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January 31, 2009

Land donated to Scouts for camp being used as logging cash cow

Donated scout land often ends up as cash cow

It's been 62 years since conservationist Virgil McCroskey gave the Boy Scouts 400 acres of timberland near this village in Idaho's panhandle, with big ideas for a big new camp.

But don't expect any pup tents or even the faintest whiff of smoke from Camp McCroskey these days.

Rarely used for camping, the land instead has become a moneymaker for the Inland Northwest Council of Boy Scouts. Over the past 35 years, the council has repeatedly logged the property, collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some of the money helped pay the mortgage on council headquarters in far-off Spokane, a former council board member says.

Never mind that McCroskey specified how the scouts should use the land when he deeded it in 1947: "for camp and recreational purposes, the site to be known as Virgil Talmadge McCroskey Camp."

January 30, 2009

California facing worst drought ever

Worst drought ever expected after mild January

January usually douses California with about 20 percent of the state's annual precipitation, but instead it delivered a string of dry, sunny days this year, almost certainly pushing the state into a third year of drought.

The arid weather is occurring as the state's water system is under pressure from a growing population, an aging infrastructure and court-ordered reductions in water pumped through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta - problems that didn't exist or were less severe during similar dry spells in the late 1970s and late 1980s.

"We're definitely in really bad shape," said Elissa Lynn, chief meteorologist with the state Department of Water Resources. "People can expect to pay higher prices for produce ... and more agencies may be rationing ... some raising fees. We just don't have enough water."

Frozen in indifference: Life goes on around body found in vacant warehouse

Frozen in indifference: Life goes on around body found in vacant warehouse | detnews.com | The Detroit News

Urban explorers find a body frozen in ice in a flooded warehouse in Detroit. He'd been there at least a month. People had seen him. The police had been called. He might still be there, awaiting spring.

DETROIT -- This city has not always been a gentle place, but a series of events over the past few, frigid days causes one to wonder how cold the collective heart has grown.

It starts with a phone call made by a man who said his friend found a dead body in the elevator shaft of an abandoned building on the city's west side.

"He's encased in ice, except his legs, which are sticking out like Popsicle sticks," the caller phoned to tell this reporter.

. . .

"He was trespassing and didn't want to get in trouble," the caller replied. As it happens, the caller's friend is an urban explorer who gets thrills rummaging through and photographing the ruins of Detroit. It turns out that this explorer last week was playing hockey with a group of other explorers on the frozen waters that had collected in the basement of the building. None of the men called the police, the explorer said. They, in fact, continued their hockey game.

Before calling the police, this reporter went to check on the tip, skeptical of a hoax. Sure enough, in the well of the cargo elevator, two feet jutted out above the ice. Closer inspection revealed that the rest of the body was encased in 2-3 feet of ice, the body prostrate, suspended into the ice like a porpoising walrus.

January 29, 2009

CIA station chief in Algeria accused of drugging, raping Muslim women

TPMMuckraker | Talking Points Memo | Report: CIA Station Chief Accused Of Drugging, Raping Muslim Women

He also videotaped himself doing this to possibly dozens of other women who reportedly look very drugged.

File this under: Winning Their Hearts And Minds.

The CIA's station chief at its sensitive post in Algeria is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for allegedly raping at least two Muslim women who claim he laced their drinks with a knock-out drug, U.S. law enforcement sources tell ABC News.

Officials say the 41-year old CIA officer, a convert to Islam, was ordered home by the U.S. Ambassador, David Pearce, in October after the women came forward with their rape allegations in September.

The discovery of more than a dozen videotapes showing the CIA officer engaged in sex acts with other women has led the Justice Department to broaden its investigation to include at least one other Arab country, Egypt, where the CIA officer had been posted earlier in his career, according to law enforcement officials.

San Francisco to crack down on massage brothels

New bid to crack down on S.F. brothels

Supervisor Carmen Chu has asked the city attorney's office to review massage parlor licensing laws in hopes of making it easier to close operations known for prostitution. A Chronicle investigation earlier this month revealed that Health Department inspectors suspect at least 50 of the city's 150 licensed massage parlors are places where sex is traded for money.

At some, rooms have tubs and wall-to-wall mirrors, and the workers dress in lingerie. During one bust two years ago, Mayor Gavin Newsom walked in on a man and a woman engaged in a sex act in the business lobby. Despite Newsom's call for action back then, even that business still operates with a city permit.