Posts Tagged With: prison

Fight for ‘Alcatraz of Caribbean’ in Puerto Rico….


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The fortress-like facade of the Oso Blanco prison looms over a gritty neighborhood in the Puerto Rican capital, and even larger in the imagination of many on the island.

But perhaps for not much longer. The Puerto Rican government, which struggled for decades to gain control of the prison known as the “Alcatraz of the Caribbean,” wants to demolish most of the cavernous structure and build an office park aimed at attracting high-tech businesses.

Preservationists and historians say not so fast. The Rio Piedras State Penitentiary is considered a magnificent example of Art Deco architecture. It’s also part of history, though it’s a dark chapter featuring brutality and mismanagement.

“This prison has been a very real part of the lives of Puerto Ricans for more than 80 years,” said archaeologist and preservationist Aida Belen, who has been a consultant to the government on what to do with Oso Blanco. “So many of us have had a brother, a cousin, an uncle, a neighbor, a relative who was in Oso Blanco. We’ve all known someone.”

Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla surprised and angered some people by mentioning during a budget speech last month that demolition had begun. Since then, officials have been besieged with phone calls and a growing social media campaign hoping to stop the wrecking ball and preserve at least part of the prison as a museum, gallery or open-air park. The former Alcatraz Island federal prison in San Francisco Bay itself is a tourist attraction, with daily tours.

The fight over Oso Blanco is a familiar one in Puerto Rico, where clashes over new developments have occurred as remnants of colonial Spanish architecture compete for space with gleaming new beach hotels and upscale condos.

“Unfortunately, many architectural treasures have disappeared,” said Pilarin Ferrer, president of Puerto Rico’s Association of Landscape Architects. “This is why everyone is so worried.”

Andy Rivera, president of Puerto Rico Historic Buildings Drawings Society, filed a court petition to suspend the demolition until the studies that recommend such an action be made public, but he was denied. A local senator filed a similar measure this week, joining activists who question whether it’s really true that the building is unsafe and unstable.

Rivera, an architect, said he wants independent experts to evaluate the building and accused the government of letting Oso Blanco deteriorate on purpose.

“This is the last prime real estate left in San Juan,” he said. “That’s why Oso Blanco is considered a nuisance.”

Oso Blanco is on the National Register of Historic Places and was named after the cement brand used to build it. Among its claims to fame: a 1974 exhibition fight featuring boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who sparred with an inmate while Puerto Rican actress and singer Iris Chacon served as referee.

Ferrer pointed out that a former jail in colonial Old San Juan houses the island’s Tourism Company and says Oso Blanco holds great promise.

“I would hate to see the memory of that structure erased,” she said. “Architecture reveals who we were, what we did, who lived there.”

Oso Blanco opened in 1933, heralded as the island’s first prison aimed at rehabilitating criminals. It featured workshops and an inmate-run farm. But the vision crumbled amid overcrowding that began in the 1950s and violent clashes among inmates and guards. It soon gave birth to two notorious gangs, whose members launched a violent war for supremacy.

Hundreds of inmates were killed, including some who were cut up into pieces. Belen said the warring gangs would sometimes incorporate human remains of their victims into meals they prepared, warning fellow gang members not to eat that day, she said.

“Body parts were found as this was happening,” she said. “These are not suppositions.”

Former inmate Edmidio Marin Pagan, convicted of killing a police officer during a 1950s uprising led by Puerto Rican nationalists, shudders at the memory of his six years in Oso Blanco.

“It was hell,” Marin, 79, said. “You expected to be killed there.”

The prison was built to accommodate between 500 and 800 inmates, but it once housed more than 2,600 prisoners, forcing hundreds to sleep in stairways and hallways. On some days, the population swelled to 5,000, including men awaiting transfer to other facilities.

A 2009 documentary titled “Oso Blanco” reported that there were just 12 guards for more than 1,000 prisoners, with new inmates greeted by shouts of “fresh meat!”

“This was like a time bomb,” prison guard Cesar Flores said in the documentary. “You never knew when it was going to blow.”

In 1979, inmates filed a class-action lawsuit against Puerto Rico’s government that exposed the prison’s overcrowding and other problems, leading to its 2004 closure. But inmate relocation was slow, and the government paid $250 million in federal fines in a 33-year-old legal fight.

Ivan Rios, the official overseeing the demolition from the former guards’ barracks, said plans call for saving some elements, including the prison facade, marked with the words “Hate the Crime and Pity the Criminal.”

But Rios, interim executive director of the Puerto Rico Science, Research and Technology Trust, also called for turning the prison’s negative past into a positive future. The agency owns the former prison and the surrounding property, which is slated to be the site of a $196 million-dollar cancer treatment center scheduled to open in April 2016.

“We certainly believe that a collective memory of that magnitude involving negative things and death should give way to a collective memory of science, of progress, of innovation,” Rios said.

One of the prison’s walls is currently being demolished, with backhoes eating into the peeling, bone-white structure. The government said it removed asbestos and lead at the site and demolished the prison’s former hospital and administrative offices nearby.

Belen said several people involved in the project were devastated to learn it was too expensive to save the entire prison.

“We all went into this project with hopes of restoring the building,” she said. “But we all realized that it would be an irresponsible alternative in terms of security and cost.”

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Rowan County, NC…Ghost Towns

Rowan County, NC
Ghost towns

1..Alpha..6 miles Northwest of Woodleaf
2..Omega..4 miles North of Cleaveland
3..Civil war relics…Grants Creek near Salisbury..civil war skirmish
4..Confederat prison was located near Salisbury
5..Pool..3 miles West Southwest of High Rock
6..Garfield..2 1/2 miles Northeast of Gold Hill

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Muslim Brotherhood claim: We’ve got ‘goods on Obama’ ….

Son of jailed leader says evidence could put U.S. president in prison…

The claim came as the Obama administration, with the assistance of Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and the open involvement of the No. 2 man at the U.S. State Department, made a concerted effort to see Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Egypt released.

In an interview with the News Agency Anatolia in Turkey, Saad Al-Shater, the son of imprisoned Muslim Brotherhood leader Khairat Al-Shater, said his father “had in his hand” evidence that will put Obama in prison.

In a thinly veiled threat, Saad Al-Shater said a U.S. delegation was sent to Cairo by Obama to press for the release of the imprisoned Muslim Brotherhood leaders, including his father to prevent the release of explosive information.

Arabic-speaking former PLO member Walid Shoebat has translated the report by the Turkish News Agency Anatolia as follows:

In an interview with the Anatolia News Agency, Saad Al-Shater, the son of a Muslim Brotherhood leader, the detained Khairat Al-Shater, said that his father had in his hand evidence that will land the head of United States of America, President Obama, in prison. He stressed that the senior U.S. delegation currently visiting Egypt, knows full well that the fate, future, interests and reputation of their country is in the hands of his father, and they know that he owns the information, documents and recordings that incriminate and would condemn their country. Such documents, he says, were placed in the hands of people who were entrusted inside and outside Egypt, and that the release of his father is the only way for them to prevent a great catastrophe. He stated that a warning was sent threatening to show how the U.S. administration was directly connected. The evidence was sent through intermediaries which caused them to change their attitude and corrected their position, and that they have taken serious steps to prove good faith. Saad also said that his father’s safety is more important to the Americans than is the safety of Mohamed Morsi.

Writing in his blog, Shoebat noted that six different Arabic sources confirmed the interview with Saad Al-Shater and the report of Al-Shater’s claims.

Shoebat said the interview with Saad Al-Shater was Aug. 7, making it likely the reference to the “senior U.S. delegation currently visiting Egypt” was about the trip by McCain, Graham and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.

On Aug. 6, with interim Egyptian Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, the former general director of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, McCain and Graham called Khairat Al-Shater and other jailed Muslim Brotherhood leaders “political prisoners.” They told reporters in Cairo that failing to release Muslim Brotherhood prisoners would be “a huge mistake.”

Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour, rebuffed the U.S. delegation’s request, telling reporters in Cairo that it constituted an “unacceptable interference in internal politics.”

On Aug. 6, the Associated Press reported the Egyptian government planned to prosecute Khairat Al-Shater and the other imprisoned Muslim Brotherhood leaders on charges of inciting violence last December when Muslim Brotherhood members attacked sit-in protestors outside then-President Mohamed Morsi’s office, resulting in the deaths of 10 people.

ABC News reported that Burns traveled separately late Sunday night, Aug. 4, to the notorious Tora Prison in the middle of Cairo to meet with Khairat Al-Shater, despite claims by the Muslim Brotherhood that Al-Shater refused to meet.

In an Aug. 6 interview with CNN in Egypt, McCain mentioned jailed Khairat Al-Shater, an openly acknowledged Muslim Brotherhood leader, when asked about individuals who could successfully negotiate a future Egyptian government.

Shoebat has published evidence documenting Khairat Al-Shater has been implicated in weapons trafficking through the Sinai and into Gaza as well as negotiating prisoner releases in exchange for terrorists.

Former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova, legal representative for Benghazi whistleblower Mark Thompson, claimed this week that intelligence officers with knowledge of the attack on the Benghazi consulate believe it was was tied to 400 surface-to-air missiles intended for Syrian rebels that U.S. officials feared could be used to shoot down an airliner or attack a U.S. embassy.

Two weeks after the Benghazi attack, WND was the first to report sources claiming the Benghazi compound was an intelligence and planning center the CIA used to recruit and arm Islamic rebels to fight Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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Jesse Jackson Jr. sentenced to 30 months in prison….

Jesse L. Jackson Jr., the namesake of the famed civil rights leader and once-promising Illinois congressman, was sentenced to 30 months in prison Wednesday for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign money to fund an extravagant lifestyle over many years. In an emotional hearing in federal court in Washington, Jackson said he failed to separate his personal life from his political activities and “could not have been more wrong.”

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Obama’s secret plan to reclassify your guns…..

That rifle you have in your gun safe … the one you love to shoot … accurate as all get out … a real tack-driver … your machine gun.

Machine gun? you object … No, just a semi-automatic … an autoloader … one bullet for each pull of the trigger.

No, says Obama … an illegal machine gun.

Here’s how you could become a criminal with a stroke of a pen …
President Obama, congressional Democrats and even some Republicans plan to push new gun-control legislation in the 113th Congress, but defenders of the Second Amendment fear Obama is poised to enact the restrictions through the Executive Branch if Congress is not cooperative.

John M. Snyder heads and has worked for organizations from the National Rifle Association to the Second Amendment Foundation and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. He said Obama and his allies have already chartered what regulatory course to pursue through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF.

“We have some confidential information that he may order the ATF to reclassify certain models of semi-automatic firearms as Title 2 guns under the Gun Control Act of 1968,” Snyder told WND. “What this would mean is that people could not obtain these without going through a terribly difficult process that includes registration of each firearm and paying a severe fee for the ownership of each one.”

Snyder said an even more drastic approach from Obama would be to try to ban semiautomatic weapons altogether.

“Also, there is the possibility that the administration could try to declare that semi-automatic firearms are fully automatic firearms or machine guns under this Title 2, in which case they would be banned because of an amendment that’s on the books, the Gun Control Act of 1968.

Snyder is referring to what’s known as the Hughes Amendment, which forbids the acquisition of any new fully automatic weapons or machine guns.

The possible strategy is not a new idea, according to Snyder. He said liberal groups have advocated the move for years, but Democrats have been reluctant to pursue it because of the massive public backlash that will ensue.

“This is an ongoing project of theirs, and they use a lot of these tragedies to try to advance their cause in a public relations sense. So far they’ve been unable to do that,” said Snyder. “It appears that the public is catching on to them and they know what their game plan is, generally speaking. So a lot depends on their frustration, the political situation at the time and a number of other factors, too.”

Even if the Obama administration were to bypass Congress by imposing new regulations, there is still one card left for pro-Second Amendment forces to play: The House of Representatives could remove funding for the ATF or abolish it completely. But would the House GOP actually do that? Snyder is confident it would.

“I wouldn’t be surprised. I think the House is really furious with the president,” Snyder said. “The Republicans would like to cut budgets of the federal government because they think the federal government is taking too much money and spending too much money, and a good place for them to cut would be in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. If there is strong enough public support against the activities of the federal government, the House of Representatives will develop a plan to slash the budget of the agency. I think it’s a real possibility.”

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Man pleads guilty of plotting to blow up New York houses of worship…..

One of two New York men charged last year with plotting to blow up synagogues and churches in Manhattan pleaded guilty on Tuesday and faces a decade in prison.
Ahmed Ferhani, 27, admitted to conspiring to attack the biggest synagogue in Manhattan as well as churches to send a message of violence to non-Muslims. Ferhani, who was arrested in May 2011, entered the plea in New York State Supreme Court.
Justice Michael Obus said he intends to sentence Ferhani to 10 years in prison. The judge said that after his sentence, Ferhani, an Algerian immigrant who lived in the borough of Queens, may be deported to Algeria.
Ferhani’s plea is the first conviction in New York under a state terror statute enacted in 2001 after the September 11th attacks and one of only two cases Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has brought since the statute was enacted.
As part of his plea, Ferhani told the judge that he conspired with another man, Mohamed Mamdouh, and the undercover New York police detective to “develop a plan to attack and damage a synagogue in New York County or elsewhere in New York City using explosives.”
“By targeting a synagogue, which I knew to be a Jewish house of worship, in this manner, I intended to create chaos and send a message of intimidation and coercion to the Jewish population of New York City, warning them to stop mistreating Muslims,” Ferhani told the judge.

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Arizona Woman Finds JFK Portrait Hidden Behind Picture Frame…..worth $1000’s

A Glendale woman and her husband were shopping at a yard sale when they came across a picture of a horse. They bought the picture, intending just to use the frame, when the husband had a feeling something wasn’t right.
“He says, ‘I just have this gut feeling that there’s something behind that,’” Pam Dwyer said.

Her husband’s hunch was correct. When the couple removed the picture from the frame, they found a pencil portrait of John F. Kennedy from 1961.

“I was just in awe of the detail, and the likeness, and that it was an original,” Dwyer said.

She researched the artists, Carmelo Soraci, and discovered that he was an infamous forger who had been incarcerated. While in jail, he unleashed his hidden talent.

“He was best known for the stained glass artwork he created when he was in prison, actually,” Dwyer said.

Dwyer took the portrait to art appraiser Lisa Barnes, who told her since the artist didn’t have a history of sales, it would be difficult to give the portrait an exact appraisal.

“Someone like the Smithsonian would buy this because of the merit of how he captured and he depicted JFK,” Barnes said. Eventually, she priced the portrait at $2,500 to $5,000.
Dwyer said, “I’m happy with how much she was impressed by it.”

Dwyer only paid $5 for the painting at a flea market/garage sale, and was thrilled to learn she could make up to 100 times that amount.

“I’ll probably sell it,” she said. “You know we’ve been on hard times.”

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Jesse Jackson Jr hires lawyer, possible plea deal, resignation…..

Amid reports that he may have misused campaign funds, Illinois congressman Jesse Jackson Jr has hired a lawyer to handle negotiations with the federal government on possible plea deal in which he would resign from the House of Representatives and spend time in prison, media said.
CBS 2 television reported on Saturday and Fox News Chicago on Monday, citing an unnamed source, that Jackson hired Dan Webb, a former U.S. attorney in Chicago who represents defendants in high-profile corruption cases to represent the 47-year-old lawmaker.
Both reports said Jackson, who was easily re-elected to Congress on November 6, may have to resign his seat and serve time in prison under terms of the deal being negotiated.
Webb and a spokesman for Jackson did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters.
Last week, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Jackson was under investigation for allegedly misusing campaign funds to decorate his home and to buy a $40,000 Rolex watch for a female friend. Reuters has not confirmed the report.
Jackson, the son of civil rights activist and former presidential candidate Jesse Jackson, was treated for at least six weeks at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, this summer for bipolar disorder, a psychological condition marked by extreme mood swings. He has been on medical leave from the House since June and has not been seen in public.
In addition to his health issues, Jackson has been the subject of a House ethics committee probe over an alleged bribe offered by a Jackson supporter in 2008 to then Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.
The bribe was said to be intended to entice Blagojevich to appoint Jackson to the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama. Jackson has admitted to lobbying for the seat, but denied knowing about any money offered to Blagojevich, who has since been convicted on corruption charges and imprisoned.
In October, several newspapers, including the Chicago Sun-Times and the New York Times, reported that Jackson was being investigated by the FBI for possibly misusing campaign money. The FBI would not confirm the reports.

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