(Bloomberg.com) On both sides of Dorothy Wafer’s Detroit home sit rows of crumbling houses among trash-strewn lots. A body was found in a car down the street last month, and there was an attempted rape, she said.
There’s no place like home, though. Wafer, 61, last week planted roses in front of her two-story house, with islands of hostas, lilies and carnations in the yard and icicle lights on her chain-link fence.
“I might live in a ghetto, but I’m not a ghetto person,” said Wafer. “This is what I know, and I don’t want to move.”
Detroit, which filed the largest U.S. municipal bankruptcy on July 18, has almost 150,000 vacant parcels and 700,000 people on 139 square miles (360 square kilometers) after losing more than half its population since the 1950s. Planners envision farms and other nonresidential uses for empty land, and creating population-dense areas where it’s easier to offer services. Yet residents such as Wafer have kept gracious homes, put down roots and don’t want to move.
Residents have three days to pack it up or pay a minimum fine of $25 a day.
“Being a veteran, I felt like I was just kicked in the gut. I couldn’t believe it, that I couldn’t display my love for my nation by putting a sign up that says “God Bless America,” Bartow resident Marcus Seger said Thursday.
Bartow Code Enforcement says its temporary sign ordinance dates back 13 years and already allows for some exceptions.
“They can have those signs out on holidays that are relevant. You can have a temporary sign around Christmas if it’s related to Christmas. Or the 4th of July. The sign ordinance has exceptions for that,” Bartow Code Enforcement Director Gregg Lamb said Thursday.
But others argue that patriotism isn’t limited to one day a year. Their signs will stay put out of principal.
“I personally feel if it were on a city right-of-way, they would have a right to remove it. But this is my yard that I’m paying the taxes on. It’s my right,” said Bartow resident Emmett Purvis.
The little signs have really sparked serious outrage with some Bartow residents. A group plans to be at Monday night’s Bartow City Commission meeting to ask commissioners for an exception to the ordinance.
Mystery of the massive fire which ravaged St Louis – America’s most prosperous ancient city
(which had a taste for HUMAN SACRIFICE)
SOURCE – A mysterious fire which destroyed North America’s greatest ancient civilization has led to fascinating discoveries about social tensions, violent tendencies and religious practices within the society.
The city of Cahokia, whose secrets lie underneath where St Louis, Missouri now stands, was ruined by a huge blaze around the year 1170 CE.
Following the disaster, the Native American city changed dramatically -defense walls were built, buildings fortified and a sun symbol incorporated into designs.
The significant changes have led to one nagging historical mystery – just how did the fire start?
The class=”illustration is an aerial perspective of Cahokia Mounds circa AD 1150-1200 which was destroyed by a huge blaze
Secrets of the past: Monk’s Mound in Colinsville, Illinois is believed to have been built as a place of worship in ancient cultures
An 1887 illustration of Monk’s Mound blown a little out of proportion. However the ancient civilizations have long been of interest to history buffs
Moro National Liberation Front suspected in attack on villages near southern trading hub
Suspected Muslim rebels have attacked several villages on the outskirts of the southern Philippine city of Zamboanga and taken hundreds of people hostage, according to the city’s mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco.
“HOSTAGES: 200 at Sta. Catalina Mosque, 20 at Talon-Talon Mosque, 10 at CAMACOP. undetermined no. in SDK bldg, Fernandez Store, and Lustre,” a Tweet on the city’s official account reads. The city also tweeted that at least 2,500 people are fleeing the area.
The hostages include women and children.
Claire Jose, a regional health officer and resident of Zamboanga, told Al Jazeera that the city looked like a “ghost town” because of a widespread shutdown.
Officials say they’re worried that the attackers might use the captives as “human shields.”
July 11, 2013
Rep. Monica Davis, a Chicago South Side Democrat, has demanded that the Governor of Illinois deploy the State Police and the National Guard on the city’s violence-wracked streets.
“I am requesting with this press conference that Gov. Patrick Quinn order the Illinois National Guard (and) the Illinois State Police (to) come to Chicago and work with our mayor Ron (sic) Emanuel to provide safety for the children, ” Davis told a local CBS news station.
“I’m calling for the National Guard to come to Chicago and ride up and down these streets,” she said.
Commentary By: Gordon King
Detroit Michigan is broke! Is bankruptcy soon to follow? The future of Detroit is bleak at best. Is this a sign of the times? Is this a warning sign to the rest of America that other big cities are to follow suit? What does this mean for our country as a Nation? Is this a warning to our own government? I believe so. The financial melt down and economic collapse of America?
The report was released late Sunday by bankruptcy attorney Kevyn Orr and is his first on Detroit’s finances since officially taking the job in March.
Under state law, the report was due within 45 days of Michigan’s newest emergency manager law taking effect. Orr’s spokesman Bill Nowling had warned last week that the report was an early look at Detroit’s fiscal condition and would not be glowing.
The summation is the latest blow to the city which came under state oversight in March when Gov. Rick Snyder selected Orr to handle Detroit’s finances. Then, the city estimated its budget deficit to be about $327 million. Detroit also has struggled over the past year with cash flow, relying on bond money held by the state to pay some of its bills.
But Orr reports that Detroit’s net cash position was negative $162 million as of April 26 and that the projected budget deficit is expected to reach $386 million in less than two months.
He also warns that the city’s financial health might change as more data is collected and analyzed.
“What is clear, however, is that continuing along the current path is an ill-advised and unacceptable course of action if the city is to be put on the path to a sustainable future.”
Detroit is the largest city in the country under state control and the city’s wallet is now Orr’s to command. He dictates how Detroit spends its money, something that had been the responsibility of first-term Mayor Dave Bing and the nine-member City Council.
In a statement Monday morning, Bing said his office plans a “comprehensive evaluation” of the report over the next day.
“A comprehensive review of the emergency manager’s financial and operating plan has yet to be conducted,” Bing said. “However, my initial review is that the assessment by Mr. Orr of the city’s financial condition is consistent with my administration’s findings.”
The city’s problems preceded Bing, a former steel supply company owner and professional basketball Hall-of-Famer.
“This has been a moving target. The historical numbers that have been reported were unreliable,” bankruptcy expert Doug Bernstein said. “Certainly, nobody was going to expect the numbers were to be better than were reported.”
Orr described the city’s operations as “dysfunctional and wasteful after years of budgetary restrictions, mismanagement, crippling operational practices and, in some cases, indifference or corruption.”
“Outdated policies, work practices, procedures and systems must be improved consistent with best practices of 21st century government,” he said in the report. “A well run city will promote cost savings and better customer service and will encourage private investment and a return of residents.”
The report also looked at attempts officials have made to fix problems.
“Recently, tens of millions of dollars of pension funding and other payments have been deferred to manage a severe liquidity crisis at the City,” Orr wrote in the report. “Even with these deferrals, the City has operated at a significant and increasing deficit. It is expected that the City will end this fiscal year with approximately $125 million in accumulated deferred obligations and a precariously low cash position.”
The city also owes more than $400 million in outstanding obligations, including $124 million used to provide funds for public improvement projects.
Orr’s report identifies areas of concern and those needing immediate attention.
It’s highly likely he will seek concessions from the city’s labor unions. At least five unions representing police and firefighters are seeking arbitration in collective bargaining with the city.
Detroit lacks, but is developing a “comprehensive labor strategy for managing” its relationships with its unions, according to Orr.
The emergency manager law gives Orr the authority to “reject, modify or terminate” collective bargaining agreements and concessions will be sought, he wrote in the report.
“This power will be exercised, if necessary or desirable, with the knowledge and understanding that many city employees already have absorbed wage and benefit reductions,” he wrote.
When taking the job, Orr said he hoped to avoid a municipal bankruptcy filing, but didn’t rule one out if Detroit can’t reach agreements with its many creditors and bond holders.
“If he already hasn’t, he should continue negotiating for savings necessary in collective bargain,” said Bernstein, a managing partner of the Banking, Bankruptcy and Creditors’ Rights Practice Group for the Michigan-based Plunkett Cooney law firm. “He has to negotiate reductions with bond holders and get as many concessions as he can. It’s an across-the-board savings.
“If he can’t get everything completed by consent, then there is no option but bankruptcy. It should be a last resort. It should be used sparingly. It is an option. When all else fails, that’s the last tool in the tool box.”
The report also notes the instability in leadership atop the city’s police department. Detroit has had five different police chiefs over the past five years with varying plans on how to best handle the city’s high crime rate.
“As a result, (the department’s) efficiency, effectiveness and employee morale are extremely low,” Orr wrote. “Based on recent reviews … and input from the Michigan State Police and other law enforcement agencies, it is clear that improvements in DPD’s operations and performance could be achieved through the strategic redeployment of resources, civilianization of administrative functions, other labor efficiencies and revenue enhancements.”
The department also could benefit from more and better technology, equipment, police cars and personnel.
www.foxnews.com – Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY – Residents in a northern Utah city are coming to the defense of a man who was arrested and faces charges for shooting at burglars as they drove away from his property.
Layton police arrested Clare Niederhauser, 64, last week after he fired one shot at a car and another at a fleeing burglar, said Layton Police Lt. Shawn Horton. He was arrested on suspicion of two counts of reckless endangerment.
The shots were unlawful because the burglar had dropped a crowbar and was fleeing the property, said Horton, who added that the shots could have endangered somebody’s life.
“There is a responsibility of owning a gun: you need to know when you can lawfully use your weapon,” Horton said. “You’re not authorized to shoot a firearm at a car just because you don’t want it to get away, or to scare them, or disable a tire.”
Layton police said they also have arrested the man suspected of burglarizing the house, Robert Santos Cruz, 47. Investigators are searching for a woman who drove the car that was leaving the driveway when Niederhauser shot at it.
Niederhauser, a concealed weapons permit holder who used a .357 caliber handgun, didn’t immediately return phone messages from The Associated Press. He told detectives that he aimed to shoot the tire of a car leaving the driveway and later to scare Santos Cruz as he ran away. Niederhauser came home to find a car in his driveway and Santos Cruz leaving his house holding a crowbar, Horton said.
Niederhauser’s supporters said he is being unfairly punished for protecting his home. They said the arrest sets a precedence that homeowners can’t protect themselves and have launched a blog urging people to call police to complain and contribute to a legal aid fund.
The blog supporting Niederhauser says at the top, “Support Clare Niederhauser. A good man did the right thing.”
“He tried to act in a way that is responsible and compassionate and keep his head about him,” said Loran Hubbard, 53, of Layton. “We have the right to defend ourselves when we are confronted with a lethal weapon. If a big crowbar isn’t a lethal weapon, I haven’t seen one.”
There had been two other burglaries in the neighborhood in the past three months that had Niederhauser on high alert, said neighbor Teuvo Jones. The shot he fired at Santos Cruz was a warning shot near a hollow, Jones said.
“You would have to have all the laws of physics changed to make that a danger to anyone,” said Jones, basing his assessment on Niederhauser’s account. “It was far from reckless.”
The Layton City Attorney’s office is working with Niederhauser’s attorney to reach a plea deal, said assistant city attorney Steve Garside. The agreement will likely be made official on Tuesday when Niederhauser makes his first court appearance.
Niederhauser’s attorney, Mitch Vilos, confirmed that a plea agreement is in the works but declined to discuss specifics. He said he and Niederhauser will speak to the media after the Tuesday afternoon court appearance.
Layton is a city with about 68,500 people located about 20 miles north of Salt Lake City.
Clark Aposhian, a firearms instructor and chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, has been following the case closely and believes the arrest was appropriate.
“I can understand the guy getting caught up in the moment, but he’s got some explaining to do,” said Aposhian. “It’s not that he was shooting at the person necessarily, but the reckless endangerment is because he fired his gun when the rounds could have gun anywhere.”
Armed groups occupying Timbuktu in northern Mali have used pickaxes to smash up any remaining mausoleums in the ancient city.
www.telegraph.co.uk – Source: AFP
The rebels’ ruthless implementation of their version of Islamic law comes just days after the United Nations approved a military force to wrest back control of the conflict-ridden area.
“Not a single mausoleum will remain in Timbuktu, Allah doesn’t like it,” Abou Dardar, leader of the Islamist Ansar Dine group, told AFP. “We are in the process of smashing all the hidden mausoleums in the area.”
Witnesses confirmed the claims.
Anything that doesn’t fall under Islam “is not good. Man should only worship Allah,” Mohamed Alfoul, a member of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), said.
The vandalism of the Muslim saints’ tombs in the UNESCO World Heritage site came a day after other Islamists in the northern city of Gao announced they had amputated two people’s hands.
The continued strict application of sharia law is seen as a sign that the armed Islamist groups are unfazed by the UN’s green light for the African-led military operation.
Planners have said any intervention cannot be launched before September next year. French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian however told Monday’s edition of La Croix newspaper that he thought it could be launched in the first half of 2013.
In July, Islamists destroyed the entrance to a 15th-century mosque in Timbuktu, the so-called “City of 333 Saints.”
“The Islamists are currently in the process of destroying all the mausoleums in the area with pickaxes,” one witness said.
“I saw Islamists get out of a car near the historic mosque of Timbuktu. They smashed a mausoleum behind a house shouting ‘Allah is great, Allah is great’,” another resident told AFP.
As well as in cemeteries and mosques, the revered mausoleums are found in alleyways and private residences of the city, an ancient centre of learning and a desert crossroads.
Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, condemned the Islamists.
A statement from her office said she was “deeply shocked by the brutal destruction of mausoleums and holy shrines in Timbuktu…
“Their destruction is a tragedy not only for the people of Mali, but for the whole world.”
Ansar Dine began destroying the cultural treasures in July.