Georgia attorney general's office pays ethics case fine
September 23, 2014 04:25 PM | 143 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ATLANTA (AP) — The Georgia attorney general's office has paid $10,000 for failing to turn over key documents while defending the state ethics commission against a lawsuit.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Attorney General Sam Olens' office paid the fine to Tuesday.

Judge Ural Glanville on Monday had ordered Olens' office to pay by Tuesday or face a contempt of court charge. He declined to let Olens' office wait until a potential appeal is decided.

Glanville also ordered former ethics commission director Holly LaBerge to pay $10,000 for failing to turn over documents in the whistleblower case.

LaBerge's attorney told the newspaper LaBerge has filed notice with the state Court of Appeals. LaBerge wasn't required to pay her fine prior to that appeal.

Olens spokeswoman Lauren Kane says Olens' office will also appeal.

___

Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


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New jihad appeal makes policing even harder
by Elaine Ganley, Associated Press
September 23, 2014 04:20 PM | 75 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Soldiers patrol at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. Frenchman Herve Gourdel, 55, was abducted in Algeria on Monday by a splinter group from al-Qaida's North African branch. The Jund al-Khilafah, or Soldiers of the Caliphate, said it would kill him unless France halts it airstrikes in Iraq within 24 hours. French forces on Friday joined the U.S. in carrying out airstrikes against extremists who have overrun large areas of Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Soldiers patrol at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. Frenchman Herve Gourdel, 55, was abducted in Algeria on Monday by a splinter group from al-Qaida's North African branch. The Jund al-Khilafah, or Soldiers of the Caliphate, said it would kill him unless France halts it airstrikes in Iraq within 24 hours. French forces on Friday joined the U.S. in carrying out airstrikes against extremists who have overrun large areas of Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
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A soldier patrols at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. Frenchman Herve Gourdel, 55, was abducted in Algeria on Monday by a splinter group from al-Qaida's North African branch. The Jund al-Khilafah, or Soldiers of the Caliphate, said it would kill him unless France halts it airstrikes in Iraq within 24 hours. French forces on Friday joined the U.S. in carrying out airstrikes against extremists who have overrun large areas of Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
A soldier patrols at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. Frenchman Herve Gourdel, 55, was abducted in Algeria on Monday by a splinter group from al-Qaida's North African branch. The Jund al-Khilafah, or Soldiers of the Caliphate, said it would kill him unless France halts it airstrikes in Iraq within 24 hours. French forces on Friday joined the U.S. in carrying out airstrikes against extremists who have overrun large areas of Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
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PARIS (AP) — The Islamic State group's call on Muslims to go after the "filthy French" and other Westerners multiplies already deep security concerns in nations targeting the militant organization.

The appeal made public Monday makes intelligence tracking of potential suspects virtually impossible and opens up Muslims in the West to the possibility of being unfairly put under suspicion or stigmatized.

Nations are honing mechanisms to monitor Westerners who head to Syria and Iraq to fight in the jihad, the better to catch them when they return home with deadly skills. But how do you track someone who reads the Islamic State group's call in a newspaper or on a mainstream website, and then carries out a spontaneous attack?

Experts in terrorism agreed that the options to counter-act the call on all Muslims to kill are virtually nil, beyond bolstering security forces' visibility — thus allowing them to act quickly if need be.

"We are not waging a war between east and west, or Christianity and Islam," French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Tuesday. The French government says what it calls the "butchers" of the Islamic State group don't represent Islam.

But Valls acknowledged that France is facing an unprecedented challenge from "the enemy within."

"We have compatriots who could strike us," he said on Europe-1 radio.

On Friday, France became the first country to join the U.S. in carrying out airstrikes in Iraq. France, with the largest Muslim population in Western Europe, an estimated 5 million, also counts the highest number of citizens and residents who have turned to jihad in Syria and Iraq — more than 900 people travelling or planning to go.

France has increased security around places of worship, airports and "symbolic" sites after the first airstrikes.

A French citizen captured Sunday evening in Algeria by a breakaway al-Qaida affiliate was the first victim of the new threat. A masked man crouching with the hostage in an authenticated video threatened his death if France doesn't end airstrikes on Iraq within 24 hours. The group, Soldiers of the Caliphate, said the kidnapping was a response to the Islamic State group's call.

On Tuesday, Australian police shot a man to death after he had stabbed two counterterrorism officers. It wasn't immediately clear whether the violence was related to the call from the Islamic State group, but police there said they were investigating reports that the deceased man had been waving an Islamic State flag.

The group's sweeping appeal in an audio statement implored Muslims to "not let this battle pass you by, wherever you may be."

The statement, issued by group spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, asked Muslims to use all means to kill a "disbelieving American or European — especially the spiteful and filthy French — or an Australian or a Canadian" or any disbeliever and others whose countries have joined to try to disable and destroy the Islamic State group.

Matthew Henman of IHS Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Center said, "When you have people traveling out to Syria to fight, there are mechanisms in place that make it easy for security forces to track and survey those people ... when they return from the conflict zone."

But "all someone has to do is read a newspaper" reporting the threat and be inspired, he added. "It's extremely difficult for security forces to predict and intercept that because there's almost no intelligence."

Muslims in the West could become the collateral damage, stigmatized as potential extremists, as they have in the U.S. and Europe after attacks of the past. But this time they could fall under suspicion even if nothing happens.

The rector of the Grand Mosque in Lyon, which has a significant Muslim population, envisioned that possibility as soon as the Islamic State group's order went public.

Kamal Kabtane, along with two other Muslim leaders, said Monday the appeal risks creating an "anti-Muslim tsunami" and hands ammunition to those who "cast doubt on the loyalty of Muslim citizens regarding (French) values and democracy."

French Muslim leaders recently called for the nation's imams to use their pulpits against the Islamic State group, which has conquered wide territory in Syria and Iraq, where it was born under another name in murderous advances and displays of brutality like videotaped executions of two American journalists and a British aid worker.

Magnus Ranstorp, a specialist on asymmetric threats at the Swedish National Defense College, said that returnees and sympathizers would listen up most closely to the new appeal for Muslim support, and warned of a contagion effect.

"If there are instances like that it's the momentum that matters," Ranstorp said. "If you have an incident here and an incident there, you've got a problem. People imitate, people copy."

The U.N. Security Council is expected to adopt a binding resolution this week that would require nations to bar their citizens from traveling abroad to join extremist organizations. But it doesn't address what to do with radicals who stay at home but espouse the Islamic State group's goals. And officials in the Obama administration, which has championed the measure, acknowledge that it has no enforcement mechanism.

Even before this week's new threat, Westerners have pursued or aided jihad in Syria for a range of reasons. Americans among them include a nurse's aide who converted to Islam, a community college student with a Palestinian dad and Italian-American mom — not people who would necessarily elicit suspicion.

France has already seen homegrown extremists take up arms close to home. A Frenchman, Mehdi Nemmouche, is the chief suspect in an attack on the Jewish Museum of Brussels in May that killed four people. And in 2012, Frenchman Mohamed Merah, who had trained on the Afghan-Pakistani border, killed seven people, including three Jewish children, three paratroopers and a rabbi in separate attacks in Toulouse.

More recently, Merah's sister is believed to have travelled to Syria. A French security official initially said her husband and two others were detained at Paris' Orly airport upon return from the region on Tuesday. But the Interior Ministry said in a statement late Tuesday that the three — who had been held temporarily in Turkey — were not in French custody.

In a breakdown in communication between Turkish and French authorities, the three were flown instead to southeastern Marseille and remained at large, according to the ministry statement. Authorities were still searching for the three, the security official said.

Claude Moniquet, a former agent of France's DGSE counter-intelligence unit and now head of Brussels-based European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center, said the IS appeal could also speak to people who suffer from emotional instability.

Moniquet pointed to a young French convert to Islam who attacked a soldier outside Paris days after a British soldier was hacked to death last year in London by suspected Islamist extremists. Psychological tests showed the Frenchman suffered from a range of emotional problems.

"It's too large a problem to be answered by intelligence services alone," Moniquet said. "It's a call for a kind of non-organized jihad: 'You can kill anyone ... and God will help.'"

___

Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.


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Clothes taken in search for missing UVa student
September 23, 2014 04:20 PM | 151 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This undated photo provided by the Charlottesville, Va. Police Department shows Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. Authorities are again searching the apartment of Matthew, and they believe he is the last person seen with University of Virginia student Hannah Graham before she disappeared. Matthew is being sought on arrest warrants charging him with reckless driving, but authorities also say they want to talk to him about 18-year-old Graham, who has been missing since Sept. 13. (AP Photo/Charlottesville, Va. Police Department)
This undated photo provided by the Charlottesville, Va. Police Department shows Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. Authorities are again searching the apartment of Matthew, and they believe he is the last person seen with University of Virginia student Hannah Graham before she disappeared. Matthew is being sought on arrest warrants charging him with reckless driving, but authorities also say they want to talk to him about 18-year-old Graham, who has been missing since Sept. 13. (AP Photo/Charlottesville, Va. Police Department)
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Missing University of Virginia student Hannah Elizabeth Graham is seen in an undated photo provided by the Charlottesville, Va., Police Department. University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan says the university community is deeply concerned about Graham, who has been missing since early Saturday, Sept. 13. Police say she was last heard from at 1:20 a.m. Saturday when she texted a friend. According to U.Va. officials, Graham is 5-foot-11 with blue eyes, light brown hair and freckles. Anyone with information on Graham's whereabouts is asked to contact the Charlottesville Police Department at 434-970-3280. (AP Photo/Charlottesville, Va., Police Department)
Missing University of Virginia student Hannah Elizabeth Graham is seen in an undated photo provided by the Charlottesville, Va., Police Department. University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan says the university community is deeply concerned about Graham, who has been missing since early Saturday, Sept. 13. Police say she was last heard from at 1:20 a.m. Saturday when she texted a friend. According to U.Va. officials, Graham is 5-foot-11 with blue eyes, light brown hair and freckles. Anyone with information on Graham's whereabouts is asked to contact the Charlottesville Police Department at 434-970-3280. (AP Photo/Charlottesville, Va., Police Department)
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — In a second search of the home of the man believed to be the last person seen with a missing University of Virginia student, officials said they took pieces of clothing, but they would not elaborate on the importance of the items Tuesday.

The clothing was found Monday at Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr.'s apartment, Charlottesville Police Capt. Gary Pleasants told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Authorities first searched the 32-year-old's car and apartment Friday, and Pleasants said information that came up during the investigation led to a second search of the apartment. He would not give details about the clothing or elaborate on the search.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the state lab was still analyzing evidence it has received from the Charlottesville Police Department, which included nearly two dozen items and eight "known samples that we would use for comparison purposes," said Jeffrey Ban, director of the Department of Forensic Science's Central Laboratory in Richmond.

Ban said that the department has expedited the case and hoped to provide authorities with results in the "very near future" but noted that the lab could spend hours or even a whole day on a single piece of evidence that may have multiple stains or hairs on it. He also said it is standard procedure to test any samples against those in their database, including those from other missing persons cases in the central Virginia area.

Meanwhile, authorities are still trying to locate the campus employee to arrest him on reckless driving charges.

Matthew, a patient technician in the operating room at the university's medical center, hasn't been charged in the disappearance, but authorities say they want to talk to him about 18-year-old Hannah Graham, the sophomore from northern Virginia who has been missing since Sept. 13. Police have not offered any details about how the two may be connected.

Pleasants said authorities have not had contact with Matthew since Saturday, when he stopped by the Charlottesville police station with several family members for about an hour and asked for a lawyer. He was provided with one but left in a vehicle at a high rate of speed that endangered other drivers and led to the reckless driving charges, Charlottesville police Chief Timothy Longo has said.

Virginia State Police officers were conducting surveillance of the vehicle at the time but did not pursue Matthew, a spokeswoman said.

Pleasants said investigators have questioned Matthew's mother and uncle, who accompanied him to the police station. He added that search crews on Monday covered areas in the southern part of the city that had not previously been searched.

Authorities on Monday also released a wanted poster on Matthew. It says the 6-foot-2, 270-pound man was last reported on Sunday as driving his sister's 1997 light blue Nissan Sentra, and notes that he is said to have contacts in Virginia, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

Police said they have focused on Graham's movements the night of Sept. 12 and into the early morning hours of Sept. 13. Graham, a sophomore from northern Virginia, met friends at a restaurant for dinner, stopped by two parties at off-campus housing units and left the second party alone, police have said.

Surveillance videos showed her walking, and at some points running, past a pub and a service station and then onto the Downtown Mall, a seven-block pedestrian strip lined with shops and restaurants.

According to family members and police, Graham is an alpine skier and plays the alto saxophone. Organizers of a candlelight vigil last week at the university handed out her favorite candy, Starburst. Longo said he learned from visiting with Graham's parents that the graduate of West Potomac High School earned straight A's six years in a row.

Graham's disappearance has sent a ripple of fear through the quiet college town of Charlottesville. Students have said they've begun walking in pairs at night and are paying closer attention to their surroundings. More than 1,000 volunteers also participated in a weekend search for Hannah Graham, according to authorities.


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Man gets 10 months for dumping waste in DC river
September 23, 2014 04:20 PM | 48 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WASHINGTON (AP) — A man who managed a company hired to clean the National Mall storm water sewer system and pleaded guilty to dumping debris and wastewater into the Potomac River has been sentenced to 10 months in prison.

Prosecutors say Patrick Brightwell of Bogart, Georgia, was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Washington. Brightwell acknowledged as part of a plea deal that he directed workers to dump waste into the Potomac rather than taking it to a disposal facility. Brightwell pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Water Act by knowingly discharging a pollutant without a permit and presenting false claims to the United States.

He has been ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution.

Brightwell's lawyer did not immediately return a telephone call requesting comment.


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Police: UPS gunman had been fired before shooting
by Jay Reeves, Associated Press Writer
September 23, 2014 04:15 PM | 131 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A UPS warehouse is surrounded by police tape after a shooting Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, in Birmingham, Ala. A UPS employee opened fire Tuesday morning inside one of the company's warehouses in Alabama, killing two people before taking his own life, police said. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
A UPS warehouse is surrounded by police tape after a shooting Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, in Birmingham, Ala. A UPS employee opened fire Tuesday morning inside one of the company's warehouses in Alabama, killing two people before taking his own life, police said. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
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Police officers escort UPS employees on a bus from the scene where three people were killed, including the gunman, at a UPS facility in Birmingham, Ala., Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/ Al.com, Joe Songer)
Police officers escort UPS employees on a bus from the scene where three people were killed, including the gunman, at a UPS facility in Birmingham, Ala., Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/ Al.com, Joe Songer)
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Police officers confer near the scene where three people were killed, including the gunman, at a UPS facility in Birmingham, Ala., Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/AL.com, Joe Songer)
Police officers confer near the scene where three people were killed, including the gunman, at a UPS facility in Birmingham, Ala., Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/AL.com, Joe Songer)
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A man wearing his work uniform started shooting at his former colleagues inside a UPS sorting facility in Alabama a day after he was fired from the company, killing a supervisor and another employee before committing suicide, police said Tuesday.

Neither the gunman nor his two victims have been named, and Lt. Sean Edwards said police were still trying to reach their families.

UPS spokesman Steve Gaut would not say what the shooter's job duties had been.

The UPS warehouse, a sand-colored building sitting on a hill with company logos on the front and side, is used to sort packages and send them out on trucks. About 80 drivers had already left on their routes, and a small number remained when the shooter drove up in a private vehicle Tuesday morning and walked inside through a truck dock door in the back of the building, Gaut said.

The building has a parking lot surrounded by barbed wire.

The man was wearing a UPS uniform and opened fire either in or near some offices inside the warehouse in an industrial area just north of the Birmingham airport, Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper told reporters.

The gunman had apparently shot himself by the time officers got inside the warehouse, Roper said. No one else was hurt.

"When these people came here to work, they had no idea this would be their last day on earth," Roper said.

Edwards said the shooter had been armed with a handgun.

Atlanta-based UPS said in a brief statement that the shooting happened around 9:40 a.m. CDT. The company added that it is fully cooperating with the investigation.

Employees who were at the warehouse when the shooting happened were being taken to another location so that they could be interviewed by investigators and provided with counseling, Roper said.

Late Tuesday morning, a long line of police cars with their lights flashing left the area as part of a motorcade with a white school bus. Also, a wrecker with a police escort left the scene towing a dark red Honda SUV.

Vonderrick Rogers lives on the same street as the UPS facility and said he drove past the building shortly after it happened. There were already 10 to 15 police officers on the scene with more arriving, he said.

"Cops were jittering and running around like they were ready to go grab somebody," he said.


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