March 25th, 2012
by JIM FORMAN / KING 5 News
SEATAC, Wash. -- The wife of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians spoke publicly for the first time Sunday in the city of SeaTac.
In an exclusive interview with NBC's Matt Lauer to air on Monday's Today show, the wife of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales opened up about her husband, the man at the center of the Afghan massacre investigation.
Karilyn Bales told Lauer why her husband became a soldier after 9-11.
"His reasons for joining the military and the Army were to protect his family and friends (they) were his top priority, but also his country," said Karilyn. "And so he joined the Army after the 2001 attacks to protect his family, friends and his country. He wanted to do his part."
Now his country has charged her husband, a 38-year-old from Lake Tapps, with using his 9mm pistol and M-4 rifle to kill Afghan civilians -- four men, four women, two boys and seven girls, then burning some of the bodies.
Matt Lauer: When I asked what kind of dad he was, you said he was so involved with his children. He loves children?
Karilyn Bales: He loves children. He is like a big kid himself...It is unbelievable to me. I have no idea what happened, but he would not - he loves children. He would not do that.
For their safety, Karilyn Bales and her family were moved on post at Joint Base Lewis-MChord. Bales remains locked up at a military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Karilyn said none of what her husband is accused of makes sense, and are not the actions of the man she knows.
Matt Lauer: How would you describe him?
Marilyn Bales: Very brave, very courageous.
Further legal proceedings will be held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, but the Army said they have no plans on moving Bales back to Western Washington anytime soon.
You can hear Matt Lauer's full exclusive interview with the wife of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales on Monday morning on the Today show, with more coverage Monday evening on NBC Nightly News. Both air on KING 5.
March 25th, 2012
The Wall Street Journal / By JESS BRAVIN
WASHINGTON—In taking up President Barack Obama's health overhaul Monday, the Supreme Court wades into an issue that not only could sway this fall's elections but also could help define for generations what Congress is and isn't entitled to do.
The court this week hears three days of arguments on the law's constitutionality, with a ruling expected in late June. The administration and its allies say the court must uphold the law to ensure that Congress can tackle national problems by employing comprehensive solutions. In jeopardy, critics say, is the fundamental American conceit that the federal government should be restricted in what it can require of citizens.
"This case will be a tremendous opportunity to reaffirm that Congress is a legislature of limited powers," said Randy Barnett, a Georgetown University law professor who is helping the challengers.
On the eve of the court arguments, the case was being cast in political tones. White House senior adviser David Plouffe said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday he was confident the justices would uphold the law, saying that Americans were already benefiting from elements of the plan. But Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) said the health law would be a top issue for the eventual Republican nominee.
"From a political point of view, this is probably the centerpiece of the debate in the fall—the proper role of government," he said on CNN's "State of the Union."
More than two dozen people were snaked along the sidewalk outside the Supreme Court by Sunday afternoon to secure seats to Monday's arguments, which will focus on whether the case can even be heard before 2014, when most of the law takes effect. Tuesday's session will take up the central question of whether Congress holds the constitutional power to require Americans to carry health insurance or pay a penalty. This mandate, the government maintains, is the essential innovation of the two-year-old Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and promotes near-universal coverage by including younger and healthier people who might otherwise avoid paying premiums.
Solicitor General Donald Verrilli will frame this minimum-coverage requirement as simply a financing mechanism for a product virtually all Americans will consume. He will contend it falls squarely within congressional authority to regulate interstate commerce.
Wednesday will see two sessions of arguments, including on how much of the overhaul law should remain in effect should the individual mandate be struck down. The final session will be Wednesday afternoon.
Harvard University law professor Laurence Tribe, who taught both Chief Justice John Roberts and Mr. Obama and was an Obama Justice Department official, said opponents are asking the court to erase the flexibility the Constitution's framers gave Congress. If the court struck down Mr. Obama's law, said Mr. Tribe, it would implicate "virtually every major piece of federal legislation enacted over the past several decades, and many laws now in the pipeline"—including proposals favored by conservatives.
Opponents—led by former George W. Bush Solicitor General Paul Clement, representing 26 Republican-led states—say the Constitution's clause allowing Congress to regulate interstate commerce doesn't apply here. They say Congress is creating the very "commerce" it wishes to regulate by compelling consumers to purchase insurance.
Georgetown's Mr. Barnett said the court could strike down the mandate using narrow language intended to avoid broader implications. Challengers merely want the court to say that "Congress has never gone here before, and it can't go here again," he said.
To date, the government has the most points on the scoreboard: Three federal appeals courts have rejected challenges to the Affordable Care Act, while one has struck down the individual mandate but upheld the rest of the law. Moreover, the government enters the court with four likely votes lined up, those of liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, whose prior writings suggest they will view the overhaul as within congressional discretion.
To win, the challengers must secure all five conservatives. Based on his prior opinions, Justice Clarence Thomas seems virtually certain to vote against the mandate. The records of the other four, however, are sufficiently ambiguous as to make their votes more difficult to predict. Of the justices considered persuadable, Justice Anthony Kennedy may be the biggest target, as his opinions were cited in the two sides' briefs far more than those of any other justice.
The court also could punt. One federal appeals court, the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., ruled that a challenge can only take place in 2014 or after, when those penalized under the law's insurance mandate actually have to pay their penalties.
The line between federal and state authority has moved back and forth over more than two centuries of American history. The Constitution itself was drawn up to bolster federal authority after the Articles of Confederation, the initial compact among the original 13 states, left the central government too anemic for the new nation's needs.
In the 19th century, the Supreme Court rejected state claims that Congress lacked authority to establish a national bank, but it later struck down federal laws limiting the expansion of slavery—a decision that precipitated the Civil War. The postwar Reconstruction amendments then gave Congress new powers to protect individuals from abusive state governments.
From the Gilded Age through the first years of the Great Depression, the high court regularly reined in federal economic legislation, striking down Washington's efforts to eradicate child labor, improve working conditions and promote food safety. But over the past 75 years, the court almost always has deferred to Congress when it asserts the commerce power, upholding not only direct regulation of commercial transactions but also activities with "substantial effects" on interstate commerce. Agricultural quotas, environmental laws and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, barring discrimination in hotels and restaurants that might serve interstate travelers, all have been upheld.
Two experienced conservative appellate judges, Lawrence Silberman and Jeffrey Sutton, cited those recent precedents in upholding the Obama health law.
The challengers accept that the federal government can legitimately seek to improve access to health care. They acknowledge that states could individually adopt virtually identical plans—as Massachusetts has—and that Congress could enact even more aggressive means of promoting universal coverage, such as extending a Medicare-type single-payer system, to all Americans. They say, however, that the particular way the Affordable Care Act is structured violates an intricate constitutional framework intended to constrain federal power by channeling it through a limited set of policy options.
"There is one thing that distinguishes many of the alternative means from the mandate: accountability," the Republican-led states, led by Florida, say in their brief. They describe the coverage mandate as a way to avoid the political opposition that more direct health-care fixes would stoke. "That there is not the political will to" adopt such methods "does not give Congress license to resort to a shortcut for which there was just barely the presence of political will, but the absence of constitutional authority," the states say.
Other states, led by Maryland, disagree. In a friend-of-the-court brief, 13 mostly Democratic-controlled states and territories argue the law complements efforts to boost health access. "The federal commerce power exists precisely to allow Congress to address problems—like those that plague the nation's health-care system—that do not respect state boundaries," they say.
Write to Jess Bravin at firstname.lastname@example.org
March 25th, 2012
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The case is highly emotional, with accusations delving deep back in time and numerous alleged victims. But for all its breadth, one chapter in the Penn State abuse saga outpaces the others: the alleged sexual assault in a team shower by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky of a boy known only as Victim 2.
It's the allegation that Penn State acknowledges ended Joe Paterno's distinguished football coaching career and spawned criminal charges against two school officials.
But the only person who says he saw it happen is another assistant. Prosecutors don't know who the boy is, while Sandusky says he believes he does know, and that the now-grown man, referred to in court papers only as Victim 2, could exonerate him.
Even the timing of the allegation is in question, as is the age of the boy a decade ago.
All the conflicting information presents tough challenges for prosecutors — not just at the sex abuse trial beginning in mid-May, at which the defense does not plan to call the man, but also in the court of public opinion.
"I'm not trying to make light of the situation, but how can you say it's murder if there's no body?" said 1982 Penn State alumna Wendy Silverwood, a saleswoman from West Chester, Pa., who said she believes Paterno was not given a fair shake. "If you don't know who the victim is, and you can't identify and speak with them, how can you bring charges?"
As recently as Thursday, Sandusky's lawyer argued in court filings that there wasn't enough evidence to support the charges relating to Victim 2. Sandusky, 68, faces 52 criminal counts involving 10 boys dating to the late 1990s and denies all the allegations.
The lawyer, Joe Amendola, told The Associated Press that a young man contacted him after Sandusky's November arrest to say he believed he might be the person referred to as Victim 2. After meeting with him, along with his mother and adult brother, Amendola was left with doubts.
"I wasn't sure he was," Amendola said. "I'm still not sure. I haven't been able to verify it. Jerry's very sure."
Amendola said that the young man told him Sandusky had not abused him, but that he later obtained a lawyer and cut off contact. Amendola does not plan to subpoena the young man and declined to identify him or his lawyer.
"I don't want to put someone on the stand who might say something completely different," Amendola said. "And quite honestly, now that he's got a lawyer, he might say something different."
Records supplied by prosecutors indicate some purported victims have changed their stories, the lawyer said.
"Several of the kids, who are so-called victims now, initially said nothing happened," Amendola said. "And now they're victims."
Mike McQueary, who in 2002 was a graduate assistant for the football team, testified at the December preliminary hearing that he saw Sandusky and the boy, both naked, after hearing skin-on-skin slapping sounds. He called it "extremely sexual" and "some kind of intercourse."
McQueary said he reported what he saw in the locker room shower to Paterno and Penn State administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz. Exactly what he saw and what he told them are both certain to be hotly contested at Sandusky's trial, as well as at the pending trials of Curley and Schultz on charges they failed to properly report suspected abuse.
Penn State trustees have said Paterno's lack of follow-up after McQueary's report was behind their decision to summarily fire him in November, before the end of the football season. The dismissal of Paterno, who died in January of lung cancer, has rankled alumni and other supporters.
Even the year of the shower incident is in dispute.
Sandusky's lawyer said that his client is convinced it was in 2001, not 2002 as the prosecution has said, and that Sandusky offered to help Curley find the boy when the administrator asked him about McQueary's complaint. Amendola said Curley never mentioned McQueary's name, and Sandusky does not recall seeing McQueary.
Sandusky told Curley at the time that he knew the young man in question but they had been only horsing around, sliding around inside the wet shower, the lawyer said.
Sandusky said back then that "if Tim Curley wanted to verify that, Jerry offered to give him the name and number of the young kid," Amendola said. "Curley seemed satisfied with that," he said, and did not get the boy's name from Sandusky.
"The reason he remembers is that Jerry contacted him after that shower situation and said someone from Penn State may contact him," Amendola said. "He said nothing sexual occurred at that time between him and Jerry. In fact, the mother said Jerry was a godsend to the family."
Caroline Roberto, a lawyer for Curley, said only that Curley acted appropriately judging by what he knew at the time. Curley and Schultz have both denied the allegations and are asking a judge to dismiss the charges.
Prosecutors said this month in a court filing that they still did not know the boy's identity, raising questions about whether the man's lawyer contacted the attorney general's office.
Victim 2 is not the only mystery in the case.
There is a second alleged victim who has not been identified by investigators and is being called Victim 8. A grand jury report alleged he was seen by Penn State janitor Jim Calhoun in fall 2000 in athletic department showers with Sandusky, pinned against the wall as Sandusky performed oral sex on him.
Calhoun told another janitor and a supervisor what he saw, the grand jury said, but as of November suffered from dementia and was described as incompetent to testify.
Amendola considers the charges related to Victim 2 and Victim 8 the weakest part of the government's case.
"I think that creates a problem for the commonwealth," he said. "And the commonsensical reaction would be, if the stuff really occurred, why didn't they come forward and say, 'I'm the guy'?"
State prosecutors, who need to be able to prove the ages of victims, declined to discuss the issue of the two identities.
"This case has been the result of an extensive investigation and an extensive grand jury investigation," said Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for the attorney general's office. "We have a high degree of confidence in the case, but we're not going to discuss the strategy of how our prosecutors plan to present the case in court. It's just not appropriate."
To establish the age of anonymous children in child pornography cases, prosecutors sometimes have pediatric specialists apply standard measures of development, a technique that might be used in the Sandusky case.
"It's a little bit unusual to prove a child rape case this way, but it's also unusual to have an eyewitness to child rape," said Christopher Mallios, a former Philadelphia deputy district attorney who helps train police and prosecutors in sexual violence cases.
Jurors may wonder why the young men have not stepped forward, despite the detailed reports of abuse and the extensive publicity surrounding Sandusky's arrest. But that would not be surprising, Mallios said, given what he saw during investigations in Philadelphia of abuse allegations against Roman Catholic clergy members.
"A lot of the victims did not tell anyone about what had happened to them until well into their 50s," he said. "They just couldn't talk about it. Even when the investigators were able to piece together their identities by talking to other victims, some just wouldn't talk about it."
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March 25th, 2012
ORLANDO - A witness we haven't heard from before paints a much different picture than we've seen so far of what happened the night 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed.
The night of that shooting, police say there was a witness who saw it all.
Our sister station, FOX 35 in Orlando, has spoken to that witness.
What Sanford Police investigators have in the folder, they put together on the killing of Trayvon Martin few know about.
The file now sits in the hands of the state attorney. Now that file is just weeks away from being opened to a grand jury.
It shows more now about why police believed that night that George Zimmerman shouldn't have gone to jail.
Zimmerman called 911 and told dispatchers he was following a teen. The dispatcher told Zimmerman not to.
And from that moment to the shooting, details are few.
But one man's testimony could be key for the police.
"The guy on the bottom who had a red sweater on was yelling to me: 'help, help…and I told him to stop and I was calling 911," he said.
Trayvon Martin was in a hoodie; Zimmerman was in red.
The witness only wanted to be identified as "John," and didn't not want to be shown on camera.
His statements to police were instrumental, because police backed up Zimmerman's claims, saying those screams on the 911 call are those of Zimmerman.
"When I got upstairs and looked down, the guy who was on top beating up the other guy, was the one laying in the grass, and I believe he was dead at that point," John said.
Zimmerman says the shooting was self defense. According to information released on the Sanford city website, Zimmerman said he was going back to his SUV when he was attacked by the teen.
Sanford police say Zimmerman was bloody in his face and head, and the back of his shirt was wet and had grass stains, indicating a struggle took place before the shooting.
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March 25th, 2012
New York Post
By MICHAEL GARTLAND
It’s breaking and entering for dummies.
Picture the Homeless, a Bronx nonprofit that has received at least $240,000 in taxpayer money in the last five years, is giving a crash course on squatting — and city-owned buildings are a prime target.
Two weeks ago, board member Andres Perez held a teach-in on how to wrest “control” of vacant apartments. He called it “homesteading.”
“The best time to enter a building is in the late hours,” he advised a group of about 20, who gathered in front of the half-empty East New York housing complex Arlington Village.
“You make sure you have your proper tools. You remove the chains and padlock, and then you go in.”
He then led them through the next steps — including filling out a change-of-address form at the post office and setting up utilities. After that, “nine out of 10 times the courts will allow you to be able to have control of the property,” he said.
But squatting school outraged legal residents of Arlington Village.
“I can’t let nobody squat where I live,” said Pete Rolon, 64, a 35-year resident who claimed pimps had grabbed two apartments in the complex. “There were hookers. They were smoking crack. There were condoms all over the floor. There were hundreds of them.”
He remembers when the complex of 12 two-story, red-brick buildings was filled with families and children playing.
Police and residents eventually forced the sex-trade squatters out last fall, according to Rolon.
Mohammed Hossain, the super at Arlington, where pads go for $600 to $1,000 per month, said complaints about homeless people breaking in to steal pipes and metal fixtures are common.
“The homeless people, they have no right to be squatting here,” he said. “If they pay rent, that’s different.”
Residents also aren’t happy about city tax money going to a group that preaches squatting.
“That’s not right,” said one longtime resident. “That these guys are teaching classes on this — that’s ridiculous.”
The Web site for Picture the Homeless boasts a list of accomplishments that includes sending “delegations to the World Social Forum in Brazil.”
Perez, 46, a former city Housing Authority worker, said the group has “two major campaigns.” One is dedicated to opposing the NYPD’s “stop-and-frisk” policy. The other involves schooling people about “warehoused” property.
Homesteading, he lectured, is a permanent occupation, while squatting is only temporary “clubhousing.”
“The best properties are city-owned properties or bank-owned properties,” he said. “They warehouse these properties. They’re sitting on them.”
Picture the Homeless’s annual taxpayer funding is approved by the City Council and administered through the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
“We absolutely don’t condone the practice of squatting,” said HPD spokesman Eric Bederman. “It’s illegal, and it’s dangerous.”
Bederman added that his agency has no control over Picture the Homeless’s funding. “It’s the City Council’s decision,” he said.
Robin Levine, a City Council spokeswoman, said, “We’re deeply troubled by reports that Picture the Homeless is instructing New Yorkers in how to engage in dangerous and illegal activities. If these reports are in fact true, they call the group’s entire funding into question.”
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