Daily Archives: October 27, 2011

Early Snow Turns Colorado’s Fall Foliage to Winter White


Larry Lollar, with his dog, Barlow, used cross-country skis in fresh snow at Denver’s City Park Golf Course on Wednesday. The season’s first storm dropped at least a foot of snow – three times the city’s average for October. Kevin Moloney for The New York Times

NY Times | Oct 26, 2011

By KIRK JOHNSON

GOLDEN, Colo. — A heavy, out-of-season winter storm slammed into Colorado and southeast Wyoming on Tuesday night, delivering in one roundhouse punch more snow than the Denver area typically gets in all of October. The piling on then continued through Wednesday, with a total of 12 to 14 inches falling in some places in foothill communities like this one, west of Denver, and even more in the higher peaks and passes of the Rockies.

Many schools and some highways were closed, with scattered power failures and traffic accidents reported as residents awoke to 10 inches or more of wet snow for the morning rush.

The wider, noisier tale was told in leaves.

With many trees still in brilliant fall foliage, the leaves acted like millions of tiny scoops, or perhaps snow shovels, holding the snow and snapping branches that a month from now could probably have held firm and skeletal against the season’s worst hits. The falling branches took down power lines, clogged local streets and woke some people up in the night with arboreal groans, pops and crashes.

Xcel Energy, the region’s biggest power provider, reported 107,000 customers still without electricity as of late Wednesday afternoon. A company spokesman said 150 crews were out clearing limbs and lines, but that power might not be back until Thursday for some residents and businesses.

Sections of Interstate highways in Wyoming and Colorado were closed, and residents faced maze-like driving conditions in many neighborhoods clogged with tree limbs and snow.

In Fort Collins, north of Denver, the snow-load split a 30-foot Chinese elm down the center of its trunk.

The Red Cross set up a shelter in the high school in Loveland for people with no electricity. Temperatures were expected to plummet in the storm’s aftermath, to the mid-teens by Thursday morning.

Five people in the Occupy Denver protests, at a park in the city, were hospitalized for weather-related exposure complaints, protesters said in a posting to their Facebook page.

Although the Denver area averages only about four inches of snow in October, according to the National Weather Service, the month can offer extremes of early-bird winter weather or leftover summer heat. Just Monday, for example, a record high for the date — 80 degrees — was set in Denver, and temperatures were expected to be back into the high 50s by Saturday.

Autumn snow in the mountains has already left its mark this year, allowing some of the earliest opening dates for skiing, with one resort, Wolf Creek, about four hours southwest of Denver, starting operations before midmonth after a storm dumped more than three feet of powder.

Meteorologists said Wednesday’s storm was a good omen for Denver, which was mostly parched last winter, with only about 23 inches of snow in the city from September to May. The Denver metro region sits just northwest of the vast swath of drought that stretches into New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

“We’re thinking it won’t be as dry as last year — that’s our guess, and 8 to 10 inches is a really good start,” said Jim Kalina, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Judge: Bronx prosecutors’ cover-up of police ticket-fixing racket ‘futile’

DAILY NEWS | Oct 27th 2011

BY Kevin Deutsch

Bronx prosecutors tried to keep information about a ticket-fixing cop sealed, but a judge said their attempts at secrecy in such cases was futile.

Justice Ann Donnelly shot down a prosecutor’s request to keep the embarrassing revelation about Officer William Hanlon off the official record, a transcript shows.

Donnelly said prosecutors wouldn’t be able to hide the fact that a number of would-be police witnesses are caught up in the ticket-fixing scandal.

Related

16 Police Officers Ordered to Surrender over Ticket-Fixing Racket

“It’s a problem that the Bronx district attorney’s office is going to have with a number of police officers, and it’s not pleasant,” she said during an Oct. 18 drunken-driving trial, court records show. “But it’s not something that you’re going to be able to keep under wraps.”

The judge said there’s no reason “for this big secret.”

In recent weeks, prosecutors have grown increasingly evasive about the ticket-fixing issue.

Last month, a judge chided prosecutors for waiting months to reveal that a potential witness was involved in the scandal. And at least two prosecutors have sought to have records about ticket-fixing cops sealed – a move aimed at keeping information about implicated officers hidden, sources said.

“Sealing may be appropriate in some circumstances, depending on the nature of the material and the nature of the court’s decision,” said Steven Reed, spokesman for the Bronx DA’s office. “Ultimately, the issue is resolved by the court.”

Top prosecutors have even kept their own troops in the dark about ticket-fixing cops until the eve of trials, sources said. The office won indictments against 17 cops caught up in the scandal, but is still relying on scores of other implicated officers to win convictions, sources said.

Some juries have taken issue with implicated cops, granting several acquittals because they didn’t trust the officers’ testimony.

In the trial involving Hanlon, a highway cop, jurors never learned of his ticket-fixing because prosecutors kept him off the stand. They had to drop one charge as a result.

The defendant, James Scullion, was convicted of driving while impaired.

.  .  .

Aftermath  News Note:

You can listen to the first half of the thisamericanlife.org show ‘Right to Remain Silent’ about a comedian who got arrested by the feds for quoting Fight Club on his Facebook page or you can FWD to the second half and listen to the riveting story of officer Adrian Schoolcraft, a whistleblower in the NYPD who exposes corruption that is almost mind-boggling.

I highly recommend it…PJ

Right to Remain Silent
Originally aired 09.10.2010
Stories about people who have the right to remain silent… but choose not to exercise that right—including police officer Adrian Schoolcraft, who secretly recorded his supervisors telling officers to manipulate crime statistics and make illegal arrests. The Village Voice series that broke Schoolcraft’s story, written by Graham Rayman, is here. Schoolcraft’s website looking for other cops to come forward is here.

Act Two. Is That a Tape Recorder in Your Pocket, or Are You Just Unhappy to See Me?
For 17 months, New York police officer Adrian Schoolcraft recorded himself and his fellow officers on the job, including their supervisors ordering them to do all sorts of things that police aren’t supposed to do. For example, downgrading real crimes into lesser ones, so they wouldn’t show up in the crime statistics and make their precinct look bad. Adrian’s story first appeared as a five part series in the Village Voice, written by Graham Rayman. Schoolcraft’s website looking for other cops to come forward is here. (41 minutes)
(41 minutes)

16 Police Officers Ordered to Surrender over Ticket-Fixing Racket

NY Times | Oct 27, 2011

By WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM and AL BAKER

Prosecutors on Thursday began notifying more than a dozen New York City police officers that they must surrender by midnight to face charges in a long-running investigation into the widespread practice of fixing tickets for colleagues, family members and friends, several people with knowledge of the matter said.

Most of the 16 officers who are expected to face charges are officials in the union that represents officers, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the city’s largest police union, the people said. Also among those facing charges are two sergeants and a lieutenant, the people said.

The accusations against the men, one of the people said, were included in several indictments containing a total of as many as 1,000 counts. Ten of the officers were expected to be charged with multiple counts of fixing tickets, while six were expected to be charged with unrelated corruption counts, the people said.

The ticket charges will involve more than 300 traffic summonses that were fixed, one of the people said, noting that about 800 instances of ticket-fixing arose during the three-year inquiry.

Related

The alleged crimes unrelated to ticket-fixing include narcotics corruption, covering up an assault and, in the case of a lieutenant who had been assigned to the Internal Affairs Bureau and worked on the case in its early stages, leaking information about it to union officials, the people have said. The lieutenant is expected to be charged with a misdemeanor.

Five civilians were also expected to be charged in the case, including two drug dealers, one of the people said.

The investigation began in December 2008 with an anonymous complaint that an officer in the 40th Precinct, in the Bronx, was providing protection for a drug dealer, several of the people have said. After investigators developed enough information to obtain a court-ordered wiretap on the officer, they began hearing conversations about fixing tickets, the people said.

A grand jury in the case heard from about 80 witnesses over about six months, the people said. They voted over a period of several weeks, with the ticket-fixing charges including grand larceny, tampering with public records, conspiracy and official misconduct, the people said.

. . .

Aftermath  News Note:

You can listen to the first half of the thisamericanlife.org show ‘Right to Remain Silent’ about a comedian who got arrested by the feds for quoting Fight Club on his Facebook page or you can FWD to the second half and listen to the riveting story of officer Adrian Schoolcraft, a whistleblower in the NYPD who exposes corruption that is almost mind-boggling.

I highly recommend it…PJ

Right to Remain Silent
Originally aired 09.10.2010
Stories about people who have the right to remain silent… but choose not to exercise that right—including police officer Adrian Schoolcraft, who secretly recorded his supervisors telling officers to manipulate crime statistics and make illegal arrests. The Village Voice series that broke Schoolcraft’s story, written by Graham Rayman, is here. Schoolcraft’s website looking for other cops to come forward is here.

Act Two. Is That a Tape Recorder in Your Pocket, or Are You Just Unhappy to See Me?
For 17 months, New York police officer Adrian Schoolcraft recorded himself and his fellow officers on the job, including their supervisors ordering them to do all sorts of things that police aren’t supposed to do. For example, downgrading real crimes into lesser ones, so they wouldn’t show up in the crime statistics and make their precinct look bad. Adrian’s story first appeared as a five part series in the Village Voice, written by Graham Rayman. Schoolcraft’s website looking for other cops to come forward is here. (41 minutes)

Prince Charles descended from the original Dracula


“The genealogy shows I am descended from Vlad the Impaler, so I do have a bit of a stake in the country,” he said.

Prince of Wales campaigning to save Count Dracula forests
The Prince of Wales has joined a campaign to save the ‘fairytale forests’ of Romania, because his Transylvanian ancestors can be traced back to to Vlad the Impaler.

Telegraph | Oct 27, 2011

By Louise Gray

The dark forests of the Carpathian Mountains, that once inspired the vampire legend, are some of the last untouched wilderness areas in Europe.

Many of the tiny Saxon villages have not changed for centuries and bears and wolves can still be found in the woods.

However rapid economic growth in the new EU country of Romania means that both the forests and the ancient way of life is under threat from building and demand for timber.

The Prince, who recently brought a home in a small village in the area, is calling for protection for the forests before they are lost forever like the woodland that once covered much of Britain.

Related

Queen Mary, consort to George V, was related to the infamous Transylvanian prince Vlad the Impaler. The land he says “is in his blood”.

He even claims to have a family connection to Transylvania through Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, better known as Vlad the Impaler, who was distantly related to his great grandmother Queen Mary.

The 15th Century nobleman, famous for his bloodthirsty killing, is said to have inspired Bram Stoker’s dracula that started the whole vampire legend.

Speaking in a new documentary about the Carpathian Mountains, that will be aired on the Travel Channel just before Halloween, he jokes about his family links to “Count Dracula”.

“The genealogy shows I am descended from Vlad the Impaler, so I do have a bit of a stake in the country,” he said.

Following a trend for buying houses in rural Romania while it is still cheap, the Prince has bought a 150-year-old five bedroom house in the village of Zalapanpatak, which is said to have been founded by one of his Transylvanian ancestors.

He said it was vital to protect the “timeless” quality in the area that is like “the stories one was read as a child”.

The house is currently being restored as a holiday home for the Royal Family and a guest house that helps maintain jobs and rural skills in the area.

“It seems to me in Transylvania there is a combination of the natural ecosystem with a human cultural system,” he said. “This extraordinarily unique integrated relationship is so hugely important. People are yearning for that sense of belonging and identity and meaning.”

The Prince warned that if the forests are chopped down, Romania will end up barren like areas of the Highlands of Scotland or Canada that were once covered by virgin forest.

“If we carry on the same way we end up with destruction occurring and people saying later on want this back,” he said.

Magor Csibi, Country Manager of WWF’s Danube-Carpathian Programme in Romania, said 250,000 hectares of virgin forests in Romania are in urgent need of protection. The area represents up to 65 per cent of the virgin forests still remaining in Europe, outside of Russia, and is home to brown bears, lynx and 13,000 other speices.

“Saving all our forests and their unrivalled biodiversity is our mission, but the pinnacle of this mission is the protection of our virgin forests”, he said. “We will never be able to rebuild this part of nature. Once lost, it is lost forever. Considering that we are among the last European nations fortunate enough to have such a treasure, it is our moral obligation to preserve this piece of nature intact and to leave a small piece of wilderness to our children”.

WWF seeking protection for over 80 per cent of Romania’s virgin forests, which are currently under threat.