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Rep. Shea-Porter supports air strikes against ISIS but ‘I don’t see any role for us on the ground’

LACONIA — First District Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, whose forthright criticism of then-President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq contributed to her election in 2006, finds herself with misgivings about President Obama's policy in the Middle East as she campaigns for re-election.

In an interview with Laconia Daily Sun, Shea-Porter, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, said, "I'm not comfortable with the president's handling of the situation. Other countries should be out there defending themselves," she continued, "but everyone is waiting for us to lead." Instead of seeking countries to help the United States, she asked, "Shouldn't it be that the United States will help them?" She said that President Obama has not spoken enough about the responsibilities of other countries or stressed the willingness of the United States to help them.

She said that the invasion of Iraq "set the stage" for the current crisis in the region, marked by the civil war in Syria and the ascendancy of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), which she called "heart-breakingly horrible. The region is full of minefields," she continued, "and we must be careful where we step." She said that because "alliances change daily, we can't figure out who we can trust. There are lots of questions to answer before we just jump in," she said.

Shea-Porter, of Rochester, said that she supported air strikes aimed at ISIS as well as efforts to strengthen the Kurdish forces resisting ISIS. But, she cautioned against arming the Free Syrian Army in the hope it would join the campaign against ISIS since its leadership has said it would turn its weapons to the campaign to overthrow President Assad of Syria.

Direct intervention in the Middle East — particularly the civil war in Syria — "would be a very big mistake," Shea-Porter stressed. However, she did not rule out providing "humanitarian aid." The warring parties in the region, she said, "don't like us and don't trust us. I can't see any role for us on the ground," she remarked.

Shea-Porter said that while the administration's foreign policy began on "a good track," it has been "less so recently as the world has become a lot more complicated." The president, she said, is receiving "lots of conflicting advice" and in the circumstances suggested he "move slowly."


Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 October 2014 01:08

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Prosecutors say 2 small children slept in same room as crack stash in Grove Street home

LACONIA — Two small children, ages 2 and 4, were discovered sleeping in the same room where police found drugs as they searched a home on Grove Street, prosecutors said in court yesterday.

In an appearance in 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, Prosecutor Jim Sawyer said police located an open container that contained "multiple dozens" of individual bags of crack cocaine in a closet that didn't have a door but was covered by a sheet.

"If (either child) ingested one of them they would probably die," Sawyer said.

He also said there was a children's video found in the same closet near the drugs indicating to him that Bountham Sonthikoummane, 52, and Onella Nguan, 37 of 25 Grove St., showed no regard for their young children while operating an alleged "drug enterprise."

Sawyer also noted that a number of counterfeit Gucci and Coach pocketbooks wrapped in plastic were also found in the home as was a considerable amount of jewelry, receipts for jewelry not recovered by police during the search, and a "considerable" amount of cash.

He said Sonthikoummane was wearing what Sawyer estimated to be a $7,000 gold necklace that Sonthikoummane allegedly threw into a dirty sink during the raid.

Although both Sonthikoummane and Nguan separately waived their rights to probable cause hearings, Sawyer's statements came during bail arguments made on each of their behalves by Atty. Matt Lahey and Atty. Allison Schwartz respectively. Interpreters were present for both hearings.

After hearing the bail arguments, Carroll kept Sonthikoummane's bail at $100,000 cash, and Nguan's bail at $50,000 cash.

According to N.H. Supreme Court documents, in 1997 Sonthikoummane was convicted of a similar crime involving crack cocaine and sentenced to serve 10 to 20 years in prison. Sawyer said yesterday he is still on parole and his understanding is that paperwork has been filed with the parole board regarding his latest arrest.

The court also learned that even though an immigration hold has been requested for Sonthikoummane, his native county, Cambodia, allegedly refused to allow his repatriation after his first conviction.

The bail hearings and probable cause hearings for both had been scheduled for Thursday. However, neither attorney had reviewed the search warrant affidavit for the home because it had been sealed. Judge Jim Carroll ordered Sawyer to redact the information about "how" police came to learn of the alleged operation but not what police found when they got there.

Sawyer apparently redacted the "how" and released the affidavits to each respective defense attorney, however the affidavit remains sealed from the general public.

The cases will presumably be bound over to the Belknap County Superior Court for possible indictment and trial.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 October 2014 12:51

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Bypass cleanup: Colson has filled 130 bags with litter

LACONIA — "I drive the bypass to work every day and I'm sick of seeing it littered with trash," said Peter Morrissette, the owner of Joyce Janitorial Services and Lakes Region Party and Gift. "And I wanted to give something back."

Beginning this spring Morrissette has sponsored Peter Colson, Sr. to clean up the bypass. "He starts at the St. Francis Rehabilitation and Nursing Center on Court Street and picks up on both sides of the entire length of the bypass, including every on and off ramp," he said.

Morrissette said that in the spring Colson filled 82 bags with trash and another 17 with aluminum cans in 11 days. This week Colson is nearing the end of his second sweep of the bypass and has filled another 27 bags with trash and four with cans. Morrissette said when Colson finishes with the bypass he will ask him to pick up along Lakeshore Road (Route 11) between the bypass and Sawyer's Dairy Bar.

"I'm Native American," Colson said, "and I don't like seeing people treat Mother Nature like this."


Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 October 2014 12:20

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Man jumps in river in effort to avoid Laconia police

LACONIA — A Garfield Street man will appear in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division this morning after leading police on a foot chase that ended when he jumped into the Winnipesaukee River.

Police said Chad O'Connor's most recent troubles began Thursday when they responded to a domestic disturbance complaint on Fair Street.

They learned that O'Connor had allegedly assaulted someone in the home but he was gone when they arrived. A warrant for his arrest was issued.

On Friday, police got a report that O'Connor was walking down Bay Street headed toward Court Street accompanied by two women. A police office saw him near West Street but O'Connor allegedly ran away.

The police set a perimeter that included a K-9 unit track.

O'connor allegedly doubled back and was spotted again by police. Surrounded, he jumped into river next to Hebert's Foundry.

Police said O'Connor was directed to come back to dry land, after which he was taken into custody without further incident.

The Laconia Fire Department briefly assisted the police in a search for O'Connor's vest that he was apparently wearing before he went into the water but was not wearing when he came back out.

"We thought there was some property of his we could recover," said Sgt. Gary Hubbard.

O'Connor faces three charges of simple assault for the alleged domestic disturbance on Thursday plus one count of resisting arrest.

There was also an outstanding arrest warrant from Belmont for one count of resisting arrest and one outstanding arrest warrant from Gilmanton for criminal trespass.

O'Connor refused bail and was held in the Belknap County House of Corrections over the long weekend.

Last Updated on Monday, 13 October 2014 11:34

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