The union that represents Transportation Security Administration officers renewed its push for armed agents at checkpoints of the nation's airports after a violent attack by a machete-wielding taxi driver in New Orleans, the New York Daily News reports. J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said TSA officers are subjected to verbal and physical violence on a regular basis. Transportation security officers (TSOs) "all too often, TSOs become the targets of violence themselves, both verbal and physical," Cox said.
Richard White, 63, stormed a checkpoint at Louis Armstrong International Airport, sprayed agents with wasp spray and swung a machete Friday night before being shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy. "The security of TSOs and the flying public at checkpoints is a real concern," AFGE tweeted yesterday Monday. "We can't just keep repeating the same incident over & over." Local law enforcement is responsible for policing airports. AFGE represents 45,000 TSA officers. The union doesn't want all TSA agents armed, rather a special law enforcement unit administered by the TSA, Cox said.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has signed a law making firing squads the state's back-up method of execution whenever the state is unable to obtain drugs needed to perform lethal injections, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. The Republican signed the firing-squad bill despite international attention on the state as it becomes alone in allowing that method of execution. (Oklahoma authorizes execution by firing squad only if lethal injection and electrocution are found unconstitutional.) "Those who voiced opposition to this bill are primarily arguing against capital punishment in general and that decision has already been made in our state," said Herbert spokesman Marty Carpenter. Utah is one of 32 states with the death penalty.
Foreign manufacturers of drugs used in lethal injections have tried to block their use for executions in the United States. Some states that tried their own deadly cocktails instead have botched executions, with inmates sometimes taking hours to die. Utah had nine inmates on death row as of last fall.
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When it comes to overhauling federal marijuana policy, young U.S. senators are running headfirst into the old guard, Politico reports. A high-wattage trio of junior senators — Democrats Cory Booker (NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and GOP presidential contender Rand Paul (KY) — is mounting an ambitious effort to have the federal government bless use of marijuana in the 24 places that have voted to legalize the drug for medical purposes. Their legislation would allow banks to handle transactions involving marijuana and force the federal government to recognize that marijuana has a medical use, rather than lumping it in with heroin and LSD.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is stacked with senior lawmakers, many of whom came to power during a tough-on-crime era of the drug wars that saw stiffer penalties for drug possession. “I’m probably against it,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). “I don’t think we need to go there,” added Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). “This is a more dangerous topic than what a lot of the advocates acknowledge.” Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said he hadn’t read the bill and that it would be months before it comes for a hearing — if ever. Still, Booker insisted, “We’re going to win. It’s not a question of if, the question is when.”
Former National Football League star Darren Sharper faces a nine-year stretch behind bars after taking a stunning dark turn as a serial rapist, reports USA Today. Sharper, 39, resolved all nine rape charges against him in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Orleans and Tempe, Az., yesterday. As part of a global settlement negotiated by his attorneys, his sentence includes credit for time served in Los Angeles, where he has been jailed without bail since Feb. 27, 2014.
The deal includes a 20-year prison term in California, but because of stipulations in the law and his credit for time served, Sharper will serve "a little less than nine years of actual custody time," said his attorney, Blair Berk. Sharper also will be on probation for life. At the time of his first arrest, he had 20 zolpidem pills, a sleep drug known by its brand name Ambien. Sharper obtained a prescription after suffering sleep problems he attributed to his 14-year career in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. The drug can be slipped into drinks to knock out women and rape them, and that's what authorities say Sharper did time after time.
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A Warren County, Oh., woman allegedly traded her 11-year-old daughter to a Cincinnati drug dealer for sex in exchange for heroin, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. On many occasions, she allegedly went to the 41-year-old man's apartment, dropped her daughter off, left and came back several hours later. The 41-year-old man then allegedly had sex with the girl, sometimes videotaping it. On one occasion, the mother allegedly injected her daughter with heroin.
The case was detailed in an indictment announced by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters. "Every case of human trafficking is horrible," DeWine said. "But this is just about as bad as anything I've ever seen." April Corcoran, 30, has been charged with 27 felony counts, including complicity in rape, complicity in gross sexual imposition, endangering children, human trafficking and corrupting another with drugs. Shandell Willingham of Cincinnati has been charged on 26 similar felony counts. Two pieces of paper were taped to the front door of Corcoran's e home. They read: "No comment," and "talk to lawyer."
Last week, a top U.S. Justice Department official issued a tough warning to banks and other corporations that repeatedly commit crimes: officials could do away with their deferred-prosecution agreements, reports NPR. Such deals allow companies that have broken the law to escape criminal convictions by promising to clean up their act. A new book looks at the role these agreements play in the corporate world. In recent decades U.S. officials have charged a lot more companies with crimes such as bribery, insider trading and fraud.
Criminal convictions can be a death sentence for big companies, as the 2002 guilty verdict of Arthur Andersen showed. Officials have increasingly turned to the deferred prosecution agreement. Prosecutors hold off charging a company with a crime. In return the company promises to reform, and in most cases promises to cooperate with investigators and pay a big fine. Brandon Garrett of the University of Virginia law school discovered there have been more than 300 such agreements in the past decade, many involving big publicly traded companies. In his book, Too Big to Jail, Garrett writes that the agreements with companies are sometimes vaguely written.
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