Subway Riders Save Life

Chad M. Estep is accused of pushing a man onto tracks. (Chicago Police Department)

Megan Crepeau, Katherine Rosenberg- Douglas, Jeremy Gorner Chicago Tribune 10.11.17

The attack at a Loop CTA station was the stuff of public-transit nightmares: a man waiting on a train platform eyed a nearby stranger, came up behind him and shoved him onto the tracks below.
The assailant tried to block the victim from climbing back onto the platform, but seconds before a train pulled up to the station, he managed to scramble to safety with the help of others.

. . . .

Assistant State’s Attorney Erin Antonietti said Estep came up behind Benedict and shoved him onto the tracks with both hands, knocking him perilously close to the electrified third rail.
Estep then tried to block Benedict from getting back onto the platform — and even tried to stop others at the station from assisting Benedict, she said.
Benedict finally climbed to safety just seconds before a train arrived, Antonietti said, while Estep escaped on foot.

. . .
In September, Benedict said he was standing near the edge of the platform when he felt a hard jab to the back and tumbled to the tracks 5 feet below. He said he stopped a foot short of the electrified third rail.
He looked down the tracks but didn’t see a train approaching. He then looked up and saw the man who apparently had pushed him staring at Benedict with a blank look on his face.
“It was like a lion looking at his prey, that’s kinda what it looked like to me,” he said.
Benedict tried to get onto the platform, he said, but the man kept blocking his way, pointing his finger at him. When Benedict yelled for help and people tried to come to his aid, the man tried to keep them away until they were able to form a circle and help Benedict off the tracks.

mcrepeau@chicagotribune.com
kdouglas@chicagotribune.com
jgorner@chicagotribune.com

Slavery, here and now

In U.S. Restaurants, Bars And Food Trucks, ‘Modern Slavery’ Persists

IA new report highlights victims of human trafficking in the food industry, from farm workers to restaurant bus staff, cooks and wait staff. Some victims are exploited for both sex and labor.       Juanmonino/Getty Images

They come from places like Vietnam, China, Mexico and Guatemala, lured by promises of better-paying jobs and legal immigration. Instead, they’re smuggled into the U.S., forced to work around the clock as bussers, wait staff and cooks, and housed in cramped living quarters. For this, they must pay exorbitant fees that become an insurmountable debt, even as their pay is often withheld, stolen or unfairly docked.

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Find out how  slaves are working for you.  http://slaveryfootprint.org/

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In restaurants, bars and food trucks across America, many workers are entrapped in a form of modern slavery. That’s according to a new report by Polaris, an organization that fights human trafficking and helps survivors.

In the report the group offers a detailed portrait of human trafficking as it occurs in the U.S., breaking it down into 25 distinct business models, from nail salons to hotel work and domestic service.

“Because human trafficking is so diverse … you can’t fight it all at once and there are no single, silver bullet solutions. You have to … fight it type by type,” Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris, told reporters on a press call. “We see this report as a major breakthrough in the field.”

He called the report the largest data set on human trafficking in the U.S. ever compiled and publicly analyzed. The Polaris team analyzed 32,208 reports of human trafficking, and 10,085 reports of labor exploitation processed through its hotlines for victims between 2007 and 2016. The goal: to identify profiles of traffickers and their victims — and the methods they use to recruit and control them — across industries, in order to better thwart them.

Janet Drake, a senior assistant attorney general in Colorado who has prosecuted human trafficking cases, called the new report “a game changer.”

Only 16 percent of cases identified through the hotline calls involved labor trafficking, Drake says, “but now we realize through the work we’ve done that labor trafficking is probably at least as prevalent, if not more so, than sex trafficking. And that’s a real problem we’ve had as prosecutors – being able to identify and disrupt these labor trafficking networks.”

Three of the 25 categories the group tracked involve the food industry: restaurants, bars and agriculture.

From dairy farms to orange orchards, nearly 2,000 of the cases involved the agriculture industry. Workers — mostly men from Mexico and Central America — often were enticed with assurances of an hourly rate, but once they showed up in the U.S., they were paid on a much lower piece-rate basis. Many reported being denied medical care and protective gear to do their job, forced to live in squalid conditions, and threatened with deportation.

Of the more than 1,700 restaurant industry cases, the vast majority of victims involved immigrants, recruited from Mexico, Central America and East and Southeast Asia. Nearly one in five was a minor. They included cooks, wait staff and bussers at restaurants, food trucks, buffets and taquerias.

Traffickers often take advantage “of language barriers between exploited workers and patrons — and in some cases other workers at the same restaurant who are not being abused — to help avoid detection,” the report says.

Workers who try to leave may face threats of deportation. Traffickers also may threaten to injure or even kill the worker’s family back home. About a third of the cases involved immigrants without legal status in the U.S., but many other victims were here on valid work visas.

Some victims were forced to provide both sex and labor. Women from Latin America — including many minors — come to America beguiled by promises of good wages, safe migration or even a romantic relationship. They’re put to work selling drinks, and sex, at bars and cantinas, says Jennifer Penrose, data analysis director for Polaris and co-author of the report.

Many times these are “legitimate bars and restaurants, where they’ll sell alcohol, often at inflated prices,” Penrose says. But behind the scenes, “forced commercial sex may occur on-site or nearby at a hotel or warehouse.” In this model, she says, traffickers tend to be “part of larger criminal organizations.”

Because the report was based solely on calls and text messages to Polaris’ hotlines, Myles notes there are limits to what it can tell us. “Potentially, restaurant trafficking may be much higher than we’re learning about, but we’re just not getting enough of those hotline calls to be able to describe that,” he said.

Trump U. Racket Costs Him $25MM

 

New York Attorney General Says Trump Agrees To Trump University Settlement

Donald Trump at a 2005 news conference about Trump University. Now, the New York attorney general says Trump has agreed to a $25 million settlement with over 6,000 plaintiffs who said the university had defrauded them.  Mario Tama/Getty Images

A $25 million settlement agreement has been reached in the civil fraud lawsuits against President-elect Donald Trump and Trump University, according to New York’s state attorney general.

Eric Schneiderman called the settlement “a stunning reversal by Donald Trump and a major victory for the over 6,000 victims of his fraudulent university” in a written statement. The allegations have been a major point of controversy for the President-elect for years.

“Donald Trump fought us every step of the way, filing baseless charges and fruitless appeals and refusing to settle for even modest amounts of compensation for the victims of his phony university,” Schneiderman added. “Today, that all changes.”

Schneiderman’s office told NPR’s Ina Jaffe that the settlement agreement applies to three separate lawsuits. Schneiderman filed the lawsuit in New York, and there are also two federal class-action lawsuits in California.

“Every victim” will receive a share of the settlement, Schneiderman said. He added that Trump has agreed to pay $1 million in penalties to the state of New York “for violating state education laws.”

Alan Garten, EVP and general counsel of The Trump Organization issued the following statement:

“We are pleased to announce the complete resolution of all litigation involving Trump University. While we have no doubt that Trump University would have prevailed at trial based on the merits of this case, resolution of these matters allows President-Elect Trump to devote his full attention to the important issues facing our great nation.”

The agreement “does not require Trump to acknowledge wrongdoing,” according to The Associated Press.

Students who purchased classes at Trump University have complained that “the promised Donald Trump investment techniques were mostly stuff that you could find on the internet. They say that the promised mentoring was worthless, that the instructors were unqualified and were not hand-picked by Donald Trump, as he claimed,” Ina reported.

Trump has repeatedly denied those characterizations, Ina said, “and in his deposition, Donald Trump said the students gave the courses a 97 percent approval rating and not even Harvard gets that.

As The New York Times wrote, “The deal, if approved, averts a potentially embarrassing and highly unusual predicament: a president-elect on trial, and possibly even taking the stand in his own defense, while scrambling to build his incoming administration.”

A hearing for one of the lawsuits, in a federal court in San Diego, had been scheduled for today. Ina reported that Trump was requesting that the judge postpone the trial until after the inauguration.

A court document filed by Trump’s lawyers last week requested time to “allow the President-Elect to focus on the enormous responsibility of transitioning to the most demanding and important office in our government.” It also asked for Trump to be allowed to testify by video.

During his presidential run, Trump elicited criticism after he argued that Indiana-born Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is of Mexican heritage and presiding over both California cases, could not be fair to Trump because he has vowed to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Curiel had “urged both sides to settle” in the California suits, according to Reuters.

MORE at N.Y. Times

In Case of Shooter . . .

 

Basics on how to survive a shooting

Training focuses on what to do in case of an attacker

The Florida nightclub shooting fits the pattern in recent years that one’s chances of survival depended on initial reaction. ( Spencer Platt/Getty )

By Joel Achenbach     The Washington Post,    Chicago Tribune 6.22.16

WASHINGTON — The mass shootings that have terrorized the country have led to a new focus on how to survive them. Though far from an exact science, these efforts are based on a disturbing amount of data — including case studies, the body counts from these tragedies and the personal narratives of people who somehow got out alive.

A number of private companies now train office workers in how to respond in an active-shooter event.

The experts agree: Following a few simple rules can help boost a person’s chance of survival. Being mentally prepared to take action in a crisis — or simply knowing where a building’s exits are — can make the difference.

The recent massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., fits with the general, horrifying pattern in recent years, in that life and death pivoted to a large degree on how the people there reacted in the initial minutes.

Research shows that it usually takes about three minutes for police to arrive at an active-shooter situation — although the Orlando club had an extra-duty uniformed police officer working security, and he engaged the shooter.

The best move for civilians, as always, was to get out of the place immediately by any possible route. Many escaped through rear and side doors onto a patio. Less fortunate were those who went into the restrooms, a dead end, and became trapped when the gunman came in after them.

“When you go somewhere, you don’t want to put yourself in a situation where if you get found, you don’t have any options,” said Pete Blair, executive director of the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center, based at Texas State University.

Blair co-authored “Active Shooter: Events and Response,” which includes guidance for civilians. The book’s mantra is “Avoid, Deny and Defend.”

The Department of Homeland Security has endorsed a similar concept, built around the words “Run, Hide, Fight.”

The latter option gained attention after Washington, D.C., Police Chief Cathy Lanier said on “60 Minutes” last year that people should be prepared to take out an attacker before the police arrive.

Blair said that kind of action is a last resort: “When we do our training, we always stress that it’s ‘avoid, deny, defend,’ and they’re in that order for a reason.”

He said he’s not entirely comfortable with the “hide” concept; killers can find people under a desk, for example.

“Hide is a passive action. As opposed to ‘deny,’ where I try to keep you from getting to me,” Blair said.

The more active response is to barricade a door, or ideally lock it; his organization does not know of a case in which an active shooter breached a locked door.

He also cautioned against playing dead as a strategy: Although news reports have suggested that some of the Orlando victims survived by pretending they were dead, that often has not worked, Blair said.

“When you play dead, we see time and time again in these situations the shooters continue to shoot people who are down and who they think are dead,” Blair said.

Blair’s book warns against people with concealed handguns trying to engage a killer except as a last resort:

“The last thing you want to do in an active shooter event is to pull your gun out and go hunting for the shooter. If there are other concealed gun carriers in the attack location, they may shoot you. If the police show up, and you are running around with a gun, they will probably shoot you. Remember that no one knows who you are. The responders are looking for someone with a gun, and you match that description.”

Research on active-shooter events, as well as other mass-casualty incidents, including the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, reveals the many mental and physical challenges that arise when a person is suddenly plunged into an unfamiliar, unexpected and terrifying situation.

Few people have ever experienced anything like this. As a result, most people are slow to grasp that something terrible is happening.

In the Pulse nightclub, people heard the initial gunfire from the shooter, Omar Mateen, but many assumed it was firecrackers or part of the music.

In a crisis in a confined space, people often instinctively behave in ways that do not boost their survival chances. For example, people typically try to leave a building through a main entrance rather than a secondary exit. That can create a bottleneck.

The classic example, involving a fire and not an active shooter, happened in the Station nightclub in West Warwick, R.I., on Feb. 20, 2003. A heavy metal band’s pyrotechnic display led to a fire in the wood-frame club. At first people thought it was part of the show. The fire spread rapidly and people stampeded toward the main entrance, where firefighters later found 25 bodies. A hundred people died in the fire.

That leads to one obvious tip to increase your chances of survival — know your secondary exits.

As a routine matter, people should understand how to get out of a building through emergency exits or back doors in case some event takes place that demands speedy evacuation.

All buildings have these exits — they’re required by fire codes. The point of fire drills is to train the mind to know where to go, without having to ponder the issue, in a situation that might be confusing and when people might not be think clearly.

A building may have more exits than people realize at first glance.

Consider the case of a food court: There may be only a couple of primary entrances and exits, but the food vendors probably have their own exits, via their kitchens. If trapped in a food court, Blair said, he’d jump a counter and flee through a kitchen.

Research suggests there is little hope of reasoning with a mass killer, Blair said.

The better move, if there’s no way to flee or find protective cover, is for multiple people to swarm the attacker. They should use whatever they have at hand as a weapon — coffee cups, car keys, anything.

“In general, this person has already shown a desire to murder people. To murder a lot of people,” Blair said. “Is there a chance you might be able to talk him down? There might be a chance. That chance is probably small. We just don’t see it happen in these cases.

“But we do know that in about 1 out of 5 cases we’ve seen people successfully stop the attacker.”

– See more at: http://digitaledition.chicagotribune.com/tribune/article_popover.aspx?guid=b3ed7b5f-03bf-4354-ab90-7be0479b0a87&t=1466607647363#sthash.52w4ZLVU.dpuf

Elderly Hero

Jo Cox
Jo Cox MP CREDIT: JULIAN HUGHES

77-year-old former miner was named today as the pensioner who was stabbed as he bravely tried to tackle Jo Cox’s killer.

Bernard Kenny was waiting outside Birstall library in his car, after taking his wife there to return a book, when he saw the MP being attacked and got out of his car to help her.

He was stabbed in the abdomen by the gunman, and remains in hospital being treated for serious injuries, which are described as “non life threatening”.

 West Yorkshire’s Acting Chief Constable, Dee Collins, praised Mr Kenny’s actions today, saying he had “bravely intervened to assist Jo”.

Friends said Mr Kenny’s selfless act was typical of his character, as he had risked his life as one of the rescuers involved in a colliery disaster 40 years ago.

(I haven’t been able to find a photo of Kenny.  rjn)

Cowboy Catches Bike Thief

 

 

Rancher on horseback lassoes would-be bike bandit in Walmart parking lot

Robert Borba mounted his horse and chased down the thief, according to police who responded to the 911 call about the Oregon bicycle theft

The cowboy crusader.
The cowboy crusader. Photograph: Image courtesy of KTVL

An attempted bicycle theft in a Walmart parking lot was foiled by a cattle rancher on horseback, who chased the thief down and lassoed him until the local police in southern Oregon could arrive.

The bicycle was stolen from a bike rack outside a Walmart in Eagle Point, a town about 170 miles south of Eugene, Oregon, at around 10amon Friday morning. The woman who owned the bike and several others gave chase on foot but were unable to catch him.

Then a rancher named Robert Borba brought his horse out of its trailer, mounted up and chased the thief down, according to Chris Adams, an officer with the Eagle Point police who responded to the 911 call about the theft.

“When we arrived, there was a large crowd standing around a younger gentleman who was on the ground, the rope around his ankle, hanging on to a tree,” Adams said. Victorino Arellano-Sanchez was arrested and charged with theft, the police said.

The suspect clings to a tree after being lassoed.
Pinterest
The suspect clings to a tree after being lassoed. Photograph: David Stepp

“I seen this fella trying to get up to speed on a bicycle,” Borba told the Medford Mail-Tribune. “I wasn’t going to catch him on foot. I just don’t run very fast.” He added: “I use a rope every day, that’s how I make my living. If it catches cattle pretty good, it catches a bandit pretty good.”

Not a lot is known about Borba because he is new in town, Adams said, but “it appears he will be a good fit. Eagle Point is a small city, and people watch out for each other. That’s exactly what he did.”

David Stepp said that he had been sitting in his car nearby when he saw the cowboy trotting across the parking lot on his horse after the thief, who was trying to escape on the stolen bicycle.

When the thief dismounted and tried to flee on foot, Stepp watched as the cowboy lassoed him by the ankle. The thief then grabbed a tree and held on to it until the police arrived. “Best day of my life,” Stepp said.

“I was laughing too hard to intervene,” he said. “I’ve seen it all, but I’ve never seen anything like that in my entire life.”

Stepp said he would love to buy the cowboy a beer. “This guy should be our next president.”

“The guy was just hanging back like ‘you ain’t gonna steal no bike in front of me’,” Stepp said about Borba. The owner of the bike was “just happy to have her bike back”, he added.

Guns, Concealed Carry, and Care

One of our little boys went missing for part of an afternoon.  Scary.  When he eventually turned up at home, he explained that he’d been playing at a friend’s house–beyond our neighborhood, a friend we didn’t know.

Joanne called the friend’s mother and asked her to call us when our kid was there.  That mother said, “You don’t have to worry.  Our  house is safe.  We have a gun in every room of the house.”  rjn

NPR logo

Image result for photos concealed gun

 

Does Carrying A Pistol Make You Safer?

There is a pistol-packing revolution going on in America. Nearly 13 million Americans have permits to carry concealed handguns — triple the number just nine years ago — and that figure is low because not every state reports.

It’s puzzling that so many Americans are choosing to arm themselves at a time when the FBI tells us violent crime and property crime have been falling dramatically for two decades.

In search of handgun permit holders, I drove out to the Texas Firearms Festival, an outdoor gun extravaganza held near Austin where firearms fanciers get to shoot everything they see.

“If you’re in Paris and you see people coming with AKs into your rock concert, that sucks. But it sucks worse if you’re unarmed,” says festival producer Robert Farago. “I’m not saying that being armed is gonna save your life, but at least you have an effective tool to mount some kind of defense.”

High school counselor Janna Delany, who carries a Ruger LC9, is more concerned about crime than mass shootings.“It’s more just for me personally to give myself a little bit of peace of mind, somebody trying to carjack me or hold me up at a gas station or stopped at a red light or something,” Delany says.

Retired Houston homicide detective Brian Foster has a booth at the festival where he sells “politically incorrect” books.

“Police cannot take care of citizens,” he says. “They react after the fact. I spent many years dealing with cadavers.”

How Does Carrying A Gun Change You?

One thing is certain: Carrying around a loaded weapon and being prepared at a moment’s notice to use deadly force changes how people perceive their environment. Of the 20 handgun carriers I interviewed over several months, most of them say they’re more aware of how people look and how they act.

“I pay attention to different people, weird people, maybe stereotype people,” says Sam Blackburn, a diesel mechanic from Georgetown, Texas, who attended the firearms fest in an NRA cap. He carries a 9 mm Smith & Wesson.

What is he looking for, specifically?

“Gangbanger-looking guys, maybe guys that look like they’re up to no good or somebody that may think they’re a Muslim extremist or something like that,” Blackburn says.

Carrying a 2-pound steel appliance around like a cellphone doesn’t only change the way a person thinks, it changes the way they move.

“It’s exciting. I won’t lie to you. There’s some visceral response that you get from carrying a firearm,” says Doug Miller. He owns a small IT company in Austin and teaches Israeli self-defense classes on the side. “But after about 30 seconds, it becomes, ‘Is this gonna be comfortable when I sit down? It’s digging into my hip because my car has upholstered seats. That’s really not that comfortable.’ ”

What Do Women Think About Guns?

 

Image result for photos concealed gun

A Girl & A Gun is a women’s shooting league that started in Central Texas and has now gone national.

Robyn Sandoval, executive director of A Girl & A Gun, aims a rifle.

Robyn Sandoval, executive director of A Girl & A Gun, aims a rifle.  Courtesy of A Girl and A Gun

Executive Director Robyn Sandoval says carrying a handgun has become an extension of motherhood, a way to protect her children.

“Family situational awareness is a big deal,” she says. “When we go to a restaurant, my 9-year-old [is thinking] who looks suspicious? What are people doing? What’s an anomaly. Let’s point out people in their cars. We make a game of it, of who can find somebody in their car just sitting there.”

The gun girls talk about their firearms differently than men do. Guys speak of them as tools; these women talk about them like pets.

“We name our guns,” Sandoval says, “I have Francesca, Dolly, Gracie. And we talk about ’em like, ‘I’m takin’ Gracie to the mall with us.’

“My small one is my Baby,” says schoolteacher Bettylane Chambliss. “And my dad will say, ‘Do you have your gun with you?’ And I went, ‘Oh, yeah, I got Baby with me. I’m fine.’ ”

When Can You Pull The Trigger?

Despite the pet names, there’s nothing casual about getting a license to carry a pistol.

A gun in the home? The owner may have it primarily for hunting or target-shooting. A concealed gun out in public? It goes with the explicit understanding that the owner may kill someone they feel threatened by.

Michael Cargill, a popular handgun instructor in Austin, had this to say: “You pull that gun out, your life is gonna change.” He’s right.

Of the millions of Americans who get a concealed handgun permit, only a tiny fraction ever use them. Pro-gun folks compare it to a fire extinguisher in the home — you have it just in case.

Image result for photos concealed gun

But what happens when someone actually fires their weapon in self-defense? I met three concealed handgun permit (CPL) holders in Detroit who pulled the trigger.


Life-Changing And Traumatic: Darrell Standberry

“I was parked at the pump right in front of the gas station. I exited my vehicle and before I could even get to the door of the gas station, the young man was already sitting in the driver’s seat of my vehicle,” says Standberry, who just earned a degree in green energy technology. He’d left his Yukon XL running with the key in the ignition.

Darrell Standberry — from Detroit — shot and killed a 19-year-old who tried to steal his car.  Courtesy of Darrell Standberry

He says he told the young man to get out of his car. The young man told him to step back. That’s when Standberry says he saw the carjacker reach toward his pocket.

Standberry unholstered his Sig Sauer .45, reached through the passenger-side window, and fired one shot. He hit the carjacker in the torso. Gravely wounded, the carjacker drove away, crashed into a tree and died. Police found a pistol in his pocket.

“It changed a lot in my life,” he says. “Matter of fact, in my English class, I just did a report on it. I named it, ‘The incident that changed my life forever.’ ”

Standberry went to counseling. He became fearful of gas stations. And he carried the burden of killing a 19-year-old.

“You know why? Because my son was 19 at the same time. It really bothered me that I had to take a 19-year-old’s life. His life was just beginning. But he was into the wrong things. To this day, I still ask God for forgiveness,” he says.


Caught In A Gunfight: Alaina Gonville

Gonville is a mother of three, a big woman who works as a bouncer at a Detroit bar.

Alaina Gonville works as a bouncer in Detroit. Gonville was shot after being approached by robbers outside a grocery store.  Courtesy of Alaina Gonville

Gonville was coming home from work late at night. She’d stopped at a store for a bottle of papaya juice. A scrawny guy walked up, pulled out a pistol and demanded her money. His accomplices were watching from a car behind him. As it happened, Alaina was carrying her pistol openly on her hip.

“I’m assuming they saw my gun. That’s when they opened fire from their vehicle. I heard the gunshots coming at me. That’s when I pulled my gun and returned fire,” she says.

She doesn’t know if she hit them or not. The robber bolted. His henchmen sped out of the parking lot, spraying Gonville and her car with military-grade bullets.

“I got shot with an AK-47, and it basically blew my arm off. It was dangling. I carried it into the hospital. After four surgeries and a lot of prayer it’s healed about 70 percent,” she says.

Did she think that having a handgun that night saved her life or endangered her more?

“That’s a good question. I replayed the situation in my head over and over. I can’t say, but I’m glad I had it,” she says.


In Trouble For Thwarting Shoplifters: Tatiana Rodriguez

Born in Colombia, Rodriguez owns a small tree-trimming business in a Detroit suburb. Last October, she was outside a Home Depot loading some materials into her truck.

“A lady comes screaming through the door for help, and somebody [was] running,” she says.

A man was running into the parking lot pushing a shopping cart full of merchandise. Rodriguez used to work at Home Depot, and she knows the company policy: Don’t pursue shoplifters. But she says she thought this was more serious because a lady was screaming.

She saw the shoplifters getting away in an SUV. She had her Heckler and Koch 9 mm.

“So I take my gun out and I point at the car when he was coming towards us. I jump to the side and decide to shoot out the tires to stop them,” she says.

In Michigan, it’s illegal for a citizen to use deadly force to stop a property crime. Rodriguez got 18 months of probation for reckless discharge of a weapon and had her gun license revoked. She thinks the punishment would have been harsher, but the cops caught the shoplifters after she shot out their tires.

Her story got lots of news coverage. It turned into a case study of when not to use your pistol.

“It was not my intention to do anything wrong. I was just trying to help somebody who really needed it. And it backfired on me. So what do you learn? It’s like you have to think a lot before you help somebody,” she says.


For this story, I contacted firearms instructors and lawyers who reached out to dozens of handgun carriers who had pulled the trigger in self-defense. To my surprise, very few wanted to talk.

Some had been arrested by the police or sued afterward, and had spent thousands of dollars on legal fees. They didn’t want to be dragged into the media spotlight again. Others were just traumatized by the whole experience.

Gonville urges people to think long and hard before they carry a gun.

“A lot of times I believe people are just playing around and they think it’s cool to have a gun,” she says. “It’s not just about being cool. It’s real life. Life and death is serious. Getting shot is serious. Shooting somebody is serious.”

Is It Safer To Carry A Gun?

An eye-opening Gallup poll released late last year revealed that 56 percent of respondents said they’d feel safer if more Americans could get permits to carry concealed handguns. Jennifer Carlson, a sociologist at the University of Toronto, wrote a book about handgun carriers in Michigan called CitizenProtectors.

“This is what I think is really fascinating,” she says. “It’s not just the idea of if I conceal carry then I’m safer. It’s the idea that if I just imagine there’s people out there who are conceal carrying then the world is safer.”

All the trigger pullers I talked to for this story said the range time required to get a handgun license is grossly inadequate in terms of being prepared to defend themselves from an active shooter. They believe they’re alive today because they did extensive practice on their own.

Mark Cortis, a veteran firearms instructor in Detroit, urges all of his CPL students to get more training. But he says hardly any of them ever do.

“One of my concerns about the [Michigan] state requirements for getting a CPL is they don’t really include the tactics and the strategy that one will need to win or prevail in an actual gun situation,” Cortis says. “A hostile attack by a violent criminal is a fight.”

Not only are most handgun carriers in America totally unprepared for a gunfight, but gun-control activists hasten to point out that more guns lead to more suicides and accidental shootings.

Three years ago, Detroit’s new police chief, James Craig, made a startling public announcement. He encouraged law-abiding citizens to consider carrying concealed weapons as a deterrent to violent crime.

In an interview, I asked Chief Craig if he ever worries about the citizens that he has urged to arm themselves?

“What concerns me, more than anything else, is guns in the hands of criminals, guns in the hands of terror suspects. That’s what keeps me up at night. Not armed citizens,” Craig says.

Meanwhile, Cortis reports so many Detroiters are seeking concealed pistol permits, classes are booked for two months out.

Fighting the Mafia Today — a Hero in Sicily

 

Sicily’s tiny anti-Mafia TV channel

Newsreader in Telejato studio

A tiny Sicilian TV station that campaigns against the Mafia, Telejato, is among hundreds of channels threatened with closure due to a change in the law.

Partinico is a pretty nondescript little town – a handful of baroque churches, a couple of elegant palazzos and a lot of ugly concrete in between.

If it were not for the fact that it is in the so-called “Mafia Bermuda Triangle”, perhaps nobody outside the province of Palermo would have heard of it.

As it is, like Corleone, it is a name that prompts Italians to raise an eyebrow and suck in their breath when you tell them you are planning to visit.

 

My point of departure is San Giuseppe Jato, another former Mafia stronghold.  Having just visited a vineyard on land confiscated from an infamous jailed boss, I decide to try my luck with the only direct bus of the day to Partinico.

I do what the traffic warden advises and wave it down in the middle of the road, just in front of the toy shop.

After a picturesque journey through the Jato Valley, I alight an hour later at my destination, a town where the mountains rise up above the church steeples and illegal attic extensions.

I find the block of flats which is home to Telejato without too much difficulty. It is on a quiet side street away from the bustle of the main road.

The building number seems right but there is no sign or any directions to the TV station inside. I conclude that the best way to find Pino Maniaci is to follow my nose. As I climb the staircase, the smell of cigarette smoke gets stronger.

I follow the aroma up to the second floor, through an unlocked door and into the newsroom.

Pino Maniaci and his daughter LetiziaPino Maniaci’s daughter Letizia is the station’s main reporter

It is 13:20 and they go live at 14:00. Pino, his daughter and a couple of volunteer journalists are putting together the bulletin.

When I come in, he turns towards me, cigarette between his lips. After the briefest of greetings he says, “We’re on air soon so sit down and don’t break my balls.”

His daughter looks up and grins. “Don’t worry, that’s how he talks to everyone,” she says.

Indeed Pino Maniaci, when not inhaling smoke, is invariably exhaling expletives.

Unable to sit still and not wishing to be a ball-breaker, I nose around the small converted apartment.

You can tell by the pictures, tributes and cuttings on the walls, just how proud Pino is of Telejato.  He has turned a tiny local TV station into one of Sicily’s most powerful anti-Mafia voices.

With his Groucho Marx-style moustache and Chico Marx-style accent, he boasts that even the Mafia watch Telejato”

He says nearly all the locals watch it. In the heart of Cosa Nostra territory, he was the first journalist to dare to give the full names of arrested mafiosi.

Before him, nobody published more than initials for fear of reprisals.

Pino, his family and a small team of volunteers put together a daily news show, which is dominated by Mafia and corruption stories.

“We’re always first on the scene,” he tells me. “Even international channels like CNN call and ask to use our footage.”

The station works closely with the various police forces, including the Catturandi di Palermo – a special squad that hunts mafiosi in hiding.

“Wherever we show up, they’re there. Wherever they show up, we’re there.”

Pino’s childlike bravado conceals his genuine courage.

With his Groucho Marx-style moustache and Chico Marx-style accent, he boasts that even the Mafia watch Telejato.

“We were the only ones to interview the brother of Bernardo Provenzano, one of the biggest Mafia bosses,” he tells me.

With a gleeful twinkle, Pino continues, “We even discovered that Provenzano himself had an aerial specially positioned to pick up our signal. If you listen to the police wire taps, you can hear our signature tune!”

Murder attempt

Telejato has a motto: “They consider themselves men of honour. For us, dishonouring them is a question of honour.”

Map of Italy showing Sicily, Palermo and Partinico

Pino uses derision as both weapon and shield, but he admits he is scared, especially for his family.

“I smoke three packets a day and always joke that it’s just as well the biggest room in our tiny station is the bathroom!”

Living under police escort, he has suffered countless attacks – slashed tyres, severed brake cables, burnt-out cars, windscreens shattered by gunshots.

“They even tried to bump me off!” he chuckles, describing a failed attempt to strangle him, which left him with four fractured ribs, a broken leg, a black eye and several broken teeth.

At 17:00, it is time for me to head for the station to catch a train up to Palermo.

Pino refuses to let me go without showing me some true Sicilian hospitality. Police escort in tow, we go to a nearby coffee bar.

Everyone, including the officers, gets an espresso and Pino insists I taste a cannolo, the island’s famous ricotta-filled pastry.

“I have to keep Telejato going,” says Pino between mouthfuls, “so that one day Sicily will be more famous for these than for the Mafia.”