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City police calls – July 4

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The following information was summarized from the records of city, county and state police, fire and hospital agencies.

Arrests

Thursday

Cathy E. Ford, 54, of North Vernon, Morgan County warrant, 8:26 p.m., by the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department, held with no bond, transferred to other jail.

Kyle L. Tews, 30, of 8855 S. County Road 300W, Columbus, Bartholomew County warrant, 10:44 p.m., by the Columbus Police Department, held in lieu of $1,000 bond.

Friday

Robert E. Clark, 61, of 711 Hutchins Ave., Columbus, Bartholomew County warrant, 2:54 a.m., by the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department, released on $10,000 bond.

David B. Defibaugh, 54, of 737 California St., Columbus, driving while suspended with prior infraction, Brown County warrant, 7:06 a.m., by the Columbus Police Department, held with no bond.

Fire, medic runs

Friday

4:27 a.m. — Structure fire in the 900 block of Chestnut Street.

6:33 a.m. — Gas odor in the 3400 block of Earls Court.

8:57 a.m. — Possible overdose or poisoning near the intersection of West Jonathan Moore Pike and Interstate 65.

9:49 a.m. — Person injured in a fall in the 6000 block of North Stratton Court.

9:50 a.m. — Unconscious person in the 2400 block of West Jonathon Moore Pike.

10:25 a.m. — Person injured in a fall in the 10700 block of East State Road 7.

6:42 p.m. — Person injured in a fall in the 7400 block of North County Road 825E.

10:46 p.m. — Illegal burn in the 1900 block of Ohio Avenue.

11:01 p.m. — Unconscious person in the 700 block of West County Road 200S.

Incidents

Friday

5:05 a.m. — Domestic disturbance in the 1200 block of California Street.

5:40 a.m. — Property-damage accident near the 70.5 mile marker of South Interstate 65.

7:23 a.m. — Damage to property in the 15500 block of East County Road 400S.

7:23 a.m. — Domestic disturbance in the 15700 block of South County Road 400W.

7:31 a.m. — Theft in the 15800 block of North U.S. 31.

8:20 a.m. — Threats in the 800 block of Jackson Street.

8:59 a.m. — Leaving the scene of a property-damage at the intersection of Fourth and Jackson streets.

11:12 a.m. — Theft in the 1800 block of West County Road 450S.

11:13 a.m. — Theft reported to the Columbus Police Department.

11:27 a.m. — Property-damage accident in the 3400 block of West Jonathan Moore Pike.

11:56 a.m. — Leaving the scene of a property-damage accident in the 3900 block of Williamsburg Court.

12:16 p.m. — Trespassing in the 2200 block of Applegate Drive.

12:18 p.m. — Property-damage accident in the 1000 block of Ashford Park Place.

12:36 p.m. — Drug violations in the 2600 block of Foxpointe Drive.

12:47 p.m. — Property-damage accident in the 2100 block of Chandler Lane.

1:18 p.m. — Leaving the scene of a property-damage accident at the intersection of South County Road 220E and East State Street.

1:30 p.m. — Domestic disturbance in the 3400 block of Limestone Lane.

1:44 p.m. — Theft in the 3500 block of 10th Street.

2:10 p.m. — Theft in the 2200 block of State Street.

2:24 p.m. — Property-damage accident in the 18800 block of East State Road 46.

2:34 p.m. — Theft in the 16200 block of East County Road 265N.

2:58 p.m. — Domestic disturbance in the 100 block of Second Street.

3:23 p.m. — Fight near the intersection of Middle and Rocky Ford roads.

4:14 p.m. — Theft in the 2100 block of Cherry Street.

4:18 p.m. — Property-damage accident in the 1700 block of North National Road.

4:23 p.m. — Fraud in the 800 block of Baywood Court.

4:50 p.m. — Animal abuse in the 2200 block of Fifth Street.

5:16 p.m. — Damage to property in the 1500 block of 22nd Street.

5:44 p.m. — Animal abuse in the 1500 block of Union Street.

6:37 p.m. — Personal-injury accident in the 4900 block of West Jonathan Moore Pike.

6:37 p.m. — Intimidation reported to the Columbus Police Department. 

9:09 p.m. — Shoplifting in the 3000 block of 25th Street.

9:49 p.m. — Domestic disturbance in the 1400 block of Wrenwood Drive.

10:30 p.m. — Disturbance in the 100 block of Cambridge Square.

11:14 p.m. — Loud noise in the 400 block of Pearl Street.

11:24 p.m. — Loud noise in the 3000 block of Rosewood Lane.

11:25 p.m. — Loud noise near the intersection of 17th Street and Lawton Avenue.


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In Vietnam, ‘feeding the police’ just a cost of doing business | Corruption

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Hanoi, Vietnam – When Ngan saw a police car passing by her coffee shop in Hanoi’s Old Quarter on a recent afternoon, she hurriedly grabbed the chairs cluttering the pavement and brought them inside.

After the police passed out of sight moments later, she put the chairs back out on the pavement, where they would stay until the arrival of the next patrol warning vendors to keep the area clear. By using the space in front of her 16-metre square shop, Ngan can double the number of customers that can be seated at a time.

“Everyday, we have to ‘act’ for a few seconds,” Ngan, who asked to use a pseudonym, told Al Jazeera. “They would not punish us anyway, since our ‘fees’ have been duly paid.”

Ngan, whose business supports a family of seven, pays VND 6 million ($260) in cash every 6 months to a police officer in charge of the neighborhood where her shop is located. On a number of occasions, she has even helped him collect money from other shops in the area.

“He would never tell me the amount he wanted. It is always I who offered the amount, and he would bargain afterwards, if dissatisfied,” said Ngan, who has been selling coffee at the same spot for more than a decade.

For many shop owners and street vendors in Hanoi, greasing the palms of local law enforcement on a regular basis, known colloquially as “nuôi công an” or “feeding the police”, is just another cost of doing business.

Vietnam was ranked 104 out of 180 countries in last year’s Corruption Perceptions Index compiled by Transparency International, a Berlin-based nonprofit that combats global corruption, with a score of 36 out of 100, where 100 is considered most clean. The police are widely perceived as among the most corrupt sectors in the country.

When Secretary General Nguyen Phu Trong launched his “furnace blazing” anti-corruption campaign in 2018, resulting in the prosecution of more than 11,700 economic crimes, the police and military were among the major targets alongside the upper echelons of the ruling communist party.

Vietnam has cracked down on high-level corruption in recent years [File: Kham/Reuters]

The campaign, however, has not wiped out petty corruption, which remains widely tolerated by businesses and authorities alike.

Although taking bribes by public officials and managers at state and non-state organisations was criminalized under a 2018 anti-corruption law, payments to police and other low-level civil servants are commonly construed as “protection fees”.

While strong anti-corruption measures have been carried out at the national level — including the establishment of a hotline to report police corruption — provincial authorities have refrained from tackling the issue, according to national officials.

Other measures have shown signs of progress. In 2019, the Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index, which interviewed 14,138 citizens in 63 provinces and cities, reported the biggest decline in corruption since 2011. The rate of respondents who reported a decrease in corruption was five percentage points higher than in 2018.

The Hanoi Municipal Police Department and Ministry of Public Security did not respond to Al Jazeera’s requests for comment.

For Tu, the owner of a small hotpot restaurant in Hoa Bình city, gifts and payments are insurance against police harassment.

“In a restaurant, noise is inevitable. We might be fined for disturbing the peace of the neighborhood at any time,” she said. “It is better to pay and be left alone.”

Being on good terms with the local police saves Tu from mounds of paperwork, trips to administrative offices and other bureaucratic burdens that come with following the strict letter of the law.

“I do not have a lot of education. I do not know how to meet their requirements,” said Tu, who asked to use a pseudonym. “Those requirements are never transparent and might change on their whim. My business might be legal today and illegal the next day.”

‘Reciprocity’

A good relationship with the police can also encourage authorities to be flexible when it comes to bribes.

During a two-month lockdown that lifted in September, Ngan’s police officer contact waived “fees” as restrictions deprived her family of income.

Earlier this month, a local police officer called Ngan to inform him that he would “pay a visit”. Explaining that the shop was not doing good business due to a surge in coronavirus cases, Ngan asked for a “discount”. The police officer agreed, but told her she would need to make up for it when things get back to normal.

A former police officer in Hanoi, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Al Jazeera that local police rely on small businesses for bribes as the owners of big businesses are too well connected to shake down.

He said that while he was allowed to keep a small portion of the bribes he collected, most of the money would be handed over to those “above him”, especially the chief police officer of the ward where he was posted.

“My boss asked us [subordinates] to pay him a certain amount of money each month,” the former police officer, who quit the force last year, said. “If we did not, we would be in trouble.”

Hung, who runs a coffee shop in the Đống Đa district of Hanoi, finds it difficult to blame lower-level police officers for the culture of corruption, which he sees as a form of “tán lộc” or sharing one’s fortune, that is necessary to avoid bad karma.

“In order to survive in the business world, you need to know how to pay respect to local authorities,” Hung, who asked to use a pseudonym, told Al Jazeera. “Reciprocity makes everyone happy.”

Hung is certain the bulk of the “unofficial fees” of $40 he pays to police each quarter go to higher-ranking officials.

“Police do not need you to abide by the law,” Hung said.  “They want you to break the law so that they will get the money to submit to their superiors.”

“We cannot blame them if their bosses are indecent,” he added, describing such petty corruption as “nothing compared to the corruption of higher-ranked officials”.


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Afghan refugees in the UK told to find homes on real estate portals

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LONDON: Thousands of Afghan refugees who have been housed in hotels in the UK following the Kabul evacuation last year have been told by authorities to look for new accommodation on online real estate portals.

The UK Home Office has told refugees to find accommodation on Rightmove or Zoopla, The Guardian reported.

On the first anniversary of the Taliban takeover, the UK government is still providing hotel accommodation to 9,500 Afghan refugees, with only 7,000 having been rehoused.

Although charities have welcomed government moves to end the use of hotels to accommodate the refugees, charity officials are concerned that many will fail to find suitable accommodation in the private rented sector and may end up homeless.

Afghan families with children will struggle to find affordable accommodation that is large enough using the housing benefit provided.

Charities also highlighted the fact that refugees may not be able to negotiate their own rental agreements due to language barriers, and would not have paperwork such as passports and bank statements that are required to rent a property.

Home Office sources say that in addition to encouraging Afghan families living in hotels to look for their own housing, they aim to offer each family two choices of accommodation somewhere in the UK. However, it is not known if they will be given a choice of location.

The Home Office said the accommodation offers would be “good, decent proposals,” but that if families rejected the offers, they would be provided with a further two months of hotel accommodation. It did not say what would happen if the families failed to secure accommodation after that.

Home Office sources say they are trying to encourage Afghan families to move to other parts of the UK, such as Wales, but this may be problematic for families with children who are attending school in large cities such as London.

Waiting lists for council housing are long, especially for larger properties that can accommodate Afghan families with three or more children.

Despite Afghan families having the right to rent under immigration rules and landlords being able to check this using an online tool, some are reluctant to rent to people who do not have a British passport, or evidence of life in the UK such as utility bills and payslips.

A letter sent to Afghan refugees from the Home Office says that not all councils will accept a request to put families on social housing waiting lists, urging them to start looking in the private rental sector.

“Not all councils will support you so it’s important to check,” the letters said. They urged the refugees to search for multiple properties to increase their chances of finding accommodation as the UK housing market is “very competitive.”

Eva Tabbasam, director of Gender Action for Peace and Security, expressed concern about the plans.

“Afghan families couldn’t have imagined that one year after arriving they’d still be warehoused in unsuitable accommodation, without space, privacy and stability. There is also a serious risk of homelessness for these families if suitable accommodation is not offered under the current Home Office plans, Tabbasam said.

“The government has had a year to sort things out — instead, it’s getting worse. If suitable accommodation was readily available for the 9,500 people still in hotels, families would already have been moved into it. We don’t yet know what kind of move on accommodation families will be offered,” she added.

London Councils’ executive member for communities, Claire Holland, said: “Boroughs are very concerned by the lack of alternative housing options for these families — a particular challenge in the capital due to the chronic shortage of affordable housing here.”

A Home Office spokesperson said that the use of hotels to house those resettling from Afghanistan is a temporary solution.

“We continue to work with over 350 local authorities to move Afghan families from hotels to permanent accommodation as quickly as possible,” they said.

“To support the resettlement of Afghan families, local authorities are given £20,520 ($24,789) per person over a three-year period. They have the flexibility to use this funding to contribute toward renting accommodation, including deposits, letting fees and furnishing.”


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3 injured in shooting at amusement park near Chicago – Arab News

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