Archive for February 1, 2012
A plan to protest the Superbowl by blocking entrances to Lucas Oil Stadium before Sunday’s game is a bad idea. Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) signed the bill Wednesday to make Indiana the 23rd state to prohibit labor contracts that require workers to pay union representation fees and the first to adopt such legislation in a decade. Between 3,000 and 4,000 union protesters streamed outside the Statehouse on Wednesday chanting, “No Super Bowl,” and “See you at the Super Bowl!” before marching into Super Bowl Village, down to near the stadium and back.
Teamsters President Jeff Combs said the union will use trucks to disrupt getting into and out of the stadium or at least the general area. Daniels said this week that it would be a “colossal mistake” for union protesters to disrupt Super Bowl festivities and that any such move could backfire on them. He is right. While people may be sympathetic to the plight of union workers, the law is the law, it has been debated and passed and regardless of political leanings, it is the law of the land. Disrupting the N.F.L. grand finale will do little to further the cause of organized labor and will likely leave a bad taste in the mouths of most people. The Super Bowl Host Committee has said previously that they hope protesters will understand the positive financialboost the game is bringing to the city.
Indianapolis is getting some rave reviews as it hosts the Superbowl for the first time. As a native born Hoosier who lived in Indianapolis for several years, let me tell you a little secret, 50 and 60 degree temperatures and sunshine in January are unusual. Regardless, Hoosier hospitality and a fantastic organizational effort has the city hoping it can repeat with another Superbowl sometime in the future. With four days to go until the Super Bowl, media from the world have converged on Indianapolis – and they’re beginning to report back on how our city is doing with the festivities surrounding the big game.
Media members have been able to take in the sights and sounds of Super Bowl Village, and reviews about Indy as host city have been glowing. Tuesday night, members of the media got another treat: a party at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And they came from all over. “We are a television station in Germany. We are the market leader,” said Christian Beissel of Cologne, Germany. The party was an opportunity for media members to mingle before the big game. And it was one more opportunity for Super Bowl organizers to shine a spotlight on the city. “We are saying to the world, ‘Here we are,’ and what we’ve kind of known all along,” said Bill Benner, with the Indianapolis Host Committee.
Indianapolis one year ago.
It was also a time for visitors to offer their take on their experiences so far. “This is the first time I’m in Indianapolis, and it’s a great city, and they do a great job to have the Super Bowl here,” Beissel said. Another journalist who had a shorter journey to get to Indy had some added perspective. Cory Miller has is own radio show in Columbia, S.C., and he’s a former New York Giant He had praise for the Super Bowl Village, “what they’ve done, blocking off the streets and the other stuff they got going on,” Miller said. “I covered the Giants/Patirots in Super Bowl in Arizona four years ago, and this is a hundred times better,” said Chris Scaglione of WCBS New York.
Benner said the talk has been good all around the world, and he contributed that success to a lot of hard working people and plenty of planning. “I was reading a report from a writer in Great Britain who just said this is the Super Bowl like the Super Bowl ought to be, and he refered to previous Super Bowl Host,” he said. “So we’ll take that praise.” Indeed, Indy is turning some heads but back to the incredible weather for a minute. The Super Bowl Host Committee never dreamed the weather would be this nice when Indianapolis played host. In the weeks leading up to the festivities, they only had to look back one year to envision their nightmare. Do you remember? Last year, Jan. 31 and overnight into Feb. 1, a wintry mix started coating roads with dangerous ice. Flights were canceled. Accidents piled up. Stores closed early.
Indianapolis right now.
The Super Bowl Host Committee is fixing issues as the week goes on, and they’re not the only ones learning this year. Representatives from New Orleans, hosting the Super Bowl in 2013, are already in Indianapolis. Representatives from Arizona, hosting in 2015, and New York and New Jersey, hosting in 2014, are also arriving in town this week. Just as the Indy committee did in Dallas and elsewhere, the New Orleans Host Committee is watching how the big game and the surrounding festivities play out in Indianapolis. “We’re definitely watching how the event is flowing,” said Sam Joffray, associate executive director of the New Orleans Super Bowl Host Committee. “Indianapolis has done a great job of raising attendance for the NFL Experience, which is an ever-growing event every year.”
Committee members are taking to the streets, watching everything from Indy volunteers to the zipline in Super Bowl Village. “One thing that I’ve really noticed with Indianapolis is how clean everything is, and directionally, things are pretty well laid out,” said Jeremy Boyce, New Orleans Super Bowl Host Committee. Committee members said New Orleans is similar to Indy, as opposed to Dallas, in that its downtown is also walkable. Boyce said he hopes New Orleans volunteers are as knowledgeable as Indianapolis volunteers are. He also pointed out the recycling stations, the turf on Georgia Street and the IndyCar display as specific examples he’d like to draw from. “We want to try and really emulate what Indianapolis has done, but put a New Orleans flavor on it,” he said It’s not only the host committee in town. Public safety officials from New Orleans will arrive in town Thursday, along with city leaders.
Boston, Massachusetts this afternoon.
It’s 77 degrees in Houston under cloudy skies at 2:03PM CST
Here is some of what I am following this afternoon. Four juveniles at a Cleveland, Texas high school have been accused of distributing a potent, addictive prescription drug used mostly for treating anxiety to 16 other students, sending nine of them to the hospital after they showed signs of illness. The four juveniles, whose names were not released, will be detained Wednesday and processed on charges of possession or delivery of a controlled substance. The drug, Lorazepam, is a schedule lV drug that requires a prescription and is used in the treatment of anxiety, insomnia and acute seizures, said Cleveland school spokeswoman Stacey Gatlin. Authorities are unsure how the juveniles obtained the drug or if the pills were sold or given to the students Tuesday just before lunch.
American Airlines told its unions Wednesday it plans to cut 13,000 jobs from the staff of 88,000 at the nation’s No. 3 airline. The cuts will fall most heavily on the airline’s maintenance operations, which will lose 4,600 jobs. More than 4,000 additional ground worker jobs will be eliminated, as will 2,300 flight attendant jobs. Management will be reduced by 1,400 employees, with the most narrow cut coming among pilots and first officers, which will only see a reduction of 400. Thomas Horton, CEO of American Air parent AMR Corp. said in a letter to American employees, “We will end this journey with many fewer people. But we will also preserve tens of thousands of jobs that would have been lost if we had not embarked on this path.”
Horton said the company needs to save more than $1.25 billion annually in labor costs, and reduce costs in each work group, including management, by 20%. To try to cushion the blow of those cuts, it is offering employees a profit sharing plan. Some of the savings will come from the airline’s proposal, also announced Wednesday, to shift its underfunded pension plans to a government agency, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.
Bail for a former elementary school teacher in Los Angeles accused of taking bizarre photos of children in his classroom for a sexual thrill was raised Wednesday to $23 million, as parents questioned why they weren’t notified when the pictures were found more than a year ago. Mark Berndt, 61, appeared in court for the first time after being charged with committing lewd acts involving 23 boys and girls, ages 6 to 10, between 2008 and 2010. The tall and graying Berndt, represented by public defender Liz Braunstein, seemed calm in court as he spoke only to acknowledge his identity and birthdate and agreed to have his arraignment put over to Feb. 21. He has made no statements to authorities, said sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore.
As always, thanks for being here!
There are two Indiana’s. The Democratic strongholds in the states Northwest corner, Bloomington, Evansville and Indianapolis but the rest of the state is redder than red, a strong Republican state that is poised to become the next “right to work” state. The controversial bill is now one signature away from becoming Indiana’s law. The Senate voted 28 to 22 today to pass the controversial labor union bill, as thousands of protesters packed Statehouse hallways shouting their disapproval, with thousands more lined-up outside waiting to get in.
Union protestors marched from the Statehouse lawn into the Super Bowl Village about 12:30 p.m., shortly after the vote. Some protestors marched along Capitol Avenue toward Lucas Oil Stadium — passing beneath the popular zipline attraction that’s part of the city’s festivities before Sunday’s Super Bowl — while others marched onto Georgia Street, where concerts and displays greeted visitors for the game. Protestors were chanting “United we stand, divided we fall” as they were shown on local television news during the noon hour. Police reported that some people waiting to ride the zipline chanted “Super Bowl” back the protestors, but all the efforts had remained peaceful.
The Senate vote was the final legislative hurdle for the bill. Now the bill goes to Gov. Mitch Daniels, who has said he will sign it, possibly later today. His signature will make Indiana the 23rd state in the nation with the law, and the first in the so-called “rust belt” states of the industrial Midwest and Northeast. The House ealier passed the measure 54-44. Daniels was not in Indianapolis this morning, but was returning from a speaking engagement in Las Vegas that he attended Tuesday night. His press secretary, Jane Jankowski, said he will sign the bill today but not in a public signing ceremony. He also would not hold a news conference on the bill.
After the vote, thousands of people were protesting legislation filled the on the lawn outside the Statehouse. The crowd was loud at times, though calm. John Hatfield and Larry Moran of Carpenter’s Local 232 in Fort Wayne stood along Washington Street with a protest signs — just two of many people doing the same. Hatfield said lawmakers are trying to take away union members’ living wages. “I don’t see how this is going to gain one job,” he said. “It’s a right to work for less and lowering our wages. We have good paying jobs in Indiana, why do they want to take those away?”
Moran said unions provide training for workers, so he believes weaker unions will result in lower quality work. “It’s a race to the bottom,” he said. Backers of the bill, though, were celebrating. “With the passage of right-to-work, Indiana has further distinguished itself from neighboring states and given companies another big reason to bring their business and jobs here – and not there,” said Kevin Brinegar, president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, in a statement. “This is the latest in a long line of actions to help make Indiana one of the most attractive climates for business relocations and expansions.”
And Mark Mix, president of the Virginia-based National Right to Work Committee said in a statement that: “This is a great day for Indiana’s workers and taxpayers. After a ten-year struggle involving hundreds of thousands of mobilized Hoosiers, Indiana will finally be able to enjoy all the benefits of a Right to Work law.” Daniels had said in 2004 as a candidate and again in 2006 as governor that he would not seek to add “right to work” to Indiana’s labor laws. But he said he has changed his mind, based on “eight years of evidence” that some companies will not locate in a state that doesn’t have the law.
Today, Sen. Tim Skinner, D-Terre Haute, called this part of a “union-busting” agenda from a governor who seems to be stilling running for president. Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, called it Daniels’ “parting shot.” Indiana did adopt “right to work” in 1957, but repealed it in 1965. Under it, companies can no longer negotiate a contract with a union that requires non-members to pay fees for representation. Unions say that encourages “free loaders,” citing federal regulations and court decisions that require them to represent all members of a bargaining unit. They also say it will lead to a downward spiral in wages and working conditions for all workers. Supporters of the law, including the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, say it will let workers decide for themselves whether to financially back a union and will lead to more jobs.
Sen. Carlin Yoder, the Middlebury Republican who is the chief sponsor of the bill in the Senate, said today that for him “this bill is all about jobs.” Unions, he said, will thrive despite it. And he said he apologized for all the “issues” lawmakers had to struggle with on it, an apparent reference to the constant protests against the bill. “But the fact is this bill is worth it for Hoosiers who desperately need jobs,” he said. Acknowledging the passion of opponents, Yoder said that there are plenty of people passionate about enacting “right to work.” To that, one protester in the Senate gallery shouted out: “Where are they?”
Yoder said he could live with people protesting on his front lawn, or cussing at him as he leaves the Senate. “If that’s what they need to do, I can live with that,” Yoder said, saying the bill is “giving freedom” to workers who do not want to be part of a union. The soon-to-be enacted law, he said, already is showing results. He cited, but declined to name, two companies — one planning to continue developing in Indiana due to this law and another that he said is considering moving here. Senate Minority Leader Vi Simpson, D-Ellettsville, disputed the promise of new jobs, saying “there is no empirical evidence… that right to work creates one job.” “It’s a downward spiral to lower wages and fewer benefits,” she said.
The legislature, she said, had rushed this bill, ignoring legislative procedures and traditions, to get it to Daniels before the Super Bowl. “Was it worth it?” she repeatedly asked, saying they had pushed a divisive bill based on “myth and anecdote” and not fact. The Senate vote, she said, was like playing the Super Bowl, but her team — the 13 Democrats — had too few men on the field to compete. And, she said, “we already know the score.” Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Lafayette, said there may not be empirical evidence that “right to work” creates jobs, but is no evidence that it will hurt Indiana either. He praised the protesters’ passion on what he called a “contentious, heartfelt” issue, but said he believes it will benefit workers as companies compete for their services.
In the end, he said, he believed that this would lead to “long-term prosperity for Indiana.” But Sen. Lindel Hume, D-Princeton, told the Senate that “what this bill truly does, when it comes right down to it, it makes it much more difficult for unions to have the clout they need to be able to improve working conditions, improve benefits and improve wages” for all workers, both union and non-union. Sen. Mike Young, an Indianapolis Republican who said he also comes from a union family, said the statistics he examined show neither incomes nor working conditions will be harmed, and arguing that incomes are rising faster in “right to work” states. “Our greatest adversary is fear,” Young said. “Only the future can cure it.” The Democrats fought a worthy fight for a cause they feel just. DMN covered walk-outs by Democrats last year that stalled the Indiana General Assembly and kept the bill from debate but the political reality in Indiana was too much for them to overcome today.
Public opinion polls, state by state, indicate still the 2012 election is still President Obama’s to lose. While Republicans are still fighting over their “D” list slate of candidates in 2012, Mitt Romney is emerging, again, as the front runner. Romney’s primary victory in Florida takes on more significance when you consider what comes next. The four remaining Republican presidential contenders face a set of caucuses and primaries in February and early March that yield relatively few convention delegates but will test the reach and organization of the respective campaigns.
On both counts, the better-funded Romney appears poised to continue his winning ways in states where he fared well in his initial presidential run in 2008. Romney had a solid victory Tuesday in Florida’s hotly contested primary. The former Massachusetts governor had 46%, compared to 32% for Newt Gingrich, 13% for former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and 7% for Texas Rep. Ron Paul, according to the Florida Department of State. There are eight caucuses or primaries in the five weeks between Florida’s vote and the “Super Tuesday” group of 10 contests on March 6. The eight upcoming contests offer about 250 delegates, while the Super Tuesday haul will be a total of 437.
With 1,144 delegates needed to secure the nomination at the August convention, the coming five weeks are considered a bit of a lull after the frenetic climate of January, as the Iowa caucuses were followed by three primaries and punctuated with seven debates. While none of the upcoming contests alone would represent a major victory, a breakthrough for trailing candidates such as Santorum or Paul would boost fund-raising efforts. At the same time, a pattern of victory by Romney or fellow front-runner Gingrich would create valuable momentum heading into the Super Tuesday showdown.
First up will be the Nevada caucuses February 4, a non-binding event in a state Romney won in 2008, helped by support from a sizable population of fellow Mormons. Then come caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota February 7, as well as Missouri’s non-binding primary. Romney won both Colorado and Minnesota last time, while the Missouri vote only sets the stage for later caucuses that will decide delegate allocation. The Maine caucuses conclude February 11 in a state Romney also won in the 2008 primary. Then there is a break until the February 28 primaries in Michigan and Arizona, with a February 22 debate on CNN in between.
Romney, who grew up in Michigan as the son of three-term Gov. George Romney, won the GOP primary there in 2008. He finished second that year in Arizona to state native John McCain, the eventual Republican presidential nominee. Completing the run-up to Super Tuesday will be the Washington state primary March 3. Last time, Romney dropped out of the GOP race two days before the Evergreen State voted. So far this year, Romney narrowly lost the first nominating contest — the Iowa caucuses — to Santorum and then easily won the New Hampshire primary. Gingrich surged back to win the first Southern primary in South Carolina, which neighbors his native Georgia. That set up a Florida showdown that Romney claimed after his campaign and supporting super PACs poured in millions of dollars for negative ads against Gingrich.
Taking advantage of Romney’s ample resources, his campaign has launched efforts in the upcoming contests, and he said Monday he will head to Minnesota and Nevada after the Florida vote. Santorum and Paul already have headed for upcoming caucus and primary states in a concession that they had no hope of grabbing delegates in winner-take-all Florida. Gingrich’s campaign, meanwhile, is tempering expectations for Michigan and Nevada and looking ahead to primaries in Southern states in March and beyond. R. C. Hammond, the Gingrich campaign spokesman, called Arizona, Minnesota, Maine and Colorado the strongest states for the former House speaker in February, while saying Nevada is the “toughest” challenge, and “we are not putting Michigan first” in terms of chances to win.
Current polling projections by DMN show that the race is still President Obama’s to lose.
On Monday, Gingrich highlighted the Mormon population in Nevada as a factor that made the state “tricky,” adding that he will “absolutely” campaign there. Gingrich’s campaign also sought to blunt any sense of momentum by Romney by issuing an analysis Monday that noted the former House speaker leads in national polls and will benefit from upcoming contests that award delegates on a proportional basis. “Mitt Romney has failed to consolidate conservatives in each of the first four contests with every notable grassroots conservative endorsement — Herman Cain, Fred Thompson, Michael Reagan, Rick Perry and others — going to Newt Gingrich,” said the document by Martin Baker, Gingrich’s national political director.
No matter who won Florida, said Baker’s analysis issued before the Sunshine State primary, neither Romney nor Gingrich will have gotten 10% of the 1,144 convention delegates needed to win. “There is a long way to go before either candidate clinches the nomination, and this campaign will continue for months,” Baker said.
My grandfather was a retail grocer. He tried, in earnest, to explain to my shopping-loving grandmother the ideology behind the “SALE.” He went into detail about the how, why and wonders of the retail sale and the fact that “everything is on sale.” Like many shoppers, my grandmother, to this day is addicted to the coupon, even at 92 years old. Send her a coupon in the mail, and she will find a way to the store to spend that coupon whether she needs anything or not. Retailers know this and know it well. Macy’s, for example, always has a sale and frequently with a coupon attached. During the holiday season, there was at least one 4 day period where Macy’s had a dozen coupons running at the same time. Confusing? Yes but oh so exciting!
J.C. Penney’s ambitious plan to turn around its business and make its brand hip and cool is in high gear, but whether the 110-year-old company’s stock will keep up the pace is another question. On Wednesday, the company launched its “Fair and Square” pricing plan –the one featured in those maddening commercials with shoppers screaming “Noooooooooooo!” in frustration at complicated sale signs and coupons. Rather than luring in customers with frequent sales that offer them deep discounts, J.C. Penney will introduce an “everyday price” that is essentially a permanent discount of at least 40% on all items.
Here’s an example. A women’s T-shirt regularly priced at $14 in 2011 will now have an “everyday price” of $7, the retailer said. It’s the first big move made by new CEO Ron Johnson, the man responsible for Apple’s retail stores and Genius Bar. Johnson, who also was Target’s former marketing whiz, joined J.C. Penney late last year. J.C. Penney is coming off a tough year. In November, the company posted a third-quarter loss of $143 million and gave a weak fourth-quarter outlook. But Johnson’s plan, which is the essence of J.C. Penney’s grand transformation and was unveiled at an investor meeting last week, didn’t initially impress the market either. Shares actually fell 1% last Wednesday, the day Johnson announced the new pricing structure. A day later, shares spiked 18% after the Plano, Texas-based department store chain revealed that it may save $900 million in the next two years thanks to its new strategy. The company also provided a better-than-expected profit outlook for fiscal 2013, which begins this month.
Shares have held on to the gains so far, but analysts aren’t sure how much longer the euphoria will last. While the overhaul plans have helped analysts better understand Johnson’s ‘magic’ touch, there are questions about how quickly the new strategy can lead to higher sales. “We continue to believe sales trends will deteriorate further before improving as it will take time for consumers to adapt to J.C. Penney’s new pricing strategy,” wrote Michelle Clark, analyst at Morgan Stanley, in a research note. So far, the advertisements and pricing plan have been met with mixed reactions, according to comments left on J.C. Penney’s official social media pages. “Hate the commercial! Annoying! No more sales and coupons means no more J.C. Penney shopping for me!” said 1katiebella on Penney’s You Tube page. But Karen Adkison of San Ramon, Calif., wrote that she appreciates Johnson’s “outstanding price innovation” and has decided that J.C. Penney is in fact her favorite store in a post on Penney’s Facebook page.
While J.C. Penney’s new plan aims to provide a simpler, less confusing pricing structure, it will still continue to host some sales. But the retailer hopes that they will be more predictable and convenient than in the past. As part of its effort to become “America’s favorite store,” J.C. Penney said it will have month-long sales on items that customers are looking to buy during that month–like swimsuits in June. And items that don’t sell well will be marked down to the lowest prices on the first and third Fridays of each month, when most Americans get their paychecks, the company said.
It’s a bold bet. If it succeeds, Clark thinks that the stock could soar more than 40% from its current levels to about $60. But if the changes fail to resonate with customers, leaving profit margins flat and the company short of its savings target, Clark thinks shares could tumble more than 50% to about $20. As a result of the recent jump in J.C. Penney’s stock, shares are now trading at more than 23 times fiscal 2013 earnings estimates. That’s more than double the valuation of rivals Kohl’s and Macy’s. That’s too much risk for one analyst. Deutsche Bank analyst Charles Grom said that while J.C. Penney’s forecast is impressive, the bar is now set very high. He targets the stock at $40 per share, a tad lower than where it is currently, and recommends that investors remain “on the sidelines for now.”
CNN Money contributed this report.
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana — (DMN/Star) – Several thousand labor union members were floodingin to the Statehouse this morning to protest what is expected to be the passage of the contentious “right to work” bill. The Indiana Senate is expected to vote this morning to make Indiana the 23rd state in the nation with the law, and the first in the so-called “rust belt” states of the industrial Midwest and Northeast. The Senate earlier voted 28-22 on an identical measure, so passage today is considered a virtual done-deal. The House ealier passed the measure 54-44, and since the version they voted on — House Bill 1001 — is unchanged in the Senate it will immediately go to Gov. Mitch Daniels to be signed in to law.
Daniels was not in Indianapolis this morning, but was returning from a speaking engagement in Las Vegas that he attended Tuesday night. Daniels said earlier this week he will sign the bill as soon as it reaches his desk. While he had said in 2004 as a candidate and again in 2006 as governor that he would not seek to add “right to work” to Indiana’s labor laws. But he said he has changed his mind, based on “eight years of evidence” that some companies will not locate in a state that doesn’t have the law.
Indiana did adopt “right to work” in 1957, but repealed it in 1965. Under it, companies can no longer negotiate a contract with a union that requires non-members to pay fees for representation. Unions say that encourages “free loaders,” citing federal regulations and court decisions that require them to represent all members of a bargaining unit. They also say it will lead to a downward spiral in wages for all workers. Supporters of the law, including the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, say it will let workers decide for themselves whether to financially back a union and will lead to more jobs.
Sen. Carlin Yoder, the Middlebury Republican who is the chief sponsor of the bill in the Senate, said on the floor this week that states with the law have lower unemployment rates. Democrats point to “right to work” states like Nevada, which has the nation’s highest unemployment rate, as well as South Carolina and Florida where the rate is higher than in Indiana. Democrats in both the House and Senate have also charged that this is politically motivated to hurt unions which typically give far more financialsupport to Democrats than Republicans. Rep. Jerry Torr, the Carmel Republican who has been seeking this law for several years, repeatedly has said that this is not about union-busting, but about jobs.
These possible pipe bombs, confiscated from a flier’s bag, were left lying around as hundreds passed by. (NEW YORK POST)
The TSA has struck again. This time it’s not about feeling up toddlers and grandma, it’s about missed pipe bombs and theft. TSA agents found two possible pipe bombs in a passenger’s luggage yesterday at La Guardia Airport — and kept them in a public area for six hours without notifying cops, according to the New York Post. The Transportation Security Administration bozos at one point left the pipes — which eventually turned out to be harmless — resting on a radiator as hundreds of fliers passed through security nearby, sources said. “Six hours to report a potential bomb? It’s outrageous,” one Port Authority police official fumed.
The stunning security screw-up, a violation of TSA policy of alerting police to all suspicious activity, began at about 11:30 a.m. at the central terminal when the male flier’s bags passed through an X-ray machine, the sources said. “When I saw the image, I took a step backward and said, ‘What’s that?!’ ” one startled TSA employee said, according to police sources. Another screener saw the objects, one gold, the other silver, and both 6-inches long with “springs” inside, and thought they could be bombs, the sources said.
The screeners promptly called their supervisor. He questioned the passenger, who claimed the pipes were for homeopathic medicine. The supervisor bought the story and let the man board his flight without taking down any information, the sources said. The flier left the pipes behind and it wasn’t until 3 p.m., with the devices still lying around the screening area, when the supervisor finally realized he should notify someone. He called a TSA bomb specialist — who took another two hours to arrive. The expert decided the pipes could, indeed, be dangerous and notified the PAPD bomb squad. It shut down the area and hauled the objects away to the police bomb range in the Bronx, where they were found to be not a threat. A TSA spokesman later insisted the items were “voluntarily surrendered” and the agency notified cops only “out of an abundance of caution.”
And in Dallas, WFAA TV is reporting that A TSA agent at Dallas/Fort Worth International airport was arrested for stealing iPads from checked luggage. Police arrested Clayton Keith Dovel, who works in terminal E at the airport, but unlike the security checkpoints where passengers are screened, the 35-year-old TSA employee works in an out-of-sight position in what’s called the “Resolution Room,” where checked luggage is screened by hand. That’s where police believe Dovel took iPads that travelers packed away. “For me, it was like a zero chance of me thinking I’d get the iPad back,” said theft victim, Borna Mojra.
It was a long shot, but eight months after his new, 64 gigabyte iPad was stolen, airport police said they found Dovel with it at work. They also found him with seven other iPads. Another theft victim actually led police to Dovel when he tracked his stolen iPad to Dovel’s home. “If they’re the guys who are protecting us and they’re not, who am I going to trust next?” Mojra asked. In a statement, TSA said Dovel is on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation. It’s uncertain how many cases Dovel’s arrest might solve or whether the TSA will let him return to a trusted position.
LONDON, United Kingdom — (DMN/BBC) – Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has started his latest legal action to try to block his extradition to Sweden at the Supreme Court in London. The appeal is based on whether the Swedish prosecutor who issued the European Arrest Warrant against him had the judicial authority to do so. Mr Assange is wanted by the Swedish authorities for questioning over alleged sex offences, which he denies. Judgement is expected to be reserved to a later date.
The key legal question for the seven judges is whether the prosecutor who issued the arrest warrant had the judicial authority to do so under provisions of the 2003 Extradition Act. Mr Assange’s lawyer, Dinah Rose QC, said it was “a matter of fundamental legal principle” that the person issuing such a warrant was both independent and impartial. But she said the Swedish prosecutor was a party in the Assange case and therefore was not either of these things.
Ms Rose submitted: “Since the Swedish prosecutor cannot fulfil those conditions, she is not a judicial authority and not capable of issuing a warrant for the purposes of he 2003 Act.” The arrest warrant itself was therefore invalid, she said. Parliament believed the European Arrest Warrants (EAWs) would only be issued by judges, as stated in Part 3 of the 2003 Act, Ms Rose added. But she said the UK had received EAWs from bodies that were clearly not “judicial”.
The High Court, which previously approved his extradition, had recognised that the status of the public prosecutor was debatable. But Ms Rose said it had “nonetheless concluded that the Swedish prosecutor was a ‘judicial’ authority within the meaning of Part 1 of the 2003 Act” and was “wrong to reach that conclusion”. Ms Rose said Swedish prosecutors could investigate without Mr Assange being extradited using telephone, by video-link or in person at an embassy. She said: “The EAW is a draconian instrument which affects individual liberty, freedom of movement and private life: it should only be resorted to if other, less invasive, measures for achieving the general interest have failed or are unavailable.”
Dozens of supporters gathered outside the Supreme Court to greet Mr Assange as he arrived for the hearing. The 40-year-old Australian, who remains on conditional bail in the UK, claims the allegations against him are politically motivated. He is accused of raping one woman and “sexually molesting and coercing” another in Stockholm in August 2010. Mr Assange’s Wikileaks website published a mass of material from leaked diplomatic cables embarrassing several governments.
In December, two High Court judges, Sir John Thomas and Mr Justice Ouseley, decided that Mr Assange had raised a question on extradition law “of general public importance” and allowed him to ask the Supreme Court for a final UK ruling. Later that month, a Supreme Court spokesman said its justices had agreed to hear the case “given the great public importance of the issue raised, which is whether a prosecutor is a judicial authority”.