U.S.-led coalition say ongoing air strikes in Iraq are reversing ISIL gains

Special to WorldTribune.com

The Obama administration has released data it says supports claims that U.S. air strikes in Iraq are rolling back last year’s offensive by Islamic State if Iraq and Levant (ISIL).

A detailed White House fact sheet  released last week during the visit to the White House by Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi reported that over 1,900 U.S.-led airstrikes have hit ISIL targets in Iraq, and claimed that as a result the terror group has lost between 25 to 30 percent of its control over populated areas it had controlled.

Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, left, and U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House on April 14. / Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, left, and U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House on April 14. / Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Iraqi officials however have warned that the major city of Ramadi is in danger of falling to ISIL forces.

The U.S.-led coalition that is targeting the ISIL militants carried out 13 air strikes in Syria and Iraq in the past 24-hour period ending on April 19.

U.S. officials in the Combined Joint Task Force said in a statement that 12 of the strikes were in Iraq while only one was in Syria.

The strikes hit ISIL sniper positions, weapons platforms, vehicles and facilities near the Iraqi cities of Bayji, Fallujah, Kirkuk, Ramadi, and Sinjar according to the statement.

It added that near the Syrian city of Al-Hasakah, an air strike destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

The coalition has been carrying out strikes since September in a bid to reverse the gains made by ISIL fighters in Iraq and Syria.

Coalition officials say the ISIL has been stopped and pushed back in many areas due to a combination of air strikes and attacks by Iraqi security forces.


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Billions of digital words and our spinner-in-chief are only making matters worse

Sol W. Sanders

One of the many reasons we commemorate the catastrophic death of Abraham Lincoln 150 years ago is to celebrate his incredible style, his ability in a few words to sum up the essence of our hopes and fears at a moment of crisis.

What makes it all the more poignant just now is that we are living through a period when the norm of public discourse is pure and unadulterated – dare I use the most descriptive if vulgar word?

We are led in all this by the Blah-er-in-chief who substitutes obfuscation with a so-called golden delivery to confuse almost all the issues facing us.

As a news junkie, glued now alas! to the internet, I wade through a continual swamp of blah-blah-blah every day.

RememberingAbrahamLincolnOne of the most dramatic examples at the moment are the thousands of words that have now flowed concerning the problem of the Iranian mullahs’ pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. But the blah-blah-blah has confused a relatively simple issue:

Iran, with incredible reserves of fossil fuels, has gone for nuclear energy, ostensibly to produce electrical power. But its pursuit of enriched uranium indicates it is really chasing weapons material.

Hello?

Either the world puts a stop to it, or Iranian state terrorism – already plaguing the Middle East and reaching into Latin America – will destroy what little is left of our peace and stability.

The muddled negotiations of President Barak Hussein Obama with Tehran’s rulers have conceded issue after issue, not the least any real supervision of any agreement with a regime that has a long history of violating all its international commitments That poses a dilemma not only for Washington policymakers, but for its allies. [Note that the French of all people are calling this spade a spade.]

Either the Western alliance must use its every weapon to force the issue with Tehran, or lose the game. But that requires determined American leadership in the face of commercial interests at home and among Washington’s allies which see Iran as a rapidly developing market that only with major concessions could now be readily exploited.

The attempt by Obama to withdraw American leadership in this as from other international relations and substitute blah-blah-blah is creating chaos throughout the world, permitting already exceedingly difficult regional conflicts to become exacerbated as lesser powers attempt to exploit the vacuum.

Little of this is illuminated, however, by the avalanche of blah-blah-blah, often by well meaning observers and self-appointed analysts.

The advent of the internet with its access to anyone with a computer has meant the flow of blah-blah-blah — more often than not simple plagiarism from one copying source to another — completes the picture of total confusion.

Sol W. Sanders, (solsanders@cox.net), is a contributing editor for WorldTribune.com and East-Asia-Intel.com


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Uber must face lawsuit claiming bias against blind riders

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc must defend against a lawsuit accusing the popular ride-sharing service of discriminating against blind people by refusing to transport guide dogs, a federal judge ruled.

In a decision late Friday night, U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins in San Jose, California, said the plaintiffs could pursue a claim that Uber is a “travel service” subject to potential liability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The judge rejected Uber’s arguments that the plaintiffs, including the National Federation of the Blind of California, lacked standing to sue under the ADA and state laws protecting the disabled.

Uber was given 14 days to formally respond to the complaint.

Aaron Zisser, a lawyer for Disability Rights Advocates in Berkeley, California, which helped bring the case, said the plaintiffs are pleased with the decision.

“Uber is a very popular service, and it is important for riders with service animals to be able to use it like anyone else,” he said in a phone interview.

In a statement, Uber said drivers are told that company policy is to comply with all laws regarding transportation of service animals.

“The Uber app is built to expand access to transportation options for all, including users with visual impairments and other disabilities,” the company said.

In seeking to dismiss the case, Uber also said the individual plaintiffs were required to arbitrate their claims.

Valued at an estimated $40 billion, Uber says it offers its mobile phone taxi-hailing service in more than 270 cities and geographic areas in 56 countries, and can charge varying prices based on demand.

But the San Francisco-based company has faced complaints around the world over how it pays drivers, treats passengers and ensures safety.

In the discrimination case, the plaintiffs said federal law requires operators of taxi services such as Uber to carry service animals for blind riders, but it knows of more than 40 instances in which Uber drivers refused.

They cited two instances in which Uber drivers allegedly yelled “no dogs” at riders, and another in which a Uber driver allegedly refused a blind woman’s plea to pull over once she realized he had locked her guide dog in the trunk of his car.

Uber said it was “on the cutting edge of expanding accessibility” for the disabled, and said that claims it failed to accommodate blind people with service animals had no merit.

The case is National Federation of the Blind of California et al v. Uber Technologies Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 14-04086.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Ted Botha and Leslie Adler)

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Raytheon to buy cybersecurity firm Websense in $1.9 billion deal

By Sagarika Jaisinghani

(Reuters) – U.S. arms maker Raytheon Co is buying network security provider Websense Inc from private equity firm Vista Equity Partners LLC in a $1.9 billion deal, the latest in the fast-growing cybersecurity market.

Several companies, including Sony Corp <6758.T>, Staples Inc , Home Depot Inc and Target Corp , have been targets of high-profile data thefts over the past two years.

“We’re seeing an exponential increase in the number of attacks by ultra-sophisticated attackers,” Raytheon Chief Executive Thomas Kennedy told Reuters. “It is the combination of those two that is leading to an explosion in the cybersecurity area.”

A cyber attack in mid-2014 at the U.S. Investigations Services, which performs background checks for U.S. government employees, compromised data of at least 25,000 workers, including some undercover investigators.

The Websense deal will add more than 20,000 commercial customers to Raytheon’s portfolio of predominantly government clients.

“This acquisition highlights the massive investments being allocated toward this high-priority area of IT spending as enterprises of all shapes and sizes look to bulk up legacy security systems with next-generation technologies,” FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives wrote in a note.

The global cybersecurity market is estimated to jump to about $156 billion in 2019 from $96 billion in 2014, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets.

Bain Capital LLC agreed last month to buy network security company Blue Coat Systems Inc in deal that valued the company at about $2.4 billion, including debt.

Raytheon, which is paying about $1.6 billion including debt for Websense, said it would combine its cybersecurity unit with the company. The deal is valued at $1.9 billion, net of cash.

Vista will then invest about $335 million for a nearly 20 percent equity stake in the new company, Raytheon said on Monday.

The new company, which will be headed by Websense CEO John McCormack, will be a separately reported business unit, Raytheon said.

A board of directors will be formed for the new company and will include representatives of both Raytheon and Vista, the company said.

RBC Capital Markets LLC was the lead financial adviser to Raytheon. Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, Steptoe & Johnson LLP and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati were its legal advisers.

Citi was the financial adviser to Websense, while Kirkland & Ellis LLP its legal adviser.

Raytheon’s shares were down about 1 percent at $106.81 on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Additional reporting by Andrea Shalal and Devika Krishna Kumar; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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Groupon to sell 46 percent stake in Ticket Monster for $360 million

(Reuters) – Groupon Inc said it would sell a 46 percent stake in Ticket Monster, its South Korean e-commerce business, for $360 million amid efforts to turn itself around.

Shares of Groupon, which raised its current-quarter adjusted profit forecast and approved a new $300 million share repurchase program, rose 4.7 percent in early trading.

The daily deals and online retail company, which will sell the Ticket Monster stake to a partnership formed by KKR and Anchor Equity Partners, will retain 41 percent in the unit after the deal closes.

The company, which once dominated the fast-growing online coupons arena, has been struggling to rev up sales and profit as it battles stiff competition from smaller companies as well as online giants such as Amazon.com Inc and Google Inc.

Groupon, which bought Ticket Monster from rival LivingSocial Inc about a year ago for $260 million, said the deal is expected to close in the second quarter.

Groupon will receive $285 million in cash, with the rest paid to Ticket Monster, Groupon said.

The sale is expected to result in a gain of between $195 million and $205 million on a pre-tax basis for Groupon.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that a consortium of investors including KKR was close to signing a deal for a stake in Ticket Monster. (http://on.wsj.com/1aNlucO)

Groupon said in February it hired advisers to explore a range of financing and strategic alternatives for Ticket Monster, which has about 1,000 employees.

It had also said that several parties had expressed interest in Ticket Monster.

Groupon said on Monday it now expects first-quarter revenue at between $720 million and $770 million and earnings from continuing operations, excluding items, at between 1 cent and 3 cents per share.

It had previously expected revenue of $790 million-$840 million and adjusted earnings of between 0-2 cents per share.

Groupon’s shares were up 2.5 percent at $7.38 on the Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Maju Samuel)

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Migrant shipwreck survivors arrested as UN says 800 dead



Women leave flowers in memory of victims near the Italian Coast Guard ship Gregretti which is believed to be carrying 27 survivors of the migrant shipwreck in the Mediterranean, at Catania port on April 20, 2015 in Catania, Italy.




© Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images
Women leave flowers in memory of victims near the Italian Coast Guard ship Gregretti which is believed to be carrying 27 survivors of the migrant shipwreck in the Mediterranean, at Catania port on April 20, 2015 in Catania, Italy.

Italian police have arrested two suspected people traffickers among the survivors of the migrant boat that capsized off Libya on Sunday, as the UN said 800 people were killed in the Mediterranean’s worst migrant disaster.

They said they had detained a Tunisian man believed to be the captain of the vessel and a Syrian allegedly a member of the ship’s crew, taken from a group of 27 haggard survivors who arrived in the Sicilian port of Catania on Monday evening. Both face charges of people trafficking.

Under-fire EU ministers meanwhile agreed on a 10-point plan to double the resources available to the current EU border surveillance mission Triton, as the UN’s refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration recounted what those onboard had witnessed.

“We can say that 800 are dead,” said Carlotta Sami, spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Italy on Tuesday, citing the survivors’ accounts of the deadly crossing.

Those who escaped with their lives described to officials the moment the 20-metre (70-foot) trawler carrying them capsized after a Portuguese merchant ship approached the vessel, causing a stampede.

“There were a little over 800 people on board, including children aged between 10 and 12. There were Syrians, about 150 Eritreans, Somalians… They had left Tripoli at about 8 am on Saturday,” Sami said.

The survivors hailed from Mali, Gambia, Senegal, Somalia, Eritrea and Bangladesh, she added, and all had been taken to nearby holding centres.

One other survivor was taken to hospital in Catania, on Sicily’s east coast.

‘No more excuses’

EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini had unveiled plans earlier Monday to tackle the growing migrant crisis after telling member states they had “no more excuses” not to act.

Even as EU foreign and interior ministers met in Luxembourg to discuss ways to stem the flood of people trying to reach Europe, the International Organization for Migration said it had received a distress call from another boat — but cautioned against concluding this was another disaster in the making.

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi said separately that Italy’s coast guard had asked merchant shipping to come to the aid of two boats off the Libyan coast with up to 450 migrants on board after they sought help.

Police in Greece meanwhile reported three people killed, including a child, after a boat coming from Turkey sank off the island of Rhodes.

Dramatic footage showed people trying to reach survivors huddled on a piece of wreckage as they were being swept towards rocks.

Ninety-three people were rescued alive, police said.

Europe’s southern shores have been swamped over the past two weeks with migrants fleeing war and hardship, mostly via conflict-wracked Libya.

More than 11,000 migrants have been rescued by Italian authorities since the middle of last week alone and current trends suggest last year’s total of 170,000 landing in Italy is likely to be exceeded in 2015.

Unveiling the 10-point action plan, Mogherini said the EU had to live up to its humanitarian values and commitments towards migrants, she said, adding: “To send them back is another way of killing them.”

First on the list, ministers agreed the current EU border surveillance mission Triton should be increased to extend its range and capabilities on the bloc’s southern flank.

Triton replaced Italy’s own Mare Nostrum mission, which Rome scrapped late last year in protest that its EU partners would not share the burden.

The EU will also try to capture or destroy people-smuggling boats and increase cooperation across the board, the European Commission said.

The bloc will also offer a “voluntary pilot project on resettlement, providing a number of places to persons in need of protection”, a key but small step forward in spreading the problem.

Up to now, countries relatively untouched by the problem had objected to this form of burden sharing, however small.

Diplomats said there could be 5,000 places available but the commission gave no figure.

Focus on people smugglers

Elsewhere EU president Donald Tusk announced an emergency leaders summit for Thursday to discuss the plan, saying: “We cannot continue like this, we can’t accept that hundreds of people die.”

Italy’s Renzi, whose country bears the brunt of the problem, said Rome was studying the possibility of mounting “targeted interventions” against Libya-based people smugglers.

“Attacks on death rackets, attacks against slave traders (traffickers) are in our thinking,” Renzi told a press conference with his Maltese counterpart Joseph Muscat.

Italian and Maltese navy boats meanwhile continued to search for the victims of Sunday’s disaster, which brings to an estimated 1,600 the number of migrants who have drowned in the Mediterranean this year.

Only 28 survivors have been found so far, along with 24 bodies, which were taken to Malta.

The deadliest incident prior to Sunday occurred off Malta in September 2014, when an estimated 500 migrants drowned after traffickers deliberately rammed their boat in an attempt to force the passengers onto a smaller vessel.

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Scientology-backed drug rehab triggers a furor near Camp David



Buildings are seen through the trees at Trout Run in Thurmont, Md. A group connected to Scientology called Narconon is trying to open a drug rehabilitation facility at Trout Run, an old resort where presidents used to lounge and fish near Camp David.: Scientology group wants to open a drug rehab facility at Trout Run




© The Washington Post
Scientology group wants to open a drug rehab facility at Trout Run

When the producers of “The West Wing” needed a Camp David look-alike, they sent President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet to Trout Run, a peaceful array of stone lodges set along a stream near the real Camp David.

Now Narconon, a controversial drug rehab program affiliated with the Church of Scientology, wants to use the Frederick County property to help treat Maryland’s surge of heroin addicts and other drug abusers with saunas, vitamins and the writings of L. Ron Hubbard. A Narconon official defended the program as a fresh start for “tens of thousands” of addicts in the U.S. and abroad, but the organization has also been sued for alleged fraud and wrongful death.

In a county where political discourse can get a little weird — a council member recently declared that a reporter had no right to print his name in the local newspaper — the debate over Narconon is slipping into the surreal.

[Kirby Delauter threatens to sue Frederick paper if it prints his name]

Because of zoning restrictions, the only way Narconon can operate Trout Run as a rehab facility is to get it listed on the county historical register. The property’s current zoning designation, resource conservation, doesn’t permit a group home or medical use, while the historical designation does. So Narconon hired a consultant to write a history of the 40-acre site, noting that President Herbert Hoover visited in the late 1920s and “reeled in a fine one-and-one-half pound trout.”

When the council votes Tuesday, it’s only deciding whether the site should be labeled historic. That’s forced opponents, many of whom work in drug counseling and believe the program poses a danger to addicts, to become amateur historians in an effort to prove Trout Run is not significant.

“No treaties were signed there,” Kristin L. Milne-Glasser, a local drug counselor, wrote to council members. “No President was born or died there. No epic battles were won or lost, no proclamations penned, no foreign dignitaries lodged and feted.” 

“At best,” she added, “Trout Run merits a roadside plaque, inscribed ‘On this site in 1930, Herbert Hoover bagged a big one.’ ”

At a County Council hearing earlier this month, opponents oscillated from the past to the present, arguing that the long-term treatment program, which can cost upward of $30,000, is unsafe and that going for the historical designation is a backdoor way for Narconon to get into the county.

Bruce Dean, the attorney for the project, rebutted those arguments when it was his turn to speak.

“There’s been some discussion about Scientology, and how that’s bad,” he said. “It’s interesting. I read an article last week in the Atlantic Monthly about how AA is bad and how the 12-step programs are a farce. I don’t know. I’m a land-use attorney. It was an interesting article. But that’s not what’s before you today.”

[We’re addicted to rehab. It doesn’t even work.]

The issue, he said, is the property. In 2013, Social Betterment Properties International, a real estate company connected to Scientology, purchased Trout Run for $4.85 million from an LLC run by Howard E. Haugerud, a former government official who had been trying to sell the property for years.

Narconon and its representatives then undertook an effort to get the property, also known as Richey Lodge, classified as historic. The county’s Historic Preservation Commission ruled that it was eligible, citing its distinctive, rustic architecture from the 1920s; cultural and historical connections to the area; and the local masons and other master craftsmen who built its cabins.

During the hearing, council member Jerry Donald grew agitated as the justifications were explained by Denis Superczynski, a county planner.

“What’s so historic about a place where a guy fishes?” asked Donald, a social studies teacher who teaches a class called “Philosophy of Knowledge.”

“From the standpoint of history, our proximity to Washington and the federal seat of power has put Frederick County in a position to have seen many of these historic characters and persons move through our county,” Superczynski answered, noting that Hoover pondered using Trout Run as a retirement retreat. (Donald countered that Hoover instead settled on the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York.)

Superczynski stressed that the only way Narconon could use the property for its program would be to designate it as historic, and that meant the owners would have to preserve it. Everyone wins, the argument went.

“So they aren’t trying to save it for history,” Donald said. “They’re trying to change it so they can do something with it.”

Superczynski said: “Correct. And in the process save it for history,” to which Donald replied, “But it’s not going anywhere anyway.”

Opponents tried other arguments, including invoking national security.

“Nobody’s addressed the security issue,” said Ann Lundahl, who lives in nearby Thurmont. “You’ve got Camp David not far from there.”

Though addiction counselors and advocates acknowledge there is a need for more long-term treatment facilities in the area — there is just one, in Emmitsburg — they also raised questions about Narconon.

The organization has settled lawsuits around the country, including a wrongful death case in Georgia after a 28-year-old man overdosed. Narconon of Georgia’s license was revoked in 2013, according to state health officials.

Ryan Hamilton, a Nevada lawyer who has brought more than 20 lawsuits against Narconon on behalf of addicts or their families, questioned the effectiveness and safety of a program that relies on lengthy sauna sessions and readings by Scientology’s founder.

In Frederick, Lundahl said she was alarmed by Narconon’s connection to Scientology.

Narconon officials vehemently deny that the program pushes Scientology, describing it as completely secular in its approach. After the hearing, Yvonne Rodgers, a Narconon official, said, “We’re definitely going to have to get some true information out in terms of the questions that were raised.”

“Drug and alcohol addiction claims hundreds of thousands of lives and wreaks havoc with families and communities across this nation and abroad,” she said in an earlier e-mail. “Narconon has helped tens of thousands escape this trap. Our graduates go on to lead successful and happy lives.”

Narconon’s Facebook page posts success stories about its graduates, including Jill Barbera, a 54-year-old California woman who said she overcame alcohol and prescription drug abuse through the program.

“It worked for me, and that’s what’s important,” she said in an interview, adding that she wasn’t recruited into the church, and Scientology was never discussed.

Rodgers said the Trout Run facility would be licensed by the state. A spokesman for Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said the group inquired a year ago about an application but has not filed one.

The County Council tabled a vote until its next meeting. At least one member signaled opposition, but Kirby Delauter, the council member who fought the use of his name in a newspaper, dismissed some of the arguments against the project as beside the point.

“I’m not here to determine whether someone can get into Camp David,” he said. “I’m sure the Marines up there are well equipped to keep people out.” And he rejected criticism of Narconon, declaring, “I’m not here to judge Scientology.”

The only issue that matters, he said, is the one on the agenda: “To Consider Designation of ‘Trout Run (Richey Lodge)’ located at 12929 Catoctin Hollow Road, as a Listed Site on the Frederick County Register of Historic Places.”

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U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, cruiser steam toward Yemen amid fighting








© Provided by Washington Post


A U.S. Navy aircraft carrier and a guided-missile cruiser are steaming toward Yemen from the Persian Gulf, as war there continues to increase tensions in the region.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt, the carrier, and the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy have made it through the Strait of Hormuz and is moving through the Arabian Sea toward Yemen, Navy officials said. They will join seven other U.S. combat ships and three Navy resupply ships off the coast of Yemen. The move also shifts the Theodore Roosevelt away from Iraq and Syria, where its planes have carried out airstrikes.

[Navy combat ships crowd around Yemen as Saudi-led naval blockade continues]

The Navy sent the additional ships to ensure that vital shipping lanes in the region remain safe and open, accordin to a Pentagon statement. The Navy patrols the region regularly, but is there in force now just as the Saudi Navy has blocked deliveries to Yemen’s ports in an effort to make sure that Houthi rebels in the country cannot re-supply.

Iran, which has been accused of arming the rebels, sent navy vessels of its own into the region this week. The ships are said to be positioned in the Bab al-Mandab strait, the narrow stretch of water between Yemen and Djibouti that connects the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

The U.S. ships are preparing to intercept Iranian ships carrying arms, USA Today reported Monday, citing an anonymous defense official, but Reuters, quoting Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, denying that the ships were sent to block arms from Iran. The Navy has long patrolled the waters looking for weapons smugglers, but Lt. Timothy Hawkins, a Navy spokesman, told The Washington Post that U.S. troops have not boarded another ship in the region looking for weapons since April 1.

[How U.S. weapons will play a huge role in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen]

The other U.S. combat ships near Yemen are: the destroyers USS Forrest Sherman and USS Winston Churchill; the minesweepers USS Sentry and USS Dextrous; and three amphibious ships carrying about 2,200 Marines, the USS Iwo Jima, the USS New York and the USS Fort McHenry. The USNS Charles Drew, the USNS Laramie and the USNS Arctic also are nearby.

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Giant Youth Parties, Fueled by Alcohol and the Internet, Face a Crackdown



Last fall, the Keene Pumpkin Festival in Keene, N.H., degenerated into crowds of college-age revelers destroying property and clashing with police officers.




© Jeremy Fox/The Boston Globe, via Associated Press
Last fall, the Keene Pumpkin Festival in Keene, N.H., degenerated into crowds of college-age revelers destroying property and clashing with police officers.

KEENE, N.H. — It was supposed to be about pumpkins.

Held every fall for nearly 25 years, the Keene Pumpkin Festival has drawn tens of thousands of visitors to this scenic city of about 23,000 in New Hampshire’s southwest corner, where they create a glinting tower of jack-o’-lanterns that, one year, held more than 30,000 gourds.

But the weekend’s festivities have come to include increasingly unruly parties outside the festival’s perimeter, near Keene State College. After numerous posts on social media last October, the scene degenerated into crowds of college-age revelers setting fires, ripping street signs from the ground and throwing bottles and rocks as they clashed with police officers clad in riot gear, leading to dozens of arrests and injuries.

Fed up, the Keene City Council pulled the plug, recently voting 13 to 1 against granting the Pumpkin Festival a permit for this year.

“I feel bad about the way outsiders control a tradition,” said Ellen Jones, 65, a waitress, who poured coffee as customers grumbled the morning after the festival was canceled. “It’s so maddening.”

Keene is not alone. College partying and youthful misbehavior are by no means new, but after some parties spun out of control, at least in part, observers say, because of the ability of social media to draw throngs of young people to events, document bad behavior and often to exacerbate it, cities and towns from Keene to Panama City Beach, Fla., are reconsidering or canceling gatherings that had been tolerated or encouraged in the past.

In Panama City Beach, a shooting and an ostensible beachside gang rape captured on video, both of which occurred in the midst of the city’s well-known spring break revelry, has left local officials looking for ways to scare away or tone down disruptive visitors. In recent years, the police and university officials in cities like Amherst, Mass., and Madison, Wis., have cracked down on annual outdoor parties they say have become too unruly. At colleges and universities including Rutgers, North Carolina State and Dartmouth, recent policies to limit alcohol or certain parties at fraternities and sororities are aimed at stemming dangerous behavior.

Officials in Panama City Beach have denounced the shooting and the sexual assault. Although spring break there is lucrative, officials have passed ordinances intended to scale back the partying, including a ban on drinking on the beach in March and some of April.



Spring break revelers on March 25 in Panama City Beach, Fla. A gang rape appeared to have been captured on video during this year's festivities.




© Heather Leiphart/The Panama City News Herald, via Associated Press
Spring break revelers on March 25 in Panama City Beach, Fla. A gang rape appeared to have been captured on video during this year’s festivities.

“We’ve got to run them off,” said Mike Thomas, 66, a Bay County commissioner who lives in Panama City Beach. He said it would be painful for some businesses to lose spring break business, but the city’s family friendly, year-round tourism could suffer if spring break sullied its reputation. “The spring break in Panama City Beach that you knew last year will never happen again,’’ he said.



A man was charged at the Bay County Sheriff's Office mobile booking unit in Panama City Beach in March. Some cities are reconsidering or canceling gatherings that had been tolerated or encouraged in the past.




© Michael Spooneybarger/Reuters
A man was charged at the Bay County Sheriff’s Office mobile booking unit in Panama City Beach in March. Some cities are reconsidering or canceling gatherings that had been tolerated or encouraged in the past.

Darrell Sellers, the community association manager at one of Panama City Beach’s high-rise buildings, said that on some weekends his building had to spend triple its security budget.

“They want to be in the middle of the chaos, and they want to take it up another notch and another notch,” he said of the revelers. “It’s all fueled by social media, in my mind.’’

Mr. Thomas said the partying had worsened over the past two years, even though Panama City Beach has stopped promoting itself as a spring break destination. The promotion, he says, is now done online, by bars and by the revelers themselves. “When they get on these different social media sites, they can get 300 to 500 people meeting in an hour,” he said.

Last year in Keene, the party began growing by word of mouth. “Every year, a bunch of kids from all of New England come and they get wicked drunk, and then they go home and tell their friends,” said Wayland Tolman, 19, who lives in nearby Nelson, N.H., and attends the Pumpkin Festival’s satellite party every year.

Last fall, a company called FinnarageTV, which promotes, DJs and films college parties, began promoting Pumpkin Festival celebrations online weeks ahead of the weekend’s festivities. As the parties ramped up, attendees said, social media told them where to go.

“There was stuff about that, saying, ‘Come to this street, 51 Blake or whatever,’ and then everybody goes and it gets crazy,” said Ricky Liscio, a sophomore at Keene State College, who attended the parties but said he was frustrated that people had come from out of town and destroyed the area.

The city manager, John MacLean, said he no longer thought it was possible for Keene to keep the event safe. “We had 17 different ambulance units, we had hundreds of police, which leaves the rest of New Hampshire and this region with very few resources out there,” Mr. MacLean said.

Part of the issue for cities and towns in recent years, said Karen Weiss, a sociologist at West Virginia University and the author of “Party School: Campus, Crime and Community,” is that students have moved farther off campus, bringing partying further into the public eye.

“People get excited and it just starts feeding the frenzy,” Dr. Weiss said. “It takes on a life of its own and then when police try to break this up, they become the enemy.’’

Dr. Megan Moreno, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington who studies social media and adolescent health, said social media can both expand those parties and glamorize dangerous behavior there.

“Posting about alcohol and alcohol-related events on Facebook both normalize alcohol use and lead younger students to think it’s something that’s expected of them, and it can also make people aware of events that they might not have heard of by word of mouth,” Dr. Moreno said.

Dr. Moreno said traditional media had long glorified alcohol use with films like “Animal House,” but added, “What Facebook and social media do is they take that power of the sexiness of putting something on media and they make it accessible to the everyday person.”

But it cuts both ways. Those same posts can make residents more aware of gatherings they might otherwise not have known about. Law enforcement officials around the country have taken to monitoring social media for signs of potentially dangerous parties and in Keene the police combed YouTube videos and other postings to find individuals responsible for the destruction.

In Gulf Shores, Ala., another spring break haven, the police took to Facebook, warning visitors intent on behaving in a disorderly or violent manner that “Gulf Shores may not be for you.”

Some cities and towns are finding other ways to cope. In Amherst, after an annual pre-St. Patrick’s Day rite called the Blarney Blowout turned into a melee in 2014, the town and the university took steps this year to contain the partying — in part by holding a concert with the performers Kesha and Ludacris that drew revelers who might otherwise have gone to house or street parties in town.

But in towns like Keene, where a crackdown is a relief to the party’s neighbors but means the cancellation of a beloved local tradition, the reckoning has been painful.

“That was bragging rights for an undistinguished, if picturesque, little town,” said Steve Lindsey, 55, a janitor and stagehand who lives in Keene. “To watch the tower come down, metaphorically, it breaks your heart.”

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