Category: RTM News Reel Written by News One
OXFORD, Miss. — A Mississippi man charged with mailing letters with suspected ricin to national leaders believed he had uncovered a conspiracy to sell human body parts on the black market, and on Thursday his attorney said he was surprised by his arrest and maintains he is innocent.
Paul Kevin Curtis (pictured), 45, wore shackles and a Johnny Cash T-shirt Thursday in a federal courtroom. His handcuffs were taken off for the brief hearing, and he said little. He faces two charges on accusations of threatening President Barack Obama and others. If convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison.
He did not enter a plea on the two charges. The judge said a preliminary hearing and a detention hearing are scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday.
Attorney Christi R. McCoy said Curtis “maintains 100 percent that he did not do this.”
“I know Kevin, I know his family,” she said. “This is a huge shock.”
McCoy said she has not yet decided whether to seek a hearing to determine whether Curtis is mentally competent to stand trial.
Curtis, who was arrested Wednesday at his home in Corinth, near the Tennessee state line, was being held in the Lafayette County jail in Oxford, Miss.
An FBI affidavit says Curtis sent three letters with suspected ricin to Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, and a Mississippi judge. The letters read:
No one wanted to listen to me before. There are still `Missing Pieces.’ Maybe I have your attention now even if that means someone must die. This must stop. To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance. I am KC and I approve this message.
The affidavit says Curtis had sent letters to Wicker’s office several times before with the message, “this is Kevin Curtis and I approve this message.”
In several letters to Wicker and other officials, Curtis said he was writing a novel about black market body parts called “Missing Pieces.”
Curtis also had posted language similar to the letters on his Facebook page, the affidavit says.
The documents indicate Curtis had been distrustful of the government for years. In 2007, Curtis’ ex-wife called police in Booneville, Miss., to report that her husband was extremely delusional, anti-government, and felt the government was spying on him with drones.
Curtis was arrested Wednesday at his home in Corinth, near the Tennessee state line. He was being held in the Lafayette County jail in Oxford, Miss.
Curtis had been living in Corinth, a city of about 14,000 in extreme northeastern Mississippi, since December, but local police had not had any contact with him before his arrest, Corinth Police Department Capt. Ralph Dance told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Ricky Curtis, who said he was Kevin Curtis’ cousin, described his cousin as a “super entertainer” who impersonated Elvis and numerous other singers.
Wicker said Thursday in Washington that he had met Curtis when he was working as Elvis at a party Wicker and his wife helped throw for an engaged couple.
Wicker called him “quite entertaining” but said: “My impression is that since that time he’s had mental issues and perhaps is not as stable as he was back then.”
Wicker’s spokesman, Ryan Annison, said the party occurred about 10 years ago.
Police maintained a perimeter Thursday around Curtis’ home. Four men who appeared to be investigators were in the neighborhood to speak to neighbors. There didn’t appear to be any hazardous-material crews, and no neighbors were evacuated.
The material discovered in a letter to Wicker has been confirmed through field testing and laboratory testing to contain ricin, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer said Thursday. The FBI has not yet reported the results of its own testing of materials sent to Wicker and to President Barack Obama.
“Our field tests indicate it was ricin. Our lab tests confirm it was ricin. So I don’t get why others are continuing to use equivocal words about this,” Gainer said.
Preliminary field tests can often show false positives for ricin, which is derived from the castor plant that makes castor oil. There is no antidote, and it’s deadliest when inhaled. The material sent to Wicker was not weaponized, Gainer said.
An FBI intelligence bulletin obtained by the Associated Press said the two letters were postmarked Memphis, Tenn.
A Mississippi state lawmaker, Democratic Rep. Steve Holland of Plantersville, said his 80-year-old mother, Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland, received a threatening letter April 10 with a substance that has been sent to a lab for testing. He said this letter was also signed “K.C.”
“Like any country woman, she did a smell test,” Steve Holland said. “She said, `It sort of burned my nose a little bit.’”
He said once she read the letter, she immediately called the local sheriff.
Sadie Holland has been “sequestered by the FBI” and told not to talk to anybody for now, and is undergoing medical tests, her son said.
Ricky Curtis said his family was shocked by news of the arrest. He said his cousin had written about problems he had with a cleaning business and that he felt the government had not treated him well, but he said nobody in the family would have expected this. He said the writings were titled, “Missing Pieces.”
“I don’t think anybody had a clue that this kind of stuff was weighing on his mind,” Ricky Curtis said in a telephone interview.
A MySpace page for a cleaning company called “The Cleaning Crew “confirms that they “do windows” and a has profile photo of “Kevin Curtis, Master of Impressions.” A YouTube channel under the name of Kevin Curtis has dozens of videos of him performing as different famous musicians, including Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and Kid Rock.
Watch a Curtis impression of “Baby, I Don’t Care” here:
Multiple online posts on various websites under the name Kevin Curtis refer to the conspiracy he claimed to uncover when working at a local hospital from 1998 to 2000.
The author wrote that the conspiracy began when he “discovered a refrigerator full of dismembered body parts & organs wrapped in plastic in the morgue of the largest non-metropolitan health care organization in the United States of America.”
Curtis wrote that he was trying to “expose various parties within the government, FBI, police departments” for what he believed was “a conspiracy to ruin my reputation in the community as well as an ongoing effort to break down the foundation I worked more than 20 years to build in the country music scene.”
In one post, Curtis said he sent letters to Wicker and other politicians.
“I never heard a word from anyone. I even ran into Roger Wicker several different times while performing at special banquets and fundraisers in northeast, Mississippi but he seemed very nervous while speaking with me and would make a fast exit to the door when I engaged in conversation…”
Jim Waide, an attorney in Tupelo, Miss., said he was working with Curtis’ family Thursday to put together a statement about the man. Waide said the family told him Curtis has been diagnosed as bipolar and was put on medication about three years ago. “It’s been a real problem to keep him on his medication,” Waide said in a phone interview from Tupelo.
“He has a long history of mental illness,” Waide said. “When he is on his medication, he is terrific, he’s nice, he’s functional. When he’s off his medication, that’s when there’s a problem.”
Waide represented Curtis in a federal lawsuit he filed in August 2000 against North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo. Curtis claimed employment discrimination. A judge dismissed the case in July 2001. Records show it was “dismissed for failure to prosecute.”
Court records show Waide got a judge’s permission to withdraw as Curtis’ attorney in January 2001. Waide said he withdrew from the case because Curtis didn’t trust him.
“He thought I was conspiring against him,” Waide said. “He thinks everybody is out to get him.”
The FBI said there was no indication of a connection between the letters and the Monday bombing in Boston that killed three people and injured more than 170. The letters to Obama and Wicker were postmarked April 8, before the marathon.
Last Updated on Friday, 19 April 2013 09:31
Category: RTM News Reel Written by Cyntia Tucker,CNN
by Cynthia Tucker
(CNN) -- Like giddy teenagers, Republican activists have fallen for another charming, personable and accomplished black conservative. Dr. Ben Carson is the newest object of their crush, which was born of a desperate need to attract more black men and women as high-profile standard-bearers.
You can't blame Republican loyalists for swooning over the doc, a renowned surgeon who rose from poverty to head pediatric neurosurgery at Baltimore's famed Johns Hopkins Hospital. If wooing voters of color were simply a matter of finding an attractive black face with an inspiring personal story and an impressive resume, Carson would be hard to beat.
But black voters tend to be more discerning than that. They have shown an unerring instinct for rejecting condescension and dismissing tokenism. There are many black Americans who admire Carson for his professional accomplishments (I'm one of them), but that admiration is unlikely to translate into votes.
One of the reasons is that Carson doesn't seem to know black Americans' political values very well. In his most recent book -- a political tract called "America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great" -- he writes: "Many African-Americans voted for Obama simply because he was a black man and not because they resonated philosophically with his policies." In fact, black voters have been increasingly allied with the Democratic Party since the 1960s when Lyndon Johnson pushed through significant civil rights legislation. Al Gore received about 95% of the black vote in 2000, John Kerry about 93% in 2004.
Moreover, Carson seems to have adopted the view, popular among so many ultra-conservatives, that the Democratic Party appeals to voters who shun the work ethic.
Talking to The New York Times recently about his conservative views, Carson described himself as a "flaming liberal" in college who later became disaffected with the Democratic Party. "One thing I always believed strongly in was personal responsibility and hard work," he said. "I found the Democrat Party leaving me behind on that particular issue."
That notion -- fallacious though it is -- is at least as popular among black conservatives as among white ones. I've been hearing it from black Republicans for at least two decades. Several years ago, I interviewed a black conservative running a doomed campaign for a suburban Atlanta congressional district. She had no prior political experience, no policies to advance, no program to sell. Her platform consisted of her belief in hard work, which she contrasted, at least implicitly, with black Democrats' supposed preference for sloth.
That view is as puzzling as it is infuriating. It may charm those white conservatives who hold stereotypical views of black Americans, but it bears little resemblance to the realities that inform their choices at the ballot box.
In his memoir, "Gifted Hands," and in his motivational speeches, Carson talks about his impoverished childhood and his remarkable semiliterate mother. Married at 13 only to later divorce her philandering husband, she enforced high academic standards for Carson and his brother while working two or three jobs as a maid or nanny -- and battling debilitating depression.
Carson eventually got into Yale and became, at 33, the youngest person to head a department at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He is famous for separating conjoined twins.
That's a compelling and powerful tale. But it differs from those of other hardworking black people I know only in the degree of success that Carson attained as a result, not in the measures of ambition, industriousness, discipline and self-respect his mother instilled in her children.
Yet black Americans know better than to believe those traits are enough to guarantee success. History taught us better. Just look back over the last decade and a half. In 2000, according to the U.S. census, less than a quarter of black Americans -- 22.5% -- lived in poverty. By 2010, that number had risen to 27.4%. Was there a sudden outbreak of indolence among black folk over that period? Or were there outside forces that conspired to knock them back down the economic ladder?
As long as the Republican Party refuses to acknowledge that, it will have little to offer workers of color -- and declining appeal to younger whites. They, too, understand the limits of self-reliance.
To be helpful to the GOP, Carson would have to remind them of the caprice of capitalism and the generational reach of racism's barriers. Instead, he sounds like the standard-issue Ayn Rand acolyte, no different from Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan. He opposes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and supports a flat tax. For good measure, he's also a religious conservative who disputes evolution.
It's no wonder that conservatives have started to trumpet him as their Great Black Hope. Psychologists believe that romantic interest increases when people mirror each other's gestures. Carson perfectly reflects the beliefs of his suitors.
Still, this romance is unlikely to blossom into a long-lasting love affair. There are too many misunderstandings, too many unspoken expectations, too many half-baked assumptions. And some of those half-based assumptions are Carson's.
Editor's note: Cynthia Tucker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist, is a visiting professor at the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April 2013 15:53
Category: RTM News Reel Written by News One
If this world were mine, I’d see to it that anyone who felt compelled to politicize a national tragedy mere hours after it happened be muffed with a muzzle and have their fingers duct taped together as they watch their keyboards and keypads doused with a bucket of water. That’s not to say that there isn’t a need for reflection on the events preceding and following an attack, but seriously, can’t some things wait?
“I think it’s safe to say that for many, the complacency that prevailed prior to September 11th has actually returned. And so we are newly reminded that serious threats to our way of life remain. And today again we recommit ourselves to the fight against terrorism at home and abroad.”
You can watch video of the...
Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 17:28
Category: RTM News Reel Written by News One
A 5-month-old is on life support, after parents Rodrigo Rodriguez (pictured left) and Angela Petrov (pictured) allegedly smothered her so that they could have sex, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Police claim that 29-year-old Rodriguez covered the mouth of their crying infant at least three times while 21-year-old Petrov reportedly looked on.
When their daughter allegedly became unconscious, the couple, who were reportedly drinking Hennessy, dumped the baby back in to her playpen. Afterward, Rodriguez and Petrov are said to have returned to their bedroom in order to have sex, with neither parent checking on the child for the rest of the night.
On Friday morning, Petrov allegedly woke at 7 a.m. to prepare a child for school and then returned to bed with Rodriguez.
Petrov reportedly did not reawaken until 11 a.m., when she finally decided to check on the child. Rodriguez and Petrov reportedly found the...
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April 2013 15:12
Category: RTM News Reel Written by News One
Rony Veus of Apopka, Fla. (pictured), was arrested last Thursday after he allegedly threw his 1-year-old daughter on the floor and began burning her with a cigar. The girl, who was identified as “Honey” (pictured) by her grandmother, died Saturday from her injuries.
Apopka police say that 911 was called around 1 p.m. concerning a girl who wasn’t breathing and showed no signs of a pulse. The cops who arrived on the scene said they saw Veus performing CPR on the girl. After she was taken to the hospital, staff told investigators they suspected that the child had been abused.
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“When something like this happens your heart goes out to that poor, defenseless child,” said Officer Steven Popp of the Apopka police.SEE...
Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 08:03
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