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‘They be going down at Barter Town’

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PALMER RESIDENTS TAKE TO FACEBOOK TO FIGHT CRIME

Barter Town, Alaska.

It sounds like the latest Alaska-based reality show. It’s actually a compound not far behind a well-known mattress store on the Palmer-Wasilla Highway, and it’s behind 8-foot fences that patchwork their way down one side of Richmond Lane.

From the street it looks a bit unkempt, but not any more so than many other places in Alaska.

Screen shot from the movie Mad Max.

In the movie Mad Max, Barter Town is a remote commerce outpost situated in the midst of the wasteland of the future. The original script describes it as a crowded square where “blacksmiths and wheelwrights hammer away at their trade, merchants tout their wares and men are trading. Chickens for grain, grain for alcohol, alcohol for sex. Directly in front of Max is a signpost which directs traders to the various delights and services of Bartertown: PARADISE ALLEY, GARDEN OF PLEASURE, BLACKSMITH, SMALL ANIMALS.”

In Palmer, Alaska, Barter Town on Richmond Lane is the scene of a neighborhood uprising over crime that they say has gotten out of control. The locals have taken to Facebook to inform each other about the possible nefarious activities happening nearby.

Cars come and go late at night down Richmond Lane, it’s reported on the Facebook group Stop Valley Thieves. Trucks pulling trailers full of stuff idle up to the gate. Things get unloaded from duffle bags. Lots of duffle bags, especially between 1-3 a.m.

Drone footage accessed by Must Read Alaska shows the extent of materials strewn across the scruffy lot. Either someone has a hoarding problem or there’s a lot of miscellaneous stuff for sale. Maybe your stuff.

What was a quiet family neighborhood four years ago has spiraled into a place where nearby residents sweep their driveways for spent drug needles, keep their kids out of the front yards, and worry about the passed-out druggies who sometimes  slump over the wheel of a car in front of the gated compound on the corner. There are fights on the street over merchandise and shouted demands for payments that are evidently not being honored.

If you’re hoping to go recover your stolen stuff in the Valley, you might want to head to Barter Town. On the other hand, you might not. No one really knows what is happening behind those fences. But the neighbors don’t feel safe.

A person in handcuffs is escorted by State Troopers on Richmond Road in Palmer, in front of a fenced-compound known as Barter Town.

 

Barter Town is a company known to the State of Alaska under license number 1055789. The man who appears to own and operate it is known to the Alaska Courts system for a handful of misdemeanors and is out on bail for a June arrest. He will face trial in November for intent to commit burglary, a Class A misdemeanor. More likely, he’ll cop a plea at his Oct. 16 pretrial conference.

Stop Valley Thieves members have had an eye on the Richmond Lane situation for months. The group’s administrators say that State Troopers know about what’s happening, but are under-staffed to make a case that will stick.

But they’re not ignoring it either. Someone in the Facebook group, which has over 15,600 members, posted a video of a man they know as Nicholas T. White being hauled off in handcuffs on Oct. 4 after a group of Troopers swarmed the gates. No charges have been filed yet, according to court records.

The person in handcuffs may or may not be White.

Kyle Muslin, who lives across the street, says it is White. Muslin has been documenting him for months.

Richmond Lane a place where he and his family no longer feel safe. His daughter sleeps with him and his wife in their bedroom, because at night things get pretty sketchy on that part of Richmond.

One day last summer, 30-40 lawnmowers showed up at the site, he said. Four-wheelers come and go. Chainsaws. Tools. Welding equipment. Weed-wackers.

And “dufflebags and dufflebags and dufflebags,” he said.

“The troopers told us the only way we can do anything is if someone identifies their stolen stuff,” Muslin said.

Doing so would mean going inside the fence, however. That’s private property.

Muslin keeps his security cameras rolling. When Must Read Alaska reached him this week, he was finishing up the installation of yet another camera. He has started posting photos of the comings and goings on the Stop Valley Thieves page, at times using the hashtag #ShutDownBarterTown.

At this point, he’s on a mission, and where the Troopers once thought he was just a disgruntled neighbor, they now text him notes of encouragement to keep up the pressure.

Like many others in the Stop Valley Thieves group, Muslin doesn’t hide his identity under a pseudonym. He and the others say it’s time for the community to stand up to the thieves and drug dealers. They’re taking the Crime Stoppers model to the next level: Social media.

But they also worry that at some point, some law-abiding citizen is going to get hurt. Several in the Facebook group, including himself, have been threatened. A driver tried to run him over with a truck in June. Another threatened him by saying he and his family would not “wake up in the morning.”

“I’m afraid for our safety every day,” Muslin said. “We have sort of put ourselves in the crosshairs. But there’s either going to be a gun fight right outside our doors or someone is going to shoot me, so I’m stuck with this. We couldn’t even sell our house if we tried. Who would buy it, with that going on?”

Some members of the Facebook group keep track of specific people, said Vicki Wallner, one of the group administrators. They video and photograph them, sometimes in the act of what appears to be a crime, and post the scenes on Stop Valley Thieves.

The Facebook vigilantes just share information. But even Wallner worries that someone will take the law into their own hands as the frustration with crime grows.

It’s not just Richmond Lane. Other places in the Valley draw similar concern by neighbors, she said.

There’s the house on Fairview Loop with a lot of junk cars and junkie types, and there’s a place known to locals as “The Compound,” where scary stuff goes on – people sleeping in abandoned cars on the property. Another place is described by critics as the “drug compound gravel pit crap hole.”

Others identify a sketchy house on Homebuilt Circle. The group is naming names of people they say are dealing drugs, using drugs, breaking into houses and stealing cars. When one of the suspects is arrested, they celebrate it and post the details of the arrest, along with their unfiltered opinions.

“They be going down at Barter Town!” posted one member in response to recent activity on Richmond Lane.

Other crime-stopper groups have sprung up on Facebook include a similarly named “Stop Valley Thieves Uncensored.” It has over 4,100 members. “Stolen in Alaska” has nearly 26,000 members. “Stolen Vehicles of Alaska” is a more narrowly focused self-help group. And a search found a dozen other groups dedicated to stopping theft and returning stolen items.

Where law enforcement has fallen short in Alaska, the Facebook community is stepping in, and facing personal peril as they take on criminals in a war they feel like they’ve been losing for too long.


MEETINGS IN VALLEY FOCUS ON CRIME

Meetings in the Mat-Su Valley are scheduled for coming days to discuss crime in advance of the legislative special session on Oct. 23, which will take up some criminal justice reform measures:

Oct. 10, 7:30-9:30 pm Alaska Republican Assembly Forum hosts “SB 91/ SB 54 Crime for Dummies” at the MTA Building, 480 Commercial Drive, Palmer, Alaska, downstairs. Guest speakers include Rep. Lora Reinbold, Stop Valley Thieves Administrator Vicki Wallner, Candidate for Lieutenant Governor Edie Grunwald, AKRA President Justin Giles, and Steve St. Clair.

Oct. 17, 5:30-7 pm, Talkeetna listening session with Sen. Mike Dunleavy at Upper Susitna Seniors, 16463 E. Helena Drive, Talkeetna.

Oct 18, 6-8 pm Public safety listening session with Sen. Mike Dunleavy at Teeland Middle School, cohosted by Rep. Cathy Tilton.

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Woman passenger from UK tests Covid positive at Hyderabad airport

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Hyderabad: A 35-year-old international passenger who reached the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport here on Wednesday has tested positive for Covid-19 after undergoing an RT-PCR test at the airport itself. The woman passenger had traveled from the United Kingdom, which has been categorised as an ‘At Risk Country’. 

The passenger has been admitted to the Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences (TIMS) and samples were collected and sent for genetic sequencing. Officials said she did not have any symptoms and that her health condition was being monitored closely. 

According to officials, the woman hails from Rangareddy district and was on a visit to UK from Hyderabad. Though her close relatives tested negative, their health condition is also being monitored. 


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Revealed: how Sidney Powell could be disbarred for lying in court for Trump | US elections 2020

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Sidney Powell, the former lawyer for Donald Trump who filed lawsuits across America for the former president, hoping to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, has on several occasions represented to federal courts that people were co-counsel or plaintiffs in her cases without seeking their permission to do so, the Guardian has learned.

Some of these individuals say that they only found out that Powell had named them once the cases were already filed.

During this same period of time, Powell also named several other lawyers – with their permission in those instances – as co-counsel in her election-related cases, despite the fact that they played virtually no role whatsoever in bringing or litigating those cases.

Both Powell’s naming of other people as plaintiffs or co-counsel without their consent and representing that other attorneys were central to her cases when, in fact, their roles were nominal or nonexistent, constitute serious potential violations of the American Bar Association model rules for professional conduct, top legal ethicists told the Guardian.

Powell’s misrepresentations to the courts in those particular instances often aided fundraising for her nonprofit, Defending the Republic. Powell had told prospective donors that the attorneys were integral members of an “elite strike force” who had played outsized roles in her cases – when in fact they were barely involved if at all.

A couple poses for a photo in front of a Trump campaign bus at a rally in Alpharetta, Georgia, on 2 December 2020.
A couple poses for a photo in front of a Trump campaign bus at a rally in Alpharetta, Georgia, on 2 December 2020. Photograph: Nathan Posner/REX/Shutterstock

Powell did not respond to multiple requests for comment via phone, email, and over social media.

The State Bar of Texas is already investigating Powell for making other allegedly false and misleading statements to federal courts by propagating increasingly implausible conspiracy theories to federal courts that Joe Biden’s election as president of the United States was illegitimate.

The Texas bar held its first closed-door hearing regarding the allegations about Powell on 4 November. Investigations by state bar associations are ordinarily conducted behind closed doors and thus largely opaque to the public.

A federal grand jury has also been separately investigating Powell, Defending the Republic, as well as a political action committee that goes by the same name, for fundraising fraud, according to records reviewed by the Guardian.

Among those who have alleged that Powell falsely named them as co-counsel is attorney Linn Wood, who brought and litigated with Powell many of her lawsuits attempting to overturn the results of the election with her, including in the hotly contested state of Michigan.

The Michigan case was a futile attempt by Powell to erase Joe Biden’s victory in that state and name Trump as the winner. On 25 August, federal district court Judge Linda Parker, of Michigan, sanctioned Powell and nine other attorneys who worked with her for having engaged in “a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process” in bringing the case in the first place. Powell’s claims of election fraud, Parker asserted, had no basis in law and were solely based on “speculation, conjecture, and unwarranted suspicion”.

Parker further concluded that the conduct of Powell, Wood, and the eight other attorneys who they worked with, warranted a “referral for investigation and possible suspension or disbarment to the appropriate disciplinary authority for each state … in which each attorney is admitted”.

Wood told the court in the Michigan case that Powell had wrongly named him as one of her co-counsel in the Michigan case. During a hearing in the case to determine whether to sanction Wood, his defense largely rested on his claim that he had not been involved in the case at all. Powell, Wood told the court, had put his name on the lawsuit without her even telling him.

A man holds a sign reading "The dead cannot vote" at a rally in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Trump supporters attend a rally in Alpharetta, Georgia, where Sidney Powell spoke on efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Photograph: Nathan Posner/REX/Shutterstock

Wood said: “I do not specifically recall being asked about the Michigan complaint … In this case obviously my name was included. My experience or my skills apparently were never needed, so I didn’t have any involvement with it.”

Wood’s attorney, Paul Stablein, was also categorical in asserting that his client had nothing to do with the case, telling the Guardian in an interview: “He didn’t draft the complaint. He didn’t sign it. He did not authorize anyone to put his name on it.”

Powell has denied she would have ever named Wood as a co-counsel without Wood’s permission.

But other people have since come forward to say that Powell has said that they were named as plaintiffs or lawyers in her election-related cases without their permission.

In a Wisconsin voting case, a former Republican candidate for Congress, Derrick Van Orden, said he only learned after the fact that he had been named as a plaintiff in one of Powell’s cases.

“I learned through social media today that my name was included in a lawsuit without my permission,” Van Orden said in a statement he posted on Twitter, “To be clear, I am not involved in the lawsuit seeking to overturn the election in Wisconsin.”

Jason Shepherd, the Republican chairman of Georgia’s Cobb county, was similarly listed as a plaintiff in a Georgia election case without his approval.

In a 26 November 2020 statement, Shepherd said he had been talking to an associate of Powell’s prior to the case’s filing about the “Cobb GOP being a plaintiff” but said he first “needed more information to at least make sure the executive officers were in agreeing to us being a party in the suit”. The Cobb County Republican party later agreed to remain plaintiffs in the case instead of withdrawing.

Leslie Levin, a professor at the University of Connecticut Law School, said in an interview: “Misrepresentations to the court are very serious because lawyers are officers of the court. Bringing a lawsuit in someone’s name when they haven’t consented to being a party is a very serious misrepresentation and one for which a lawyer should expect to face serious discipline.”

Nora Freeman Engstrom, a law professor at Stanford University, says that Powell’s actions appear to violate Rule 3.3 of the ABA’s model rules of professional misconduct which hold that “a lawyer shall not knowingly … make a false statement of fact of law to a tribunal”.

Since election day last year, federal and state courts have dismissed more than 60 lawsuits alleging electoral fraud and irregularities by Powell, and other Trump allies.

Shortly after the election, Trump named Powell as a senior member of an “elite strike force” who would prove that Joe Biden only won the 2020 presidential race because the election was stolen from him. But Trump refused to pay her for her services. To remedy this, Powell set up a new nonprofit called Defending the Republic; its stated purpose is to “protect the integrity of elections in the United States”.

As a nonprofit, the group is allowed to raise unlimited amounts of “dark money” and donors are legally protected from the ordinary requirements to disclose their identities to the public. Powell warned supporters that for her to succeed, “millions of dollars must be raised”.

Echoing Trump’s rhetoric, Powell told prospective donors that Defending the Republic had a vast team of experienced litigators.

Sidney Powell speaks at a press conference on election results in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Sidney Powell speaks at a press conference on election results in Alpharetta, Georgia. Photograph: Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters

Among the attorneys who Powell said made up this “taskforce” were Emily Newman, who had served Trump as the White House liaison to the Department of Health and Human Services and as a senior official with the Department of Homeland Security. Newman had been a founding board member of Defending the Republic.

But facing sanctions in the Michigan case, some of the attorneys attempted to distance themselves from having played much of a meaningful role in her litigation.

Newman’s attorney told Parker, the judge, that Newman had “not played a role in the drafting of the complaint … My client was a contract lawyer working from home who spent maybe five hours on this matter. She really wasn’t involved … Her role was de minimis.”

To have standing to file her Michigan case, Powell was initially unable to find a local attorney to be co-counsel on her case but eventually attorney Gregory Rohl agreed to help out.

But when Rohl was sanctioned by Parker and referred to the Michigan attorney disciplinary board for further investigation, his defense was that he, too, was barely involved in the case. He claimed that he only received a copy of “the already prepared” 830-page initial complaint at the last minute, reviewed it for “well over an hour”, while then “making no additions, decisions or corrections” to the original.

As with Newman, Parker, found that Rohl violated ethics rules by making little, if any, effort to verify the facts of the claims in Powell’s filings.

In sanctioning Rohl, the judge wrote that “the court finds it exceedingly difficult to believe that Rohl read an 830-page complaint in just ‘well over an hour’ on the day he filed it. So, Rohl’s argument in and of itself reveals sanctionable conduct.”

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Govt to introduce important Bill, Covid situation likely to be discussed

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The government on Thursday will table ‘The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill 2021’ in the Lok Sabha. A discussion on Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and its various related aspects is also likely to take place in the lower House.


Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya will move the ‘The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill’ in the Lok Sabha to amend the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research Act, 1998.





Under rule 193, a discussion on Covid-19 pandemic and various aspects related to it will likely take place. According to sources, the members may also raise their concern and ask for the government’s preparedness for the new Omicron variant. Under Rule 193, members can seek details about the new Covid variant. “Short duration discussion is likely to be held in the Lok Sabha on the Covid and its various aspects, including new Omicron variant,” sources said.


Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Prahlad Singh Patel, General V.K. Singh, Krishan Pal, Bhanu Pratap Verma, Rameshwar Teli and Kaushal Kishore will lay papers on the table. Reports and action reports of different standing committees will also be laid in the day.


The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Amendment) Bill 2021 (ART) by voice vote as the amendments moved by the DMK MP N.K. Prem Chandran, Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy and Shiv Sena MP Vinayak Raut were negated. The ART Bill seeks to regulate fertility clinics. All such clinics will have to be registered under the National Registry of Banks and Clinics of India.


The opposition is likely to continue to raise its voices on price rise, unemployment and extended jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) in some states. The opposition parties are also demanding a law guaranteeing the minimum support price (MSP).

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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