COUNTY JAIL EXPANDS
After one year of construction the new Ada County Jail addition is complete. The extra 308 beds will bring the jail's potential population to 1144 inmates.
This $6.8 million two-story jail addition will begin filling its cells on August 1, 2004. The last expansion to the main jail was in 1994, which increased the population at that time to 578 inmates. Since then additional beds and temporary cots have been utilized in an attempt to accommodate the ever-increasing inmate population. The issues of crowding, a displaced population, and the need for more rehabilitative programs will now resolve in a more permanent solution.
The addition has also ignited an aggressive recruiting campaign to fill 38 positions in the Ada County Sheriff's Office. "This brings significant career opportunities to our community," stated Raney.
RIGHT TO WORK REPEAL FALLS SHORT
A statewide collection of labor and union activists will not repeal Idaho's Right to Work status, this year.
In Right to Work states, nonunion members receive union benefits without paying union fees. Union members say they themselves end up footing the bill for those not willing to pay their fair share, which results in weaker unions and lower wages for all.
The Idaho Citizens to Repeal Right to Work (ICRRW) had until April 30 to collect 40,772
certified signatures to place a repeal on November's ballot. However, only about 27,000 of the signatures were validated as of press time.
"We got the signatures, but the certified signatures is what we were lacking," said
Barbara Harris, ICRRW Chairperson.
Harris explained Idahoans are not automatically registered to vote when they apply for a driver's license or identification card. Rather, she said people must register separately with their County Clerks, and reregister every time they move.
Harris said her organization held registration drives to no avail.
"Idaho allows same-day registration at the polls during elections, but not for signing initiatives," she said.
Regardless, she vowed ICRRW will use what they learned this past year to help repeal Right to Work in 2006.
"The so-called 'Right to Work' law is just plain wrong for Idaho," she said.
Gas Prices Jump ... Again
With just two more weeks until the Memorial Day weekend—traditional kickoff of the summer road trip season—Idaho gas prices climbed to over $2 a gallon.
Boise gas prices one year ago today were $1.59 gallon; the U.S. average was $1.49.
Just for fun, let's look at gas prices around the world:
Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Netherlands, France, Sweden, Germany and Japan pay between $4 and $6 per gallon; Ireland, Spain, Slovenia, India, Brazil, Australia, Cuba, Nicaragua pay between $2 and $4 per gallon; Vietnam and Uzbeckistan pay between $1 and $2 per gallon and Kuwait, Egypt and Venezuela pay less than $1 per gallon.
MURDER CASE REOPENED
The Bush Administration is reopening an investigation into a crime committed nearly 50 years ago.
In 1955, a 14-year-old black teenager named Emmett Till was abducted, tortured and murdered in Money, Mississippi, for allegedly whistling at a white woman. Till's death outraged the entire country and helped to spark the Civil Rights movement.
Though two men were charged and tried for the crime, both were acquitted of the charges and years later, at least one of the men eventually admitted to his involvement in Till's murder.
It is not clear why the Justice Department has chosen to reopen the investigation but Alexander Acosta, an assistant to the attorney general, said it was possible that others were involved in the killing.
Senator Charles Schumer from New York believes that as many as seven other people were involved. Sen. Schumer has campaigned for the case to be reopened stating that, "In the rare instance justice delayed will not be justice denied."
On Tuesday an Islamic militant Web site posted a video of the beheading of an American civilian in Iraq. His executioners said he was killed in retaliation for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers and because the United States refused to exchange him for Iraqi prisoners being held at Abu Ghraib prison.
"For the mothers and wives of American soldiers, we tell you that we offered the U.S. administration to exchange this hostage for some of the detainees in Abu Ghraib and they refused," says a masked man standing behind the hostage.
"So we tell you that the dignity of the Muslim men and women in Abu Ghraib and others is not redeemed except by blood and souls. You will not receive anything from us but coffins after coffins, slaughtered in this way."
After the statement was read, the victim, wearing an orange prison-like jumpsuit and surrounded by five masked men, was pushed to the floor. One person then cut off the man's head and held it up to the camera.
The Web site claimed the man who cut off Berg's head was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an al-Qaeda leader and close ally of Osama bin Laden.
Family members and government officials identified the man in the video as Nicholas Berg, 26, of Philadelphia.
A State Department official confirmed the body of a U.S. citizen identified as Berg had been found in Baghdad on a highway overpass according to a Reuters news report. The official said Berg had no ties to the U.S. military or the Defense Department, but offered no further details. Berg family said he had been missing since April 9.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"At the end of the day, a few soldiers and civilians conspired to abuse and conduct egregious acts of violence against detainees and other civilians outside the bounds of international law and the Geneva Convention."
—Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, May 11, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
U.S. NATIONAL DEBT CLOCK
The Outstanding Public Debt as of May 11 is $7,137,585,020,264.72.
The estimated population of the United States is 294,022,295, so each citizen's share of this debt is $24,275.66.
The National Debt has continued to increase an average of $1.58 billion per day since September 30, 2003.
U.S./IRAQ DEATH TALLY
As of 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 11 774 U.S. service members have died since the war in Iraq began in March 2003: 564 in combat and 210 from noncombat-related incidents and accidents. Twenty-one U.S. soldiers died last week.
Source: U.S. Department of Defense