News briefs

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Local briefs

Prostitution forced on Utah woman

After kidnapping a woman at knifepoint in the Salt Lake Valley on March 29, Brandon L. Walton forced his victim to work as a prostitute in three states before she managed to escape.

She claimed that Walton would hit her and shock her with a stun gun to prevent her from making a getaway. He allegedly forced her to get a tattoo of a Playboy bunny along with the words “Pimpin’ B.”

An ad advertising the victim was allegedly placed on by two additional prostitutes in Walton’s employment, after which clientele began showing interest.

After coercing her to sexually exploit herself on multiple occasions, he assaulted her himself. After this, he took her to California and introduced her to his mother and sister as his girlfriend.

Thereafter, the two traveled to Albuquerque to pick up a woman who wanted to work for Walton.

He then returned to California to serve jail time for unrelated charges at the Sonoma County Adult Detention facility, during which time the victim tried escaping but was threatened by one of Walton’s other prostitutes at gunpoint.

At the end of April, she and Walton traveled to Utah where the woman was able to escape from a Murray hotel.

Walton was charged with kidnapping, transportation for illegal sexual activity and sex trafficking on Sept. 23 and is awaiting trial.

The danger of cyber relationships

After making their cyber relationship a reality for only one week, a Kansas man stole an Idaho woman’s car and drove it to meet another woman in Orem before he was arrested on Sept. 24.

Their connection was made through Black Planet, an African-American dating site. The 33 year-old man flew from Florida to Meridian, Idaho to meet the 53 year-old woman.

In addition to her 1996 Honda, he stole her plasma television, laptop computer, digital camera and DVD player.

Thereafter, he met up with a 34 year-old woman in Orem, whom he met on the same dating site. After taking a drive up Provo Canyon in the stolen vehicle, the couple stopped at a gas station near I-15 and 800 North in Orem Thursday night before heading to the man’s hotel room in Woods Cross.

After running the car’s plates and finding them stolen, an Orem police officer apprehended the man for possession of a stolen vehicle.

Police found the first woman’s camera and laptop in the man’s hotel room.

Authorities have begun investigating whether others around the country are being duped into similar scams.

National briefs

Conditions at Orleans Parish Prison found unconstitutional by Justice Department

A report by the U.S. Department of Justice cites Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman and his staff for abusive conditions inside the Orleans Parish Prison, and a poor system for reporting or investigating allegations of excessive force, as well as poor health and sanitary conditions inside the prison and a lack of mental health care.

In a Sept. 11 letter to Gusman, authorities detail the allegations: “We find that OPP fails to adequately protect inmates from harm and serious risk of harm from staff and other inmates; fails to provide inmates with adequate mental health care; fails to provide adequate suicide prevention; fails to provide adequate medication management; fails to provide safe and sanitary environmental conditions; and fails to provide adequate fire safety precautions.”

Citing Gusman’s own internal documents, the report lists several cases where inmates were abused and severely beaten by corrections officers. Gusman denied the claims in a statement released Sept. 22, calling the report “outdated.”
Federal authorities have been investigating the prison conditions for more than a year.

In the report, federal authorities comment that the effects of Hurricane Katrina are still evident at the prison and they note that there have been improvements made since the storm flooded the prison facilities.

Prior to the storm, Orleans Parish Prison could house up to 8,000 inmates. Post-Katrina, the capacity has been reduced to 2,545 inmates.

Hospital goes green with living roof

Workers are currently installing dozens of perennial plants on the roof of a new addition to the St. Mary’s Hospital in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The “living roof” is said to be the city’s largest green initiative.
16,000 square feet will be green, while 6,000 square feet will be used for walking paths and seating.

But the living roof will not only serve for aesthetic purposes. With a storm water drainage system that collects water not absorbed by the plants to be used for irrigating gardens on the ground level, it has environmental advantages as well.
There are also sound business reasons to have a green roof. According to
Environmental Services Director at St. Mary’s, Corrine Vercauteren, the roof will last approximately 50 years.
Business owners and architects are very interested in the roof and a local university is even considering trying their own, depending on the success of the St. Mary’s roof.

One reason the roof is so meaningful to hospital staff is that is it being built on top of the new cancer center. The hospital hopes for the roof to be a place for patients to go with their family members to ponder or accept a diagnosis or to think about their future. They feel it will have a true connection to the patients’ healing process.

The $450,000 living roof will welcome visitors in March and will bloom from late March to November each year.

International briefs

G-20 leaders meet to bolster global economy

Leaders representing the countries responsible for 90 percent of the world’s economic output gathered on Sept. 24 to focus on the worldwide financial crisis and plan how to avoid a repeat in the future.

The tightening of global financial regulations is expected to top the summit’s agenda as Germany, France and Japan have announced that they have emerged from recession, prompting hopes that the worst of the financial crisis may have passed.
The economic summit will be the third time in a year that the world’s top industrial powers have gathered. They met in November in Washington and followed up with an April session in London. The G-20 gathering is Obama’s first time hosting a major international summit.

The White House is using this economic summit to showcase Pittsburgh – a city that President Obama says has exhibited an innovative 21st-century recovery after a well-publicized downfall following the shuttering of much of the city’s steel industry.

Preparations for the summit were interrupted by the arrests of several Greenpeace activists, four of whom were hanging from a bridge over the Ohio River to display a banner reading: “Danger: Climate Destruction Ahead. Reduce CO2 Emissions Now.” On its Web site, the group said it wanted to send a message to G-20 leaders with the nearly 80-by-30 foot sign, calling for more attention to the issue of global climate change rather than finances.

Mafia boss used crocodile to extort money

An Italian mafia boss used his pet crocodile to threaten people and extort money, authorities say.

According to LAV, an Italian animal rights group, Antonio Cristofaro kept the reptile in his condominium in Caserta, less than an hour northeast of Naples and fed it live rats and rabbits. At 88 pounds and 3.6 feet, it was capable of pulling off a man’s limb with one bite.

The animal was found during a weapons search Sept. 18 and was apparently used to intimidate people, mainly entrepreneurs, into paying him more money.

an, commonly found in Latin America. It is protected under the Washington Convention, which regulates the international trade of endangered animals, and is considered too dangerous to own as a pet, Italy’s Forest Service said.

Police charged Cristofaro with illegal possession of animals. It was not clear whether he had been arrested, but he has a criminal record for weapons-related charges, resisting police and extortion.

The Forest Service is now holding the reptile at an animal center near Rome, ANSA reported.

This was not the first time the Italian Forest Service has discovered an illegal crocodile at someone’s home. In Naples in Aug. of 2008, authorities found a 6.5-foot-long crocodile at the home of a man known for drug dealing.

Obama leads summit’s adoption of nuclear arms resolution

A rare meeting of U.N. Security Council heads of state, led for the first time by a U.S. president, adopted a resolution Thursday focused on stopping the spread of nuclear weapons.

President Obama challenged the gathering to overcome cynicism against the goal of ridding the planet of nuclear arms.
The resolution, which was adopted unanimously, calls for tighter controls on nuclear materials to prevent them from being stolen or used for military purposes. It also encourages enforcement of international treaties and U.N. resolutions regarding nuclear non-proliferation.

Both Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who spoke later, said the world’s two nuclear superpowers were working on reducing their stockpiles in advance of a global nuclear summit scheduled for next year.
In addition, the resolution supports the peaceful use of nuclear energy, a theme backed by Chinese President Hu Jintao. China seeks to expand its nuclear energy capacity as part of an economic development plan intended to curtail the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

Last week, Obama announced that the United States was dropping plans to base a missile defense shield system in Poland and the Czech Republic, a proposal that had rankled Moscow. He has denied that the change was directly linked to Russia’s position regarding sanctions on Iran, but said any Russian shift in that direction would be a bonus.