programs, this chest thumping is largely a bluff – pro wrestling drama translated for an international stage.

Their past missile tests have been maximized to give the appearance of performance, and they have never exploded an actual nuclear warhead design, according to RAND analyst Markus Schiller.

Thus concerns about their missile tests are overblown, wrote Mr. Schiller in a lengthy 2012 report on North Korea’s missile programs.

“Every launch further depletes the limited North Korean arsenals, and North Korea gains no real experience from these events. Since the purpose of the launches seems to be political, the United States and other nations should downplay or even ignore them,” he writes.

Not all experts are so sanguine.

For instance, the South Korean Navy has managed to retrieve first-stage debris from North Korea’s December Unha-3 launch, and certain aspects of the space junk appear to reflect novel North Korean use of foreign-obtained technology.

The engine, for instance, appears to have new and slightly unexpected technological additions, such as the ability to steer with small auxiliary engines instead of jet vanes.

The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday condemning December’s rocket launch.

North Korea is not Iraq, whose ballistic missiles turned out to be cruder than US intelligence expected, points out Jeffrey Lewis, director of the CNS East Asia Nonproliferation Program, on theArms Control Wonk blog.

“There has been a tendency to underestimate what North Korea can do in the space and missile field, and possibly with technology in general,” Mr. Lewis writes.

Florida squatter claims ownership of $2.5 million mansion

Thomas Jefferson once said, “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” But one Florida man says he’s the rightful owner of a $2.5 million mansion because he walked through the front door and never left.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that 23-year-old Andre “Loki” Barbosa is a squatter trying to cash in on a Florida law which says an individual may claim ownership of a property if they have lived there for seven years.

Sunrise real estate lawyer Gary Singer told the paper Barbosa is arguing that a Florida law known as “adverse possession” applies to him. The foreclosed, 7,522-square-foot property has reportedly been empty for about 18 months.

Barbosa reportedly filed his “adverse possession” paperwork in July 2012.

And the idea of a random stranger moving into the upscale Boca Raton neighborhood isn’t sitting well with the other, paying residents.

“This is a very upsetting thing,” neighbor Lyn Houston told the Sentinel. “Last week, I went to the Bank of America and asked to see the person in charge of mortgages. I told them, ‘I am prepared to buy this house.’ They haven’t even called me back.”

According to reports, no one saw Barbosa enter the property, so police have been unable to forcibly remove him from the 5-bedroom home. For their part, Bank of America says they are following a legal process to reclaim the property, sending a request for an eviction notice to the local court.

“The bank is taking this situation seriously and we will work diligently to resolve this matter,” BofA spokeswoman Jumana Bauwens told the paper.

A Facebook page listed under Barbosa’s name has been chronicling the situation, referring to the disputed property as “Templo de Kamisamar.” A recent post claiming to be from Barbosa declares, “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”

The Sentinel reports that Barbosa has also placed a notice on the front window of the property declaring himself the, “living beneficiary to the Divine Estate being superior of commerce and usury.”

How NASA Revealed Sun’s Hottest Secret in 5-Minute Spaceflight

While many NASA space telescopes soar in orbit for years, the agency’s diminutive Hi-C telescope tasted space for just 300 seconds, but it was enough time to see through the sun’s secretive atmosphere.

Designed to observe the hottest part of the sun — its corona — the small High-Resolution Coronal Imager (Hi-C) launched on a suborbital rocket that fell back to Earth without circling the planet even once. The experiment revealed never-before-seen “magnetic braids” of plasma roiling in the sun’s outer layers, NASA announced today (Jan. 23)

“300 seconds of data may not seem like a lot to some, but it’s actually a fair amount of data, in particular for an active region” of the sun, Jonathan Cirtain, Hi-C mission principal investigator at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., said during a NASA press conference today.

The solar telescope snapped a total of 165 photos during its mission, which lasted 10 minutes from launch to its parachute landing.

Hi-C launched from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico atop a sounding rocket in July 2012. The mission cost a total of $5 million — a relative bargain for a NASA space mission, scientists said. The experiment was part of NASA’s Sounding Rocket Program, which launches about 20 unmanned suborbital research projects every year. [NASA’s Hi-C Photos: Best View Ever of Sun’s Corona]

“This mission exemplifies the three pillars of the [sounding rocket] program: world-class science, a breakthrough technology demonstration, and the training of the next generation of space scientists,” said Jeff Newmark, a Sounding Rocket Program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Hi-C used a modified Cassegrain telescope with a 9.5-inch-diameter mirror to take close-up images of an active region on the sun, achieving a resolution equivalent to sighting a dime from 10 miles away.

While NASA already has telescopes in orbit constantly monitoring the whole surface of the sun, such as the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), the Hi-C mission allowed scientists to focus in on a smaller region than SDO is able to.

“SDO has a global view of the sun,” Newmark said. “What this research does is act like a microscope and it zooms in on the real fine structure that’s never been seen before.”

The next step, the researchers said, is to design a follow-up instrument to take advantage of the new telescope technology tested out by Hi-C, to observe for a longer period of time on an orbital mission.

“Now we’ve proven it exists, so now we can go study it,” said Karel Schrijver, a senior fellow at the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, Calif., where the instrument was built.

Former Child Bride ‘Escapes’ FLDS Community With Children

Ruby Jessop’s children are thrilled to be off of a strictly imposed all-bean diet ordered by jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs.

“It’s like they cannot get enough food in their bellies. They want to taste and try everything,” Jessop’s relieved sister Flora Jessop told ABCNews.com.

Until recently, Flora Jessop said she didn’t know if she would ever see her sister again.

Ruby Jessop was forced into an arranged marriage with her step-brother when she was 14 years old, according to her sister and the Arizona attorney general.

“Twelve years ago, I got a call from my sister who has 14 years old and had been placed in an arranged marriage,” Flora Jessop told ABCNews.com. “She had managed to get away and I gave her a promise that I would do everything I could to keep her safe. Then, before I could get to her and get her help, she disappeared and was taken back into the group.”

Jessop, now 26, managed to flee from a radical faction of the Mormon church called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, more commonly known as FLDS, earlier this month. She was then able to gain temporary custody of her six children, who range from 2 to 10 years old.

Watch more on FLDS on “20/20: Breaking Polygamy” Saturday at 10 p.m. ET

Her escape was announced on Tuesday by Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne.

“I have been searching for her for 12 years and she was hidden from us,” Flora Jessop said. “Every time I got close to the community, they would pack her in a car and move her into hiding, ensuring that we couldn’t get close to her.”

“It is unacceptable that anyone would be married against her will and forced to live in a community in which she feels unsafe, ” Horne said in a news release. “Ruby Jessop was forced into marriage by FLDS leader Warren Jeffs who compelled her to marry her second-cousin Haven Barlow in 2001. Her exact whereabouts were unknown for years until very recently when she was able to escape the town.”

The attorney general’s office has not provided details on how Jessop escaped or got temporary custody of her children, but said the escape was aided by $420,000 Horne made available. He said the money went towards more deputies working in Colorado City, an FLDS stronghold. The deputies were “instrumental” in helping Jessop and her children leave safely, Horne said.

Horne emphasized the need for more funding at a news conference, saying that the current funds will run out in six months.

“Ruby is one of thousands that have been trapped and abused and held under the regime of Warren Jeffs and she is just so happy to be out and her children are excited and able to go to a school for the first time,” Flora Jessop said. “To watch them play with toys and learn to become children has just been amazing.”

Ruby Jessop and her children are staying with her sister until they find a place to live. Her attorney has advised her not to speak publicly while the custody of her children is temporary, though her sister says she is doing well.

Jessop’s husband Haven Barlow could not immediately be reached for comment. Barlow was in his early 20s when he and Ruby Jessop married.

Flora Jessop claims that after her sister was able to get away, the FLDS would not give her her children and that the Colorado City Marshal’s Office, which she calls Warren Jeffs’ personal “security force,” did “everything they could to block her getting access to her children.”

Blake Hamilton, an attorney for the Marshal’s Office, vehemently denies the claims.

 

Escape From Polygamy

“That is absolutely not true,” Hamilton told ABCNews.com. “I don’t know exactly what she’s alleging here, but the Marshal’s Office has not gotten in the way of people wanting to leave the community or of obstructing any type of justice being carried out as far as people getting their children.”

He says the officers are all trained and certified peace officers and that he had no knowledge of Ruby Jessop ever approaching the Marshal’s Office for help securing her children.

Horne has been asking for community support on a bill that would authorize Mohave County Sheriff’s Deputies to police Colorado City instead of the Marshal’s Office “who are under the control of the dominant church,” he said.

“That is one thing that would benefit the community more than any other thing that could happen because it effectively will take away the control and power base that FLDS uses to control the women and children,” Flora Jessop said.

Horne said the Marshal’s Office is not against extra police protection in the city, but they do take issue with the idea of being de-certified and replaced.

In June, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint against the Colorado City government and the local Marshal’s Office alleging civil rights violations.

The complaint alleged the Colorado City Marshal’s Office “routinely uses its enforcement authority to enforce the edicts and will of the FLDS; fails to protect non-FLDS individuals from victimization by FLDS individuals; refuses to cooperate with other law enforcement agencies’ investigations of FLDS individuals; selectively enforces laws against non-FLDS; and uses its authority to facilitate unlawful evictions of non-FLDS, among other unlawful conduct.”

Jeff Matura, a lawyer for Colorado City, denied the allegations made in the lawsuit.

“We’ll have our day in court,” Matura told the Associated Press in June. He said the town utilities don’t discriminate against anyone. “There’s not a question on the application that says, ‘What’s your religion?'”

Flora Jessop left the “complete and utter suffering” of the FLDS community in 1986 and wants to help others who wish to break free from the controlling community. For now, she says she is enjoying catching up on lost years with her sister.

“I never did give up. I never thought I would see the day that I would be reunited with her either,” she said. “I’ve been on cloud nine since I got the call.”

Hidden Camera Captures What It Would be Like to be Eaten by a Tiger

It’s not often that you get a firsthand view of what a tiger’s prey sees moments — or seconds — before being eaten. In case you were wondering what it’s like to be attacked by a big cat, here is the footage, thanks to keepers at the Longleat Safari Park in England. They set out to build snowmen for young Siberian tigers to play with in their enclosure. The keepers had the brilliant idea to insert a GoPro camera in the shoulder of a 6-foot-tall snowman to get a closer look at the beasts while they played. The staffers hit the record button, and then jumped into a Jeep for safety. Good thing, because the curious cats went in for the attack.

Soundari, a 7-year-old tiger, even had the camera in its mouth. Not only did zookeepers get to witness the scary sight of a tiger attack, but, a spokesperson for the safari park said, it “gave us the opportunity to do a quick health check on Soundari’s mouth, gums, and teeth.

Republicans, want to win in 2016? You might want to pull a Clinton

Somewhere—in a governor’s mansion, in the solitude of a congressional office, on the inaugural platform itself, or in a private home—the next Republican nominee for president listened to Barack Obama’s second inaugural address. What was she or he thinking? Possibly something like this:

Game on. What Obama is telling my party is clear: The election proved there are more of “us” than there are of “you,” and I’m embracing the liberal agenda of my party without apology.

But I gotta give the guy credit: Defining that agenda as the fulfillment of the Declaration of Independence was audacious. It was an obvious echo of what Martin Luther King, Jr. did almost half a century ago at the Lincoln Memorial. Back then King said America could not be true to the promise of the Declaration that “all men are created equal” without letting black Americans vote. Now Obama says those words included women, gays, immigrants and young people’s futures—and that they meant his ideas about gay marriage, immigration reform and the economy. How many of his cheerleaders in the press bothered to note that he left out pesky details like the millions of immigrants who broke the law when they came here, or that less than a year ago, he was refusing to embrace gay marriage?

Well, heck, if you’re in my party, that’s just the way the playing field is. And we’ve got a bigger problem. All of us Republicans got November’s message: The American electorate, at least the presidential electorate, has changed, and changed permanently. It’s blacker, browner, younger, better educated than it was even a decade or so ago. (Go back further, and the shift is more dramatic. If Reagan had run against Carter with this electorate, and gotten the same share of the black, Hispanic and white vote as he did in 1980, the election would have ended up in a virtual dead heat.)
 
But here’s the maddening part: The road to the nomination leads through Iowa, South Carolina and other places where the ideas that win cheers from the caucus and primary-goers are certain to drive away the parts of the electorate that are growing. More than half of Iowa’s Republican caucus-goers call themselves evangelicals; the same is true in South Carolina. I know damn well what would happen—no theology intended—if I tried to argue for a middle ground on abortion. (That poll that just came out showing a shift toward a more “pro-choice” attitude about abortion? For my party’s base, that just proves even more that we’re on the road to perdition.) 
   
And the Hispanic vote? It looks as if we’ve gotten the message, at least up on Capitol Hill: Give the ball to Marco Rubio and let him cut a deal with the Democrats. But that’s still going to leave plenty of room for a candidate to roll through Iowa (and Arizona, and much of the South) with applause lines that thrill the true believers. You think by now we’d know that everyone hears those lines, including those who find them offensive, not just the party faithful. (As not-President Mitt Romney learned, if you’ve spent six months talking about folks “self-deporting,” you don’t win them over by saying, “Se habla español” in October.)
   
So. Where do I look for a way out of this mess if I’m going to run for the nomination in a way that doesn’t doom my chances to actually win the presidency?

I’m going to spend the next six months looking at what another candidate did when he found himself in much the same situation: William Jefferson Clinton.
 
After 1988, Clinton saw the political devastation: The Democratic Party had lost three consecutive presidential elections by electoral landslides. What he understood was that to win the White House, a Democrat had to confront his party with some hard truths. So he did. 

In his speeches, Clinton said bluntly that the American people no longer trusted Democrats with their money or their safety—a recognition that the crime issue had cleaved millions of working-class Democrats from their party. He told them the blue-collar jobs that had elevated them into relative prosperity were gone and were not coming back. He broke with his party’s base on specific issues ranging from the death penalty to free trade. And he labeled himself “a Different Kind of Democrat.”

Clinton then became the first two-term Democrat since FDR and, in the middle of a sex scandal, became the first president to see his party gain seats in the House in the sixth year of his tenure. (If it weren’t for the 22nd Amendment, he might still be president.)
 
What does that mean for me? I think the only way for a Republican to win now is to do what Clinton did (and, for that matter, what Tony Blair did with the British Labor Party back in the ’90s, what Mitch Daniels might have done had he run in 2012, and what Jon Huntsman should have done). I’m going to have to tell my fellow Republicans that too many voters trust us neither with their personal freedom nor with their economic interests. I’m going to have to explain our conservative beliefs in ways that go beyond one-liners. Walter Russell Mead’s argument that “the blue-state” model has failed would be a good place to start. (The struggles of California Gov. Jerry Brown, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel with the excesses of health and pension costs for pubic employees would give this argument bipartisan heft.) 
 
And maybe I need to find a “Sistah Souljah” moment of my own; Clinton’s rejection of the anti-white sentiments of a rap singer proved highly politically effective. Rush or Sean ought to offer up a host of opportunities 

Now—where did I put that saxophone I used to play in high school?