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  • June 18, 2019 4:51 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    from Tyler Freeman, IFCPP Program Manger

    I had the privilege of visiting the D-Day Landing Beaches, with my husband, just a week before the 75th Anniversary of that historic day. What an honor it was to be able to witness the build up to the commemoration events happening in the Normandy region.

    We were told before we went to Normandy that the people there have not forgotten who it was that liberated their families from the Nazis. That became apparent as soon as we started getting close to the town of Bayeux, which is the perfect base for visiting the landing sites. We were immediately greeted by as many American flags flying along roadsides and in small towns as you would see here in the U.S. on the 4th of July. As well as many Union Jack and Canadian flags. It was an astounding and emotional site to see, especially being in another country.

    On June 6, 1944 more than 5,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes and 150,000 soldiers from the United States, Britain and Canada stormed the Nazi-occupied French beaches of Normandy in a surprise attack known as Operation Neptune or D-Day. There were over 209,000 Allied casualties during the entire operation, known as Operation Overlord, of which D-Day was just the beginning. Overlord lasted from June 6 through August 30 and turned the tide of the war.

    During our stay in Bayeux we were able to visit many museums and memorials in the area. Starting in the Bayeux itself we visited the Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy. The museum is 2,300m² of exhibition space used to present the military operations which took place in the Battle of Normandy during the summer of 1944. It’s a wonderful gateway to the rest of the sites in the area. From there we went to the town of Sainte-Mere Eglise where U.S. paratroopers dropped in during the early morning hours of 6 June. Private John Steele, of the 82nd Airborne Division, was famously caught on the town’s church tower where he hung for two hours pretending to be dead. He was eventually taken prisoner by the Germans but was able to escape and rejoin his unit. There is an effigy of him hanging from the church tower, as well as stained glass windows in the church memorializing the U.S. paratroopers that liberated the town from the Nazis. Also in Sainte-Mere Eglise is The Airborne Museum, which is a French museum dedicated to the memory of paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions of the U.S. Army. The museum has more than 10,000 items, including the CG-4 glider and the C-47 Skytrain. This entire part the experience was especially poignant for us because my husband spent the beginning of his military career in the 82nd Airborne.

    From there we traveled on to Utah Beach and its museum. The Utah Beach D-Day Museum is built on the beach where the first American troops landed and around the remains of a German concrete bunker. It chronologically recounts the story from initial preparations to the final success with a collection of objects, vehicles and oral histories. It is also home to one of only six remaining original B26 bombers. Outside you can make a very short hike up to a small hill that has several monuments to the military units that participated in the battle.

    We then moved on to the cliff top memorial of Pointe du Hoc. It was the highest point between the American sector landings at Utah Beach to the west and Omaha Beach to the east. The German army fortified the area with concrete casemates and gun pits. The cliffs, scaled by the United States Army Ranger Assault Group on the morning of June 6th, 1944, were the only way to infiltrate a German artillery battery that Allied commanders believed could wreck the D-Day invasion. More than a hundred Rangers were killed or wounded during the fighting in and around the guns. There is now a Ranger Monument erected by the French to honor the men that scaled the cliffs.

    On the recent 75th Anniversary 100 U.S. Army Rangers reenacted the famous scaling off the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc, one of the most famous missions in Ranger history. Veterans of the actual operation were in attendance to observe the cliff scaling.

    We next went to see the Omaha Beach memorial, located on the center of Omaha Beach where the worst of the battles took place. It very difficult to picture now, with its wide beautiful expanse of sand, how horrific the events of that day truly were.

    Finally, on our D-Day journey we made our way to the Normandy American Cemetery. This is where the most obvious preparation were already being made for the Anniversary events. Construction of a grandstand was underway, as well as a staging area, many ramps, and what appeared to be roof over the Memorial that was already blocked off. Being there, even with the bustle of construction work, was still an emotional but serene experience. This cemetery, on a beautifully green cliff overlooking Omaha Beach, is where some 9,300 men are buried beneath rows of white headstones. It brings in to very bright light the reality of the casualties of not only that war, but all wars.

    On the 75th Anniversary officials estimate that about 12,000 people attended the ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery. Along with leaders and dignitaries from The U.S., Britain and France, there were also more than 100 WWII veterans there. On June 7, the cemetery commission also rededicated the visitor center, which has been enhanced with updates and new exhibits.

    Throughout the summer of 2019, Normandy will continue to celebrate the 75th anniversary of D-Day with many exciting activities. A rich and unprecedented program of events has been put together to bring the memory of this tragic period of history to life, while also emphasizing the spirit of hope. The anniversary will be commemorated with military parades, firework displays, airdrops, picnics, concerts and military camp re-enactments.

    Having worked with IFCPP for over three years now, I found myself evaluating the security of each site we visited and couldn’t help but think about what our member’s impressions might be.

  • June 18, 2019 4:10 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from The New York Times

    Dakota Reed’s mind brimmed with thoughts of mass murder. In November, he wrote on Facebook, “I am shooting for 30 Jews.”

    The next month, he uploaded a video of himself in his bedroom of his mother’s Seattle-area home proudly displaying new gun sights he had mounted on his AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle. White supremacist propaganda adorned the walls. He said he was “fixing to shoot up” a school.

    The F.B.I., which had been investigating the 20-year-old Mr. Reed for about four months, weighed charging him. But federal prosecutors were concerned that the threat was too vague, so the F.B.I. quickly passed the case on to local law enforcement officials, who thought they could build a case under state law. In early December, a detective from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office arrested Mr. Reed. He pleaded guilty in May to making bomb threats and was sentenced on Tuesday to a year in jail.

    The outcome was typical of the limits the F.B.I. faces investigating domestic terrorism cases, roughly defined as violent acts inside the United States intended to intimidate a part of the population. The First Amendment protects hate speech and other activities that might be early indicators of plans to commit violence, keeping agents from investigating or making arrests in many cases. Agents cannot always rely on federal law, unlike in so-called international terrorism cases where statutes were enacted to address the threat after the Sept. 11 attacks. Instead, the F.B.I. often turns to local prosecutors to charge people they are concerned might be planning domestic attacks.

    Now with an increase in such attacks in recent years, particularly racially motivated mass shootings in Charleston, S.C.; Pittsburgh; San Diego; and elsewhere that drew heightened attention, a debate has emerged about whether federal law enforcement, in particular the F.B.I., is sufficiently equipped to tackle the problem using existing laws and resources.

    “The rise of white supremacy is an undeniable threat,” said Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, one of several lawmakers who have voiced concerns about the problem. “As the threat of violent white supremacy continues to mount, we must do more.”

    Democrats and others have called on President Trump to forcefully disavow racism and urged his administration to address racist violence, a flash point for him since he said there were “very fine people on both sides” after a man who attended a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 drove his car into a crowd of protesters, killing a woman and injuring others.

    While Mr. Trump’s critics have accused him of ignoring the growing problem, the White House made fighting domestic terrorism a priority, adding it to the National Strategy for Counterterrorism. But the challenge for federal law enforcement goes deeper than just needing support from the president’s bully pulpit.

    A federal statute defines domestic terrorism but carries no penalties. Some former and current law enforcement officials said in interviews that it was time for Congress to pass a new law aimed at people who commit political violence. But civil rights advocates and many in law enforcement worry that such laws would brush up against the First Amendment or invite government overreach.

    “Law enforcement needs more effective tools,” said Mary McCord, a former top national security prosecutor who has drafted a proposed statute to criminalize the stockpiling of weapons intended to be used in a domestic terrorist attack. “I recognize the very legitimate concerns of those in the civil rights community, but I would hope that their concerns could be addressed through oversight.”

    After nearly two decades where international terrorism cases, chiefly involving Islamic extremism, seized headlines and garnered more arrests, domestic terrorist attacks have overtaken them in recent years both in terms of arrests and killings, Michael C. McGarrity, the F.B.I.’s top counterterrorism agent, told lawmakers last month.

    “Individuals affiliated with racially motivated violent extremism are responsible for the most lethal and violent activity,” he said.

    According to the F.B.I., violent domestic extremists carried out six attacks in 2018 that killed 17 people. The previous year, Mr. McGarrity said, eight people died in five attacks. Domestic terrorism-related arrests narrowly outpaced international ones for the first two quarters of the current fiscal year, 66 to 63.

    The increase in arrests marks something of a return to the 1990s, when the F.B.I. devoted significant resources to infiltrating and dismantling violent white supremacist and right-wing militia organizations from which lethal terrorists like David Lane and Timothy McVeigh emerged.

    The F.B.I. shifted course after the Sept. 11 attacks. Congress passed the Patriot Act, granting substantial powers to the government to fight international terrorism, including electronic surveillance and secret access to bank and library records. Federal investigators began frequently using a charge of material support for terrorism to prosecute Islamic terrorism suspects.

    Prosecutors rarely used the charge to arrest far-right, anti-government terrorists, who are primarily white. Civil rights advocates and others have argued that current laws unfairly target racial or religious minorities.

    Domestic terrorism became an afterthought at the F.B.I., seen as less prestigious than hunting down members of Al Qaeda. The fast track to top jobs meant spending time in one of the bureau’s two sections devoted to fighting international terrorism.

    Eventually, the F.B.I. reorganized its domestic terrorism section in 2013 to more closely resemble the way its agents investigated international terrorism, dividing the country into three regions. Officials described the shift as more of a natural evolution than a response to an event. Among those regions, the F.B.I. has seen an uptick in arrests on the West Coast and Great Lakes, part of a recent trend over the past several years that won the attention of counterterrorism officials.

    In his congressional hearing, Mr. McGarrity said the F.B.I.’s counterterrorism division allocated about 20 percent of its resources to counter domestic threats. Out of 4,000 open terrorism cases, about 850 are designated as domestic terrorism.

    While Ms. McCord and others have advocated tougher laws, some civil rights advocates and former F.B.I. agents worry that, like after Sept. 11, additional powers could lead to abuses. Human rights advocates have criticized aggressive sting operations, the use of informants and other tools that law enforcement officials have used in international terrorism cases. In some cases, the bureau “may have created terrorists out of law-abiding individuals by conducting sting operations that facilitated or invented the target’s willingness to act,” Human Rights Watch wrote in a comprehensive report in 2014.

    “Law enforcement agencies already have the investigative and prosecutorial tools they need, and they should prioritize resources and policies to meaningfully address white supremacist violence,” said Hina Shamsi, a national security expert at the American Civil Liberties Union.

    Adam Lee, the former top F.B.I. agent in Richmond, Va., does not believe a new statute is necessary. He cited laws against hate crimes and racketeering as well as others as adequate for fighting domestic terrorism. “We can hold those groups and people to account most effectively by using the investigative methods we used to break up the mafia and violent street gangs,” Mr. Lee said.

    He was in the job when the Rise Above Movement, a group of violent neo-Nazis from California, descended on Charlottesville in 2017. Federal investigators in Los Angeles were tracking the men before they were charged last fall with conspiracy to riot for attacking counterprotesters in Virginia and across California. But in a blow to prosecutors, a federal judge threw out the anti-riot charges against the men on Monday, saying they were “unconstitutionally overbroad in violation of the First Amendment.”

    Federal law enforcement officials have had success targeting suspects in cases involving a dangerous mix of speech and violence — but often only after they have unleashed deadly carnage. The white supremacist Dylann S. Roof, who gunned down nine black churchgoers in Charleston in 2015, was convicted of 33 counts, including hate crimes resulting in death, and ultimately sentenced to death.

    The following year, three far-right militia members were convicted in federal court of plotting to blow up an apartment complex in Kansas where Somali Muslims lived. They were sentenced to more than 20 years in prison.

    More recently, the F.B.I. in February arrested Lt. Christopher P. Hasson, an officer in the Coast Guard accused of stockpiling guns and drugs. Prosecutors described him as a domestic terrorist and white nationalist who drew up a list of prominent cable news journalists and Democratic politicians to be killed, saying he was on the cusp of turning his “thoughts into action.” His lawyers argue he did nothing wrong and is being punished for “private thoughts.”

    Federal prosecutors have also charged 19-year-old John Earnest in the April shooting at a San Diego synagogue that killed one and wounded three. Before the shooting, he posted a manifesto online, an anti-Semitic screed filled with white nationalist conspiracy theories. He faces dozens of hate-crime charges that carry the death penalty.

    Without a punishment for domestic terrorism under federal law, it is impossible to say whether prosecutors could have targeted Mr. Reed under it. He matched the elements in what the F.B.I. calls its domestic terrorism “triangle”: an ideology, the threat of violence and a possible crime.

    Mr. Reed, who lived with his mother in the Monroe suburb of Seattle, worked at a Fred Meyer superstore and had no criminal history aside from a 2011 citation as a juvenile for “reckless burning.” But his online presence spoke to a young man fascinated with firearms, white supremacist ideology and violence.

    After the Anti-Defamation League alerted the F.B.I. to threatening Facebook posts by seven accounts he ran, agents began monitoring his posts last fall. The F.B.I. and local law enforcement grew alarmed when Mr. Reed vowed to “shoot up a school” and displayed an assault rifle in a room covered in extreme-right iconography. His online accounts showed photographs of an arsenal seemingly in his possession, including three AR-15 rifles, two hunting rifles, a pump-action shotgun and at least one handgun.

    The authorities decided to intervene, the threat of school shooting too great. When detectives searched Mr. Reed’s room, they seized a dozen firearms.

    Mr. Reed told investigators that his menacing posts were only meant to get attention and that he intended only “to hurt people’s feelings,” citing his First Amendment right to reprehensible speech.

    Even after he was released on bail, Mr. Reed railed against the government on Facebook, hinting at violence. He was jailed again. He pleaded guilty on May 10, according to a news report, smiling to reporters after he was led away.

    Before his client was sentenced on Tuesday, Mr. Reed’s lawyer, Rick Merrill, said Mr. Reed was remorseful. He was not stockpiling weapons — some of which belonged to family members — for an attack, and he never intended to hurt anyone, Mr. Merrill said.

    Superior Court Judge Paul W. Thompson disagreed. “I don’t find this was a mistake,” he said. “This was intentional, offensive, hateful actions that I can only conclude were designed to cause fear in the community.”

    See Original Post

  • June 18, 2019 4:07 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from the Boston Herald

    The City Council will hold hearings about promoting “diversity and inclusion in Boston’s arts institutions” following an uproar about how black students were treated at the Museum of Fine Arts last month.

    “At too many of these important institutions, visitors of color are often viewed with suspicion, treated with contempt, or even taunted with racial epithets,” City Councilor Kim Janey said Wednesday as she introduced a resolution calling for hearings. “This is bigger than any one incident. It is time for us to have a broader conversation on race, inclusion and diversity in the arts.”

    MFA spokeswoman Karen Frascona told the Herald that representatives from the museum will attend when there is a hearing, which is still to be scheduled.

    Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy students and teachers said they were met with racist remarks and felt like they were being followed by security during their midweek visit, and reported the incidents to MFA staff, teacher Marvelyne Lamy told the Herald in late May.

    After investigating the incident, the museum apologized to the Dorchester school and students. The MFA banned two patrons who administrators said made racist comments.

    “These young people left the Museum feeling disrespected, harassed and targeted because of the color of their skin, and that is unacceptable,” MFA Director Matthew Teitelbaum said at the time. “This is a fundamental problem that we will address as an institution, both with immediate steps and long-term commitments. I am deeply saddened that we’ve taken something away from these students that they will never get back.”

    “There is no way to definitively confirm or deny what was said or heard in the galleries. Regardless, the MFA is committed to providing additional training for all frontline staff on how to engage with incoming school groups about policies and guidelines,” the museum said.

    The museum said it would train guards on patrolling and engaging with visitors, and would provide staff with unconscious bias training. The MFA also said it would hold roundtables on these issues with community members.

    See Original Post

  • June 18, 2019 3:53 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from the AP

    Pardeep Singh Kaleka has surveyed the landscape of an America scarred by mass shootings.

    Seven years ago, a white supremacist invaded a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and killed six worshippers — among them Kaleka’s father, who died clutching a butter knife he’d grabbed in a desperate attempt to stop the shooter. Now, whenever another gunman bloodies another town, Kaleka posts a supportive message on social media. Then later, either by invitation or on his own initiative, he’ll journey to the community to shore up others who share his pain.

    He’s been to Newtown, Connecticut. Charleston, South Carolina. Pittsburgh. “We’ve become kind of a family,” Kaleka says.

    It’s true. The unending litany of mass shootings in recent years — the latest, on Friday, leaving 12 dead in Virginia Beach, Virginia — has built an unacknowledged community of heartbreak, touching and warping the lives of untold thousands.

    All the survivors, none of them unscathed. The loved ones of the living and dead. Their neighbors, relatives and colleagues. The first responders, the health care workers, the elected officials.

    The attacks have changed how America talks, prays and prepares for trouble. Today, the phrases “active shooter” and “shelter in place” need no explanation. A house of worship will have a priest, a rabbi or an imam — and maybe, an armed guard. And more schools are holding “lockdown drills” to prepare students for the possibility of a shooter.

    Post-traumatic stress disorder was once largely associated with combat-weary veterans; now some police and firefighters tormented by the memories of the carnage they’ve witnessed are seeking professional help. Healing centers have opened to offer survivors therapy and a place to gather. Support groups of survivors of mass shootings have formed.

    Mayors, doctors, police and other leaders who’ve endured these crises are paying it forward — offering comfort, mentoring and guidance to the next town that has to wrestle with the nightmare.

    Former Oak Creek Mayor Stephen Scaffidi, who’d been on the job just four months at the time of the 2012 Sikh temple attack, remembers a call that night from the mayor of Aurora, Colorado, where 12 people had been fatally shot at a movie theater less than three weeks earlier. “He gave me the best advice I could ever receive in that moment: ‘Be calm. Reassure your community. And only speak to what you know. Don’t speculate, don’t pretend to be an expert on something that you’re not,’” Scaffidi recalls.

    Last year, two days after the fatal shooting of 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Christine Hunschofsky, mayor of Parkland, Florida, met the mother of a 6-year-old killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School who offered a road map into the future.

    “She forewarned me of many of the things that we would encounter,” Hunschofsky recalls. “She said at first it will seem like everyone comes together. Then it seems like a tsunami that hits the community. People become very divided. This is all normal after a mass trauma.”

    Three months later, it was Hunschofsky’s turn. She sent a message to the incoming mayor of Santa Fe, Texas, where a school shooting left 10 dead. “She told me this is not going to be the hardest day and harder days are coming,” recalls Mayor Jason Tabor. ”‘Prepare for that.’ She was 100 percent right.”

    The two mayors have since become fast friends and Hunschofsky visited Santa Fe. “We’re bonded for life,” Tabor says.

    Mass shootings account for a tiny percentage of homicides, but their scale sets them apart. In 1999, the Columbine shooting shocked the nation with its unforgettable images of teens running from the school with their hands up — scenes repeated in other similar attacks years later. Today, the public sees and hears about these events as they unfold, through live-streamed video or tweets.

    Each tragedy is horrifying, but the sense of it-can’t-happen-here has worn off.

    “We’re a desensitized society,” says Jaclyn Schildkraut, a criminologist at the State University of New York at Oswego.

    “There is an element of mass shooting fatigue where we’ve gone from ONE MORE,” she says, her voice rising with exasperation, “to add another one to the list. Everybody immediately goes for the gun argument ... and maybe throw a little mental health in there, but we really don’t have a consistent, prolonged conversation about these events and how to prevent them.”

    Studies have offered some hints of their emotional wallop. The National Center for PTSD estimates 28 percent of people who have witnessed a mass shooting develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and about a third develop acute stress disorder.

    Laura Wilson, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia conducted a meta-analysis — an examination of data from 11 studies of PTSD symptoms among more than 8,000 participants who ranged from those who’d witnessed shootings to those who just lived in the communities in a 20-year period. She found the greater the exposure — someone who was at the scene or who lost a friend or family — the greatest risk of developing PTSD. But, in her work, Wilson has found other factors, too, including previous psychological symptoms and a lack of social support, also played a role in increasing the likelihood.

    “Mass shootings are a different type of trauma,” Wilson says. “People are confronted with the idea that bad things can happen to good people. ... Most people have a hard time reconciling the idea that a young, innocent person made the good decision to go to school, was sitting there, learning and was murdered. That does not make sense to us. ... It just rattles us to our core.”

    And yet, some people don’t fully appreciate the lasting psychological wounds of those who escaped physical harm.

    A study conducted by a University of Nevada-Las Vegas professor after the 2017 Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting that left 58 people dead found PTSD levels for those at the concert remained elevated at least a year later. Most of these people had a friend, family member or co-worker asking — as early as 1½ months after the event — why they were still troubled.

    “Almost everyone had someone say, ‘Get over it. Why are you letting this bother you?’” says Stephen Benning, a psychology professor who conducted the research. Those kinds of remarks were associated with increased levels of PTSD, which lasted longer than depression.

    April Foreman, a psychologist and board member of the American Association of Suicidology, likens exposure to mass shootings to a flu epidemic that affects the entire community in different ways.

    “When we have these mass casualty events it’s like an outbreak of a virus,” she says. “Some people might be immune or not susceptible to that strain. Some people are going to get a little sick, some people are going to be very sick. Some people might have compromised immune systems and if they’re exposed they have a very high risk for life-threatening illness. Suicide is like the extreme outcome.”

    In one week in March, two student survivors of the Parkland school shooting killed themselves. Around the same time, the father of a 6-year-old killed girl in Newtown died of an apparent suicide. He had created a foundation in his daughter’s name to support research on violence prevention.

    Austin Eubanks, a Columbine student who was shot and watched his best friend die in the school massacre, died last month, possibly of an overdose. He struggled with opioid use after the attack and later became an addiction recovery speaker. A memorial fund established in his name is seeking funds for a trauma-informed program for families and victims of mass violence.

    After the Parkland suicides, Hunschofsky says, many people sought mental health help for the first time. “They just told me, ‘I thought I was OK, but after this happened, maybe I’m not. Maybe I do need to talk to someone.’” The community’s wellness center, established after the Parkland shooting, extended its hours.

    A similar program, the Resiliency Center of Newtown, is an informal gathering place for those grappling with anxiety, depression and PTSD. Though the school attack occurred 6½ years ago, the center still gets new clients and after every mass shooting, more people stop by.

    “Your heart hurts every time a new tragedy happens because you know what those people who are impacted are going to have to go through and what the community is going to go through, and that’s hard,” says Stephanie Cinque, the center’s founder and executive director. “You don’t just get over it and move on.”

    In Florida, Orange County Sheriff John Mina, Orlando’s police chief during the 2016 massacre at the Pulse nightclub, realized that when he reached out to law enforcement peers — former chiefs of Aurora and Newtown — afterward. ”’What do you think I should be doing six months, a year from now?” he asked. “They said, ’John, you’re not going to be dealing with this a year. You’re going to be dealing with this five or 10 years. That was like a punch in the gut.”

    There were some immediate lessons learned, he says. Among them: improved communications with the fire department and better equipment. After the Pulse shooting, officers were given Kevlar helmets and an extra layer of body armor that will stop rifle rounds.

    Mental health debriefings were held six months and a year after the shooting rampage for Orlando officers who went to the nightclub that morning.

    Some have reached beyond the department to UCF RESTORES, a clinic at the University of Central Florida that helps trauma victims. It was originally designed to serve the military, but has expanded to include first responders and sexual assault victims, among others.

    Deborah Beidel, the clinic’s director, says first responders called to mass shootings face trauma similar to those in combat. About 50 firefighters, police and paramedics who were at Parkland and Pulse have been treated, most in a three-week outpatient program that exposes them to the sounds, smells and sights they encountered that caused their PTSD.

    For those inside the Pulse, Beidel says, “the sound of cellphones ringing and ringing and ringing and no one answering them became a trigger for many people. Afterward, any time they heard a cellphone, particularly that Marimba ring on the iPhone, they would have a flashback.”

    Beidel says the goal isn’t to make workers forget but to “put that memory in a file where it no longer affects every other aspect of their life, so that they no longer are restricted in what they can do because ... of flashbacks or panic or whatever they might be experiencing.”

    Jimmy Reyes, a 35-year-old Orlando firefighter, enrolled in the program about five months after Pulse. He’d been haunted by the memory of tending to more than two dozen bloody, wounded people carried from the club, sprawled over a parking lot, screaming in agony.

    After more than four stressful hours caring for the wounded, not knowing who’d live or die, he returned home. As he and his wife watched the TV news, he began sobbing. She held him. “We did the best that we could,” he told her.

    Less than a week later, Reyes had a panic attack while working a second job — he was on a safety team in a jet ski race. “I couldn’t breathe,” he says. “I kept telling myself, ‘You’ll be fine. It’ll pass.’” It didn’t. He dreaded another big call at work.

    Firefighters, he says, “kind of bury a lot of stuff. It gets put in a file in the back of your head. That’s what I thought this was going to be.”

    But it didn’t stay there. He was short-tempered with his family. He had little interest in doing anything but sitting at home. Finally, Reyes decided to seek help.

    For three weeks, he relived his experiences, answering questions from a therapist as he told his Pulse story over and over, recalling everything he saw, including one man talking on his cellphone who’d been shot in the head and another critically wounded who asked, “Am I going to die?” At certain points, the therapist would cue up sounds he’d heard — gunshots from inside the club, the wail of the sirens, an explosion.

    At first, he says, he cried. By the end of the sessions, he was dry-eyed and calm.

    Reyes is better now and remains a firefighter. He never considered quitting. But he’s changed.

    “I felt like I was normal before Pulse,” he says. “I was a very happy guy, no problems, no issues with mental health. Now I still deal with depression. I still deal with anxiety. ... I look back at those days. ... June 11th, I was normal. Then June 12th happened. I’m a completely different person.”

    So is Las Vegas trauma surgeon Dave MacIntyre.

    He talks in a rapid-fire, breathless way about the chaos 19 months after the Route 91 shooting. More than 90 severely injured patients in 113 minutes. He repeats that phrase as if it still hasn’t completely sunk in. After 20 years, he’s now a part-time trauma surgeon looking to get out of the operating room completely. MacIntyre enrolled in January in an executive MBA program for doctors, with plans on becoming a consultant for helping hospitals deal with similar challenges. He’s trying meditation, too.

    MacIntyre didn’t realize he had PTSD until an MBA program coach picked up on his symptoms — anxiety, stress, short temper, avoidance. His marriage has suffered. His work, too. “I find it very hard to talk to family members and give them bad news ... much more so than before,” he says.

    After the shootings, his hospital brought in therapy dogs and counselors for the staff but not everyone participated. “As physicians we’re not going to want to show weakness. We’re not going to want to go into an auditorium full of people or get on the floor and pet dogs,” he says. “A lot of physicians internalize. You get to the point where it’s unbearable.”

    It was different for Brian Murphy. He says he didn’t have any psychological trauma after the shootings at the Sikh temple.

    Murphy, the first officer on the scene, was shot 15 times. His face, hands, arms and legs were riddled with bullets. One bullet remains lodged in his skull; another in his throat after slicing one vocal card and paralyzing the other, leaving him with a permanent rasp.

    Medically retired from the Oak Creek police department, Murphy completed the master’s degree in criminal justice administration he’d started before he was injured.

    He now works for the company that makes the bulletproof vest that stopped three rounds that struck him that August day. He counsels other wounded officers, talking about something deep in his DNA — resiliency.

    Murphy gets injections in his throat every three months to stop scar tissue from tightening and has some trouble swallowing, but he has no complaints, noting he was first told he’d never talk or eat on his own. “Once I knew I wasn’t going to die, everything else was butter,” he says.

    He credits his family’s support for rebounding. And he refuses to let the shooting dominate his thoughts.

    “It’s not like I wake up and say, ‘I can’t believe this happened.’ It’s just life now. I don’t think there’s a tremendous amount of good that comes from looking behind.”

  • June 18, 2019 3:50 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    Stolen artwork and fake money — artists say it unfortunately comes with the territory of arts festivals.

    The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust said it is increasing security measures after a burglar stole thousands of dollars in artwork, jewelry and other items late Saturday from Three Rivers Arts Festival booths in Point State Park. Artists said they also dealt with having to pay close attention to money as several fake $100 bills floated around the first night of the festival on Friday. 

    “It was like a stab to the chest,” said Alexis Croyle, owner of the Lex Covato brand and participant in the festival. “I’ve been through storms and you will lose a little, but this was the biggest loss I’ve experienced.”

    Ms. Croyle, who has participated in the Three Rivers festival for nine years, creates paintings of former presidents with tattoos, as well as illustrations of colorful distorted figures and notable historic individuals. Roughly $1,200 of her paintings was stolen from her booth Saturday night, she said. 

    “They took [a painting of] Mr. Rogers with tattoos, Tim Burton and Andy Warhol,” Ms. Croyle said. “I’m generally very trusting. But I feel like I have to watch people now.”  Her missing Andy Warhol-themed painting is worth $900, she said.

    At least four others, including two art dealers, had artwork stolen from their festival booths that night as well.

    Chris Jackson, from Chicago, reported the theft of four paintings valued at more than $3,000, including a horse painting and a large version of a Penguins Stanley Cup tribute. The thief, he said, entered his booth by unzipping the back of his tent.

    Local photographer Dave DiCello said he had around 150 coasters stolen from his booth, but declined to give further comment.

    The thieves appeared to hit several tents that were located a short distance from a security booth, which felt like a “slap in the face,” according to Dan Sullivan, a local glass artist. He said none of his glass necklaces was stolen, but security should monitor the back of tents. People often steal jewelry, he said, so some jewelry artists take down their sets every day and set them up again to prevent theft. He, however, leaves his merchandise up when he leaves for the day.

    “It’s hard to take everything down and then reset it up again,” Mr. Sullivan said. “It’s dark at night, so [the thieves] obviously had to be canvassing throughout the day. You just never know who.”

    Jake Weiland, manager of Point State Park, said officials can’t provide details regarding how many artists were affected by the thefts because the investigation is ongoing. Commonwealth law enforcement of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is probing the incident, he said. 

    “We will be working with the Cultural Trust and law enforcement through this process,” Mr. Weiland said. “The city of Pittsburgh has been very nice and helpful to work with." 

    Last weekend’s theft is “highly out of the ordinary,” and the festival always implements 24-hour security through a third-party vendor, according to Robin Elrod, director of communications at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. She declined to say which security vendor has been contracted for the festival.

    The annual festival hosts around 50,000 people a day, she said.

    “Since learning of this activity, we have alerted our on-site staff, volunteers, and security partners in the city to be on special lookout for these acts and have dedicated further resources to security in the Artist Market area,” Ms. Elrod said. “If anyone sees something suspicious in the area, we encourage them to alert our public safety team, which can be reached in the public safety tent at the entrance of Point State Park or by calling 911.”

    Several artists said Monday they noticed an increase in security walking around the festival, and they were provided zip ties to help constrain tent zippers. Tents have a zipper in the front and back that artists simply zip closed when they are finished.

    Jennifer Float, 47, of Columbus, Ohio, wasn’t affected by the thievery, but said she was disappointed security “wasn’t doing its job.”

    “There was a lot happening this weekend,” Ms. Float said, referencing Pride and the arts festival. “It stinks, but we’re all healthy and we’re all safe.”

    See Original Post

  • June 18, 2019 3:46 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Cobalt Robotics

    Collision Conference has been called North America’s fastest-growing tech conference, and each Spring it brings together the top people and companies redefining the global tech industry. This year, journalists like Kara Swisher, politicians like Justin Trudeau and celebrities like Seth Rogen spoke at the conference to share their big ideas, expert insight and unique views on the biggest trends impacting society today.

    At the annual conference in Toronto this year, Cobalt’s own CEO Travis Deyle took the stage to tackle the state of robotics today. He sat down with Paul Michelman, Editor in Chief of MIT Sloan Management Review to discuss the origins of Cobalt, the need for security robots and some of the opportunities for robotics companies today.

    It’s not about the future. Robots are here today.

    Robots first entered our homes in the form of dishwashers and vacuum cleaners—nearly 50 years ago. But often, even as most of us are familiar with today’s most popular robots like Pepper and MIT’s creations, robots are still widely considered a future technology

    Yet, Travis asserts, thanks to the Roomba vacuum cleaner or even lane assist in your car, you’re already interacting with robots frequently every day. And as robots in the service industries—cleaning, delivery, manufacturing and even farming—show great success in their applications, we will be living and working alongside many more robots in our day to day lives.

    “Robots are computers that can reach out and touch the world.”

    Hollywood’s Version of Robots

    Popular Hollywood films such as Robocop and Terminator have portrayed robots negatively—as malicious, intelligent beings designed to wreak havoc or control humans. This means today’s robotics companies have some big cultural misconceptions to overcome as the develop their solutions. They need to show how robots can be helpful and beneficial, not harmful.

    In his session with Paul, Travis asserted that one of the best ways to accelerate robot adoption and ease the integration of robots in our daily lives is by getting out into the world where robots exist and interacting with them—touching them, working with them and asking questions. Once we learn why a robot is there and what they’re meant to help with, we can better work and live side by side with them. This helps quell any uncertainty around robots and highlight just how useful they can be.

    Robots Keeping You Safe

    Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs defines safety and security as the next most important needs after physiological needs have been met. Today’s businesses have an obligation to keep their employees safe and their property and assets protected, and thus invest in physical security in the form of security guards, access control and camera systems.

    Security robots like Cobalt’s are a new tool for security programs to help offices and facilities keep their employees safe and protected. As the robots patrol their environment using AI to monitor and detect anomalies, they can respond to incidents with greater efficiency and efficacy.

    At the same time, employees working in spaces where Cobalt’s robots are deployed can learn about the robot, how it works to keep them safe and how robots can be helpful in society. People can go up to the robot, touch it and even video chat with one of Cobalt’s security specialists. The result is a robot seamlessly integrated into the work environment and a better understanding of how robots can benefit us today.

    “It’s time to get robots out of the lab and into real, human spaces, working in and around people.” 

    See Original Post

  • June 05, 2019 12:22 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from the Northampton Chronicle

    Three fire crews were needed in February this year when a fire broke out at the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery.

    There were fears the blaze could have spread to the rest of the building and undone the borough council's ongoing £7million renovation project.

    But a new photo shared today has shown how a well-fitted fire door stopped the flames in their tracks and prevented further damage.

    This incident involved a fire in a main, open plan office area, which was left black with smoke damage.

    Due to the secure, closed fire doors, flames did not progress beyond this area and so damage was kept to a minimum.

    The photo clearly shows a smoke blackened area in the main office and, beyond the fire doors, clean undamaged walls.

    Community Protection Manager Scott Richards praised the installation of the fire doors, and pointed out that organisations can fail to properly consider the impact these features have in case of a fire.

    He said: “We would encourage all businesses to think about their own premises and consider what a fire would do to their building. Think about whether you would be able to continue to operate if your offices or warehouses suffered a fire.

    “Fire doors are so important because they protect areas such as staircases and other escape routes in buildings, such as care homes and hotels, making escape more possible. They also help to enclose high risk zones such as kitchens and boiler rooms. Their other purpose is to subdivide buildings to limit the spread of smoke and fire.”

    “When looking at the area in which the museum fire was, in comparison to the inside of the neighbouring, smaller offices a few metres from the main area of fire, it can be clearly seen that these closed fire doors did their job properly.”

    Fire doors which are inappropriately used or incorrectly fitted are common fire safety issues. Below is a list of common mistakes in fire door usage.

    Common fire door issues:

     - Door jamming on the frame

    - Self-closing device failing to shut the door and needing adjustment

    - Strips and seals around door becoming damaged or ineffective

    - Damage to the door front or edge, affecting the door’s fitting

    - Glazing becoming loose due to damage

    - Glazing being replaced by glass which is not fire resistant

    - Poorly fitted doors, perhaps fitted by someone unqualified

    - Use of inappropriate materials, such as non-fire resistant wood

    - Doors fitted in walls or next to glazing that isn’t fire resistant

    See Original Post

  • June 05, 2019 12:15 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from the Miami New Times

    Last week, a British charity revealed that a 90-year-old retiree in Aventura had just casually been harboring a stolen piece of Stonehenge for the last 60 years. Back in 1958, the man, Robert Phillips, had been working for a firm that was trying to restore a banged-up rock at the ancient site. Phillips' firm drilled a few holes into the rock to insert some metal tubes, and Phillips ran away with a broomstick-sized cutout from Stonehenge. He then took it with him when he moved from the U.K. to the U.S., and the piece sat in his office until he finally decided to send it back to where it came from.

    But the Stonehenge core is far from the only insane artifact that's turned up in South Florida. In fact, the area's unique combination of retirees, wayward travelers, and outright criminals have turned Miami into a haven for art thieves and black-market artifact deals. Here's a recap of some of the wilder stories:

    1. A Matisse stolen from Venezuela turned up here:

    In the dark of the hotel room, the ultraviolet lamp ignited like Promethean fire. A middle-aged American with gray hair leaned low over the bed, his gaunt face glowing in the purple light. Beneath him lay a weathered canvas, its edges cracked and crumbling. The man inhaled deeply. Then, with gloved hands, he slowly swept the lamp along the painting's smooth surface.

    A pair of crimson pants legs sprang from the shadows. The man moved the lamp a few inches more and a woman's belly gleamed soft and white. Her bare breasts were full and pink, her mouth small and puckered like a wilted rose. At last, the man shone the light into her eyes: dark, inscrutable orbs peering out from the canvas for the first time in a decade.

    "It's real," the American said, standing up and shutting off the lamp.

    The American's young assistant — a pretty woman in pearls and a pale-green blouse — pulled open the curtains, and light poured into the hotel room. Outside, South Beach was suffering through another scorcher during the summer of 2012. Inside, however, it was a celebration. After a year of furtive meetings and coded phone conversations, it was finally time to make a deal.

    Photos were snapped and a call was made to arrange the agreed-upon $740,000 payment.

    A heavyset Cuban man with a black guayabera and a salt-and-pepper buzzcut stood near the window. He had been nervously pacing all morning. Now that the deal was done, he began to flirt with the pretty American in pearls. "Now I make love to her," he said in broken English, gesturing to the nude painting.

    "No!" she giggled. "Don't you dare do anything to La Gorda." Then she picked up the phone to order champagne.

    2. Frenchman Bernard Ternus tried to sell four paintings, including a Monet, that had been stolen from the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nice, France:

    Two months after the robbery, a Frenchmen cruises past Aventura Mall on his scooter. He pulls into a plaza across the street and leaves the scooter near Target. He walks across the parking lot and stands in front of a Marshalls department store.

    His name is Bernard Jean Ternus. He's five-foot-eight, with a short light-brown mullet, a triangular face, athletic shoulders, and an ample paunch. The 54-year-old is, by all accounts, friendly. But his police record in France dates back to 1966, when he was 13, and includes breaking and entering, theft, armed robbery, possession of stolen goods, destruction of a vehicle, and, as recently as 2002, assault with a deadly weapon.

    Ternus isn't waiting long when an American sedan rented from Alamo pulls up. The Frenchman gets in, and the car parks near the back of the lot.

    The driver is a nicely dressed gentleman in his 60s. His name is Bob. He never gives his last name. He has an open collar and expensive slacks and shoes. He's tall, knowledgeable, and confident. In the back seat is a friend of a friend of Ternus's who speaks French and English.

    Bob hands Ternus some pages he has printed off the Internet. "These are the insurance values," Bob says through the translator. Ternus sorts through them. Bob explains that because the paintings were stolen so recently, their value on a black market will be considerably less than the figures on these sheets.

    "I just need to get this done," Ternus says in French. His English is horrible, and his Spanish isn't much better.

    3. Jacob Jordaen's The Last Supper turned up at a Broward La Quinta Inn:

    Via the Sun-Sentinel:

    A 17th-century Flemish painting stolen from a British museum was recovered on Thursday by FBI agents in a Plantation hotel.

    Agents arrested three people who were trying to sell The Last Supper from a room at La Quinta Inn on Peters Road. FBI officials declined to identify the individuals, who are being detained for possible violations of interstate transportation of stolen property and conspiracy.

    The painting, by Jacob Jordaens, is estimated to be worth between $50,000 and $100,000. It was stolen four years ago from The Rectory in Surrey, outside London. The oil painting, measuring 45 inches by 65 inches, is in bad shape. "When they rolled it up, they created creases and cracks in the canvas," said FBI special agent Mike Fabregas. After analysis, FBI's South Florida office plans to turn over the painting to British authorities.

    4. Someone stole a tiny Pablo Picasso piece from a Miami Art Week fair:

    A good lesson for Art Basel-goers: If you try to get millions in art for a buck, a cup of coffee, and a hastily brandished firearm, you're going to have some trouble with the fuzz.

    Miami-Dade Police have arrested a local man accused of stealing millions of dollars in paintings at gunpoint Tuesday — but they have yet to track down the missing artwork.

    Jorge Alberto Gonzalez, a 47-year-old Southwest Dade resident, was arrested late Wednesday and charged with two felonies, including the alleged theft of ten paintings worth more than $1 million.

    5. The FBI in 2006 nabbed a group of people who were trafficking priceless pre-Colombian artifacts from Ecuador:

    Amanda Moran's eyes widened as she walked from a blinding July afternoon into the cool living room of a red-roofed house just off South Dixie Highway in Coconut Grove. Piled like cheap toys in this ordinary suburban house, some tightly wrapped in Ecuadorian newspaper, were more than 160 pieces from the most incredible collection of pre-Columbian artifacts ever smuggled into the United States. On one table sat a squat clay vase with a dusty-looking handle. On a couch lay a glinting ancient breastplate. On the coffee table stood a four-inch-tall figurine used by shamans in the Andes 6,000 years ago to cast out evil spirits.

    Then Edgar Nakache, Moran's 49-year-old host, gave her the sales pitch. "We're upping the price to $5 million for the whole set," he said.

    A few seconds later, a team of FBI agents swooped into the living room and cuffed Nakache, as well as his cohorts, 71-year-old Cecilia Marcillo-Aviles and her daughter, Susan Aviles, age 46.

    Moran, you see, is an undercover agent. The priceless antiquities had been stolen from Ecuador and brazenly smuggled through customs at MIA. The raid, which took place in July 2006, was the largest bust ever of looted pre-Columbian items, according to the FBI. But it was far from an extraordinary event in Miami, a global center in the international art crime circuit — an enterprise that accounts for more than $6 billion a year, more than the cross-border trade of diamonds, sex, or hot cars.

    With Art Basel, one of the world's largest art fairs, opening this week, organizers are stepping up security and warning everyone to hang on to their Picassos — and to make very, very sure that Warhol is the real deal before slapping down six figures in cash.

    See Original Post

  • June 05, 2019 12:10 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from the Independent

    A tourist bus was hit by an explosion near the Giza Pyramids in Egypt, according to security sources.

    At least 16 people were injured in the blast on the road outside the new Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo on Sunday.

    The bus was carrying 28 South African tourists from the airport to the pyramids. Several Egyptians in nearby vehicles were also injured by broken glass.

    There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack but Egyptian security forces have been waging a counter-insurgency campaign against Islamist militants in the north of the Sinai Peninsula.

    Mohamed el-Mandouh, who witnessed the blast, said he heard a “very loud explosion” while sitting in traffic nearby.

    Images showing a damaged bus with its windows blown out and what looked to be injured tourists, some covered in blood, have been circulated on social media.

    South Africa’s foreign ministry said in a statement that three of its citizens were injured and will remain in hospital. The other 25 passengers will return home on Monday morning, it claimed.

    The blast happened around 50 metres from the outer fence of the new museum, and more than 400 metres from the main building, according to the Antiquities Ministry.

    Egypt’s tourist industry has been recovering in recent years after visitor numbers dropped in the wake of a 2011 uprising and the 2015 bombing of a Russian passenger jet.

    The museum, which will display some of the country’s top antiquities on a site adjoining the world-famous Giza pyramids, is due to open next year. 

    In December, three Vietnamese tourists and an Egyptian guide were killed and at least 10 others injured when a roadside bomb hit their tour bus less than 2.5 miles from the Giza pyramids.

    See Original Post

  • June 04, 2019 5:45 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from NPR

    The Louvre was shuttered on Monday, leaving hordes of tourists outside amid its famous glass pyramids. The reason? The Paris museum's security and reception staff were on strike, protesting "unprecedented deterioration of conditions" amid record crowds.

    The museum, located in a former royal palace on the city's Right Bank, attracted a record 10.2 million visitors last year – a 25% increase over the year before. "No other museum in the world has ever equaled this figure," the museum trumpeted in January.

    But workers say both visitors and staff are suffering from such massive popularity.

    "The Louvre is suffocating," the Sud Culture Solidaires Union said in a statement Sunday. "While the public has increased by more than 20% since 2009, the palace has not grown. ... Today the situation is untenable."

    Amid rising crowds from 2009 to 2018, staff headcount declined in that period from 2,161 to 2,005, according to the union.

    American visitors to the museum on Monday posted photos of the disappointed queues outside. "Well this is great," tweeted one Californian. "Glad I got to the Louvre early."

    The museum is offering refunds to those who bought tickets for the day.

    The union cites several problems it says are caused by overcrowded conditions at the museum: an aggressive and impatient public, jostling crowds and inadequate emergency evacuation measures.

    "What to say about visiting conditions when people are confronted with noise, trampling, crowds, extreme fatigue and the total inadequacy of museum facilities at such a high volume of visitors?" the union said in the statement. "The Louvre does not have the means of its ambitions."

    The Louvre is closed today, as it is customarily on Tuesdays. A notice on its website said the museum would open late on Wednesday after "a general meeting attended by members of the Musée du Louvre's Reception and Security staff." It warned that large numbers of visitors are expected in the coming days, and recommended buying tickets online.

    Pierre Zinenberg, a Louvre employee and union representative, told the Associated Press that the outcome of Wednesday's meeting would determine whether the museum would re-open that day, or whether the strike would continue.

    See Original Post

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