Ban Plastic bag

A new law in Michigan will prohibit local governments from banning, regulating or imposing fees on the use of plastic bags and other containers. You read that correctly: It’s not a ban on plastic bags — it’s a ban on banning plastic bags.

Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley signed the new public act into law on Wednesday, along with 11 other bills. Gov. Rick Snyder is currently on vacation out of state, local news sources reported, and Calley has the authority to sign bills into law in his absence.

The new public act prohibits local ordinances from “regulating the use, disposition, or sale of, prohibiting or restricting, or imposing any fee, charge, or tax on certain containers,” including plastic bags, as well as cups, bottles and other forms of packaging. This means individual cities and municipalities are not allowed to ban plastic bags or charge customers a fee for using them.

Bans and restrictions on the use of plastic bags are widespread in other parts of the country and around the world. The rationale is simple: Plastic bags are infamous non-biodegradable sources of pollution — although they will eventually break down into tiny pieces, scientists believe this process can take hundreds of years, or even up to a century, in landfills.

Many scientists are growing particularly concerned about plastic pollution in the oceans. Research suggests that 5 million to 12 million metric tons of plastic may have been dumped into the ocean in 2010 alone. There, the waste is frequently eaten by seabirds and other marine animals — or it breaks down into tiny pieces known as microplastics, which scientists believe can be harmful or even toxic to sea creatures who ingest it.

Bangladesh was the first country in the world to ban certain types of thin plastic bags in 2002, after they were found to have choked the nation’s drainage systems during a series of devastating floods. China instituted a similar ban in 2008 , and also prohibits businesses from giving out thicker plastic bags to customers for free. Other nations, including South Africa and Italy, have also enacted similar restrictions.

San Francisco became the first U.S. municipality to institute a plastic bag ban. And in 2014, California became the first state. Many other municipalities around the country have bans or fees in place, including Austin, Texas; Seattle and Chicago, which will be repealing its citywide ban in favor of a 7-cent tax next month.

On the other hand, Michigan is not the only state to have implemented a ban on bans. Idaho, Arizona and Missouri all have enacted similar laws. In these cases, proponents of the laws have defended them as a way of protecting businesses from having to comply with additional regulations.

The new Michigan law was met with praise from the Michigan Restaurant Association for this reason.

“With many of our members owning and operating locations across the state, preventing a patchwork approach of additional regulations is imperative to avoid added complexities as it related to day-to-day business operations,” said Robert O’Meara, the association’s vice president of government affairs, in a statement.



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The FBI now tracks animal abuse like it tracks homicides

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FBI turns animal cruelty into top-tier felony

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Young people who torture and kill animals are prone to violence against people later in life if it goes unchecked, 
studies have shown. A new federal category for animal cruelty crimes will help root out those pet abusers before their behavior worsens and give a boost to prosecutions, an animal welfare group says.

For years, the FBI has filed animal abuse under the label "other" along with a variety of lesser crimes, making cruelty hard to find, 
hard to count and hard to track. The bureau announced this month that it would make animal cruelty a Group A felony with its own category 
— the same way crimes like homicide, arson and assault are listed.

"It will help get better sentences, sway juries and make for better plea bargains," said Madeline Bernstein, 
president and CEO of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles and a former New York prosecutor.

The category also will help identify young offenders, and a defendant might realize "if he gets help now,
 he won't turn into Jeffrey Dahmer," she said.

Law enforcement agencies will have to report incidents and arrests in four areas: simple or gross neglect; 
intentional abuse and torture; organized abuse, including dogfighting and cockfighting; and animal sexual abuse, 
the FBI said in statement. The bureau didn't answer questions beyond a short statement.

"The immediate benefit is it will be in front of law enforcement every month when they have to do their crime reports," said John Thompson, 
interim executive director of the National Sheriffs' Association who worked to get the new animal cruelty category instituted. 
"That's something we have never seen."

Officers will start to see the data are facts and "not just somebody saying the 'Son of Sam' killed animals before he went to human victims and 70-some percent of the school shooters abused animals prior to doing their acts before people," said Thompson, a retired assistant sheriff from Prince George's County, Maryland.

FBI studies show that serial killers like Dahmer impaled the heads of dogs, frogs and cats on sticks; 
David Berkowitz, known as the "Son of Sam," poisoned his mother's parakeet; and Albert DeSalvo, 
aka the "Boston Strangler," trapped cats and dogs in wooden crates and killed them by shooting arrows through the boxes.

It will take time and money to update FBI and law enforcement databases nationwide, revise manuals and send out guidelines, 
Thompson said, so there won't be any data collected until January 2016. After that, it will take several months before there are numbers to analyze.

The new animal cruelty statistics will allow police and counselors to work with children who show early signs of trouble, 
so a preschooler hurting animals today isn't going to be hurting a person two years from now, Bernstein said.

The FBI's category will track crimes nationwide and is bound to give animal cruelty laws in all 50 states more clout. 
Many states are seeing more of those convicted of animal cruelty being sentenced to prison, in marked contrast to years past.

Whether talking about state laws or the FBI change, it is clear "that regardless of whether people care about how animals are treated,
 people — like legislators and judges — care about humans, and they can't deny the data," said Natasha Dolezal, 
director of the animal law program in the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon.

A first look at the FBI’s animal cruelty statistics will be available next year, but it will take three to five years for the data to begin showing helpful patterns.
It was more than 10 years ago that Mary Lou Randour realized she couldn't answer what should have been a simple question: Was cruelty against animals on the rise or in decline? After a years-long lobbying effort, in 2014, the FBI agreed. And this year will be the first time it collects data on animal crimes the way it does for other serious crimes like homicide.


FBI Rolling Out A Plan To Track Worst Animal Cruelty Cases


Tracking Animal Cruelty
FBI Collecting Data on Crimes Against Animals


Acts of cruelty against animals are now counted alongside felony crimes like arson, burglary, assault, and homicide in the FBI’s expansive criminal database. On January 1, the Bureau’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) began collecting detailed data from participating law enforcement agencies on acts of animal cruelty, including gross neglect, torture, organized abuse, and sexual abuse. Before this year, crimes that involved animals were lumped into an “All Other Offenses” category in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s annual Crime in the United States report, a survey of crime data provided by about 18,000 city, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies.By adding animal cruelty offenses to NIBRS, law enforcement agencies and the advocacy groups that pushed for the inclusion in the FBI database are hoping the results will reveal a more complete picture of the nature of cruelty to animals. “Some studies say that cruelty to animals is a precursor to larger crime,” said Nelson Ferry, who works in the Bureau’s  Criminal Statistics Management Unit, which manages NIBRS. “That’s one of the items that we’re looking at.”The National Sheriffs’ Association was a leading advocate for adding animal cruelty as a data set in the Bureau’s collection of crime statistics. The association for years has cited studies linking animal abuse and other types of crimes—most famously, murders committed by serial killers like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and the “Son of Sam” killer David Berkowitz. The organization also points out the overlap animal abuse has with domestic violence and child abuse.“If somebody is harming an animal, there is a good chance they also are hurting a human,” said John Thompson, deputy executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association. “If we see patterns of animal abuse, the odds are that something else is going on.” A first look at NIBRS animal cruelty statistics will be available next year, but it will take at least three to five years for the data to begin showing helpful patterns. Groups that advocated for the new animal cruelty data hope that by adding it to NIBRS—rather than the summary-based statistics agencies provide the Bureau each year—they will get a much richer data set from which to mine. That’s because NIBRS requires participating agencies to not only report crimes but also all the circumstances of a crime. Additionally, the Bureau plans to phase out summary-based UCR statistics—which have been collected roughly the same way since 1930—in favor of NIBRS by 2021.“With summary data, all I can tell you is a crime occurred,” said Amy Blasher, who is leading the broader transition to NIBRS at the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division, keeper of the Bureau’s various crime data stores. “With the incident-based, it’s more granular. It tells the story.”The move to collect more granular data requires agencies to adjust how they track and disseminate crime statistics. Only about 31 percent of the country is represented in NIBRS today—a fraction of the overall UCR participants; however, Blasher anticipates the figure to grow larger as law enforcement agencies opt in, including police departments in Washington, D.C. and Chicago over the next two years. The FBI is aggressively pushing for the transition to NIBRS. In a speech last March in Atlanta, FBI Director James Comey said it was his personal mission to get better data “that we can all use to have informed conversations about the most important issues we face.”Those who lobbied for better animal abuse data would agree. “With this information, law enforcement and victim services would be able to better target their intervention efforts with respect to both animal cruelty and those crimes for which animal cruelty serves as a marker,” said Dr. Mary Lou Randour of the Animal Welfare Institute, which worked closely with the National Sheriffs’ Association to advance their cause. “Identifying and analyzing animal cruelty crimes would provide an important tool for law enforcement.” The National Sheriffs’ Association’s John Thompson urged people to shed the mindset that animal cruelty is a crime only against animals. “It’s a crime against society,” he said, urging all law enforcement agencies to participate in NIBRS. “By paying attention to [these crimes], we are benefiting all of society.”



                   ✴︎Section 2— Clarification to Policy and Procedures

National UCR Program to begin collecting data on animal 

Beginning January 1, 2016, the national UCR Program will add the offense of Animal Cruelty to the NIBRS as a Group A offense and as a Crime Against Society.

Data Element 12 (Type Criminal Activity/Gang Information) will expand to include four data values about the type of abuse. The four types of abuse will be: