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     The NATO Summit in Chicago is being held this weekend so I figured I would write about the terror plot that was planned for the event. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, will feature numerous nation representatives and even our President Barack Obama. Three men have been arrested for conspiracy,  possession of explosives (Molotov cocktails), and other terror plot penalties.                  However, Sarah Gelsomino, defense attorney, believes these charges are part of a police sting operation stating the charges given as "very sensationalized." Gelsomino also thinks that the charges as being used in an attempt to demonize the victims in the public eye. The three men, Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Betterly will plead guilty at the May 26th trial. Bail has been set at 1.5 Million. The problem I see with this story is that the many people do not know where to draw the line between peaceful protesting and domestic terrorism. Awaiting to hear more from the May 26th trial, these 20-something year old men will most definitely face a hard battle. 

 
 
     This post is about three shootings that took place in Altoona, Pennsylvania, a town less than an hour away from where I grew up. Raymond Williams, a retiree, was shot outside his home while checking his mail on April 6th  by a man whom he had never known, Nick Horner. Nick had recently returned from Iraq less than a year ago but as a different man says his mother. Nick Horner gunned down a High School student as well as a wounding a woman at a store. Nick Horner was on the receiving end of a combat action badge and many other awards for serving his time in Iraq but was not looking to receive two first degree murder charges and a possible death sentence. 
     "He wasn't my little boy anymore" says Nick's mother. After returning from Iraq, Nick would rarely leave his home and his wife stated that she would often find him crying in their basement. The family felt Nick had seen and done things none of them have ever had the chance to do. The remaining question is however, did the Iraq war come home with Nick that day?
      Horner was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after returning home from Iraq and now his PTSD is going to be used as a criminal defense in the court room. There are more than 90,000 current serving  troops and 200,000 administrative veterans diagnosed with PTSD. The illness has been used as a criminal defense in the past but now the courts are facing a new challenge, should PTSD be allowed as a defense for murder. 
     On the morning of April 6th, Nick Horner dropped his kids off at school and headed to the bar where he drank two full pitchers of beer before leaving to rob a subway. Horner beat on the back door of the restaurant demanding to be let in, failing, he shot out the utility box and cut the electricity to the building. Once inside, Nick killed subway clerk and high school student Scott Garlick and injured another worker, Michelle Petty. He stole about $130 dollars and once Horner fled the scene he shot and killed Raymond Williams several blocks away only for his car keys to escape. 
      Nick Horner's attorney claimed Nick was not evil at all but rather he was just "sick." Horner was taking  a heavy amount of prescription drugs prescribed for his PTSD at the time. The ruling eventually decided against Horner as PTSD was not sufficient evidence for murder in this case. 
     Let me start by saying I was very concerned this topic after reading this article. These events occured within 60 miles of my home and innocent members of society were killed. The biggest fear factor for me was learning this could happen anywhere at anytime. 
     In my opinion PTSD should not be a criminal defense in ANY court case. I feel that people are responsible for their own actions. Now I do not know what PTSD feels like or what the thinking processes involved are but I believe people should be strong and willing enough to overcome any initial thoughts of killing. I definitely side with the court on this case and I would love to hear your opinions! Feel free to comment in the space below. 


"We haven't begun to see the wave of all this."

  -William Brown, Expert on PTSD criminal cases

 
 
     Yesterday afternoon the Occupy Wall Street movement held it's May Day protest worldwide. The protest was anything short of powerless as protesters across Europe in France, Italy, Greece, and Spain marched in protest of enforced austerity. While in Asia workers protested for increased pay hikes and job security. Thousands gathered globally to spread the word of the 99% and to fight for civilian rights. Many skipped school and work to protest yesterday as well as not banking or shopping to show the world what a day without the 99% is truly like. 
     Hundreds rallied at Westlake Park in Seattle's city center to fight for workers labor and immigrant rights. Much of Seattle was shutdown during the day (EXCELLENT!!!) with shop keepers boarding up their storefront windows. The duration of the protest featured about eight arrests from people in masks who smashed store windows and instigated destruction of the city. American Apparel, Starbucks, Niketown, and half a dozen banks were a few of the attacked businesses. Mayor Mike McGinn issued an emergency order that allowed police to seize any implements that might be used to cause additional destruction. A gallery was set up downtown to photograph the collected evidence which included;  clusters of cigarette lighters and spray paint cans. Also, there were no reports of major injuries. "We mobilized a massive amount of people under the idea that things needed to change, and one of the key things was the idea of decolonization," said Daniel Bass, a protesters at Westlake Park Tuesday night.
    In New York City thousands marched down Broadway at about 5:30pm after a day long protest at Union Square. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, who protested budget cuts, was one of the many groups rallying in NYC on Tuesday. Others protested home foreclosures and worker inequality. Reports say that about 30 arrests took place and that the event was essentially peaceful.  The scariest part of the night for many protesters was seeing police officials on horseback with helmets, dogs, and riot gear waiting for an any act of civil disobedience. The streets were aligned with barricades, police busses, and motor scooters. At the corner of Broadway and Wall Street police waited to begin making arrests while protesters ended their night at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial amphitheater to listen to speeches about economic disparity.
    Chicago and Los Angeles were also cities hosting May Day protests. In Chicago 2,000 people rallied for greater worker protection and immigration reform. In Los Angeles a fight broke out during an immigration rally that left an officer injured. The May Day protest was smaller than typical but the voice of thousands was heard yesterday worldwide. We are the 99%.