Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Girl's use of family 'code word' to thwart potential kidnapping draws praise from police

Police are hailing the parents of a young Arizona girl for teaching her how to handle "stranger danger" after she asked a man who approached her for a "code word" when he tried to lure her in his vehicle.
The Pinal County Sheriff's Office released a warning after the 10-year-old girl apparently thwarted a possible kidnapping.
A deputy responded to a home in the North Pecan Creek neighborhood last Wednesday for a report of an attempted luring, officials shared on Facebook.
At 3:45 p.m. the girl "was walking with a friend near a park in the neighborhood when a man, driving a white SUV, pulled up next to them," according to the release. "The man told the girl that her [brother was] in a serious accident and she needed to go with him. The child asked the man what the 'code word' was, but he did not know it and drove off."
The girl's mother, Brenda James, said she got a tearful call moments after the stranger "tried to take her."
"My daughter called me crying upset and she told me that 'some guy tried to take her,'" James said at a press conference. "He told her his brother had been in a serious accident and she needed to come home with him.
"So I just kind of calmed her down and she told me that some guy tried to take her and all my thoughts went out the window at that point and I got in my car and I drove home," she added.
James' daughter opened up on "Good Morning America" about the incident.
"I was terrified," the girl said. "I was terrified that my brother was in an actual accident, that he could be hurt."
Or, she added, that the man had bad intentions.
When she asked the suspect what the code word was, she said, "He just kind of froze, his face. And drove off."
"I was scared," she added, "because if I had popped in, I don't know what he would have done to me."
Thanks to using the code word, the 10-year-old knew better than to go with the suspect.
"They know who can pick them up and who can't," James said of her children. "But there's always that special situation where there might be somebody they don't know or don't know well, so that's why we came up with a code word."
Sheriff Mark Lamb hailed the tactic and said "kudos" to the parents for "having a code word and talking about to their children about 'stranger danger.'"
"The mother of this child did an awesome job teaching a code word to her child, and that potentially saved that girl's life," Lamb told ABC News.
PHOTO: Pinal Country Sheriff Mark Lamb hails mother for daughter's use of 'code word' to thwart potential kidnapping. (ABC News)
"We hope by putting this out, it will encourage parents to have that conversation and create a plan with their children, so they know what to do if they are in that situation," officials said.
According to authorities, other children said they have seen that vehicle in the neighborhood, "circling the park several times a day."
"The man covered most of his face with his hand while talking to the girl to conceal any identifying features," Pinal County Sheriff's Office said, describing the man as being in his 40s with a short beard. "The SUV was described as possibly similar to a Ford Explorer. We are asking people to be on alert and call PCSO at 520-866-5111 with any information."
Callahan Walsh, an expert with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said children get away from potential threats due to "something they did on their own volition."
"Eighty percent of the time children are able to get away from the would-be abductor is because of something they did on their own volition," Walsh said. "And that's kicking and screaming or using the code word."

Trump could soon fire Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen: Washington Post

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump has told advisers he wants to remove Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen from her post, and could do so in the coming weeks, the Washington Post reported, citing five current and former White House officials.
In an article posted late Monday, the Post reported her dismissal could be announced as soon as this week. Reuters could not immediately confirm the report.
Trump canceled plans to travel with Nielsen, charged with carrying out his immigration crackdown, to visit U.S. troops at the southern border in Texas this week, according to the newspaper. Trump is seeking a replacement who will implement his controversial immigration policy with more zeal, the Post said.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who could also soon leave his job, is trying to postpone any firing, the Washington Post reported, citing three officials.
The paper reported that Department of Homeland Security officials who work with Nielsen declined to directly address her potential departure. A department spokesman said the secretary "is committed to implementing the President's security-focused agenda to protect Americans from all threats and will continue to do so."

Army push to end a peacekeeping institute sparks wider debate

For 25 years, a small Army office known as the Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute has played an outsize role in preparing military personnel and civilians to work in regions recovering from war. But with President Trump’s administration pushing back on such operations, the Army’s top civilian leader has proposed shutting the institute down.
The Army has yet to announce the institute’s fate, but according to sources inside and outside the service, as well as emails obtained by Yahoo News, even the most optimistic outcome will see the institute renamed, with its funding slashed and personnel strength cut by more than two thirds to help pay for higher priorities.
“It is a potential bill-payer for the effort to remodernize the Army,” said retired Lt. Gen. Guy Swan, a vice president of the Association of the U.S. Army.
Founded at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., in 1993, the institute, known as PKSOI, serves as the main point of contact with the U.S. military for other government agencies, nongovernmental entities and international organizations, such as NATO and the United Nations, on subjects that include peacekeeping and stability operations and humanitarian assistance. The institute enables those organizations to have input to U.S. military doctrine that concerns these topics.
Army Secretary Mark Esper’s proposal to eliminate the peacekeeping institute has been met with resistance from other areas within the Pentagon, Congress and scores of former government officials, including senior officials in the office of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
Inside the Pentagon, the Army’s move appeared to catch those in Mattis’s office by surprise. “The Office of the Secretary of Defense has relied on [the Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute] for many years for a host of stabilization and peace operations contributions that benefit the entire Department,” wrote Owen West, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, in a Sept. 26 letter to Esper obtained by Yahoo News. The letter asks Esper “to delay any decisions regarding” the institute until the defense secretary has approved a Defense Department-wide plan to institutionalize irregular warfare capabilities.
That plan is scheduled for completion in June 2019, according to West, whose office is developing the plan with the Joint Staff.
Without the institute, other government agencies, such as the U.S. Agency for International Development and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), would be at a loss for an entry point to the Army bureaucracy. Dealing with that organization “can be a daunting task,” said Beth Cole, a former director of the Office of Civilian-Military Cooperation at USAID.
Were it not for the institute’s outreach, the doctrine would not reflect “what it’s really like to be an NGO out there in Afghanistan or what it’s like to be a USAID mission director in Iraq,” she said. “It’s just really, really important that there is a way to have that input.” The institute also helps prepare civilians “that are going to go out and work alongside the military in some of the worst environments on the planet,” she said.
Though there is no indication that the White House is involved in the move, the Trump administration has proposed cuts to a number of areas related to peacekeeping, including USAID and the U.N. peacekeeping mission. Trump has also been a frequent critic of efforts to rebuild other countries, saying the money and effort should be invested instead in the United States.
The Army plans to farm out some of the institute’s current work to other organizations, but observers are skeptical that any of them will be able to fill the holes that would be left if the institute is depleted or eliminated.
Esper is the institute’s chief bureaucratic opponent, said an officer on the Army staff in the Pentagon. “Everyone else is at best neutral,” the officer said. “There’s no question about that,” said Cole, who was the senior adviser on conflict, fragility and violent extremism at the U.S. Institute of Peace until last fall. “We can’t find any other prominent actor who is in favor of trying to do this.”
Esper has “vehemently gone after” the institute, having failed “to understand how a small investment by the Army — 43 people and $3 million — was punching above its weight,” said retired Col. John Agoglia, a former director of the institute. “It just doesn’t make sense, and it makes me think that Secretary Esper really doesn’t understand irregular warfare.”
But Esper told a Washington, D.C., audience on Nov. 8 that he was committed to ensuring that the Army retains its capability to conduct irregular warfare, even as it shifts its attention to high-intensity conflict. “We cannot lose that focus on irregular warfare, because it will be with us for a very long time,” he said at the American Enterprise Institute. “That’s counterterrorism, that’s [counterinsurgency], that’s peacekeeping and stability, all those things. We have to make sure we maintain those capabilities.”
A senior Army officer downplayed Esper’s role in the events surrounding PKSOI, saying that the discussion about the institute’s future grew out of a larger Army analysis aimed at streamlining the parts of its institutional force structure that concern irregular warfare. “Where are you going to find billets based on where we have redundancy?” the senior Army officer said. “It’s a savings approach, both in manpower and dollars.”
But the officer on the Army Staff took issue with that explanation. The institute “was going to be killed irrespective of the irregular warfare review,” the officer said. “It appears that Secretary Esper is using the review as cover to protect him from the can of worms he unleashed in his ignorance.”
At first, cutting the institute seemed like an easy solution, because senior Army leaders underestimated the level of support it enjoyed outside the Pentagon and did not comprehend the full scope of its work on behalf of the Defense Department, according to the officer on the Army Staff. “Everybody sort of said, ‘Yeah, let’s cut it,’ without having any understanding of the potential political ramifications of this,” the officer said.
The controversy burst into the open in August, when the War on the Rocks website published an open letter from 75 figures from the national security world calling upon the Army to save the institute. Signatories included two former heads of U.S. Central Command – retired Army Gen. David Petraeus and retired Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni – as well as Nadia Schadlow, who resigned in April as deputy national security adviser in the Trump administration, and several retired ambassadors.
When word of the institute’s impending demise reached Capitol Hill, members of Congress and their staffers were immediately concerned, Cole said. “They’ve been asking for a brief from the Army since they learned about this in early August, and they have not gotten a brief,” said Cole. Senior staffers from both the Senate and House Armed Services Committees have gotten involved but have had no luck getting answers out of the Army. “They’ve just been completely stonewalled,” said Cole.
“The issues of peace operations and stabilization are something that are very important issues” for the Pentagon’s civilian leadership, Mark Swayne, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for stability and humanitarian affairs, told Yahoo News in a brief interview. Swayne said he doubted that the Army would turn its back on such missions. “Certainly, the United States military supports lots of peacekeeping operations,” he said.
With pressure building on Esper after word spread of the plan to eliminate the institute, he directed the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Eustis, in Virginia, to come up with a solution, according to the officer on the Army Staff and emails obtained by Yahoo News.
Training and Doctrine Command is now “between a rock and a hard place,” the officer said.
Training and Doctrine Command spokeswoman Megan Reed acknowledged that the command had been put in charge of figuring out what to do with the institute, but only as part of a larger task to “realign” what the Army calls its “Irregular Warfare Enterprise,” of which the institute is one of six organizations.
The latest version of that plan, according to the officer on the Army Staff, would shrink the institute by more than two thirds to three military personnel and 10 civilians. The remaining 30 or so billets would be split between an academy that trains personnel destined for the Army’s new security force assistance brigades and a new irregular warfare office the service is establishing at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
The average level of rank and experience of the personnel that would remain in the rump organization would be much lower than today, according to Cole and Agoglia. The officer on the Army Staff said that he had not heard that detail but that at less than a third of its previous size, the institute would be forced to shed much of its present task list either way. Reed would only say that “as with any realignment and balancing of the workforce, each of the six [irregular warfare] organizations will have changes to billets and personnel.”
There has been discussion about moving what remains of the institute to Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., which is home to the National Defense University, according to Bill Flavin, who spent 17 years at the institute before retiring in July as its assistant director. That would be a bad idea, he says, because part of the reason the Army put the institute at the Army War College was “to get it out of the day-to-day maelstrom that occurs in the Pentagon and around the Pentagon,” he said.
In addition, he said, his former civilian co-workers have no intention of sticking around as the Army shreds their organization, let alone moving to the high cost of living and traffic they associate with the nation’s capital. “Most of the experts and expertise at [the Army PKSOI] will probably jump ship and leave, and it’ll be several years before we try to put this all back together,” he said.
However, the latest word is that Esper has proposed keeping the rump organization at Carlisle, but not as part of the Army War College, according to a U.S. government official. The diminished peacekeeping cell would instead report to Fort Leavenworth’s Combined Arms Center, which is part of Training and Doctrine Command.
The Army will also likely rename the rump organization. One option under consideration is to call what remains of the institute the “Center for Stability,” according to Cole and emails obtained by Yahoo News. However, Reed said that name was not part of current plans and added that the command had not been ordered to come up with a new name that avoids the word “peacekeeping.”

Dogs and portable morgues: Search intensifies in fire zone

PARADISE, Calif. (AP) — Authorities moved to set up a rapid DNA-analysis system and bring in cadaver dogs, mobile morgues and more search teams in an intensified effort to find and identify victims of the deadliest wildfire in California history, an inferno that killed at least 42 people.
Five days after flames all but obliterated the town of Paradise, population 27,000, officials were unsure of the exact number of missing. But the death toll was almost certain to rise.
"I want to recover as many remains as we possibly can, as soon as we can. Because I know the toll it takes on loved ones," Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said Monday night as he announced the discovery of 13 more sets of remains.
More than a dozen coroner search-and-recovery teams looked for the dead across the apocalyptic landscape that was once Paradise, while anxious relatives visited shelters and called police and hospitals in hopes of finding loved ones.
Lisa Jordan drove 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) from Yakima, Washington, to search for her uncle, Nick Clark, and his wife, Anne, who lived in Paradise. Anne Clark has multiple sclerosis and cannot walk. Jordan said no one seemed to know whether they were able to get out or whether their house was still standing.
"I'm staying hopeful," she said. "Until the final word comes, you keep fighting against it."
Authorities said they were bringing in two mobile morgue units from the military, requesting an additional 150 search-and-rescue personnel, and seeking the setup of a rapid DNA system to speed the analysis of remains.
Chaplains accompanied some coroner search teams that visited dozens of addresses belonging to people reported missing. No cars in the driveway was a considered a good sign, one car a little more ominous and multiple burned-out vehicles more reason for worry.
State officials said the cause of the inferno was under investigation.
But a landowner near where the blaze began, Betsy Ann Cowley, said Pacific Gas & Electric Co. notified her the day before the fire that crews needed to come onto her property because the utility's power lines were sparking. PG&E had no comment on the email.
At the other end of the state, in Southern California, firefighters continued making progress against a blaze that killed two people in star-studded Malibu and destroyed over 400 structures.
Fire crews lit backfires and extended containment lines overnight. They expected to have the more than 146-square-mile (378-square-kilometer) fire fully contained by Thursday.
The 42 dead in Northern California surpassed the deadliest single fire on record, a 1933 blaze in Griffith Park in Los Angeles. A series of wildfires in Northern California's wine country last fall killed 44 people and destroyed more than 5,000 homes.

CNN sues White House over revoked credentials of correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - CNN filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the Trump administration over the revocation of press credentials for White House correspondent Jim Acosta, a frequent target of President Donald Trump.
The cable network demanded the return of Acosta's credentials in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington. It said the White House violated the First Amendment right to free speech as well as the due process clause of the Constitution providing fair treatment through judicial process.
Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, dismissed the action as "just more grandstanding from CNN, and we will vigorously defend against this lawsuit."
The White House revoked Acosta's credentials last week in an escalation of the Republican president's attacks on the news media, which he has dubbed the "enemy of the people."
Trump has steadily intensified his criticism of the reporters who cover him, lashing out with personal jabs in response to questions he does not like, including those about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of whether his campaign worked with Russia to sway the 2016 presidential election.
CNN, and Acosta in particular, have been regular targets of Trump.
The day after the Nov. 6 congressional election, Trump erupted into anger during a news conference when Acosta questioned him about the Russia probe and a so-called migrant caravan traveling through Mexico.
"That's enough, that's enough," Trump told Acosta last Wednesday, as a White House intern attempted to take the microphone away from Acosta. "You are a rude, terrible person."
The White House suspended his credentials later that day, with Sanders alleging that Acosta had put his hands on the intern who was trying to take the microphone from him. However, videos of the encounter show Acosta pulling back as the intern moved to take the microphone.
"While the suit is specific to CNN and Acosta, this could have happened to anyone," CNN said. "If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials."
The lawsuit noted that Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday there "could be others also."
Theodore Boutrous, a lawyer for CNN and Acosta, said the White House was punishing Acosta for the contents of his reporting.
The White House Correspondents Association said revoking Acosta's credentials was a disproportionate reaction to what happened at the news conference.
"The President of the United States should not be in the business of arbitrarily picking the men and women who cover him," it said.
U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler, who is likely to become the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in January, supported the CNN lawsuit.
"@CNN is right to fight back against the cynical, unfair, and authoritarian treatment of @Acosta for doing his job," he said in a Twitter post.

Trump rips Macron for denouncing nationalism: 'MAKE FRANCE GREAT AGAIN!'

President Trump lashed out at France — the whole country, as well as its president, Emmanuel Macron — Tuesday, two days after returning from a trip to Paris to commemorate the end of World War I.
Trump seemed especially irked by Macron’s denunciation of nationalism, but he also got in a dig at French trade policy, accusing the country of discriminating against American wines.
At a ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armistice in Paris Sunday, Macron told assembled world leaders — including Trump — that “nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism.”
“By saying our interests first, who cares about the others, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential: its moral values,” Macron said.
Speaking at rallies for Republican candidates over the past month, Trump defended nationalism as a healthy impulse. He has made “America First” one of his catch phrases.
“The problem is that Emmanuel suffers from a very low Approval Rating in France, 26%, and an unemployment rate of almost 10%,” Trump tweeted in response. “He was just trying to get onto another subject. By the way, there is no country more Nationalist than France, very proud people-and rightfully so!”
Earlier Tuesday, Trump fumed over Macron’s call for a “true European army” so the continent can defend itself without relying on the U.S.
“Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia,” Trump tweeted. “But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two – How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!”
In a radio interview last week, Macron said that Europe has to protect itself “with respect to China, Russia and even the United States.”
But, as the Washington Post points out, Macron was “actually referring to cybersecurity matters and fading multilateralism, rather than the military.”
Trump wasn’t done insulting America’s oldest ally.
“On Trade, France makes excellent wine, but so does the U.S.,” the famous teetotaler Trump tweeted. “The problem is that France makes it very hard for the U.S. to sell its wines into France, and charges big Tariffs, whereas the U.S. makes it easy for French wines, and charges very small Tariffs. Not fair, must change!”
The president owns a winery in Virginia that is managed by his son Eric.
The president also addressed his controversial absence at an American cemetery in Belleau, France, on Saturday. The White House said that bad weather grounded Marine One, and “a car ride of two and a half hours, each way, would have required closures to substantial portions of the Paris roadways for the president’s motorcade, on short notice.”
The Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial is located about 50 miles from Paris.
“President Trump did not want to cause that kind of unexpected disruption to the city and its people,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Sunday.
In a tweet, Trump suggested the Secret Service made the decision, not him.
“When the helicopter couldn’t fly to the first cemetery in France because of almost zero visibility, I suggested driving,” the president tweeted. “Secret Service said NO, too far from airport & big Paris shutdown. Speech next day at American Cemetary [sic] in pouring rain! Little reported-Fake News!”
Trump’s speech was carried live on all three cable news networks.

Monday, 12 November 2018

The 8 Most Painful Torture Devices Of The Middle Ages

The Saw Torture Devices

Torture Devices Of The Middle Ages: The Saw

Before the saw was given its perfunctory role to slice through wood and thick material, it was used to slice through humans for torture or execution. The victim would be held upside down, allowing the blood to rush to their head, and then the torturer would slowly start slicing them between their legs.

With the blood contained in the head, the victim would remain conscious throughout most of the slicing, often only passing out or dying when the saw hit their mid-section.

The Saw Middle Ages Torture Devices

Medieval Torture Devices: Breast Ripper Or The Spider
Breast Ripper

For those women who were accused or adultery, abortion or any other crime, they were subjected to the painful torture of the breast ripper or the spider.

As the name suggests, the claw-like device, which ended in spikes, was heated and then used to rip off or shred a woman’s breasts. The spider was a variant, attached to a wall instead of clamped onto a woman’s breast by a torturer.

Breast Ripper Torture Devices

The Ultimate Torture Devices: The Rack
The Rack Torture Device

Probably the most commonly know torture device from the Middle Ages, the rack was a wooden platform, with rollers at both ends. The victim’s hands and feet were tied to each end and the rollers would be turned, stretching the victim’s body to uncomfortable lengths.

Middle Ages Torture Devices The Rack

Painful Torture Devices: Knee Splitter
Knee Splitter Torture Devices

Used frequently during the Spanish Inquisition, the knee splitter, naturally, was used to split a victims knee. The device was built from two spiked wood blocks with a screw at the back, and was clamped on the front and back of the knee. One turn of the screw and, hey presto, a knee was easily, and painfully, crippled. It was also used on other parts of the body.

Middle Age Torture Devices: The Head Crusher
Head Crusher

Extremely inventive with names, the head crusher (much like the breast ripper and knee splitter) did exactly what it was called. The chin sat on the bottom rung, the head under the cap, and the turning of the screws would result in a very disgusting death – brains seeping out of the popped eye sockets, crushed teeth and bones, and mutilated remains.

Head Crusher Torture Devices

The Wheel
The Wheel Middle Ages Torture Devices

Most commonly used in Germany during the Middle Ages, the wheel was a favorite form of execution. The victim was tied to the wheel on the ground and wooden crosspieces were placed under each major joint (wrist, ankles, hips, shoulders, knees).

After the pleasantries were observed, the torturer would start hammering the crosspieces with a heavy, iron-enhanced wheel. Following the severe bashing, the victim’s limbs were braided into the spokes of the wheels and displayed to the general public until the victim died.

The Wheel Torture Device

The Wooden Horse
The Wooden Horse

The wooden horse, the wooden pony or the Spanish donkey, is the name given to an extremely painful torture device used throughout history, particularly during the American colonial period and medieval times. There are three variations of the device, however the principle and design is the same.

The wooden device is triangular in shape and angled, often sharpened at the top. The victim is forced to straddle the triangular ‘horse’, placing their full body weight on their vulva, with additional weights added to their ankles to keep them from falling off.

Needless to say, the additional weight would pull the victim’s entire body down severely injuring their crotch, and sometimes even slicing it in half — making it one of the most brutal torture devices ever.

The Judas Cradle
Judas Cradle

Similar to the wooden horse, the Judas cradle was a pyramid shaped and sharpened device, on which a victim was lowered via ropes. As the victim was lowered, the device would slowly tear open their anus, vulva or scrotum. Though the device is often attributed to the Spanish Inquisition, there is evidence that it existed before this time as part of carnival sideshows.

Medieval Torture Devices