Land of the Boondoggle, Home of the Brave

In race for money, counties to list local terror groups

Mike Kaszuba, Star Tribune; Jan. 5, 2003

In the emerging battle against terrorism in Minnesota, Scott Gerber has a challenging task. Sometime next month, he will send state officials the names of all Carver County groups that pose a terrorist threat, assess whether they are planning to use a weapon of mass destruction and then calculate the number of casualties should an attack take place at one of the county's most vulnerable targets.

It is all part of the behind-the-scenes jockeying as counties, cities and emergency medical units scramble for $15.2 million in training and equipment funds largely made available under the state's 2002 Terrorism Act. Police, fire and medical officials in Carver County have until June 30 to apply for $196,878 that has been set aside for the county.

[...] In Dakota County, as many as 30 local police, fire and medical response teams have been asked to complete the application and 15 have already submitted the forms, said David Gisch, the county's emergency preparedness coordinator. Of those 15, he said, about half said "they've got some sort of group" that poses a terrorist threat.

'Credible information'

As part of the grant application, officials are instructed that "if you have credible information that [a group] is planning" a weapons of mass destruction "attack, place a '2' in the corresponding box."

Applicants are then asked to describe the group's "motivation," and lists as categories "political," "religious," "environmental," "racial" or "special interest." A sample grant application, available on the Department of Public Safety's Web site, lists "anti-tobacco" as an example of a "special interest" group.

[...] Turnbull said Hennepin County would not be releasing the number of police, fire and medical response units claiming that potential terrorist groups are operating locally. "I wouldn't think that would be a very good thing to put in the paper," he said.



they're not web BUGS, they're web BEACONS!

"Yahoo!'s practice is to include web beacons in HTML-formatted email messages (messages that include graphics) that Yahoo!, or its agents, sends in order to determine which email messages were opened and to note whether a message was acted upon."

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To Serve and Protect

As family shrieks, police kill dog

COOKEVILLE, Tennessee (CNN) -- Police video released Wednesday showed a North Carolina family kneeling and handcuffed, who shrieked as officers killed their dog -- which appeared to be playfully wagging its tail -- with a shotgun during a traffic stop.

The Smoak family was pulled over the evening of January 1 on Interstate 40 in eastern Tennessee by officers who mistakenly suspected them of a carjacking. An investigation showed James Smoak had simply left his wallet on the roof of his car at a gas station, and motorists who saw his money fly off the car as he drove away called police.

The family was driving through eastern Tennessee on their way home from a New Year's trip to Nashville. They told CNN they are in the process of retaining a lawyer and considering legal action against the Cookeville, Tennessee, Police Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol for what happened to them and their dog.

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In the video, released by the THP, officers are heard ordering the family, one by one, to get out of their car with their hands up. James Smoak and his wife, Pamela, and 17-year-old son Brandon are ordered onto their knees and handcuffed.

"What did I do?" James Smoak asks the officers.

"Sir, inside information is that you was involved in some type of robbery in Davidson County," the unidentified officer says.

Smoak and his wife protest incredulously, telling the officers that they are from South Carolina and that their mother and father-in-law are traveling in another car alongside them.

The Smoaks told CNN that as they knelt, handcuffed, they pleaded with officers to close the doors of their car so their two dogs would not escape, but the officers did not heed them.

Pamela Smoak is seen on the tape looking up at an officer, telling him slowly, "That dog is not mean. He won't hurt you."

Her husband says, "I got a dog in the car. I don't want him to jump out."

The tape then shows the Smoak's medium-size brown dog romping on the shoulder of the Interstate, its tail wagging. As the family yells, the dog, named Patton, first heads away from the road, then quickly circles back toward the family.

An officer in a blue uniform aims his shotgun at the dog and fires at its head, killing it immediately.

For several moments, all that is audible are shrieks as the family reacts to the shooting. James Smoak even stands up, but officers pull him back down.

"Y'all shot my dog! Y'all shot my dog!" James Smoak cries. "Oh my God! God Almighty!"

"You shot my dog!" screams his wife, distraught and still handcuffed. "Why'd you kill our dog?"

"Jesus, tell me, why did y'all shoot my dog?" James Smoak says.

The officers bring him to the patrol car, and the family calms down, but still they ask the officers for an explanation. One of them says Patton was "going after" the officer.

"No he wasn't, man," James Smoak says. "Y'all didn't have to kill the dog like that."

Brandon told CNN Patton, was playful and gentle -- "like Scooby-Doo" -- and may have simply gone after the beam of the flashlight as he often did at home, when Brandon and the dog would play.

The Tennessee Department of Safety, which oversees the Highway Patrol, has said an investigation is under way.

Cookeville Police Chief Robert Terry released a statement on the department's Web site Wednesday night describing the department's regret over the incident.

"I know the officer wishes that circumstances could have been different so he could have prevented shooting the dog," Terry wrote. "It is never gratifying to have to put an animal down, especially a family pet, and the officer assures me that he never displayed any satisfaction in doing so."

Terry said he and the vice-mayor of Cookeville met with the family before they left "to convey our deepest sympathies" for the loss of their dog.

"No one wants to experience this kind of thing, and it's very unfortunate that it occurred," he wrote. "If we had the benefit of hindsight, I'm sure some -- if not all of this -- could have been avoided. I believe the Tennessee Highway Patrol feels the same way."

The department is conducting an investigation to determine what, if anything, could have been done differently, he said. Police also plan to be in contact with the Smoak family, Terry said.

The Smoaks buried their pet at home. A white cross marks the grave.

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Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

Cory's book is out. I've read it, it's really good! Go buy a copy, and while you're waiting for that to arrive, start reading it online.
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