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Illinois town ‘ecstatic’ over plan to house Gitmo inmates

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Residents of a tiny Illinois town on Tuesday welcomed a controversial plan to transfer dozens of Guantanamo Bay detainees to their near empty prison as a “wonderful, wonderful thing.”

“This is the best thing that could have happened to us,” said Julie Hansen, president of the Thomson chamber of commerce.

“I am ecstatic and I hope nothing happens that will keep this from happening in our community.”

The Thomson Correctional Center, located across the Mississippi River from Iowa, has remained virtually empty since it was opened eight years ago due to state budgetary constraints.

The rural county is desperate for the jobs the prison could bring. Hansen said people are excited about the possibility of new families moving into the town of 550 and new businesses opening up to serve the prison’s needs.

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“I have a vision that this could be just a wonderful, wonderful thing for Carroll County,” Hansen told AFP.

The area has never recovered from the closure of a nearby army depot about 10 years ago, said Bill Gengenbach, editor of the Carroll County Review.

“The job market here is very slim,” he said, adding that most people have to leave the county to find work. “The economic impact that the prison might bring is what people are looking for.”

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The White House announced plans to purchase the maximum security prison from the state of Illinois and use it to house federal prisoners and a limited number of Guantanamo inmates.

While there was quite a bit of opposition to the prison when it was first being built, that opposition has all but dried up in recent years, Gengenbach said.

People are much more worried about the economy than any potential threats from the prison.

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“There is a little apprehension about being a potential target for terrorism but I don’t think people are really fearful,” he said.

The local sheriff also dismissed security concerns, noting that the nearby army installation had housed everything from nuclear weapons to prisoners of war.

“The detainee issue, I don’t think it’s really an issue,” Carroll County sheriff Jeff Doran told CNN. “Most people are in favor. I think most people are excited about it.”

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The prison is currently protected by a 12-foot (four-meter) high exterior fence and a 15-foot (three-meter) interior fence, which includes a dual-sided electric stun barrier.

The Guantanamo detainees would be housed in a separate facility within the prison run by the Department of Defense and staffed by soldiers.

Illinois officials and lawmakers lobbied hard to bring the Guantanamo detainees to the state, brushing aside objections from many around the country that it would be folly to put them on American soil.

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Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, the second-highest ranking Democrat in the Senate, has insisted the prisoners could be held safely and securely.

“The people who are spreading the fear are not listening to the folks that are in charge of security and in charge of intelligence,” Durbin told MSNBC.

“We have 340 convicted terrorists presently being held today in American prisons, being held safely. I am not concerned about this.”

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The federal government’s purchase of the prison could create an estimated 2,340 to 3,250 direct and indirect jobs for the state. It was estimated that the unemployment rate in Carroll County, home to the prison, could be halved.

And the move should pump some 790 million dollars to 1.1 billion dollars into the local economy over four years, according to a preliminary administration analysis.


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Black Georgia lawmaker accuses white man of demanding she ‘go back where she came from’ in supermarket diatribe

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On Friday evening, Erica Thomas, and African-American Democratic lawmaker in the Georgia House of Representatives, was shopping at a Publix supermarket in Mableton when a white customer came up to her and shouted at her, telling her to "go back where you came from" — words echoing President Donald Trump's recent racist attacks on four Democratic congresswomen of color.

Thomas' crime? She had too many items for the express checkout line.

Today I was verbally assaulted in the grocery store by a white man who told me I was a lazy SOB and to go back to where I came from bc I had to many items in the express lane. My husband wasn’t there to defend me because he is on Active Duty serving the country I came from USA!

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Trump offers to guarantee bail for rapper A$AP Rocky

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US President Donald Trump offered Saturday to guarantee the bail of rapper ASAP Rocky, detained in Sweden on suspicion of assault following a street brawl.

Trump tweeted that he had spoken with Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who he said gave assurances that the singer would be treated fairly.

"Likewise, I assured him that A$AP was not a flight risk and offered to personally vouch for his bail, or an alternative," Trump wrote.

There is no system of bail in Sweden.

Trump said he and Lofven had agreed to speak again over the next 48 hours.

Fans, fellow artists and US Congress members have campaigned for the 30-year-old artist, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, to be freed since his arrest on July 3 following the fight on June 30.

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The best Civil War movie ever made finally gets its due

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On Sunday and on July 24, Turner Classic Movies and Fathom Events are presenting big-screen showings in theaters nationwide of “Glory,” in honor of the 30-year anniversary of its release. The greatest movie ever made about the American Civil War, “Glory” was the first and, with the exception of Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” the only film that eschewed romanticism to reveal what the war was really about.

The story is told through the eyes of one of the first regiments of African American soldiers. Almost from the time the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter, S.C., the issue of black soldiers in the Union army was hotly debated. On Jan. 1, 1863, as the country faced the third year of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, rapidly accelerating the process of putting black men into federal blue.

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