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   Strategies & Market TrendsThe Economy Made Me Do It.

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To: Tsanford who wrote (3)1/12/2009 3:50:16 PM
From: Smiling Bob
   of 21
Money is as powerful a narcotic as any others.
He was just under the influence

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From: Smiling Bob1/28/2009 12:44:02 PM
   of 21
Letter offers clues to death of 5 kids, 2 adults
By THOMAS WATKINS, Associated Press Writer Thomas Watkins, Associated Press Writer Wed Jan 28, 7:28 am ET

LOS ANGELES – In one upstairs bedroom, the bodies of twin 2-year-old boys were found beside their dead mother. In another bedroom, 5-year-old twin girls and their 8-year-old sister lay next to their lifeless father.

Officers discovered the horrific scene after rushing to a home in Wilmington, prompted by the father's distraught letter faxed to a TV station describing a "tragic story" and a call to authorities.

Police believe Ervin Lupoe, 40, killed his five children and his wife before turning the gun on himself. Both adults were recently fired from their hospital jobs.

"Why leave our children in someone else's hands?" Lupoe wrote in his letter faxed to KABC-TV. The station posted the letter on its Web site with some parts redacted.

The station called police after receiving the fax, and a police dispatch center also received a phone call from a man who stated, "I just returned home and my whole family's been shot." Police are unsure who the male caller was, but they suspect it was the father.

Officers rushed to the home in Wilmington, a small community between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday and found the bodies.

All the victims were shot in the head, some multiple times, coroner's Assistant Chief Ed Winter said. The killings may have occurred between Monday evening and early Tuesday, based on neighbors' accounts of firecracker sounds, he said.

Although the fax — addressed to "whom it may concern" and explaining "why we are dead" — asserted that the wife, Ana Lupoe, planned the killings of the whole family, police Lt. John Romero said Ervin Lupoe was the suspect. A revolver was found next to his body.

It was the fifth mass death of a Southern California family by murder or suicide in a year. Police urged those facing tough economic times to get help rather than resort to violence.

"Today our worst fear was realized," said Deputy Chief Kenneth Garner. "It's just not a solution. There's just so many ways you find alternatives to doing something so horrific and drastic as this."

Ervin Lupoe removed three of the children from school about a week and a half ago, saying the family was moving to Kansas, the principal told KCAL-TV. Crescent Heights Elementary School Principal Cherise Pounders-Caver said nothing seemed to be troubling Ervin Lupoe, and she did not ask why the family was moving.

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center West Los Angeles released a statement confirming Lupoe and his wife were fired as medical technicians more than a week ago. The hospital said the firings followed an internal investigation but would not specify why they lost their jobs.

The letter indicated that Lupoe and his wife — both 40 — had been investigated for misrepresenting their employment to an outside agency to obtain childcare. He claimed that an administrator told the couple on Dec. 23: "You should not even had bothered to come to work today you should have blown your brains out."

Lupoe's letter said the couple complained to the human resources department and eventually were offered an apology but two days later they were fired.

"They did nothing to the manager who stated such and did not attempt to assist us in the matter, knowing we have no job and five children under 8 years with no place to go. So here we are," the note said.

At the bottom of the letter, Lupoe wrote, "Oh lord, my God, is there no hope for a widow's son?" The phrase is frequently found in Internet discussions about the novel "The Da Vinci Code," Freemasons and Mormonism.

Kaiser Permanente said staff was "saddened by the despair" in Lupoe's letter "but we are confident that no one told him to take his own life or the lives of his family."

Lupoe's fax identified his children as Brittney, 8; 5-year-old twins Jaszmin and Jassely; and twins Benjamin and Christian, ages 2 years and 4 months. Winter confirmed the identities of the girls, but the boys' names were pending.

Lupoe got a state license to work as a security guard in 1989 and a permit to carry a gun as a security guard in 1993 but both expired in 2007, said Russ Heimerich, a spokesman for the state Bureau of Security and Investigative Services.

Bob Pierce, a Long Beach attorney who represented the Lupoes in an auto accident, said the case did not involve any serious injuries and the family was expected to receive "well below $10,000," he said.

Lupoe called Monday to find out when the money might be coming, Pierce said. Pierce told him that it might be another week or two "and he said 'no problem.'"

To Amanda Garcia, everything seemed normal in the Lupoe house next door. Her neighbors always had a friendly wave and their five young children would play outside.

"They were happy, they had birthday parties," the 22-year-old Garcia said as she choked back tears near her home. "The kids were always outside on bikes, riding on their wagon."


On the Net:

Lupoe letter available at:

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From: Smiling Bob3/31/2009 10:28:36 AM
   of 21
Shootings, murder-suicide raise broader question: Is violence linked to recession?
By Patrik Jonsson Patrik Jonsson Mon Mar 30, 5:00 am ET

Atlanta – Four Oakland, Calif., police officers shot down. An Alabama man strolling a small town with a rifle, looking for victims. Seven elderly people shot dead at a North Carolina nursing home. And on Sunday, six people, including four kids, died in an apparent murder-suicide in an upscale neighborhood in Santa Clara, Calif.

The details in all these cases are still emerging. In most, the exact motive has yet to be determined – or may never be fully understood.

On a broader level, however, such incidents may be happening more often because an increasing number of Americans feel desperate pressure from job losses and other economic hardship, criminologists say.

"Most of these mass killings are precipitated by some catastrophic loss, and when the economy goes south, there are simply more of these losses," says Jack Levin, a noted criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston.

Direct correlation between economic cycles and homicides is difficult to prove, cautions Shawn Bushway, a criminologist at the University at Albany in New York. But an economic downturn of this breadth and depth hasn't been seen since data began to be collected after World War II, he also points out. "This is not the average situation," Mr. Bushway says.

Still, criminologists do say that certain kinds of violent crimes have risen during specific economic downturns. The recession in the early 1990s "saw a dramatic increase in workplace violence committed by vengeful ex-workers who decided to come back and get even with their boss and their co-workers through the barrel of an AK-47," Mr. Levin says.

And in the midst of this downturn, one study released Monday in Florida finds a link between domestic violence and economic tragedies like job loss and foreclosures. The Sunshine State saw an almost 40 percent jump in demand for domestic-violence centers, an increase related to the state of the economy, the study says. George Sheldon, secretary of Florida's Department of Children and Families, calls the situation "the worst I've seen in years," according to the Associated Press.

The potential link between murder-suicides and the economy is an area of study for the Violence Policy Center in Washington. "We've been looking at this issue of whether there are more murder-suicides … [and] a pattern is starting to develop that may point in that direction," says Kristen Rand, legislative director at the center. "Between the Texas Tower shootings in the 1960s until the McDonald's massacre in 1984, it was extremely rare to see these types of mass shootings. Now we're seeing them much more often, and they do seem to happen in spurts."

To be sure, the gun-control debate is heating up, especially after the recent Alabama shootings where a man killed 11 people, including himself, using semiautomatic, military-style weapons. Gun-control advocates point to gun proliferation as a major cause for the loss of life, especially when families turn on themselves. That appears to be the case in the Santa Clara shootings.

"Studies have shown over and over again that a gun in the home is more likely to be used against a family member than an intruder," says Juliet Leftwich, senior counsel for Legal Community Against Violence in San Francisco.

But the root cause of the violence goes deeper than gun ownership, some argue. "Social isolation is a huge factor" in a country as large and transient as America, which places big emphasis on personal results, Levin says. "If you look at where many of these mass killings have occurred lately, they're in states that have lots of strangers, transients, and drifters, who don't have support systems to get them through tough times," he says.

In the incident in Oakland, which occurred March 21, a parolee shot two officers during a traffic stop, then shot two others during an ensuing manhunt. The parolee also died. It was the biggest single-day, gun-related loss of life for law enforcement in the US since 1993.

The shootings at the nursing home occurred Sunday. Chris McKenzie, police chief in Carthage, N.C., said the gunman, who was killed, may have targeted the home because his estranged wife works there.

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To: Smiling Bob who wrote (6)4/4/2009 10:36:04 AM
From: Smiling Bob
   of 21
This was reported to be the 4th incident this past month
Lost his job at IBM
NY gunman angry over poor English skills, job loss
By WILLIAM KATES, Associated Press Writer William Kates, Associated Press Writer 10 mins ago

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – The man who police say killed 13 people in a shooting rampage at an immigrant community center was depressed and angry over losing his job and about his poor English skills, officials said Saturday.

Police Chief Joseph Zikuski told NBC's "Today" that people "degraded and disrespected" the gunman over his poor English. Mayor Matthew Ryan, speaking on ABC's "Good Morning America," said the man, believed to be 42-year-old Vietnamese immigrant Jiverly Voong, was angry about his language issues and his lack of employment.

On Friday, he barricaded the American Civic Association community center's back door with his car, walked in the front and started shooting with two handguns. Within minutes, a receptionist, 12 immigrants taking a citizenship class and the gunman were dead. Another receptionist, who played dead after she was shot in the abdomen, called 911 to get police to the scene within two minutes.

Zikuski said the injured receptionist stayed on the phone for 90 minutes, "feeding us information constantly," despite a serious wound in the abdomen.

"She's a hero in her own right," he said.

Four people were critically wounded in the Friday massacre, and 37 others made it out, including 26 who hid for hours in a basement boiler room while police tried to determine whether the gunman was still alive and whether he was holding any hostages, Zikuski said.

Investigators said they had yet to establish a motive for the shooting, which was at least the fifth deadly mass shooting in the U.S. in the past month.

The suspected killer carried ID with the name of 42-year-old Jiverly Voong, of nearby Johnson City, N.Y., but that was believed to be an alias, said a law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The man was found dead in an office with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, a satchel containing ammunition slung around his neck, authorities said. Police found two handguns — a 9 mm and a .45-caliber — and a hunting knife.

A second law enforcement official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the handguns were registered to Jiverly Wong, another name the man used. Both officials were not authorized to speak publicly.

A woman who answered the phone at a listing for Henry D. Voong said she was Jiverly Voong's sister but would not give her name. She said her brother had been in the country for 28 years and had citizenship.

Zikuski told "Today" that the shooter had worked in Binghamton for Shop-Vac, which closed in November. The sister told the AP on Friday that her brother worked at a company where "they make the vacuums."

The mayor told ABC that the gunman "had lost a job recently and was somewhat angry."

"He had language issues, didn't speak English that well, and was really concerned about his employment situation," Ryan said.

Initial reports suggested Voong had recently been let go from IBM, which has roots in the region, but a person at IBM said there was no record of a Jiverly Voong ever working there. His father, Henry Voong, does work there.

The attack at the American Civic Association, which helps immigrants settle in this country, came just after 10 a.m. as people from all over the globe — Latin America, China, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Africa — gathered for English and citizenship lessons in an effort to become a bigger part of their new home.

The gunman parked his car against the back door before barging through the front and opening fire, apparently without saying a word. He then entered a room just off the reception area and fired on a citizenship class while terrified people scrambled into a boiler room and a storage room.

Abdelhak Ettouri, a Moroccan immigrant who lives in nearby Johnson City, told the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin he found the back door locked when he tried to flee, then ran to hide in the basement as he heard 12 to 14 shots: "Tak-tak-tak-tak."

Zhanar Tokhtabayeva, a 30-year-old from Kazakhstan, was in an English class when her teacher screamed for everyone to go to the storage room.

"I heard the shots, every shot. I heard no screams, just silence, shooting," Tokhtabayeva told the AP. "I heard shooting, very long time, and I was thinking, when will this stop? I was thinking that my life was finished."

Hoi Nguyen of Binghamton said his 36-year-old daughter Phuong Nguyen, who survived the massacre, was taking an English class in the basement when the gunfire started.

"She said it sounded like a firecracker and everyone in the class was startled," he said. "Then the teacher locked the door, called the police, then told everyone they couldn't leave the room."

Police arrived in minutes, heard no gunfire and waited for about an hour before entering the building to make sure it was safe for officers. They then spent two hours searching the building. They led a number of men out in plastic handcuffs while trying to sort out victims from the killer or killers.

The police chief said the suspected gunman "was no stranger" to the community center and may have gone there to take a class. He said he had no idea what the shooter's motive was.

On Friday evening, police searched Voong's house and carried out three computer hard drives, a brown canvas rifle case, a briefcase, a small suitcase and several paper bags.

Dr. Jeffrey King, speaking at the Catholic Charities office, said he was certain his mother, 72-year-old Roberta King, who taught English at the community center, was among the dead.

Authorities read a list of survivors and his mother's name wasn't on it, he said.

The shootings took place in a neighborhood of homes and small businesses in downtown Binghamton, a city of about 47,000 situated 140 miles northwest of New York City.

The region was the home to Endicott-Johnson shoe company and the birthplace of IBM, which between them employed tens of thousands of workers before the shoe company closed a decade ago and IBM downsized in recent years.

A string of attacks in the U.S. in the last month left 44 people dead in all.

A gunman killed 10 people and himself in Samson, Ala.; shootings that began with a traffic stop in Oakland, Calif., left four police officers and the gunman dead; an apparent murder-suicide in Santa Clara, Calif., left six dead; and a gunman went on a rampage at a nursing home Sunday, killing seven elderly residents and a nurse who cared for them.


Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Michael Hill, John Kekis and Michael Rubinkam in Binghamton; Carolyn Thompson and John Wawrow in Buffalo, N.Y.; Jessica M. Pasko, George M. Walsh and Chris Carola in Albany; Ben Dobbin in Rochester, N.Y.; Daisy Nguyen in Los Angeles; and the AP News Information Research Center in New York.

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From: Smiling Bob4/19/2009 12:06:56 PM
   of 21
No glimmers here
Couple, their 3 kids found dead in Maryland home
By ALEX DOMINGUEZ, Associated Press Writer Alex Dominguez, Associated Press Writer Sun Apr 19, 7:42 am ET

MIDDLETOWN, Md. – A Maryland man who killed his wife and three children before fatally shooting himself left behind five notes, including an apology to family members and hints that he suffered from psychiatric problems, authorities said.

The local sheriff said there were also signs that the family had financial problems.

For residents of the small town of Middletown and members of Holy Family Catholic Community Church, where the slain mother taught catechism, reports of the brutal killings were upsetting and baffling.

"We're all in shock and trying to come to terms," said Kevin Farmer, the pastor of Holy Family.

Christopher Alan Wood killed his wife and children, then himself, in their northwest Maryland home, leaving a gruesome scene that authorities said was found Saturday by the children's' grandfather.

The 33-year-old mother and three children suffered "traumatic cuts" and each also had at least one gunshot wound from a .25-caliber handgun, Frederick County Sheriff Charles Jenkins said. Their precise cause of death wasn't immediately known, and Jenkins declined to say what was used to slash them.

Jenkins said Wood, an accountant at railroad operator CSX Corp., apologized to family members in one of the notes he left at the scene. The sheriff wouldn't elaborate on what else was written in the notes.

The sheriff also said there was evidence that Wood faced financial problems and may have been in debt.

CSX did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Saturday.

The family had moved months ago to the home in Middletown, a community of fewer than 3,000 people about 10 miles west of Frederick, friends said.

Jane Durant, the director of Middletown United Methodist Church Preschool, said she last saw the slain mother, Francis Billotti Wood, on Thursday morning, when she picked up her 4-year-old son at the school.

The boy didn't come to school the next day. Durant, the school's director, thought it was unusual. Now, she wonders if something horrible happened Thursday night.

The dead woman's father found the slain family around 9 a.m. Saturday. He had grown concerned after not hearing from them for several days, Frederick County sheriff's office spokeswoman Jennifer Bailey said.

When investigators arrived at the two-story home, the couple's two sons, ages 5 and 4, lay dead in their beds, while the bodies of a 2-year-old daughter and the mother were in the master bedroom, Bailey said. On the master bedroom floor by the foot of the bed was the 34-year-old father, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, she said.

Francis Wood — known by some as "Francie" — returned to her native Middletown from Texas last year to be closer to her family, said Durant, the preschool director. She described Francis Wood as a vibrant, bubbly and loving person.

"I just talked to her every day and she's just one of those people you fell in love with right away," Durant said.

Neighbor Peggy Lawrence described Francis Wood as a good homemaker.

"It wouldn't lead you to believe anything was wrong," Lawrence said. "I'm still sick to my stomach. Just to see it end so quickly is so devastating and makes you realize you never know what's going on in people's lives."


Associated Press Writer Gillian Gaynair in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

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From: Smiling Bob6/13/2009 1:43:50 PM
   of 21
As theft rises, stores step up anti-crime efforts
Retailers step up anti-crime efforts as recession fuels shoplifting, organized theft rings

* Dan Sewell, AP Business Writer
* On Saturday June 13, 2009, 12:50 pm EDT

CINCINNATI (AP) -- With shoplifting on the rise -- including organized teams sweeping through stores and lifting scores of items in minutes -- retailers are beefing up plainclothes patrols and video surveillance, and competitors are working together to prevent crime.

Stores are running online stings and sending security guards onto sales floors posing as customers. The FBI helped create a database for trading notes on suspects and their methods. Minneapolis-based Target Corp. even has a forensic lab and tracks video feed from its 1,700 stores at regional hubs.

"In light of today's economy and the expense pressure, it is an investment that shows good return," said Brad Brekke, a former FBI special agent who heads assets protection for Target. "There is definitely economic pressure generating more activity across the board -- fraud, theft, cyber crime. The intensity has gone up as the economy has gone down."

The National Retail Federation, a trade group, says nearly half of 115 retailers it surveyed are spending more on crime-fighting -- some companies spend more than $1 million a year just on personnel hired to stop crime rings. The NRF, which opens a loss prevention conference Monday in Los Angeles, says 92 percent of the surveyed retailers were victims of organized theft teams last year, an 8 percent increase, even as many saw slumping sales.

More individuals are shoplifting, as in several steak-stealing incidents in Kroger Co. grocery stores across the country this year. But retailers say the vast majority of their losses are from thefts by organized rings that usually send in a small group including a getaway driver, an in-store lookout and several "shoppers."

Joe LaRocca, a senior adviser for the retail federation, said it only makes sense to cooperate with competitors to fight the problem, which officials peg at $35 billion a year and rising.

"You know you're getting hit and your neighbor is getting hit and, by working together, you have a much better rate of identification and prevention," LaRocca said.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Saks Inc., Ann Taylor Stores Corp. and others share information in the 2-year-old national database with the hope of stopping organized teams that take medicines, popular-brand clothes, video games and electronics -- items that can be quickly resold in small shops, flea markets and online.

"I'm even amazed sometimes at what these guys do," said Jerry Biggs, who heads anti-organized crime efforts for the Walgreen Co. drugstore chain. "They're in and out in four minutes. They can go from store to store, do this all day long."

In what Florida authorities dubbed "Operation Hot Milk," 21 people were arrested in March in connection with a multimillion-dollar baby formula theft ring. Generally, men acted as lookouts and getaway drivers while women slipped cans of powdered formula worth about $25 each into their bags. Polk County Sheriff's deputies began investigating in late 2008 after finding stolen baby formula during a traffic stop.

Biggs said the rings know more households are looking harder for bargains -- often online, where many high-volume thefts are fenced, or in flea markets and small shops -- during the recession.

"It's created a larger demand for product at lower price," he said. "People just think they're getting good deals."

Stores are trying to slow the theft rings with new packaging, less-accessible display cases, and electronic gizmos. But how many precautions to take is a delicate issue for retailers, who risk alienating customers by making them wait while items are retrieved from locked cases or embarrassing them when exit alarms go off. Customers could also be turned off by increasingly intense surveillance.

"You've got to balance the value you get from that," said Michael Brown, a retail strategist for the consulting firm Kurt Salmon Associates. "You don't want your loss prevention department to become your sales prevention department."

Art Wulfeck, director of loss prevention for Cincinnati-based Kroger, says it trains employees to be regularly engaging customers around the store -- asking whether they need help or have questions -- which also reduces theft opportunities.

Some Kroger stores have begun using the "Lane Hawk," a shopping-cart electronic device that alerts cashiers to items on the bottom, avoiding accidental or intentional failure to ring them up. Wulfeck said Kroger is experimenting with a display rack for selling infant formula that has an automatic delay before another item can be removed -- so a thief can't quickly grab several cans.

"The typical shopper isn't there to buy 10 cans of formula," he said.

Shopper Pat Girod, whose son-in-law is a police officer, knows the crime prevention efforts are all around, seen and unseen, in her Kroger store in central Ohio.

She chuckled about the Lane Hawk: "It's a great idea ... I wish they had that in the parking lot, too, so I don't forget to load something in my car."

National Retail Federation:

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

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From: Smiling Bob8/5/2009 3:26:12 PM
   of 21
The Associated Press August 5, 2009, 8:14AM ET text size: TT
Spike in suicide calls due to economy


Economic woes are weighing heavily on some Americans -- so much so that the federal government is boosting financial support for suicide prevention centers around the nation.

Richard McKeon, the lead health adviser for suicide prevention at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, says calls to suicide crisis centers have increased sharply in the past year -- with more than 57,000 calls in July alone. He said about a quarter of the calls were linked to economic distress.

McKeon said SAMHSA plans to provide more than $1 million in additional money this year to help up to 20 crisis centers facing a big uptick in the number of calls for help as well as possible state and local budget cuts.

"We know that every single day, there are people calling who are in the midst of a suicide attempt," McKeon said in an interview late Tuesday. "Any delay in getting that call answered could be tragic."

SAMHSA helps fund the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which routes calls to about 140 crisis centers across the country that provide suicide prevention services. McKeon says it usually provides a grant for the lifeline of about $2.9 million a year.

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From: Smiling Bob11/1/2009 12:52:41 PM
   of 21
Laura Rowley Money & Happiness
Laura Rowley, Money & Happiness
The Rage of Anxiety

by Laura Rowley
Email this Page IM this StoryBookmark this StoryAdd to your accountDigg this StoryPrint this Story
Posted on Thursday, October 29, 2009, 12:00AM

The town of Chatham, New Jersey, a few towns away from where I live, is a bucolic suburb of historic homes and refined new mansions, with a population of 10,000.

The median family income is $132,000. Just 45 minutes from New York City, it's the kind of place where it helps to know somebody if you want to buy a home, because properties often change hands without ever making it to the real estate listings.

On the evening of Oct. 22, Father Edward Hinds, 61, pastor of St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in Chatham, was stabbed to death in the rectory. He was found when he failed to show up to celebrate morning Mass at the parish school, which some of our friends' children attend. The level of shock is difficult to express.

The police subsequently arrested Jose Feliciano, 64, the janitor at the church, a 17-year employee whose son graduated from the school and whose daughter is enrolled there. In press reports, both the priest and the janitor have been described as quiet, kind, amiable, caring and hardworking. Both were known to chat with neighbors while walking their dogs.

The previous pastor of St. Patrick's, Monsignor Ronald Amandolare, said he never saw Feliciano angry or violent. "He was loved by the kids, loved by the parents," Amandolare told the Star-Ledger of Newark. "He was a great, hard worker and very kind. You could call him in the morning, noon and night if anything broke … . You say, 'Jose, can you help me?' 'Sure, I'll be right over.'"

An attorney for the Archdiocese of Paterson told reporters that Hinds intended to lay off Feliciano because of financial problems at the parish. Feliciano had reportedly been beset with money and health issues -- "in and out of the hospital," by one account. The janitor had worked a second job in an electronics store, and lost that position earlier this year.

In 2004, the Felicianos moved from an apartment adjacent to the church to a home they purchased for $145,000 in a working-class city in Pennsylvania, 45 miles away. A neighbor said both Jose Feliciano and his wife, who also worked two jobs, typically left for work at 5:30 a.m. and returned home at 7:30 or 8:30 in the evening.

Obviously there is no excuse for the brutal and horrific attack on Rev. Hines. But I can't help thinking that both the victim and the alleged killer are casualties of a treacherous economy, which continues to batter the ordinary American while the experts proclaim recovery is upon us.

A recent study by researchers in California and London found the stress of recessions, particularly of unemployment, markedly increases rates of death from intentional violence. Looking at joblessness in the European Union between 1970 and 2007, researchers found each percent increase in unemployment raised homicide and suicide rates by 0.8 percent, respectively. An increase of 3 percent in unemployment, for example, is associated with a 4.5 percent increase in suicides, said the study, published in the journal Lancet in July.

"Suicides are just the tip of the iceberg," said lead author David Stuckler, Ph.D., of the University of Oxford and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, in a statement. "Rising suicide rates are a sign of many failed suicide attempts and high levels of mental distress among workers and families."

The murder in Chatham makes me think about the millions of Americans who live in a state of perpetual anxiety, an illness or a layoff away from disaster. U.S. personal bankruptcy filings topped 1 million in the first nine months of this year, up 35 percent from the year-ago period, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. It's the highest nine-month figure since 2005, when consumers rushed to file for bankruptcy before stricter laws went into effect. The figures also saw a growth in middle-class filers -- those with associate and bachelor's degrees, and earnings of $40,000 or more a year.

Meanwhile, foreclosure-related filings are on pace to hit about 3.5 million this year, up from 2.3 million last year, according to a report this month by RealtyTrac. New defaults are surpassing the number of people helped by the federal mortgage relief program, which earlier this month reported that 500,000 homeowners had received assistance.

In addition, Moody's says that 2010 loan charge-offs by banks, on an annualized rate, are exceeding the levels of the Great Depression, and will increase in the coming year. In a related twist, analysts described why household balance sheets may recover faster than predicted: People are defaulting on their debts like crazy.

That means, in official economic terms, those obligations don't actually count as "debts" anymore. Apparently this is upbeat news for the larger economy -- a shiny veneer on a national edifice of crushed aspirations and heartache.

Heartache that now includes the tragic story of the priest and the janitor in Chatham.

(For an update on this story, see my blog.)

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From: Smiling Bob7/1/2010 10:45:33 PM
   of 21
July 1, 2010
Street Killings Prompt Police to Increase Overnight Patrols

The Police Department is increasing overnight patrols after a recent spate of killings on the street, mostly in Brooklyn and the Bronx.

Normally, about 65 percent of all shootings take place outdoors, according to the police. But over the past 28 days, about 90 percent occurred on the street, leading the police to believe that high-visibility patrols could deter violence and catch criminals shortly after they act.

Police officials said the number of officers on the street from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. in 23 precincts could double or even triple, using dedicated overtime funds.

“In all likelihood, the shift will continue through July 4 and beyond, unless shooting patterns suggest that we readjust again,” said Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne, the chief police spokesman.

The move comes as the police try to hold down the homicide rate, which is up 11 percent through the end of June. But department officials said they were battling their own success. The homicide rate last year was the lowest since the department’s switch in 1963 to what it considered a more reliable system of tracking killings.

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said the preponderance of street shootings suggested that “enforcement and aggressive strategies” might have an impact.

“We’re always concerned, and we do everything we reasonably can to deploy our resources,” Mr. Kelly added.

At the start of the recession, many wondered whether economic forces would propel the city toward “the bad old days” around 1990, when killings peaked at 2,245. Those fears have not been realized. As of June 27, there had been 221 killings this year.

Citywide, major crime over all was down 1.3 percent, but there were some notable increases. Rapes rose 13 percent, and shootings were up 7 percent. Grand larceny fell 7 percent.

Thomas A. Reppetto, an author and the former president of the Citizens Crime Commission, said he had seen the homicide rate rise in the first half of previous years, only to come down again. “I would suspect looking at these figures and the past years that we will end up at about the same level of crime in 2010 as we had in 2009,” he said. “Not necessarily in every category, but overall.”

But the police must act swiftly to address emerging patterns, Mr. Reppetto added.

Robert Johnson, 50, a cook, said he had noted an increase in violent crime around his home near Broadway Junction in Brooklyn. On June 20, a 31-year-old man was fatally shot across the street from a playground where he takes his grandchildren.

“The last year has been real crazy,” Mr. Johnson said, citing previous shootings on nearby Hull Street. “I come in a little earlier. When it gets dark, I take them in,” he said of the children.

In fact, the 73rd Precinct, where the park is, had 10 killings, as did the 81st Precinct, also in Brooklyn. The only precincts with more were the 75th, in East New York, Brooklyn, which had 15, and the 47th, in the north Bronx, with 11.

In the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn on Wednesday night, three people were shot, one fatally, while watching a basketball tournament at Kingston Park.

Jamal Jones, 23, said he had organized the tournament, which featured star players from local high schools and drew a crowd of about 100. “It was ugly, people getting trampled,” said Mr. Jones, who sustained a graze wound to his arm. “They’re lucky, because it could have been a whole lot worse.”

Craig Powell, 42, a schoolteacher who has lived in the area for 36 years, brought his daughters, 9 and 7, to the park on Thursday afternoon. He said he long ago became accustomed to a rise in crime during hot weather.

“It’s just living in the ’hood, unfortunately,” he said. “You just hear about it and pray it doesn’t happen to you and yours.”

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From: Smiling Bob6/18/2011 11:07:26 AM
   of 21
Pa. man clubs family to death with bat, kills self

The Associated Press

WARRINGTON, Pa. - Authorities in suburban Philadelphia say a man clubbed his wife and young son to death with a baseball bat before committing suicide on a set of train tracks.

Warrington Township police Officer Ken Hawthorn says 44-year-old Christopher Moyer called 911 on Friday night to say that he had killed his 39-year-old wife, Irina Moyer, and their 7-year-old son, Dylan.

Christopher Moyer's car was found parked behind a business near the train tracks. His body was found on the tracks in neighboring Montgomery County after he was struck by a train.

District Attorney David Heckler told the Bucks County Courier Times that police found a bloody baseball bat in the home, and there are indications that the family may have been having financial problems.

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