Thursday, January 31, 2013

Crapo, Risch Vote 'No' On Debt Limit Extension

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 5:07 PM

Idaho Republican Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch don't agree that temporarily extending the nation's deb debt limit was the best choice at this time. Crapo and Risch joined 32 other senators—mostly Republicans—who lost to a majority of 64 senators—mostly Democrats—in extending the limit of debt that the government can incur until Sunday, May 19. If the minority had their way, Congress would have had to act swiftly to avoid a potential default or render the country unable to pay its bills.

Following the vote, Crapo and Risch released the following statement late today:

“Budget agreements in the last Congress set the precedent that any increase in the debt ceiling should be equally matched with spending cuts. An amendment offered by our colleague, [Ohio Republican] Senator Rob Portman, would have done just that, but unfortunately was defeated. Therefore, we could not support this legislation. Washington must practice financial restraint and get our spending problem under control.”

President Barack Obama is expected to swiftly sign the legislation as lawmakers gear up for the next budget showdown: deep automatic spending cuts that will begin to hit the economy Friday, March 1, if nothing is done to stop them.

At one time, the U.S. Congress authorized borrowing only for large expenditures, such as fighting World War I or the construction of the Panama Canal. In 1939, the nation's lawmakers set the first aggregate national debt limit at $45 billion. The debt limit was $300 billion by the end of World War II. Total outstanding U.S. debt first topped $1 trillion in 1982. Since 1962, Congress has raised the debt limit 76 times. The U.S. reached its $16.4 trillion debt limit on Dec. 31.

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Public Roundtable Event Slated Prior to 2013 Statehouse Introduction of Add the Words

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 3:40 PM

In the just-published issue of Boise Weekly, we share an extended conversation with Boise Democratic Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, who is poised to co-sponsor a 2013 version of Add the Words.

"People across the state have been working diligently to get the words 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity' included in the human-rights legislation," Buckner-Webb told BW. "Some folks assume it's an agenda. It's not. It's about seeing that rights are approved for everyone."

But in preparation, Buckner-Webb, along with Boise Democratic Rep. Grant Burgoyne, will announce Friday morning that they will be hosting a panel discussion on new legislation that they call the Idaho Human Rights Act.

"We have legislation that has been reviewed by a number of stakeholders," said Buckner-Webb. "Routing slips have been done, but the first step is to hear the will of the people. We want to open up those discussions with academics and business and religious leaders."

The panel discussion is expected to include representatives of the faith, business, political and human rights communities.

Joining Buckner-Webb and Burgoyne at Friday's announcement will be Mistie Tolman, spokesperson for the Add the Words effort.

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Alcohol Beverage Control Chief Set to Retire

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 3:35 PM

Lt. Clements served a 31 year career in law enforcement.
  • Lt. Robert Clements is stepping down as the Idaho Alcohol Beverage Control Bureau chief early next week, capping off a 31-year career in law enforcement.

Lt. Robert Clements, after serving 11 years as the head of Idaho State Police Department's Alcohol Beverage Control Bureau, is set to retire early next week.

As bureau chief, Clements managed a department responsible for all establishments selling or producing alcoholic beverages, including bars, taverns, pubs and restaurants across the state, to ensure conformity with Idaho State Code, sometimes to the chagrin of Idaho business owners.

Clements began a law enforcement career that spanned 31 years in 1982 with the Valley County Sheriff's Office, and joined ISP in 1986. In 1989, he became a defensive tactics instructor and crash reconstructionist, followed by a nine-year stint with the Commercial Vehicle Safety/Hazmat division, during which he initiated the Environmental Crimes Investigation Program.

According to Idaho State Police, Clements plans to divide his time between Arizona and Idaho.

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Update: Accused Zoo Boise Monkey Killer Pleads Not Guilty

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 11:27 AM

UPDATE: 11 a.m.

Michael Watkins, 22, pleaded not guilty this morning to charges in connection with the November 2012 brutal killing of a Patas monkey at Zoo Boise.

Watkins was told to be prepared to begin his trial on Monday, May 13.

Attorneys claim that Watkins acted in self-defense after the monkey bit him while attempting to take the animal from a zoo enclosure. Police allege Watkins used a fire extinguisher to break into the zoo's primate building. The monkey died of severe blunt force trauma.

ORIGINAL POST: 9 a.m.

Michael Watkins, 22, is charged with grand theft and burglary.

Michael Watkins, 22, accused of the Nov. 17 break-in at Zoo Boise and the violent death of a Patas monkey, will return today to an Ada County courtroom, where he's expected to enter a plea.

Watkins, shackled by chains to his hands and feet, last appeared in court on Jan. 17, when he was told of the minimum and maximum prison terms of his charges. The burglary count carries a one-year minimum prison term, and up to 10 years in prison, with a $50,000 fine. Attempting to steal the Patas monkey constitutes felony grand theft and could mean a 14-year maximum sentence and a hefty fine. Watkins was also accused of misdemeanor providing false information to an officer, which carries a $1,000 fine and/or one year in jail.

According to court records, prosecutors allege Watkins jumped a fence at Zoo Boise and manipulated a lock to get inside the primate building and the monkey cage.

An unidentified companion allegedly told authorities that Watkins chased the monkey and tried to throw a coat over the animal. The companion also said that Watkins was bitten by the monkey. The man said he also heard a loud bang shortly before he saw Watkins carrying the monkey in his coat.

A zoo security guard reportedly scared the two men off a short time later, and the monkey was left behind. Zoo officials said the monkey suffered blunt force trauma to the head and died of the injuries shortly thereafter.

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Police Blotter: Lewd Conduct, Drug Possession and Harboring a Fugitive

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Darrien Dabney, 18, is charged with 2 counts of lewd conduct with a child.

A Boise man is behind bars, charged with three felony counts of lewd conduct with a child. Boise Police said the two victims were under the age of 10 and known to the suspect.

Darrien Dabney, 18, was arrested Wednesday and booked into the Ada County Jail.

Roxanne Kulp, 53, is charged with possession of a controlled substance.

Additionally, Boise Police said they arrested a Boise woman early this morning after observing a vehicle driving erratically near Owyhee and Nez Perce streets. As police approached the car, they said the driver fled and hid in a nearby trailer park. A search of the suspect revealed prescription pills without proper documentation.

Roxanne Kulp, 53, was charged with a felony count of possession of a controlled substance and possession of a prescription in other than an original container.

Crystal Rivas, 28, is charged with aiding and abetting a known fugitive.

Police also report that they arrested a Meridian woman Wednesday, charging her with harboring a criminal.

Crystal Rivas, 28, was taken into custody on an outstanding felony warrant for aiding and abetting a known fugitive.

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SpongeRob: Bandit Masquerading as SpongeBob Holds Up Idaho Coffee Stand

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 9:17 AM

Nobody was laughing or talking in a giggly voice when a man, wearing a SpongeBob SquarePants mask pulled out a handgun and robbed a north Idaho coffee stand last night.

This morning's Coeur d'Alene Press reports that the suspect made off with an undisclosed amount of cash from the drive-up coffee booth on Coeur d'Alene's Sherman Avenue. Two women were working at the stand at the time of the armed robbery. The suspect was last seen taking off on foot.

The Coeur d'Alene Press said images from surveillance cameras are expected to be released later today, but there's a chance that the description will include the words "yellow," "rectangular," or "sponge-like."

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Study: Idaho Jail Understaffed While County Reaps Revenue to House Outside Prisoners

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 9:14 AM

An investigation in the wake of a Nov. 12 inmate suicide at the Nez Perce County Jail indicates that the lockup is woefully understaffed.

This morning's Lewiston Tribune reports that the study found the jail should have a minimum of 13 more employees to operate safely and efficiently. The research said the jail should have at least 40 employees if they are on eight-hour schedules, 41 employees on 12-hour shifts and approximately 50 employees for 10-hour shifts. The detention center currently has 27 employees.

Law enforcement asked for the independent review after the Nov. 3 hanging of a Kootenai County inmate who was being held at the Nez Perce facility.

The Tribune reports that the jail averages 140-150 inmates each day, with 65-70 inmates considered as Nez Perce County prisoners and the remainder coming in from outlying counties under contract with Nez Perce County. The outside contracts generate approximately $1.2 million per year for Nez Perce County.

The Tribune also reports that 10 jailers quit the facility in 2012 and another quit just last week.

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Equifax Peddling Private Information to Debt Collectors

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 9:06 AM

In what is being called "one of the biggest privacy breaches in recent memory," Equifax, one of the nation's largest credit reporting agencies, is selling personal data to debt collectors, financial service companies and other organizations.

Equifax has accumulated the salary and employment records of more than one-third of all U.S. adults, representing one of the most expansive private databases of information.

Worse yet, NBC News reports that Equifax doesn't need to notify the individual whose information is being sold, and the entire thing is legal under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

According to the Huffington Post, Equifax gets the information from U.S. businesses, and then hands it to one of its subsidiaries, The Work Number.

Chi Chi Wu, an attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, told the Huffington Post that if consumers are bothered by these practices, their best course of action is to let Congress know.

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Study: Calories Burned During Sex Greatly Exaggerated

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Much to the dismay of practically everyone, a new study published the New England Journal of Medicine debunks the myth that sex can burn a lot of calories.

Additionally, the research pushes back against the commonly held belief that snacking or skipping breakfast is bad and that school gym classes make a big difference in kids' weight. The journal says dogma and fallacies are taking away from real solutions to the country's weight problems.

David Allison of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and his co-authors investigated several myths stemming from studies conducted in the 1960s.

Claims that sex burns 100 to 300 calories are common, Allison told the Associated Press. But in fact, the researchers said that the energy output from an average six minutes of sex burned about 21 calories — the same as walking.

But other independent researchers said that while some valid points were made by the report's authors, many of them have financial ties to food, beverage and weight-loss product makers.

"It raises questions about what the purpose of this paper is" and whether it's meant to promote drugs, meal replacement products and bariatric surgery as solutions, said Marion Nestle, a New York University professor of nutrition and food studies.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Police Investigating Bogus Basin Break-In

Posted By on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 4:56 PM

Boise Police are investigating a burglary at the Boise offices of the Bogus Basin ski resort.

According to law enforcement officials, someone broke into the Bogus Basin Road location between midnight and 5:30 a.m. on Jan. 22 and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash.

"Bogus Basin is a nonprofit that, like alot of nonprofits and small businesses, operates on a very small margin. Any loss from theft can hit the ski operation hard, along with so many families served by the local ski area. We hope there's someone who has some information that can help us find whoever's responsible," said Sgt. Brian Lee of the Boise Police Property Crimes Unit.

Police are hoping that anyone with information will call Crime Stoppers at 208-343-COPS.

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