NAACP accuses tea partyof tolerating racial bigotry

The country’s largest civil rights group accused tea party activists Tuesday of tolerating bigotry and approved a resolution condemning racism within the political movement.

The resolution was adopted during the annual convention in Kansas City of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, spokesman Chris Fleming said. Tea party organizers disputed claims of racism and called on the NAACP to withdraw the resolution.

Debate was mostly closed to the public, but the final version “calls on the tea party and all people of good will to repudiate the racist element and activities within the tea party,” said Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP’s Washington bureau.

“I hope it will empower the tea party to actually look at itself and see that there are those who are noticing things that I think most tea partiers don’t want,” he said.

Sarah Palin, a vocal tea party supporter and former Alaska governor, said in a statement late Tuesday that she was “saddened by the NAACP’s claim that patriotic Americans … are somehow ‘racists.’ ”


‘Barefoot Bandit’ deported to U.S. after pleading guilty

The American teenager who police call the “Barefoot Bandit” was deported to the United States just hours after he pleaded guilty to a minor offense in the Bahamas.

Law enforcement officials escorted Colton Harris-Moore on a commercial flight to Miami to face prosecution for a two-year string of break-ins and plane thefts across the United States. The FBI took him off the plane and put him into a waiting car.

Officials said the 19-year-old convict was taken to a federal jail in Miami, where he is scheduled to have an initial court appearance today. It’s likely he will eventually be taken to Seattle, where he was indicted.

Earlier Tuesday, Harris-Moore pleaded guilty in the Bahamas to illegally entering the country.
He had been arrested in the island country Sunday after a high-speed boat chase.

The charge stemming from his alleged crash of a stolen plane on Great Abaco Island carried a $300 fine. His lawyer, Monique Gomez, said the U.S. Embassy would pay it.


Prosecutors claiming big win over crime syndicate

Anti-mafia prosecutors claimed a major victory over the powerful and growing ’ndrangheta crime syndicate, infiltrating intimate weddings, baptisms and other events to gather information that led to the arrests of 305 people, including top bosses, and the seizure of more than $76 million in cash and property.

One of the most significant revelations to emerge from the investigation was that the Calabrian mob had a tight hierarchal structure like that of the Sicilian Mafia, and wasn’t just an association of clans.

While expanding its economic reach into the wealthy Lombard region in northern Italy, the ’ndrangheta is also concentrating its power in its native Calabria, exerting tight control over all strategic decision-making, anti-mafia prosecutors said.

The operation began before dawn with the 4 a.m. arrest of Domenico Oppedisano, the crime group’s top boss, in the small coastal town of Rosarno in Calabria.

But the investigation owed its success to investigators’ ability to infiltrate events like the 2009 wedding of the children of two crime bosses in Calabria, where Oppedisano was named to his post, said Calabrian anti-mafia prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone.


Obama’s plan to fight HIV, AIDS keys on new infection

President Obama said a new strategy for combating HIV and AIDS fulfills America’s obligation to stopping the spread of the virus and rooting out the inequities and attitudes on which it thrives.

The $30 million plan sets a goal of reducing new infections by 25 percent over the next five years; getting treatment for 85 percent of patients within three months of their diagnosis; and increasing education about the virus, even in communities with low rates of infection.

Some 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV, and about 56,000 people in the U.S. become infected each year, a rate that has held steady for about a decade.

Part of the strategy for lowering new infections relies on targeting HIV prevention efforts at the highest-risk populations, which include gay and bisexual men as well as black Americans.

That means finding ways to spread successful local programs that help HIV-negative people stay that way, as well as providing education and treatment for people with HIV to reduce their chances of spreading the virus, said Chris Collins of the Foundation for AIDS Research, which advised administration officials during the process of devising the strategy.

Some AIDS activists criticized the plan for not setting more ambitious goals and for not funding the benchmarks it lays out.