Justin Bieber Introduces Campaign of Responsible Texting

Two-time Grammy nominated singer and songwriter Justin Bieber has teamed up with PhoneGuard Inc. this week with a launched campaign dedicated to try and encourage responsible texting and driving through PhoneGuard’s Drive Safe software application which disables the use of texting, emailing, and all other keyboard functions of a mobile phone in a vehicle moving faster than 10 miles an hour. Justin and PhoneGuard are working closely together with the Remember Alex Brown Foundation which was organized by the family of the teenager who lost her life due to texting and driving. Apparently a multi-platform campaign is going to be coming out over the next couple of weeks which includes a ton of content, including PSA videos by Justin and the family of Alex Brown.

The United States Department of Transportation says over 1,000 people die a year just within the U.S. from texting and driving. Working with PhoneGuard will supposedly re-emphasize the importance of being responsible on the roads and increase public awareness of the dangers it can cause, while simultaneously providing financial support for the Remember Alex Brown Foundation.

“As a 17-year-old driver, I am aware of the countless distractions that we teenagers face on the road, and texting is one that is preventable,” said Justin. “There are too many young people, like Alex Brown, whom we’ve lost because of texting while driving, and it is my hope that, through this partnership with PhoneGuard, we will raise awareness of this issue and create safer conditions for everyone on the road.”

PhoneGuard’s revolutionary Drive Safe anti-texting while driving software application disables the use of all keyboard functions on a cell phone in a vehicle that is in motion over 10 mph.

The Don’t Text Don’t Drive Mobile Application on the phone will use a GPS to track an individual’s speed and coordinates and will from there automatically turn off certain functionalities of the driver’s mobile phone, making the user unable to text, email, instant message, etc. while driving. However, once the car is stopped for five seconds, the phone will automatically allow texting and other keyboard functions again. Unread text messages will be waiting for the user. Once the user starts to drive again, the software will now automatically block these activites again. Drive Safe is part of a larger application that now features additional safety components like a phone locator in the case that a phone is stolen.

“With more than 600,000 accidents and 448,000 injuries each year related to distracted driving, it’s clearly time to bring this issue to the forefront,” said PhoneGuard CEO Scott Frohman. “We’re very much looking forward to working with Justin Bieber on this initiative because he is able to connect with less experienced, new drivers and educate them about responsible texting and the Drive Safe™ application. Justin has played a key role in developing the program and his extraordinary reach will make him instrumental in promoting it. A tremendous amount of work has gone on behind the scenes since mid-May, and today is the beginning of the rollout that will include promotional videos, commercials, splash pages and websites featuring Justin, in addition to a few secret promotions that will be unveiled over the coming weeks, which we believe will be extremely inspiring and viewed by millions.”

Chairman of the Board, Keith St. Clair said, “We have been very impressed by the commitment of Justin and his team in helping develop this awareness and marketing program. It is quite clear to us that preventing injury and death due to distracted driving is very important to Justin, as is his desire to raise funds for charities that support this cause.”

Stricter New York Texting Law Now in Effect

Ontario County Sheriff Phil Povero believes adding a tougher law to try to stop texting and talking on cell phones will work. The law goes into effect immediately.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed on Tuesday night the new law which now means all motorists can be stopped by police strictly for texting or talking on a cell phone while driving.

Motorists could only be ticketed for texting or talking on the phone while driving while being pulled over for something else before.

“This legislation will give law enforcement a powerful weapon to fight distracted driving,” said Povero.

The law also prohibits emailing, browsing the internet, taking pictures, reading and playing games while driving, and even more action. The penalties will be even stricter than before. The fine will remain at $150, but drivers will now receive three points against their license. Violators currently only recieve two points.
It will be legal to use a hands-free device while driving.

“It’s plain and simple: Distracted driving leads to tragedies that have affected families all across New York,” Cuomo said Tuesday in a statement. “This new law will help ensure that drivers keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.”

An East Bloomfield crash killed five high school graduates four years ago which prompted legislatures and law enforcements to take action. The crash was widely believed to have to do with texting while driving.

“We’ve never been able to say texting while driving was going on at the time of the crash,” said Povero.

He did say distracted driving contributed to about one in every four crashes and federal data shows 16,000 deaths nationwide which attribute to texting while driving.

Povero has also asked residents for help with curbing the issue.

Residents are now also asked to call the sheriff’s office if they happen to witness another person on the road talking or texting on their cell phone while driving, and to include the license plate number of the offender. Letters will be sent to the owner with a warning.

The law is currently in effect, but Povero doesn’t believe enforcement will be needed right away, similar to seatbelt check or driving-while intoxicated checkpoints.

Povero says deputies are aware of the dangers distracted driving causes and are now trained to spot the practice from other drivers on the road.

“We will explain the changes with our officers and review the specifics of the law,” said Povero.

Distracted Driving Gets Results

Two cities are beginning to crackdown on distracted drivers in order to figure out the results of texting and driving, showing and proving evidence of cell phone bans, penalties while driving, making an impact, and distracted driving campaigns.

Police in Syracuse, New York, ticketed about 20,000 drivers in the last year for using their cell phones while driving. Syracuse citizens using cell phones behind the wheel fell by one-third. More than half of drivers stopped using their phones while driving and texting fell by three quarters in Hartford.

However, studies show that the crackdown of laws may not be the only reason drivers have stopped trying to use their cell phones and drive. Both cities decided to start high-profile education courses about the dangers of cell phone risk while operating a motor vehicle. The combination of classes and tickets work to reduce accidents caused by distracted driving on the roads.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was monitoring the efforts in Syracuse and Hartford and said they want to expand on a state wide level, with a “three-part formula” which includes tough laws, strong enforcement, and ongoing public awareness.

The U.S. Department of Transportation decided to pick up some of the costs on the new crackdown and provided people to watch traffic. The campaign showed that fewer drivers were using their cell phones after the education/enforcement phase was implemented.

The results from the different studies show the continued debate between companies, safety groups, and federal government about the merits on a national law enforcement with distracted driving campaigns.

Driving while using cell phones has more than 5,500 fatalities nationwide, but the Governor’s Highway Safety Associated has no conclusive evidence that passes laws to ban activites from stopping citizens from engaging in the process.

Thirty-four states have already begun to ban texting and driving. Federal government and wireless carriers like Sprint and T-Mobile also have began to partake in the efforts.

Sprint had decided to implement an anti-distraction driving app which redirects calls to voicemail and blocks all text messaging alerts on all smartphones. T-Mobile is adding a service that blocks calls when a phone is inside a moving car.

Distracted drivers do still cause accidents, but this epidemic could protect thousands.

Officer Cleared of Teen’s Death in Texting While Driving Accident

An investigation of a Northland police officer who was involved in a fatal crash has proven that while it is not unlawful, he wasn’t driving reasonably and being a cautious driver.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority found out and came to the conclusion that Constable Jamie Traumata Anderson’s actions were not unlawful even though he hit and killed Rawiri Wilson, 16.

Rawiri was apparently hit by a police car on State Highway 1 on July 25, 2009 around 11:30 p.m. He was walking with his cousin who was knocked into a drain and suffered from a fractured hip.

Rawiri was thrown 38 meters from where he was hit, which indicates that the driver was braking at the time of the collision.

The authority found that Mr. Anderson, who was based at the Kaikohe Police Station, then, was on patrol and texting on his cell phone while driving with low beam headlights on.

It was not illegal at the time to use cell phones while driving but it was being debated and discussed by government agencies.

Mr. Anderson told authorities he didn’t open the phone or read the message.

The investigation also discovered the officer should have been driving with his headlights on high beam, although it wasn’t illegal to do so either.

“With the headlights on low beam the officer had no chance of avoiding a collision with the boys once they came into view,” said authorities. “The actions of the officer were unreasonable and undesirable.”

The investigation said Rawiri and his cousin were under the influence of alcohol and marijuana at the time of the accident and were not paying attention the ways of the road on the unlit highway.

The boys were also wearing dark clothing and were lurking around the roadway.

Witness accounts from 12 other road users saw the boys before the accident descrbied them as being unpredictable and were playfighting around the road.

Rawiri was apparently walking 1.5m inside the fog line.

The investigation found out the authority of the recommended police seek an outside legal opinion as to whether or not the officer should face driminal charges for his driving.

The Auckland Crown solicitor said Mr. Anderson should not be prosecuted for careless driving causing a death or injury.

Northland Police District Commander Superintendent Mike Rusbatch did not charge the officer.

1 Dead, 1 Injured in Motorcycle Crash

Route 125 is cluttered with damaged motorcycles, helmets, and other gear after a fatal accident which closed the road for a good couple of hours.

A 20-year-old Lebanon County had died and another man was personally injured in a crash on Sunday around 2:30 p.m. with five motorcycles.

This motorcycle accident occurred with a group of motorcycles who were riding around Good Spring Creek. There was about 10 motorcycles that participated but a man started speeding up the road, says Trooper Jeffrey A. Hummel from the Pennsylvania State Police station.

Assistant fire chief Michael Scheib says the man road down the road to do a “speed run” and came back flying at a fast speed.

Hummel said the riders didn’t know that this was the 11th biker. His speed was accelerating and he began to wobble and lost control of the bike while he was trying to catch up.

“We don’t know what speed he was going, but we have witnesses that said he was moving,” Hummel said.
A person off to the side had yelled for everyone to get out of the way. Most of the riders received the news and were fortunate enough to get their motorcycles out of the way or jump off their bikes in time.

But one man couldn’t get off his bike and was injured as the other cyclist crashed into the parked bikes. The driver was thrown from his bike and hit the sign for the creek and a steel pole near the riders. He was then thrown into the woods.

One of his tires on his bike was found at the point of the impact, but his fuel tank was in the middle of the road and exploded about 15 feet away.

Hummel also said the motorcycle was most directly hit by the cyclist who crashed which also exploded into flames.

The rider was transported by ambulance to the Schuylkill Medical Center. His condition is unknown.

State police couldn’t release the names of the person injured or the person that died.

The Donaldson Fire Company extinguished the flames while they rushed to the scene.

Witnesses at the scene couldn’t comment, most were from Newmanstown or Lebanon.

Edward Kimmel said the incident wasn’t the first crash with involved motorcyclists from the area. He is fire chief for Donaldson Fire Company and says there have been problems going on with people who like to drag race.

“I don’t know if they were or not this time,” he said. “If they weren’t racing, then they were doing dumbness.”

Lawsuit Filed over Castle Creek Bike Accident

As the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office prepares a public campaign aiming toward road safety, an Aspen woman filed a lawsuit against a man who says she is responsible for her bicycle accident over a year ago.

Denise Roberts’ lawsuit is against Karl Fritz which states they were traveling in the same direction near a mile 4 marker on Castle Creek Road when he struck his vehicle into the back of her bike.

She had suffered from severe body injuries and says the lawsuit was filed on Monday in the Pitkin County District Court, which seeks more than $100,000 and a jury trial.

Roberts has decided not to comment on what happened Tuesday, while her attorney answered no messages and returned no phone calls. Contact information for Fritz wasn’t immediately available.

The sheriff’s office is still planning an informational event later in the month which will include public service announcements, flyers, and other methods to get the word out to the crowded roadways for more safety, especially on bicycles.

Deputy Alex Burchetta said the office received a call last week from a motorcyclist who was angry at another pair of bicyclists who were riding side-by-side on Castle Creek Road.

The Colorado Senate Bill 148, which was signed in 2009, says cyclists are now allowed permission to ride next to each other “if they are not impeding the normal and reasonable movement of traffic,” said Burchetta. “That can be taken many different ways”.

The law also allows motorists to cross the center line while passing cyclist riding in the same direction.
Bicyclists and motorcyclists collisions are “something we deal with every summer,” he said.

Deputies are now going to conduct extra patrol up Castle Creek Road, also to protect school students and faculty.

Death of Karzai’s Warlord Brother New Barrier to Peace

Ahmad Wali Karzai was funned down at his house in Kandahar and was in many ways the personification of modern-day Afghanistan. His death symbolizes Afghanistan’s tragedy.

”My younger brother was martyred in his house today. This is the life of all Afghan people. I hope these miseries, which every Afghan family faces, will one day end,” Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, also his brother, said. However, the hopes of American military commanders are more of an immediate concern.

Karzai’s was the modern face of warlordism. He repeatedly batted away allegations of drug trafficking, money-laundering, etc. His connection to the presidency was also an important protection in which he had.

He was seen as a born survivor who couldn’t easily be bypassed or sidelined. One time he boasted about nine suicide bombers who had tried to kill him.

US and NATO efforts to try and bring peace to the south were at a great resistance in 2007 to 2009. Allied commanders and the Western media began to apply greater criticism to the reliability of the West’s Afghan partners. The war’s growing unpopularity means that there is less of a tolerance for allies like Karzai who have a foot on both sides.

American frustrations had burst open in October 2009 while officials explained to The New York Times that Karzai was a key player in Afghanistan’s illegal opium trade, which helps for funds with the Taliban insurgency, and the CIA payroll. Karzai denied allegations but new claims with him dealing with Taliban leaders had surfaced. He lived in a rent-free house with a drug-deal in which he masterminded fraud in 2009 for the presedential election so his brother could return to power.

However, none of these claims could be proven.

People in Kandahar knew the truth but kept their mouths shut living in fear of punishment and on payroll as well.

The Americans changed their strategy in 2010 as General David Petraeu’s strategy came into play.

The decision caused havoc in Washington and Afghanistan.

”You can’t ignore him. He’s the proverbial 800lb gorilla and he’s in the middle of a lot of rooms. He’s the mafia don, the family fixer, the troubleshooter,” said an official.

Feds Look at CIA Officer for Prisoners Death

A CIA officer who was in charge of looking at the agency’s interrogation program at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq pushed for approval to use harsher methods for federal war crimes that investigated the death of a prisoner.

Steve Stormoen supervised an unofficial program with the CIA imprisonment and helped interrogate men without names in the Army’s books. He is now retired from the CIA.

The program was not approved by CIA headquarters. In 2003, the CIA lawyers prohibited the agency from running its own interrogations from current and former officials. The lawyers said the agency officers could be present during their interrogations to add their expertise, but the laws of war state the military always have the lead.

However, CIA officers brought a prisoner to Abu Ghraib and instead of turning him over to the Army, he was taken to a shower still in November 2003. A sandbag was put over his head while he was handcuffed from behind his back and his arms were chained to a barred window, so when he would lean forward, his arms would painfully stretch from behind and above his back.

Manadel al-Jamadi was dead within an hour.

Federal prosecutors are now investigating whether or not al-Jamdi’s death was due to a war crime nearly eight years after he died while a photo of an Army officer grinning over the dead body became apparent as an abuse scandal.

CIA lawyers showed an imported element for instructions on that investigation. It’s not required for prosecutors to show someone knowing that interrogations were against the rules, but it could still be used as evidence, says a Syracuse law professor and former war crimes prosecutor David Crane. The instructions have also stated that the argument with the CIA officers were that they were simply following the rules from their bosses.

“The government can say, ‘He was told not to, and he went ahead and did it anyways,'” Crane said.

Two witnesses testified in a grand jury in Virginia and were asked about Stormoen’s role in the prison and where he was during the death. The witnesses and officials had made an agreement to only discuss the case on conditions of keeping it anonymous due to not being able to speak to reporters.

Stormoen, 56, ran the CIA detainee exploitation cell and put al-Jamadi into the prison but was not present in the shower room where the death took place.

Stormoen was also part of the CIA’s paramilitary arm after leaving from the Army. He had retired from after the death of al-Jamadi and received a letter lecturing his role in Abu Ghraib. He and his lawyers chose not to comment and did not answer many messages.

Many of the al-Jamadi case had its attention on the interrogator Mark Swanner, who most definitely was in the shower room when the death occurred. Another CIA officer, known as “Chili”, was also at the grand jury. He continues to work with the agency and keeps his name classified. The witness was at the prison and prosecutors were told Chili was at the prison during the death.

Although President George W. Bush’s administration team had allowed the CIA to interrogate terrorism in suspects overseas at prisons, it did not apply to Iraq. CIA lawyers determined the war zone in Iraq fell under the Geneva Convention rules of war, meaning prisoners had to be documented and treated without cruelty and have access to medical help if needed.

Tactics like waterboarding and sleep deprivation are what the CIA used in other overseas prisoner were not allowed at Abu Ghraib without any approval. Videoconferences with the headquarters stated that Stormoen and other officers stationed in Iraq should be asked for permission to use harsher techniques, but the permission was never granted.

CIA officers at Abu Ghraib saw ambiguity in the rules and believed they could interrogate prisoners as long as they were formally processed into the military prison. This is a gray area that could last several days or even longer.

Military investigators said the nature of the CIA’s program didn’t follow the rules applied at the prison.

A CIA station in Baghdad was in charge of seeing an agency for operations at the prison. He was upset his top two officers were being pulled for mismanagement. The CIA inquiry didn’t rule out any officers as being responsible for al-Jamadi’s death and no one has currently been charged.

A military autopsy has labeled the death as a homicide, however. Dactors say that the prisoner had died from multiple factors, like the injuries he received while being captured by Navy SEALs and breathing difficulties from his lung injury which was made worse from the sandbag atop his head.

The death of Al-Jamadi has been reviewed twice by the Justice Department, although prosecutors have declined to provide any charges.

Prosecution for torture and war crimes is rare in the United States.

Casey Anthony’s Party Didn’t Factor into Death, says jury

Although Casey Anthony’s party behavior “disgusted” the jury foreman, it didn’t factor into her toddler’s death.

The foreman was interviewed by Fox News Channel’s Greta van Susteren in St. Petersburg, said he was also “stunned” when the prosecution was over with and believes Anthony’s father could have had something to do with Caylee Anthony’s death at age 2.

Juror Number 11’s name wasn’t disclosed in the interview which was aired on Tuesday night on Fox. Part 1 of the interview aired Monday and the other segment is scheduled to air tonight.

Anthony was found not guilty for the first-degree murder and other charges in relation to Caylee’s death.

Prosecutors tried to prove that Anthony had used chloroform and duct tape to suffocate her daughter, while the defense said Caylee had drowned in the family pool.

Anthony is released on Sunday for jail after serving a four-year sentence for lying to investigators.

The verdict suprised many observers watching the trial which showed evidence of Casey Anthony going to nightclubs and partying during the 31 days Caylee went missing summer of 2008.

“Well, it disgusted us,” the jury foreman spoke of Anthony’s party behavior. “… That’s what makes this … is what made it very hard for us.”

The jurist said jurors were asked to convict on “cause of death” of Anthony’s behavior which wasn’t part of the deliberations.

“… Much of the time we were in that trial, a lot of it dealt with her actions afterwards,” said juror No. 11. “And that’s something that although it is disgusting, it is heinous, we weren’t really able to take into consideration … with the coming down with the verdict on the indictments.”

He also believes a law should be implemented on missing children needing to be reported.

“It’s something that, I wish – because of that and seeing that, it’d be – we wished there was something else we could look at that’d be more – that’d be a felony. … and we don’t have the power to do this.”

The foreman stated that the prosecution didn’t have enough necessary evidence to convict any major charges.

“When they rested, I wanted more,” he said. “… I don’t know if there was more for them to give. I wanted more, though, because I thought it really put us at that point in a situation where this is going to be — this is going to be difficult.”

The jurist did compliment the prosecutors but said “at some times, I thought they made light of things that I didn’t … consider was in good taste.”

He also said attorney Jeff Ashton’s laughing during the defense’s closing argument and a comment about “pigs in the blanket” during the testimony of the defense’s expert used a pig carcass to study insects and decomposition.

“You’re there for a long time, and I understand that many things pop up that could be humorous, but you always have to keep in the back of your mind that there’s a young girl who’s died,” said the jury foreman. You know, we need to maintain our focus.”

Juror Number 11 said the panel did have an issue with the motive being offered by the state and jurors deliberated a little about the motive.

“In our eyes, (it) was just kind of weak, you know, that a mother would want to do something like that to her child just so that she can go out and party,” he said.

The foreman said Anthony’s lawyers “pushed the reasonable doubt.”

“I thought they did a good job in their closing remarks of, you know, sticking to their guns in that regard,” he said.

Part 1 of the interview said the foreman had pointed out the issues that the jury had with Anthony’s father, but thought her brother, Lee Anthony, was “very genuine”.

The foreman also said the jurors had doubt where George Anthony and Casey Anthony were home when the child was last seen. It was described as a “gray area, there’s no way that we can tell the responsibility” adding that some jurors didn’t rule out the father as being the killer.

George Anthony “was there at the time on that day that all the gray area is happening with us, and that puts him in that mix”.

The foreman also states how serious the jurors took their roles, despite all criticism from observers saying they reached a verdict in only 11 hours in such a complicated and complex case.

“We weighed the evidence,” he said. “There’s a difference between quality of time and quantity of time.

“We remained focused. We had a nice system in place. We were dedicated. We did not take many breaks. We had a course of action that everyone took serious. This was a very serious matter and all of us took it serious.”

The “pre-vote” taken before any deliberations came up as 10 for not guilty, and two for guilty on the first-degree murder charge. The two who voted for guilty were still focused on the chloroform and duct tape.

“We dissected the word or the verbiage that was on the indictment and looked at our notes and looked at the evidence. The killing … was not something that we could get,” he said.

He also added that the trial did emotionally take a great toll on some of the jurors. “There was sobbing, there was tears,” he said after the verdict.

“The whole process was very stressful for us,” he said.

Suspect Arrested in Louisiana Priest’s Death

Florida detectives have arrested a man on Tuesday who is believed to have had connection with the murder of a priest in Mississippi.

Jeremy Manieri, 31, has been wanted by Waveland, Mississippi, police for the death of Rev. Edward Everitt on Sunday.

“Mr. Manieri was one of the last people … that we know of to see Father Everitt,” Waveland Police Chief James Varnell said. “We believe that his motive is robbery.”

70-year-old Edward Everitt was found dead on Monday at the Dominican Retreat house in Waveland, says Varnell.

“This tragic loss of Father Ed’s life leaves a deeply felt void in all our lives,” Bishop Robert Muench of Baton Rouge said.

Everitt was apparently spending a few days vacation at the Waveland house which was rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina.

Everitt and Manieri met two weeks before the death ever occured. Everitt was planning on hiring Manieri to do a construction project at the Waveland house.

Judd reported that police had gotten a “very detailed confession” from Manieri while he was arrested.

Manieri and Everitt had an argument on Sunday at the Waveland house when Manieri found a firearm and shot Everitt twice, he described during his confession. Manieri then took Everitt’s wallet and his 2011 silver GMC HHR and called his ex-wife.

Manieri told his ex-wife that he was working on an oil rig and was going to take her, her son, and his daughter to Disney World in Florida once he got his first paycheck. The family left Sunday night after the murder and stopped in Mobile, Alabama, for a night.

Manieri and his family arrived an hour away from Orlando at Polk County early Tuesday and stopped at a Days Inn.

The family was planning to buy three-day passes to Disney World that day, but police tracked down the stolen vehicle and showed him as 20 minutes away according to their GPS tracking system.

The Polk County SWAT team arrested Manieri around 4:30 a.m.

“Quite frankly, he left a trail of evidence that a blind man could’ve followed,” said Judd.

Varnell said Manieri has had a long history with the police, including charges of a child molestation in which he was convicted a year later in 2006.

Manieri was put in the Polk County Jail for Tuesday night while Waveland police took him on Wednesday.

“Fr. Ed was a man of great energy, both preaching and caring for others,” said a statement from the Southern Dominican Province. “(He) will be profoundly missed by his blood family, his Dominican family and all whom he has served as a Dominican and priest over his many years of ministry.”