Oregon Police Give Nightclubs ID Scanners to Datamine Customers
Police in Multnomah County quietly suspended a new data mining program this week after a local newspaper began questioning its legality.
For the last several weeks, police have issued ID-scanning devices to clubs and bars all throughout Portland’s Old Town neighborhood. The scanners not only captured customers’ personal data, including names and photos, but uploaded all the information to a police database.
After receiving a three-year alcohol abuse reduction grant in 2011, Multnomah County awarded the nonprofit “Lines for Life” $60,000 to obtain the police-run scanners for multiple drinking establishments.
Despite Oregon law placing strict limits on storing and sharing information from ID scanners specifically, police were persistent in getting local bars to comply with the program. More
Florida Man with Gun at Home Gets Pulled Over, Searched, 'Humiliated' in Maryland
When Floridian concealed carry permit holder John Filippidis and his family drove through Maryland on their way to New Jersey for Christmas, he was pulled over by the Maryland Transportation Authority Police (MTAP), accused of having a gun, humiliated, and searched along with his car and family.
According to The Tampa Tribune, Filippidis normally carries a Kel-Tec semi-automatic pistol for concealed carry. But knowing the gun laws in Maryland and New Jersey, he decided to leave it at home in his safe instead of bringing with him on the trip.
Said Filippidis: "I know the laws and I know the rules, but I think it's a better idea to leave it at home."
While driving through Maryland, he was pulled over by a MTAP officer who asked for vehicle license and registration, then went back to the patrol car. "Ten minutes later" the officer came back to the driver's window, asked Filippidis to exit the Ford Expedition and took him behind the vehicle to ask where his gun was. More
Woman was probed, cavity searched, & X-rayed when she tried to reenter the USA
EL PASO, TX — An American woman was humiliated and sexually assaulted for hours when she tried to re-enter the United States at a checkpoint manned by U.S. border patrol agents. Suspecting she had drugs inside her orifices, the federal agents detained her, chained her to a table, and subjected her to a series of invasive and traumatic cavity searches, finger penetration, scans and X-rays… all without a warrant. She was then billed for the “services.”
The incident took place last year and has recently been brought to light by a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The victim is described as a petite 54-year-old U.S. citizen, identifying herself only as Jane Doe to protect her anonymity as a sexual assault victim. She is married and resides in Lovington, NM. She was traveling to visit a close family friend in Juarez, Mexico, who was recently deported. The lawsuit states that she makes the trip to visit him about once per month. This time, her return trip back into the United States at the Cordova Bridge near El Paso is not one she will ever forget. More
How Every Part of American Life Became a Police Matter
If all you've got is a hammer, then everything starts to look like a nail. And if police and prosecutors are your only tool, sooner or later everything and everyone will be treated as criminal. This is increasingly the American way of life, a path that involves "solving" social problems (and even some non-problems) by throwing cops at them, with generally disastrous results. Wall-to-wall criminal law encroaches ever more on everyday life as police power is applied in ways that would have been unthinkable just a generation ago.
By now, the militarization of the police has advanced to the point where "the War on Crime" and "the War on Drugs" are no longer metaphors but bland understatements. There is the proliferation of heavily armed SWAT teams, even in small towns; the use of shock-and-awe tactics to bust small-time bookies; the no-knock raids to recover trace amounts of drugs that often result in the killing of family dogs, if not family members; and in communities where drug treatment programs once were key, the waging of a drug version of counterinsurgency war. More
Role players help troops train for riot control
After a dozen years of training to go into combat zones filled with enemy combatants, some soldiers are now training to manage themselves in peaceful situations involving civilians. Troopers with Charlie Company, 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, underwent crowd and riot control training last week at Fort Hood’s Elijah urban training site.
“A lot of the training we are doing now, Armywide, is full-spectrum operations,” said 1st Lt. Steven Shaw, the officer-in-charge of the three-day training event, which ended Thursday in an exercise using role players as rioters.
“This teaches them how to react to a situation in a different way,” he said. “They are keeping themselves safe and mitigating any danger for the people on the other side.” The potential use for crowd control ranges from peaceful protesters to full on riots to a scenario such as Hurricane Katrina, where thousands of people were being relocated. More
The War On Drugs Hits A New Low With The Police Probe Of David Eckert's Guts
How is it possible that a motorist pulled over for a rolling stop could end up being forcibly subjected to two X-rays, two digital probes of his anus, three enemas, and a colonoscopy, none of which discovered the slightest trace of the drugs that police claim to have thought he was hiding inside himself?
That is the question raised by a federal lawsuit that received wide attention last week after it was highlighted by KOB, the NBC affiliate in Albuquerque. The answer says a lot about the outrageous indignities we have come to tolerate in the name of the war on drugs, which has undermined our civil liberties to the point that what happened to David Eckert after he was stopped in Deming, New Mexico, seemed perfectly justified to the cops who detained him, the prosecutor who approved their application for a search warrant, the judge who granted it, and the doctors who helped execute it.
Even in retrospect, Deming Police Chief Brandon Gigante insists that “we follow the law in every aspect.” The really horrifying thing about Eckert’s ordeal is that the courts might agree with Gigante. More
Security Check Now Starts Long Before You Fly
The Transportation Security Administration is expanding its screening of passengers before they arrive at the airport by searching a wide array of government and private databases that can include records like car registrations and employment information.
While the agency says that the goal is to streamline the security procedures for millions of passengers who pose no risk, the new measures give the government greater authority to use travelers’ data for domestic airport screenings. Previously that level of scrutiny applied only to individuals entering the United States.
The prescreening, some of which is already taking place, is described in documents the T.S.A. released to comply with government regulations about the collection and use of individuals’ data, but the details of the program have not been publicly announced. More
‘Sovereign citizen’ movement worrying Canada’s officials
He introduces himself as “Brian Arthur of the Alexander family,” and before he’ll answer any questions, he asks a reporter to declare that she is not a government employee.
He drives without a licence and does not pay income tax.
Brian Alexander is a self-proclaimed Freeman-on-the-Land and one of a growing number of Canadian followers of the so-called “sovereign citizen” or “Natural Persons” movement.
Adherents have “freed” themselves from what they see as an overbearing government that has overstepped its bounds.
“People can’t afford to live and they’re basically destroying society, in our view,” Alexander says during a lengthy interview at his home in Kamloops, B.C. More
Strategic Move Exempts Health Law From Broader U.S. Statute
WASHINGTON — The Affordable Care Act is the biggest new health care program in decades, but the Obama administration has ruled that neither the federal insurance exchange nor the federal subsidies paid to insurance companies on behalf of low-income people are “federal health care programs.”
The surprise decision, disclosed last week, exempts subsidized health insurance from a law that bans rebates, kickbacks, bribes and certain other financial arrangements in federal health programs, stripping law enforcement of a powerful tool used to fight fraud in other health care programs, like Medicare.
The main purpose of the anti-kickback law, as described by federal courts in scores of Medicare cases, is to protect patients and taxpayers against the undue influence of money on medical decisions.
Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, disclosed her interpretation of the law in a letter to Representative Jim McDermott, Democrat of Washington, who had asked her views.
She did not explain the legal rationale for her decision, which followed a spirited debate within the administration. More
The NSA isn't foiling terrorist plots
US officials claim that the government's massive data collection has protected the country from terrorist attacks.
After The Guardian's first revelations about the National Security Agency's digital surveillance programs, Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Representative Mike Rogers, head of the House Intelligence Committee, jumped to the NSA's defense by pointing to two terrorist plots supposedly foiled by the organization's digital surveillance programs. Lawyers and policemen involved in these cases disputed these claims, but this did not keep NSA chief Keith Alexander from taking it up a notch by raising the number of foiled attacks to more than 50, and later to 54.
These numbers are crucial for an informed debate about the digital surveillance programs. If the NSA's digital surveillance indeed prevented 54 terrorist attacks, the public can decide whether these 54 attacks are worth their privacy. This number would suggest that the NSA's programs are actually keeping the United States and Europe safe from terrorism. More
'I am being punished for my lifestyle choice'
THIS hermit lives alone in a remote part of the country with no television, computer, electricity, smart phone – or even a standard phone for that matter.
His lighting is provided by candles and a battery-operated head torch.
Alex Scade is one of the people Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte last week referred to as "cavemen" – people who, despite their frugal lifestyle, are set to be hit by the Government's controversial new broadcast charge.
"It isn't fair. It is undemocratic and penalises people for the lifestyle choice they make," Alex told the Sunday Independent from his neighbour's phone in Allihies, West Cork.
"Of course it is unfair. Why should I have to pay a broadcasting charge when I don't have anything to broadcast with? I don't even have a telephone," he said. More
Obamacare Marketplace: Personal Data Can Be Used For ‘Law Enforcement and Audit Activities’
The policy contains many standard statements about information automatically collected regarding Internet browsers and IP addresses, temporary "cookies" used by the site, and website accessibility. However, at least two conditions may give some users pause before proceeding. More
22 tons of fake beef seized in China
This week, police in Xi’an province reported that they had found and seized more than 22 tons of fake beef at a local factory. Get this: the “beef” was actually made from pork (which is considerably cheaper than beef) that had been treated with chemicals including paraffin wax and industrial salts to make it look like it came from a cow.
Shanghiist reports that the factory sold more than 1,500 kilos (3,000 pounds) of the fake beef to local markets at around 25 to 33 yuan ($4 or $5) per kilo. Six workshops that were producing the fake beef have been discovered and shut down. More
Police Fatally Shoot Unarmed Former Football Player Who May Have Been Seeking Help After A Car Crash
Officer Randall Kerrick, 27, of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) in North Carolina is facing charges of voluntary manslaughter after fatally shooting Jonathan Ferrell, 24, a former Florida A&M football player who had apparently been seeking help after surviving a major car crash early Saturday morning.
CMPD officials called the shooting “excessive.” “Our investigation has shown that Officer Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter,” said CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe in a statement. “It’s with heavy hearts and significant regrets it’s come to this… Our hearts go out to the Ferrell family and many members of the CMPD family. This is never something easy.” More
Feds seize gold coins worth $80 mln from Pennsylvania family
A federal judge has upheld a verdict that strips a Pennsylvania family of their grandfather’s gold coins — worth an estimated $80 million — and has ordered ownership transferred to the US government.
Judge Legrome Davis of the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania affirmed a 2011 jury decision that a box of 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle coins discovered by the family of Israel Switt, a deceased dealer and collector, is the property of the United States.
In the midst of the Great Depression, then-President Franklin Roosevelt ordered that America’s supply of double eagles manufactured at the Philadelphia Mint be destroyed and melted into gold bars. Of the 445,500 or so coins created, though, some managed to escape the kiln and ended up into the hands of collectors. In 2003, Switt’s family opened a safe deposit back that their grandfather kept, revealing 10 coins among that turned out to be among the world’s most valuable collectables in the currency realm today. More
Obama’s new executive order will kill the 110-year-old Civilian Marksmanship Program
The White House announced on Thursday that it intends to “ban almost all re-imports of military surplus firearms to private entities” through executive order, which would effectively shut down the 110-year-old Civilian Marksmanship Program.
In a Fact Sheet published on Whitehouse.gov today referencing the upcoming executive order the ban on importing military weapons is designed to “keep military-grade firearms off our streets.” Exceptions for import may be allowed for museums.
The CMP tightly controls the distribution of obsolete military weapons. The program was created by the U.S. Congress as part of the 1903 War Department Appropriations Act with the purpose of allowing civilians to hone their marksmanship skills, should they later be called into military service. More
Germany: Children Seized in Shocking Raid
At 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, August 29, 2013, in what has been called a “brutal and vicious act,” a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, forcibly removing all four of the family’s children (ages 7-14).
The sole grounds for removal were that the parents, Dirk and Petra Wunderlich, continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education. The children were taken to unknown locations. Officials ominously promised the parents that they would not be seeing their children “anytime soon.”
HSLDA obtained and translated the court documents that authorized this use of force to seize the children. The only legal grounds for removal were the family’s continuation of homeschooling their children. The papers contain no other allegations of abuse or neglect. Moreover, Germany has not even alleged educational neglect for failing to provide an adequate education. The law ignores the educational progress of the child; attendance—and not learning—is the object of the German law. More
Supreme Court endorses warrantless search based on marijuana smell
The court ruled the smell of marijuana and suspicious sounds equated just cause for police to burst into an apartment without a warrant to search and seize private property.
Citing "exigent circumstances" the high court said officers did not require a warrant to enter and search the property.
The Kentucky police officers were perusing a suspected drug dealer, but mistakenly went to the wrong apartment building. They approached the door where they smelled marijuana and announced their presence. The officers believed their suspected drug dealer was inside.
They busted into the wrong apartment because they heard sounds that lead them to believe evidence was being destroyed.
The officers proceeded by kicking the door in, entered the apartment, and found both marijuana and cocaine in sight. They then proceeded to search the apartment without a warrant. More
Pittsburgh family sues police over 2010 raid on their home
When police entered the Carrick home of Georgeia Moreno in 2010, looking for her husband, they made it clear that they were out to send a message, she said Wednesday, shortly after filing a federal lawsuit against the City of Pittsburgh and officers.
One masked officer said, "You think you can get one of ours and we're not going to get you?" according to Ms. Moreno, 40. Around a dozen officers in SWAT gear entered the house and arrested William Moreno, who the night before had been involved in a fight with an off-duty police officer at the Polish Falcons club, according to Ms. Moreno and her attorney, Timothy P. O'Brien.
It's what happened after the arrest -- to Ms. Moreno, her stepfather and child -- that prompted the lawsuit in U.S. District Court, which alleges unlawful search and seizure and seeks punitive damages.
"Then they threw us all on the ground and were handcuffing us, kicking us, screaming," Ms. Moreno said. "They had assault rifles pointed at our heads." More
Debate Surrounding GMO Seeds Heats Up As Supermarkets Start Labeling Ingredients
BOULDER — Ever since genetically modified organisms entered the mainstream in 1996, Alfalfa's has tried to keep them off of its shelves.
Seventeen years later, Whole Foods isn't going quite that far but by 2018 it now plans to require GMO labeling in every one of its stores.
Labeling already occurs at Alfalfa's Market, founded in 1983 at the corner of Arapahoe and Broadway. The vast majority of the food it carries is organic, which by definition should be GMO-free. But bioengineered ingredients — particularly corn, soy and sugar beets — are so widespread that food makers often have no choice but to use them. In the rare event a product it sells might contain a GMO, Alfalfa's labels it as such. The same goes for products verified by the Non-GMO Project.
Mark Retzloff, the store's founder, is among the biggest proponents of Boulder Congressman Jared Polis' push to require GMO labeling on a national scale.
It's a popular idea. Surveys nationally and in Colorado show that shoppers overwhelmingly favor GMO labeling. They just don't want to pay for it. More
Valet parked cars searched under TSA regulations
Rochester, N.Y. -- She says she had no warning that someone was going to search her car after she left to catch her flight.
So the woman contacted News10NBC. We found out it happened to her because she valet parked her car. Those are the only cars that get inspected. So if security feels it is necessary to search some cars in the name of safety, why not search all of them?
Laurie Iacuzza walked to her waiting car at the Greater Rochester International Airport after returning from a trip and that's when she found it -- a notice saying her car was inspected after she left for her flight. She said, “I was furious. They never mentioned it to me when I booked the valet or when I picked up the car or when I dropped it off.”
Iacuzza's car was inspected by valet attendants on orders from the TSA. But why only valet parked cars? That's what News10NBC wanted to ask the TSA director about.
We reached him by phone. Berkeley Brean asked, “Are the cars in the short term lots and long term lots getting searched as well?” More
Poisoning The Well? Nestlé Accused Of Exploiting Water Supplies For Bottled Brands
ZURICH - In the small Pakistani community of Bhati Dilwan, a former village councilor says children are being sickened by filthy water. Who's to blame? He says it's bottled water-maker Nestlé, which dug a deep well that is depriving locals of potable water. “The water is not only very dirty, but the water level sank from 100 to 300 to 400 feet,” Dilwan says.
The testimony is a key moment in the new documentary film “Bottled Life” by Swiss filmmaker Urs Schnell and journalist Res Gehriger.The film opens in Swiss theaters on Jan. 26. The village councilor interviewed in the film says Nestlé refused the village’s request for clean water to be piped in.
The notoriously bad drinking water in Pakistan and elsewhere is the reason for the success of the Pure Life brand. A good 10 years ago, the Swiss food company began adding minerals to ground water and bottling it. Today, Pure Life Purified Water Enhanced With Minerals is the largest water brand in the world – “a jewel in our portfolio,” according to John Harris, head of Nestlé Waters.
In view of the fact that every day more children die from drinking dirty water than AIDS, war, traffic accidents and malaria put together, Maude Barlow, a former UN chief advisor for water issues, states: “When a company like Nestlé comes along and says, Pure Life is the answer, we’re selling you your own ground water while nothing comes out of your faucets anymore or if it does it’s undrinkable – that’s more than irresponsible, that’s practically a criminal act.” More
Cops Taser Then Shoot Man to Death After Family Calls 911 for Help for His Depression
A California sheriff's deputy needlessly Tasered and then shot a man to death after his father called 911 seeking help for his son's depression, the family claims in court.
Parents and two brothers of the late George I. Ramirez sued Stanislaus County, its sheriff's department, Sheriff Adam Christianson, and Deputy Art Parra Jr. in Federal Court.
George Ramirez, the father, says he called 911 on April 16, 2012, seeking help for his son. Ramirez says in the complaint that he told the 911 operator that his son was depressed, but never said that the family was in danger or that a crime was in progress.
Deputy Parra responded, finding the father changing a headlight and the mother indoors doing housework. The family says Parra asked about the son's whereabouts, but did not ask for details regarding his condition or why the family called 911. More
Leader of Anonymous Steubenville Op on Being Raided by the FBI
In April, the FBI quietly raided the home of the hacker known as KYAnonymous in connection with his role in the Steubenville rape case. Today he spoke out for the first time about the raid, his true identity, and his motivations for pursuing the Steubenville rapists, in an extensive interview with Mother Jones.
"The goal of the media interviews is to get the entire nation to say 'fuck you' to these guys," said KYAnonymous, whose real name is Deric Lostutter. He was referring to the federal agents who raided his home in Winchester, Kentucky, and carted off his computers and XBox.
Lostutter may deserve more credit than anyone for turning Steubenville into a national outrage. After a 16-year-old girl was raped by two members of the Steubenville High football team last year, he obtained and published tweets and Instagram photos in which other team members had joked about the incident and belittled the victim. He now admits to being the man behind the mask in a video posted by another hacker on the team's fan page, RollRedRoll.com, where he threatened action against the players unless they apologized to the girl. (The rapists were convicted in March.) More
LA Deputies Kill 80 Year Old Man In Marijuana Raid
An 80-year-old man was killed Thursday morning in a shooting as Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies served a search warrant in connection with a narcotics operation at a property in the desert community of Littlerock.
The shooting occurred in the 36600 block of 117th Street East in the remote unincorporated area north of Angeles National Forest.
The man, whose identity was not released Thursday morning, was pronounced dead at the scene.
No deputies were injured in the 7:30 a.m. shooting, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Just before 4 p.m., the department said in statement that homicide detectives are continuing to investigate the shooting. More
Taser Used on Naked I-5 Wanderer
ASHLAND, Ore. – State police confirm the young girl found wandering naked and confused along I-5 early Sunday morning was apprehended with a Taser.
Officials say that she is a juvenile. She was found just after 4:00 a.m. between mileposts 18 and 19, apparently unresponsive and unaware of her surroundings, and it was Adam Bednar who found her.
“I stopped the car in the middle of the freeway, I backed up. She kind of looked in my window, she kind of laughed and just kept on walking,” said Bednar. Bednar says he drove alongside her while he called police. He says the trooper who arrived called for her to stop, and when she didn’t respond threatened twice to taze her. After giving no response, two little red dots appeared on her back, then metal barbs.
“She seized up and she fell face first on the ground,” said Bednar. State police officials say it was necessary to prevent her from wandering further into the road and putting herself in danger. Bednar, who helped troopers apprehend the girl on the hood of his car, says he isn’t so sure. More
'ID card' plan to snoop on Scots
Furious critics yesterday accused the SNP Government of introducing ID cards “without the plastic” and said there was a real risk that data would be lost or misused.
Ministers say the aim of the project is to turn millions of ordinary Scots into human guinea pigs for researchers to study, bringing in investment and jobs at the expense of civil liberties.
Steering groups set up to oversee the project have been warned that most people are opposed to the idea but have vowed to plough ahead regardless. The Data Sharing and Linking Service (DSLS) is on track to begin operating by December – despite the vast majority of the public being unaware of the plans.
At the heart of the enterprise is the Linking Population Spine, which will hold “the name, date of birth, gender and postcode for everyone in Scotland”. According to NHS Research Scotland, this snoopers’ treasure trove will boast “cradle to grave” health records, including maternity, mental health, cancer, GP and even dental notes. More
U.S. citizens ditch passports in record numbers
Americans are ditching their U.S. passports in record numbers, a sign of growing frustration with a system that taxes U.S. citizens on their global wealth whether they live in Montana or Mongolia.
The latest bold-faced names to relinquish their U.S. citizenship include Mahmood Karzai, a brother of Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, according to federal data released Wednesday. Also on the list, published quarterly by the Internal Revenue Service, is Isabel Getty, the daughter of jet-setting socialite Pia Getty and Getty oil heir Christopher Getty.
In total, more than 670 U.S. passport holders gave up their citizenship -- and with it, their U.S. tax bills -- in the first three months of this year. That is the most in any quarter since the I.R.S. began publishing figures in 1998. And it is nearly three-quarters of the total number for all of 2012, a year in which the wealthy songwriter-socialite Denise Rich and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin joined more than 932 other Americans in tossing their passports. More
What Search Warrant? Your Facebook Messages And Private Emails Are Not Safe From FBI Surveillance, Says ACLU
Warrants? We don’t need no stinking warrants.
According to new documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, government officials may not always obtain warrants when they snoop through our emails, Facebook messages, and other electronic communications -- and the FBI apparently doesn’t even believe it’s legally required to do so.
The documents, which were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and posted on the ACLU website, suggest that the U.S. Department of Justice is flouting a 2010 federal appeals court ruling that declared warrantless access to email a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
That ruling, a criminal appeal of U.S. v. Warshak, stated that the government must obtain a warrant before it can secretly seize and search emails stored by email service providers. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation noted at the time, “the court found that email users have the same reasonable expectation of privacy in their stored email as they do in their phone calls and postal mail.” More
US plans to allow spy agencies to monitor every citizen’s finances
Washington is reportedly considering opening all US financial records to national intelligence agencies in order to prevent future crimes.
Only the FBI has had unlimited access to such databases; other agencies had to file case-by-case requests.
The Obama administration is preparing legislation to enable the country’s numerous security and intelligence agencies to spy on the accounts of US citizens, Reuters has revealed.
The scheme’s stated aim is to help to identify and track terrorist cells, expose money-laundering schemes, trace criminal syndicates and curb corruption.
"It's a war on money, war on corruption, on politically exposed persons, anti-money laundering, organized crime," Amit Kumar, the UN advisor on Taliban and a fellow at the Democrat-established Center for National Policy think tank told Reuters. More
Man faces 3 years in jail for pulling ‘unlicensed’ gun on burglar inside his home
A Manhattan millionaire faces three years in jail for drawing an unlicensed gun on a burglar inside his home.
George Bardwil, who owns linen company Bardwil Home, was in his E Street apartment when an intruder came into his home in January, The Daily Mail reports.
Mr. Bardwil, 60, threatened the intruder with a loaded .40 cal Sig Sauer. The man fled and Mr. Bardwil called the police.
After showing the cops footage from his home surveillance cameras, they arrested him under suspicions of owning an illegal firearm. More
IRS targeted groups that criticized the government, IG report says
At various points over the past two years, Internal Revenue Service officials targeted nonprofit groups that criticized the government and sought to educate Americans about the U.S. Constitution, according to documents in an audit conducted by the agency’s inspector general.
The documents, obtained by The Washington Post from a congressional aide with knowledge of the findings, show that on June 29, 2011, IRS staffers held a briefing with senior agency official Lois G. Lerner in which they described giving special attention to instances where “statements in the case file criticize how the country is being run.” Lerner, who oversees tax-exempt groups for the agency, raised objections and the agency revised its criteria a week later. But six months later, the IRS applied a new political test to groups that applied for tax-exempt status as “social welfare” groups, the document says.
On Jan. 15, 2012 the agency decided to target “political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding Government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform movement.,” according to the appendix in the IG report, which was requested by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and has yet to be released. More
DHS agent charged with sharing child porn
A DHS agent was charged and arraigned in San Francisco on Tuesday for possessing and sharing child pornography. Most of the hearing on Tuesday focused on the evidence against Gilbert Lam, 38.
ABC local reports that Lam was originally arrested over a year and a half ago on charges of exchanging child pornography over the Internet. According to investigators, there were eighty-three images and videos on Lam’s computers at his residence in San Francisco. The large number of material prompted DHS Security to launch a lengthy investigation.
“The actions of this particular defendant, given that he was a Homeland Security agent, are very deplorable and very disturbing,” Alex Bastian, spokesperson for the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office toldABC local. More
Real life superhero stops fight against crime after he is attacked
Roger Hayhurst, who also goes by the name Knight Warrior, hit the headlines in 2011 after it emerged he patrolled streets near his home in Swinton, Greater Manchester, breaking up fights and tackling anti-social behaviour.
Mr Hayhurst vowed "to get crime off the streets" and even hoped to become the first elected mayor of Salford before a lack of funding scuppered his political ambitions.
Mr Hayhurst, 20, who used a custom-made £200 blue-and-black lycra costume which his mother helped him buy from a US firm, was later joined by his Rebecca, his 18-year-old fiancee who met him after hearing of his bravery. She would go by the name Knight Maiden.
But Mr Hayhurst, a gardener, has now scaled back his crime-fighting after being attacked while on patrol.
He told the Manchester Evening News: "We were recognised when we were walking thorough Clifton and some lads started punching me. More
'Monsanto Protection Act' slips silently through US Congress
The US House of Representatives quietly passed a last-minute addition to the Agricultural Appropriations Bill for 2013 last week - including a provision protecting genetically modified seeds from litigation in the face of health risks.
The rider, which is officially known as the Farmer Assurance Provision, has been derided by opponents of biotech lobbying as the “Monsanto Protection Act,” as it would strip federal courts of the authority to immediately halt the planting and sale of genetically modified (GMO) seed crop regardless of any consumer health concerns.
The provision, also decried as a “biotech rider,” should have gone through the Agricultural or Judiciary Committees for review. Instead, no hearings were held, and the piece was evidently unknown to most Democrats (who hold the majority in the Senate) prior to its approval as part of HR 993, the short-term funding bill that was approved to avoid a federal government shutdown. More
Court curbs laptop searches at U.S. border
A federal appeals court on Friday said Customs and Border Protection officers cannot confiscate or download every laptop or electronic device brought into the U.S., ruling that people have an expectation their data are private and that the government must have “reasonable suspicion” before it starts to do any intensive snooping.
In a broad ruling, the court also said merely putting password protection on information is not enough to trigger the government’s “reasonable suspicion” to conduct a more intrusive search — but can be taken into account along with other factors.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges said it was a “watershed care” that gets at what kinds of limits the government must observe when it comes to technology and privacy.
“Electronic devices often retain sensitive and confidential information far beyond the perceived point of erasure, notably in the form of browsing histories and records of deleted files,” Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote in the majority opinion. “This quality makes it impractical, if not impossible, for individuals to make meaningful decisions regarding what digital content to expose to the scrutiny that accompanies international travel. A person’s digital life ought not be hijacked simply by crossing a border.” More
Saving Cyprus Means Nobody Safe as Europe Breaks Taboo
The devil lies in the detail of Cyprus’s salvation.
The island nation’s rescue sets precedents for the euro zone that may stick in the memory of depositors and bondholders alike as investors debate who will next fall victim to the debt crisis. Under the terms of the agreement struck yesterday in Brussels, senior Cypriot bank bond holders will take losses and uninsured depositors will be largely wiped out.
The message that stakeholders of all stripes can be coerced into helping a cash-strapped nation may make investors more skittish they’ll be targeted if Slovenia, Italy, Spain or even Greece again is next in line to need help. The risk is that bank runs and bond market selloffs become more likely the moment a country applies for a new rescue, said economists and academics from Nicosia to New York. More
Iran unveils finger amputating machine for use on thieves
Iran has unveiled its latest innovation in criminal punishment – a machine that cuts off the fingers of thieves.
Photographs appearing to show a blindfolded man having his fingers severed by the mechanical amputation device have been published by an official Iranian press agency.
According to the INSA news service, the prisoner used to demonstrate the brutal contraption had been convicted of theft and adultery by a court in Shiraz last Wednesday.
A series of pictures show three masked officials, clad entirely in black, holding the man's right hand in a vice while one turns a wheel operating the guillotine in the manner of a rotary saw. More
Police Commit Assault, Tresspassing and Kidnapping in the Name of Public Safety
In the UK, Michael Doherty, a former aircraft engineer, is suing the Metropolitan Police for breaking and entering, assault and battery, and kidnapping. Doherty was forcibly taken into police custody on suspicion of harassment without probable cause for the crime.
A district court judge agreed to allow Doherty to bring charges against the police in West London for their blatant disregard for the law. After a bogus internal investigation, Doherty filed charges against the officers in question.
Two men in plain clothes claiming to be police officers came to the victim’s door. Doherty refused to allow the police into his residence when they demanded he open the door. This prompted the use of violent force by the police and the reason for Doherty’s counter claim. More
Chicago Driver Gives Himself The Boot To Guard Against Car Thieves
CHICAGO – Car theft is too common a crime in Chicago, with more than 16,000 last year alone. One Chicago car owner took a drastic step to prevent thieves from taking his ride.
CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov tracked down a young man who was willingly clamping a Denver Boot on the front wheel of his car.
Usually drivers do anything to avoid getting the boot, which prevents a car from being able to move.
Not this guy, who we’ll call Rafal.
The 20-year-old was caught on tape slapping one on his own car, and at first avoided CBS 2’s camera. Asked why he was doing it, he said, “so nobody steals it.” More
Bank files to evict man squatting in $2.5-million Boca Raton mansion
Andre Barbosa's days of stylish squatting in a $2.5-million Boca Raton mansion may be numbered.
A filing in Palm Beach County court made public Friday names the 23-year-old Brazilian national and eight other unknown people as defendants for their attempt to stake a claim on the waterside property at 580 Golden Harbour Drive.
Bank of America is claiming rightful ownership of the home — despite Barbosa's invocation of an obscure Florida real estate law to stake his claim on the foreclosed property, a 7,522-square-foot, 5-bedroom palace that features canal views and whose interior includes pillars, a curved staircase and marbled bath.
Barbosa, who the bank says in court papers is liable for more than $15,000 for breaking into the house, could not be reached for comment. More
Big Brother’s Listening
The era of private conversations on city buses — and even on San Francisco’s iconic streetcars — may be coming to an end.
Government officials are quietly installing sophisticated audio surveillance systems on public buses across the country to eavesdrop on passengers, according to documents obtained by The Daily. Plans to implement the technology are under way in cities from San Francisco to Hartford, Conn., and Eugene, Ore., to Columbus, Ohio.
Linked to video cameras already in wide use, the microphones will offer a formidable new tool for security and law enforcement. With the new systems, experts say, transit officials can effectively send an invisible police officer to transcribe the individual conversations of every passenger riding on a public bus.
But the deployment of the technology on buses raises urgent questions about the boundaries of legally protected privacy in public spaces, experts say, as transit officials — and perhaps law enforcement agencies given access to the systems — seem positioned to monitor audio communications without search warrants or court supervision. More
How the War on Drugs Caused the Fake Pot Problem
Yesterday, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration published a "first-of-its-kind report" finding that synthetic marijuana, commonly sold as "herbal incense" with names like K2 and Spice, was linked to more than 11,400 drug-related hospitalizations in 2010.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who'd spearheaded a recent bill banning chemicals used to make fake pot, quickly responded to the news with a statement: "This report underscores that a federal ban was right to protect public safety…Still, cynical manufacturers are evading the federal ban by altering chemicals or ignoring the ban altogether. Anyone who might be tempted to try this drug should realize its use can end in tragedy, such as the loss of my constituent, David Rozga."
Rozga was an 18-year-old Iowan who may have had a history of depression and committed suicide in June 2010 after smoking K2 with his friends. Soon, reports of the dangers of synthetic pot, ranging from nausea to hallucinations and seizures, were all over the local and national news. Later that year, the Drug Enforcement Agency invoked emergency powers to temporarily ban the drug as lawmakers scrambled to outlaw it for good. More
They Can Do That?! 10 Outrageous Tactics Cops Get Away With
Talk to someone who has never dealt with the cops about police behaving badly, and he or she will inevitably say, “But they can't do that! Can they?” The question of what the cops can or can't do is natural enough for someone who never deals with cops, especially if their inexperience is due to class and/or race privilege.
But a public defender would describe that question as naïve. In short, the cops can do almost anything they want, and often the most maddening tactics are actually completely legal.
There are many reasons for this, but three historical developments stand out: the war on drugs provided the template for social control based on race; 9/11 gave federal and local officials the opportunity to ensnare Muslims (and activists) in the ever-increasing surveillance and incarceration state; and a lack of concern from the public at large means these tactics can be applied, often controversy-free, to anyone who resists them. More
Twinkie CEO Admits Company Took Employees Pensions and Put It Toward Executive Pay
Twinkie-maker Hostess continues to screw over its workers. The company is in the process of complete liquidation and 18,000 unionized workers are set to lose their jobs. More troubling – they could lose their pensions.
According to a report by the Wall Street Journal , Hostess’ CEO, Gregory Rayburn, essentially admitted that his company stole employee pension money and put it toward CEO and senior executive pay (aka “operations”). While this isn't technically illegal, it's another sleazy theft by Hostess executives - who've paid themselves handsomely while running their company into the ground. Just last month, a judge agreed to let Hostess executives suck another $1.8 million out of the bankrupt company to pay bonuses to CEOs.
If there's no way to recover the money for the Hostess pension plans for workers, then the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. will have to foot the bill to make sure workers get at least some of the retirement money they paid in.
Hostess shows us clearly what Bain-style predatory capitalism is all about: big bucks for the very few rich executives, layoffs and poverty for the workers and their communities. More
‘Fast and Furious’ Gun Found At Site Where Mexican Beauty Queen Killed
WASHINGTON – A gun found at the scene of a shootout between a Mexican drug cartel and soldiers where a beauty queen died was part of the botched “Fast and Furious” operation, CBS News reports.
Authorities had said that Maria Susana Flores Gamez was likely used as a human shield and that an automatic rifle had been found near her body after the Nov. 23 shootout.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, tells CBS News that the Justice Department did not notify Congress that a Fast and Furious firearm was found at the scene in Sinaloa.
The Romanian AK-47-type WASR-10 rifle found near her body was purchased by Uriel Patino at an Arizona gun shop in 2010. Patino is a suspect who allegedly purchased 700 guns while under the ATF’s watch. More
UK to double number of drones in Afghanistan
The UK is to double the number of armed RAF "drones" flying combat and surveillance operations in Afghanistan and, for the first time, the aircraft will be controlled from terminals and screens in Britain.
In the new squadron of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), five Reaper drones will be sent to Afghanistan, the Guardian can reveal. It is expected they will begin operations within six weeks.
Pilots based at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire will fly the recently bought American-made UAVs at a hi-tech hub built on the site in the past 18 months.
The UK's existing five Reaper drones, which are used to target suspected insurgents in Helmand, have been operated from Creech air force base in Nevada because Britain has not had the capability to fly them from here.
After "standing up" the new XIII squadron in a ceremony this Friday, the UK will soon have 10 Reapers in Afghanistan. The government has yet to decide whether the aircraft will remain there after 2014, when all Nato combat operations are due to end. More
Israel Counted Minimum Calorie Needs in Gaza Blockade, Documents Reveal
The Israeli military meticulously and callously calculated the number of calories Gaza residents would need to consume in order not to starve, and used those calculations to inform how to impose a harsh economic blockade on the Palestinians, according to newly released documents.
In the January 2008 document, Israel decided to allow Gazans to eat 2,279 calories worth of food each day, as if they were dogs in a cage. They estimated therefore that they would allow 1,836 grams of food per person, per day.
The overwhelming blockade Israel imposed on Gaza, tightening restrictions on the movement of people and goods, was supposedly punishment for having Hamas in power.
“The official goal of the policy was to wage ‘economic warfare’ which would paralyze Gaza’s economy and, according to the Defense Ministry, create pressure on the Hamas government,” the Israeli human rights group Gisha, said in a statement. More
U.N. calls for 'anti-terror' Internet surveillance
The United Nations is calling for more surveillance of Internet users, saying it would help to investigate and prosecute terrorists.
A 148-page report released today titled "The Use of the Internet for Terrorist Purposes" warns that terrorists are using social networks and other sharing sites including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Dropbox, to spread "propaganda."
"Potential terrorists use advanced communications technology often involving the Internet to reach a worldwide audience with relative anonymity and at a low cost," said Yury Fedotov, executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The report, released at a conference in Vienna convened by UNODC, concludes that "one of the major problems confronting all law enforcement agencies is the lack of an internationally agreed framework for retention of data held by ISPs." Europe, but not the U.S. or most other nations, has enacted a mandatory data-retention law. More
Texas DPS helicopter opens fire during chase; 2 dead
NEAR LA JOYA — A Texas Department of Public Safety sharpshooter opened fire on an evading vehicle loaded with suspected illegal immigrants, leaving at least two people dead, sources familiar with the investigation said.
DPS spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger confirmed a DPS officer opened fire during the pursuit north of La Joya, but had no information as to whether the officer shot anyone inside the evading vehicle.
“We do not want to speculate on any other issues at this time and have no further information,” Cesinger said in the email.
However, law enforcement sources said troopers found three people shot inside once the smuggler’s vehicle stopped along Farm-to-Market Road 2221 near Mile 7 Road. Two of the suspected illegal immigrants died from their injuries, they said. More
White House continues fight to indefinitely detain Americans without charge under NDAA
Only hours after a US district judge made permanent an injunction that bans the indefinite military detention of Americans without charge, the White House said they’d appeal to continue their efforts to keep a controversial new law on the books.
The Obama administration acknowledged that they plan to challenge a ruling made only a day earlier by US District Court Judge Katherine Forrest that concreted an injunction she issued four months prior on a provision included in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act , or NDAA. In May, Judge Forrest said the indefinite detention statute in the NDAA failed to “pass constitutional muster” and ordered a temporary block. On Wednesday, she made that injunction permanent, but not without raising objection once again from the Executive Branch.
"First Amendment rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and cannot be legislated away," Forrest wrote on Wednesday.
"This Court rejects the Government's suggestion that American citizens can be placed in military detention indefinitely, for acts they could not predict might subject them to detention." More
Court Approves Detaining Motorists at Toll Booth
Motorists can be held indefinitely at toll booths if they pay with large denomination bills, according to a federal appeals court ruling handed down Wednesday. A family of drivers -- Joel, Deborah and Robert Chandler -- filed suit last year arguing they were effectively being held hostage by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and the private contractor in charge of the state's toll road, Faneuil, Inc.
Under FDOT policies in place at the time, motorists who paid with $50 bills, and occasionally even $5 bills, were not given permission to proceed until the toll collector filled out a "Bill Detection Report" with data about the motorist's vehicle and details from his driver's license. Many of those who chose to pay cash did so to avoid the privacy implications of installing a SunPass transponder that recorded their driving habits.
They were likewise unwilling to provide personal information to the toll collector, but they had no alternative because the toll barrier would not be raised without compliance. FDOT policy does not allow passengers to exit their vehicle, and backing up is illegal and usually impossible while other cars wait behind. FDOT dropped the Bill Detection Reports in 2010. A three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit US Court of Appeals did not buy the argument that these motorist detentions rose to the level of a constitutional violation. More
Is Ron Paul A Domestic Terrorist?
At best, so-called "fusion centers," law enforcement intelligence gathering operations, can enhance public safety. At worst, they pose a threat to privacy, religious freedom and free speech – and in some places that's exactly what's happening, according to a new report released this week.
Fusion centers were created in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 to "detect and defend" against potential terrorist threats. The centers work as information-sharing hubs that "facilitate the exchange of critical information among federal and state law enforcement, intelligence agencies, and sometimes even military officials and private sector entities," reads the new report, "Recommendations for Fusion Centers: Preserving Privacy & Civil Liberties While Protecting Against Crime and Terrorism," released by The Constitution Project, a nonpartisan think tank.
And while the idea may be to ferret out and thwart evil-doers, in practice there are problems within the nation's 77 centers, which have drawn a fair amount of public concern and criticism. "The very nature of the fusion center network raises the stakes. In such an interconnected system, fusion centers – even those with the best civil liberties practices – can inadvertently perpetuate or exacerbate the problematic activities of other fusion centers of law enforcement agencies," reads the report. Indeed, the local fusion operation, the Austin Regional Intelligence Center, has been the subject of public mistrust related to the scope of its mission and concerns about privacy. More
How To Stop Facebook From Tracking You
Most people don't realize that Facebook can continue to monitor their internet activity, even if they are no longer logged into the site.
Using "Facebook Connect," and other social plug-ins, Facebook is able to set up a cookie on any site that has a "Like" or "share" button, giving Facebook access to a startling amount of user information. Technically, the purpose of these plug-ins is to authenticate users, but it still has the ability to collect personal information such as the IP address of your computer, browsing data, outside login information, phone numbers, etc.
The cookie, known as the "datr" cookie, has been a controversial topic for the past year. Using this cookie, among other things, Facebook knows what you have read on a web page even if you did not click the "like" button. As the Wall Street Journal reported, "for this to work, a person only needs to have logged into Facebook or Twitter once in the past month. The sites will continue to collect browsing data, even if the person closes their browser or turns off their computers." More
‘Pray For Obama’ Sign Draws Secret Service Attention
VICTORIA, Tx. -- The Secret Service is looking into a sign posted in Victoria, Texas. The sign says "Pray for Obama", but it's the scripture quoted below those words that is raising eyebrows: Psalms 109:8.
Psalms 109:8 reads, "Let his days be few, and let another take his office." Milton Neitsch Jr., who has lived in Victoria since 1961, says he didn't intend for people to pick up on the hateful wishes of death and pain surrounding the tiny verse. But some people say it is hateful and inappropriate. They say it misuses the holy scripture and it must come down.
Neitsch recently received an email from a friend and decided to post it on his advertising billboard along North Navarro Street. He had no idea the firestorm of controversy it would create.
"Pray for the president. He needs it," said Neitsch.
When asked what the sign means, Neitsch responded, "Exactly what it says. Hope he's gone soon and somebody different takes his place." More
Is Privacy Dead? 4 Government and Private Entities Conspiring to Track Everything You Do Online and Off
Americans' personal privacy is being crushed by the rise of a four-headed corporate-state surveillance system. The four “heads” are: federal government agencies; state and local law enforcement entities; telecoms, web sites & Internet “apps” companies; and private data aggregators (sometimes referred to as commercial data warehouses).
Conventional analysis treats these four domains of data gathering as separate and distinct; government agencies focus on security issues and corporate entities are concerned with commerce. Some overlap can be expected as, for example, in case of a terrorist attack or an online banking fraud. In both cases, an actual crime occurred.
But what happens when the boundary separating or restricting corporate-state collaboration, e.g., an exceptional crime-fighting incident, erodes and becomes the taken-for-granted operating environment, the new normal? Perhaps most troubling, what happens when the traditional safeguards offered by “watchdog” courts or regulatory organizations no longer seem to matter? What does it say that the entities designed to protect personal privacy rights seem to have either been effectively “captured” or become toothless tigers? More
Former Marine, Detained After Anti-Government Facebook Postings
RICHMOND, Va. — A former Marine involuntarily detained for psychiatric evaluation for posting strident anti-government messages on Facebook has received an outpouring of support from people who say authorities are trampling on his First Amendment rights.
Brandon J. Raub, 26, has been in custody since FBI, Secret Service agents and police in Virginia's Chesterfield County questioned him Thursday evening about what they said were ominous posts talking about a coming revolution. In one message earlier this month according to authorities, Raub wrote: "Sharpen my axe; I'm here to sever heads."
Police – acting under a state law that allows emergency, temporary psychiatric commitments upon the recommendation of a mental health professional – took Raub to the John Randolph Medical Center in Hopewell. He was not charged with any crime.
A Virginia-based civil liberties group, The Rutherford Institute, dispatched one of its attorneys to the hospital to represent Raub at a hearing Monday. A judge ordered Raub detained for another month, Rutherford executive director John Whitehead said. More
NSA whistleblowers: Government spying on every single American
The TSA, DHS and countless other security agencies have been established to keep America safe from terrorist attacks in post-9/11 America. How far beyond that does the feds’ reach really go, though?
The attacks September 11, 2001, were instrumental in enabling the US government to establish counterterrorism agencies to prevent future tragedies. Some officials say that they haven’t stopped there, though, and are spying on everyone in America — all in the name of national security.
Testimonies delivered in recent weeks by former employees of the National Security Agency suggest that the US government is granting itself surveillance powers far beyond what most Americans consider the proper role of the federal government.
In an interview broadcast on Current TV’s “Viewpoint” program on Monday, former NSA Technical Director William Binney commented on the government’s policy of blanket surveillance, alongside colleagues Thomas Drake and Kirk Wiebe, the agency's respective former Senior Official and Senior Analyst. More
Cop Charged With Using Police Database To ‘Friend’ Driver On Facebook
VOORHEES, N.J. — A Voorhees police officer was charged Monday with misusing his police powers for personal reasons, according to officials in Camden County.
Forty-four-year-old Jeffrey M. Tyther is accused of using the State Police NCIC motor vehicle database on September 9, 2011 to get personal information about a female driver he passed in Voorhees.
Authorities say while on duty in a marked police cruiser, Tyther saw the woman pass him in traffic, pulled up next to her and waved at her. Neither one of them stopped their vehicles nor did they speak to one another. However, authorities say days later, Tyther used the woman’s personal information retrieved from the database to find her and “friend” her on Facebook. When she didn’t respond to the friend request, Tyther emailed her, identifying himself as the officer who waved at her earlier that week, authorities said.
“At that point I think that unnerved her and she talked to a co-worker about it, and through that person, police were notified,” said the Public Information Officer of The Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, Jason Laughlin. Officials say use of the NCIC motor vehicle database is limited to law enforcement purposes only. More
Sandra Cortez’s Ordeal: Once You’re On The Terrorist “Watch List,” You Can’t Get Off
Sandra Cortez, born in Chicago sixty-eight years ago, has never set foot outside the United States – yet she discovered, through an error in her credit report, that her name is permanently inscribed in a terrorist “watch list.”
Cortez has no criminal record, and an exemplary credit history. In March 2005, Cortez – who at the time was living in Denver, Colorado – attempted to buy a vehicle from the John Elway Subaru dealership.
“I thought I would be driving my new car back to work after lunch,” Cortez recalled. “I couldn’t imagine what would happen next.”
Despite the fact that Cortez had a 761 credit score and money for a down-payment, the dealership’s manager balked at the sale after running Cortez’s credit history through the TransUnion credit rating service.
Rather than closing the deal on the $18,000 Subaru Forrester, the manager – his face drawn into a “stern look” – assailed the puzzled woman with a series of “strange questions”: “Were you born in the United States? Have you always lived in the U.S.? When is the last time you left the country?” More
Giant Beijing Rainstorm Triggers Citizens' Anger
The worst rainstorms to hit Beijing in more than 60 years have left a trail of destruction, with buildings collapsed, major roadways submerged, and at least 37 people killed, including one man who drowned in his car under a flooded bridge.
The 20-hour storm that started July 21 and lasted until the early hours of the next day has sparked widespread anger over the government’s handling of the crisis, focusing on the poor preparedness of officials and the state of public infrastructure, as well as the lack of any prior government warning to the populace.
“To those responsible, where were you that night?” asked Beijing real estate tycoon and popular blogger Pan Shiyi, writing on July 23 on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging service. “The cadres only go abroad for study, but not to the streets to inspect,” wrote outspoken blogger Li Chengpeng, also commenting on the lack of official preparation for the floods, on Sina Weibo.
With an average of almost 7 inches of rain falling on the capital of 20 million people, the deluge breaks all records for rainfall in Beijing since China started keeping track in 1951. Fangshan district, a suburb in southwest Beijing, was particularly hard-hit, with 16 inches flooding popular tourist spots like Shidu, known for its strangely shaped mountain landscape. More
TSA Now "Protecting" Train Stations & Bus Terminals
Footage shot at the Oceanside Transit Center in Southern California documents how the rollout of TSA workers is expanding out of the airports and into train stations and bus terminals.
The clip shows TSA inspectors standing with police and drug-sniffing dogs. The TSA agents told the film maker that he was still allowed to take video and photos at the train station but may get “questioned” for doing so.
There were about six or seven TSA agents patrolling the station according to the uploader of the video. The Transportation Security Administration was embarrassed earlier this year when Houstonians revolted over a program that would have seen TSA workers routinely ride city buses in the name of spotting terrorists and criminals.
During a trial of the program, bus passengers were harassed and interrogated by TSA workers, prompting a backlash and an anger-filled public meeting during which residents expressed resentment about being asked questions about their journey and having their bags searched. More
Economist Schiff: Upcoming Crash Will Pale 2008
NEW YORK — Investors need to prepare for an upcoming stock market crash that will be “worse than 2008.”
That’s according to a well-respected author and investor, making a recent appearance on Fox Business
. Peter Schiff, the CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, says the stock market collapse we experienced in 2008 “wasn’t the real crash. The real crash is coming.”
He says that Federal stimulus, or quantitative easing, never works and that it just makes the economy sicker in the end. “The reason we are so screwed up is all this quantitative easing is toxic. I don’t doubt that we are going to pressure Germany into printing. We are like the kid who is trying to get a friend to ditch school with us to go to the beach. We are a bad influence on everybody.”
Schiff’s solution is to raise interest rates, but he acknowledges that it would bring a huge downside risk with it. “In America, the problem is that interest rates are too low. They have to go up. We can’t have an economy with interest rates at zero. If the Fed lets interest rates go up, we have to realize that we will have a deeper recession, we have to realize that banks are going to fail.”
A noted economist agrees with Schiff that a much worse stock market crash is coming. And unlike Schiff, he has given very specific details about just how bad it will get. More
Groups Concerned Over Arming Of Domestic Drones
With the use of domestic drones increasing, concern has not just come up over privacy issues, but also over the potential use of lethal force by the unmanned aircraft.
Drones have been used overseas to target and kill high-level terror leaders and are also being used along the U.S.-Mexico border in the battle against illegal immigration. But now, these drones are starting to be used domestically at an increasing rate.
The Federal Aviation Administration has allowed several police departments to use drones across the U.S. They are controlled from a remote location and use infrared sensors and high-resolution cameras.
Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in Texas told The Daily that his department is considering using rubber bullets and tear gas on its drone. More
Brussels wants e-identities for EU citizens
The European Commission is set to launch a substantial review of rules governing personal documents with the aim of making electronic identities take off across the EU. But the proposal faces likely opposition from civil rights groups and member states where identity cards do not exist.
Neelie Kroes, the EU's Digital Agenda Commissioner, will present by the beginning of June a new legislative proposal which aims “to facilitate cross-border electronic transactions” through the adoption of harmonised e-signatures, e-identities and electronic authentication services (eIAS) across EU member states, according to an internal document seen by EurActiv.
“A clear regulatory environment for eIAS would boost user convenience, trust and confidence in the digital world,” reads the paper. “This will increase the availability of cross-border and cross-sector eIAS and stimulate the take up of cross-border electronic transactions in all sectors.” Brussels has long been trying to facilitate the emergence of a parallel system of electronic identification, on top of the the real-world existing documents. This has mainly been linked to the struggle for establishing a truly functioning single market, rather than on security grounds. More
Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will
WASHINGTON — This was the enemy, served up in the latest chart from the intelligence agencies: 15 Qaeda suspects in Yemen with Western ties. The mug shots and brief biographies resembled a high school yearbook layout. Several were Americans. Two were teenagers, including a girl who looked even younger than her 17 years.
President Obama, overseeing the regular Tuesday counterterrorism meeting of two dozen security officials in the White House Situation Room, took a moment to study the faces. It was Jan. 19, 2010, the end of a first year in office punctuated by terrorist plots and culminating in a brush with catastrophe over Detroit on Christmas Day, a reminder that a successful attack could derail his presidency. Yet he faced adversaries without uniforms, often indistinguishable from the civilians around them.
“How old are these people?” he asked, according to two officials present. “If they are starting to use children,” he said of Al Qaeda, “we are moving into a whole different phase.” More
Tax time pushes some Americans to take a hike
A year ago, in Action Comics, Superman declared plans to renounce his U.S. citizenship.
"'Truth, justice, and the American way' - it's not enough anymore," the comic book superhero said, after both the Iranian and American governments criticized him for joining a peaceful anti-government protest in Tehran.
Last year, almost 1,800 people followed Superman's lead, renouncing their U.S. citizenship or handing in their Green Cards. That's a record number since the Internal Revenue Service began publishing a list of those who renounced in 1998. It's also almost eight times more than the number of citizens who renounced in 2008, and more than the total for 2007, 2008 and 2009 combined.
But not everyone's motivations are as lofty as Superman's. Many say they parted ways with America for tax reasons.
The United States is one of the only countries to tax its citizens on income earned while they're living abroad. And just as Americans stateside must file tax returns each April - this year, the deadline is Tuesday - an estimated 6.3 million U.S. citizens living abroad brace for what they describe as an even tougher process of reporting their income and foreign accounts to the IRS. More
Solyndra Not Dealing With Toxic Waste At Milpitas Facility
MILPITAS (CBS 5) — Three months ago, CBS 5 caught Solyndra tossing millions of dollars worth of brand new glass tubes used to make solar panels. Now the bankrupt solar firm, once touted as a symbol of green technology, may be trying to abandon toxic waste.
It’s a tedious process. Slowly but surely, the shattered remains of brand new solar panel tubes head to a recycling plant in Hayward.
Meanwhile the next phase of the company’s liquidation is under way. It involves getting rid of all the heavy metals left inside the building that were used to make the panels.
The Fremont Fire Department’s Jay Swardenski oversees the cleanup. He said some materials, such as cadmium, are toxic, and hard to dispose of. “They don’t degrade at all, so we want to make sure we don’t allow these materials to get into the environment,” he said. More
73-Year-Old “Drug Kingpin,” Arrested in Oklahoma
In one of the most bizarre stories of the day, a 73-year-old grandmother has been arrested for allegedly running a major marijuana drug operation out of her northeast Oklahoma home.
According to local authorities, Darlene Mayes of Craig County, Ok. supplied 40 percent of the pot in her area, which includes Tulsa and parts of Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri.
“We feel like it was coming in from all over, and we think this is a real good arrest,” Sheriff Jimmy Scooter told kjrh.com. “We think we really put a big dent in the drug trade in Northeastern Oklahoma.”
Huffington Post writes that the silver-haired “drug kingpin” stored the marijuana in her bedroom in a vacuum-sealed bag she kept in her closet, adding that police reported her room “reeking” of the substance upon her arrest.
Besides the drugs, Mayes also had $300,000 in cash and numerous guns stashed throughout the house. Bundles of dollar bills labelled “$15,000? were found under her bed. More
Homeland Security helps arrest prostitute in Sioux Falls
Sioux Fall Police and Homeland Security arrested a woman for prostitution at the Best Western Tuesday night.
The woman advertised on an Internet site. There was already a warrant out for her arrest involving prostitution.
Officers found Miaisha McCoy, 22, of Minneapolis in the room. They also found a 64-year-old man in the bathroom.
Officer Sam Clemens said there was enough evidence to arrest the woman on one count of prostitution in addition to serving the warrant
Clemens said the incident was not a sting operation and Homeland Security is not usually involved in arresting prostitutes. More
Man arrested for allegedly pointing his finger at two detectives
A threatening finger point landed a father in jail.
The Fredericksburg man says he didn't point his finger at police officers, but he still faces two felony charges.
David Loveless is accused of pointing his finger like a gun at two Fredricksburg detectives. Tuesday night police arrested and handcuffed him and drove him off to jail.
He says he never pointed his finger at anyone.
"He made a gesture with his hand," says Natatia Bledsoe, a spokesperson for the Fredricksburg Police.
"I don't see how I was pointing my finger," Loveless tells ABC7. " If anything I was reaching into my pocket to get a pack of cigarettes. If that's what they saw, they have a vivid imagination." More
The CIA wants to spy on you through your gadgets
When people download a film from Netflix to a flatscreen, or turn on web radio, they could be alerting unwanted watchers to exactly what they are doing and where they are.
Spies will no longer have to plant bugs in your home - the rise of 'connected' gadgets controlled by apps will mean that people 'bug' their own homes, says CIA director David Petraeus.
The CIA claims it will be able to 'read' these devices via the internet - and perhaps even via radio waves from outside the home.
Everything from remote controls to clock radios can now be controlled via apps - and chip company ARM recently unveiled low-powered, cheaper chips which will be used in everything from fridges and ovens to doorbells.
The resultant chorus of 'connected' gadgets will be able to be read like a book - and even remote-controlled, according to CIA CIA Director David Petraeus, according to a recent report by Wired's 'Danger Room' blog. More
North Carolina moves to compensate sterilization victims
As many as 2,000 people forcibly sterilized under a past North Carolina program should be compensated $50,000 each, a panel voted on Tuesday, the first time a state has moved to pay victims of a discredited human selection program.
North Carolina has 1,500 to 2,000 living victims of the program, meaning that up to $100 million could be paid out in compensation, said Charmaine Fuller Cooper, executive director of the North Carolina Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation, a state agency.
The five-member task force voted 3-2 in favor of the $50,000 figure. The two dissenting members supported a floor of $20,000, Fuller Cooper said.
Governor Bev Perdue said she backed the compensation proposal and creation of a permanent exhibit "so that this shameful period is never forgotten." More
Neo-Nazis pledge to descend on Sanford, Fla
The Florida town roiled by the controversial Trayvon Martin shooting soon may get unwelcome visitors — a group of neo-Nazis.
Members of the Detroit-based National Socialist movement have pledged to descend on Sanford to protect “the white citizens in the area” if there are race riots in the aftermath of the killing that has gripped the nation.
“It’s a virtual tinder box right now,” the group’s leader, Jeff Schoep, told the Daily News. “It's explosive. It’s on the verge of violence. We need to make sure our white citizens aren't left defenseless.”
Schoep claimed that up to 20 well-armed members are already in position in Sanford.
Sanford police officials said Saturday they have not spotted any neo-Nazis but have coordinated with the feds to be ready in case violence erupts. More
FBI Jackbooted Thugs Use Chainsaw In Raid On Wrong Apartment
FITCHBURG – It’s going to be a while before things get back to normal for Judy Sanchez and her three-year-old daughter.
Last Thursday, a team of FBI agents swarmed her apartment building as part of a massive citywide drug and weapons gang raid.
Trouble is, Sanchez lives in apartment 2R. The suspect they were after is in 2F.
At 6:04 last Thursday morning, just before Sanchez’ alarm was set to go off, she heard a pounding outside her second floor apartment.
“I just happened to glance over and saw this huge chainsaw ripping down the side of my door,” she explains.
“And I was freaking out. I didn’t know what was going on.” Within moments, the chainsaw had cut through most of her door, and someone on the FBI’s arrest team kicked the rest of it in. More
Where’s the Dog Food? In Your Hamburger
Reducing food waste is a critical responsibility not to be dismissed by any individual or industry, but concerns over ammonia-treated low-quality beef otherwise used as dog food and winding up in burger meat is sounding major alarms for food activists and concerned consumers.
Credit Jamie Oliver, the host of “The Food Revolution” for speaking out on the issue of what is commonly referred to in the industry as “pink slime.” It’s a combination of low-fat burger meat and an ammonium hydroxide wash applied because the meat is so loaded with pathogens including E. coli that without the wash, it would otherwise only be suitably used as an ingredient in pet food. The apparently innovative process is capable of removing the smallest scraps of beef still clinging to the carcasses of animals whose meat has already gone to pet food production.
The main provider of the pink slime meat is Beef Products Inc, who once had a 70 percent market share on hamburgers sold in the U.S.—including to school systems—but has lost a significant percentage of its business since Oliver first brought the situation to light. McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell have all reportedly dropped the beef from their ingredients fearing even more backlash against the already heavily targeted fast-food industry by Oliver and other healthy food advocates. More
The US schools with their own police
The charge on the police docket was "disrupting class". But that's not how 12-year-old Sarah Bustamantes saw her arrest for spraying two bursts of perfume on her neck in class because other children were bullying her with taunts of "you smell".
"I'm weird. Other kids don't like me," said Sarah, who has been diagnosed with attention-deficit and bipolar disorders and who is conscious of being overweight. "They were saying a lot of rude things to me. Just picking on me. So I sprayed myself with perfume. Then they said: 'Put that away, that's the most terrible smell I've ever smelled.' Then the teacher called the police."
The policeman didn't have far to come. He patrols the corridors of Sarah's school, Fulmore Middle in Austin, Texas. Like hundreds of schools in the state, and across large parts of the rest of the US, Fulmore Middle has its own police force with officers in uniform who carry guns to keep order in the canteens, playgrounds and lessons. Sarah was taken from class, charged with a criminal misdemeanour and ordered to appear in court.
Each day, hundreds of schoolchildren appear before courts in Texas charged with offences such as swearing, misbehaving on the school bus or getting in to a punch-up in the playground.
Children have been arrested for possessing cigarettes, wearing "inappropriate" clothes and being late for school. More
Police Say They Can Detain Photographers If Their Photographs Have 'No Apparent Esthetic Value'
Apparently the police in Long Beach, California, have a policy that says if a police officer determines that a photographer is taking photos of something with "no apparent esthetic value," they can detain them. This revelation came after photographer Sander Roscoe Wolff was taking the following photo:
The police officer somehow determined that there couldn't be esthetic value there, and thus, the photographer had to be detained and checked out. The police are defending this policy, saying that while officers don't have any specific training in what qualifies as "apparent esthetic value," they will stop anyone photographing things they don't consider to be something a "regular tourist" would photograph. I actually have to go down to Long Beach next month for a speaking engagement, and I'm now tempted to take a bunch of photographs that have "no apparent esthetic value." More
National Defense Authorization Act Targets Political Dissenters
On January 22, 2009, newly inaugurated President Barack H. Obama proudly issued his first three executive orders, one of them, a directive requiring the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison facility to be closed within one year.
Nearly three years later, Guantanamo Bay remains open with prisoners being held without trial, and a new law enacted with the stroke of his pen could mean more American citizens will be joining them soon.
With people partying worldwide in naïve bliss on New Year’s Eve, December 31, Pres. Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act giving the military extraordinary sweeping powers to detain United States citizens indefinitely without trial. The law has been widely condemned by civil libertarians, activists, and American citizens who see this as further evidence of the erosion human rights, which began post 9/11 under then-President George W. Bush.
“The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it. In particular, I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists,” said Pres. Obama in a statement. More
Stripper Finds Degree Profitable for Goldman Wasn't Worth It
Carrianne Howard dreamed of designing video games, so she enrolled in a program at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, a for-profit college part-owned by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Her bachelor’s degree in game art and design cost $70,000 in tuition and fees. After she graduated in December 2007, she found a job that paid $12 an hour recruiting employees for video game companies. She lost that job a year later when her department was shuttered.
These days, Howard, 26, makes her living in a way that doesn’t require a college diploma: by stripping at the Lido Cabaret, a topless club in Cocoa Beach, Florida. “I didn’t know what else to do,” she says. “I’ve got a worthless degree. It’s like I didn’t attend school at all.”
Like many investors, Goldman, owner of 38 percent of the Art Institute’s parent, Education Management Corp., was drawn to for-profit colleges by their rapid growth and soaring stock prices, reports Bloomberg Businessweek in its Aug. 9 issue. Now Goldman, which recently agreed to pay $550 million to settle U.S. civil-fraud charges related to the subprime mortgage meltdown, is invested in an industry under attack from Congress, the Obama Administration and dissatisfied students. More
Police to test laser that 'blinds rioters'
The technology, developed by a former Royal Marine commando, temporarily impairs the vision of anyone who looks towards the source.
It has impressed a division of the Home Office which is testing a new range of devices because of the growing number of violent situations facing the police.
The developer, British-based Photonic Security Systems, hopes to offer the device to shipping companies to deter pirates.
Similar devices have been used by ISAF troops in Afghanistan to protect convoys from insurgents.
The laser, resembling a rifle and known as an SMU 100, can dazzle and incapacitate targets up to 500m away with a wall of light up to three metres squared. It costs £25,000 and has an infrared scope to spot looters in poor visibility.
Looking at the intense beam causes a short-lived effect similar to staring at the sun, forcing the target to turn away. More
Iceland Declares Independence from International Banks
Iceland is free. And it will remain so, so long as her people wish to remain autonomous of the foreign domination of her would-be masters — in this case, international bankers.
On April 9, the fiercely independent people of island-nation defeated a referendum that would have bailed out the UK and the Netherlands who had covered the deposits of British and Dutch investors who had lost funds in Icesave bank in 2008.
At the time of the bank’s failure, Iceland refused to cover the losses. But the UK and Netherlands nonetheless have demanded that Iceland repay them for the “loan” as a condition for admission into the European Union.
In response, the Icelandic people have told Europe to go pound sand. The final vote was 103,207 to 69,462, or 58.9 percent to 39.7 percent. “Taxpayers should not be responsible for paying the debts of a private institution,” said Sigriur Andersen, a spokeswoman for the Advice group that opposed the bailout.
A similar referendum in 2009 on the issue, although with harsher terms, found 93.2 percent of the Icelandic electorate rejecting a proposal to guarantee the deposits of foreign investors who had funds in the Icelandic bank. The referendum was invoked when President Olafur Ragnur Grimmson vetoed legislation the Althingi, Iceland’s parliament, had passed to pay back the British and Dutch. More
Local Cops Ready for War With Homeland Security-Funded Military Weapons
Nestled amid plains so flat the locals joke you can watch your dog run away for miles, Fargo treasures its placid lifestyle, seldom pierced by the mayhem and violence common in other urban communities. North Dakota’s largest city has averaged fewer than two homicides a year since 2005, and there’s not been a single international terrorism prosecution in the last decade.
But that hasn’t stopped authorities in Fargo and its surrounding county from going on an $8 million buying spree to arm police officers with the sort of gear once reserved only for soldiers fighting foreign wars.
Every city squad car is equipped today with a military-style assault rifle, and officers can don Kevlar helmets able to withstand incoming fire from battlefield-grade ammunition. And for that epic confrontation—if it ever occurs—officers can now summon a new $256,643 armored truck, complete with a rotating turret. For now, though, the menacing truck is used mostly for training and appearances at the annual city picnic, where it’s been parked near the children’s bounce house. More
TSA screenings aren't just for airports anymore
Rick Vetter was rushing to board the Amtrak train in Charlotte, N.C., on a recent Sunday afternoon when a canine officer suddenly blocked the way.
Three federal air marshals in bulletproof vests and two officers trained to spot suspicious behavior watched closely as Seiko, a German shepherd, nosed Vetter's trousers for chemical traces of a bomb. Radiation detectors carried by the marshals scanned the 57-year-old lawyer for concealed nuclear materials.
When Seiko indicated a scent, his handler, Julian Swaringen, asked Vetter whether he had pets at home in Garner, N.C. Two mutts, Vetter replied. "You can go ahead," Swaringen said.
The Transportation Security Administration isn't just in airports anymore. TSA teams are increasingly conducting searches and screenings at train stations, subways, ferry terminals and other mass transit locations around the country. More
Tweeting the word 'drill' could mean your Twitter account is read by U.S. government spies
The Department of Homeland Security makes fake Twitter and Facebook profiles for the specific purpose of scanning the networks for 'sensitive' words - and tracking people who use them.
Simply using a word or phrase from the DHS's 'watch' list could mean that spies from the government read your posts, investigate your account, and attempt to identify you from it, acccording to an online privacy group.
The words which attract attention range from ones seemingly related to diseases or bioweapons such as 'human to animal' and 'outbreak' to other, more obscure words such as 'drill' and 'strain'.
The DHS also watches for words such as 'illegal immigrant'. The DHS outlined plans to scans blogs, Twitter and Facebook for words such as 'illegal immigrant', 'outbreak', 'drill', 'strain', 'virus', 'recovery', 'deaths', 'collapse', 'human to animal' and 'trojan', according to an 'impact asssessment' document filed by the agency.
When its search tools net an account using the phrases, they record personal information. It's still not clear how this information is used - and who the DHS shares it with. More
Payroll tax cut may hurt housing market
Reporting from Washington — The new mortgage fee to fund the temporary extension of the payroll tax cut could damp the still-sluggish real estate market and complicate efforts to overhaul the nation's wounded housing finance system. Even though the tax cut approved Friday extends for only two months, a small fee on loan amounts will be levied for a decade on all mortgages sold to housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which control about 60% of the nation's mortgage market.
That fee arrangement also makes it difficult for Congress to work on efforts to shut down Fannie and Freddie, which federal regulators seized three years ago with a taxpayer bailout now estimated to total about $150 billion.
Based on prevailing rates for a 30-year fixed-rate loan, a homeowner borrowing $200,000 would pay about $4,000 more if the loan were sold to Fannie or Freddie. That would raise the mortgage payment about $11 a month for the life of the loan.
"Housing doesn't need any more speed bumps, and this is a speed bump," said Jaret Seiberg, senior financial policy analyst at Guggenheim Partners in Washington. "It's not a big one, but every extra penny that it costs to finance a home puts that much more downward pressure on home prices." More
Military given go-ahead to detain US terrorist suspects without trial
Barack Obama has abandoned a commitment to veto a new security law that allows the military to indefinitely detain without trial American terrorism suspects arrested on US soil who could then be shipped to Guantánamo Bay.
Human rights groups accused the president of deserting his principles and disregarding the long-established principle that the military is not used in domestic policing. The legislation has also been strongly criticised by libertarians on the right angered at the stripping of individual rights for the duration of "a war that appears to have no end".
The law, contained in the defence authorisation bill that funds the US military, effectively extends the battlefield in the "war on terror" to the US and applies the established principle that combatants in any war are subject to military detention.
The legislation's supporters in Congress say it simply codifies existing practice, such as the indefinite detention of alleged terrorists at Guantánamo Bay. But the law's critics describe it as a draconian piece of legislation that extends the reach of detention without trial to include US citizens arrested in their own country. More
Mass. fishermen snare 881-pound tuna, feds take it
NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — It's the big one that got taken away. Local fishing boat owner Carlos Rafael was elated when one of his trawlers snared an 881-pound bluefin tuna earlier this month.
But the joy was short-lived. Federal fishery enforcement agents seized the fish when the crew returned to port Nov. 12.
Rafael had tuna permits but was told catching tuna with a net is illegal. Instead, it's got to be caught by handgear, such as rod and reel, harpoon or handline.
"We didn't try to hide anything," Rafael told The Standard-Times newspaper of New Bedford, a famous whaling era port 50 miles south of Boston. "We did everything by the book. Nobody ever told me we couldn't catch it with a net."
A fish that big is hugely valuable, prized by sushi-lovers for its tender red meat. A 754 pound tuna recently sold for nearly $396,000.
Rafael's fish will be sold overseas, and he'll get no share of the proceeds if regulators find a violation. The money would instead go into the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fund that also holds money collected for fishery fines. More
Harold Rodman, TSA worker, arrested for sexual assault
A Transportation Security Administration employee is accused of sexually assaulting a woman in Manassas.
The suspect, Harold Glen Rodman, 52, allegedly was wearing his uniform and displayed a badge to the victim, a 37-year-old woman.
Police arrested Rodman on Nov. 20. He is charged with aggravated sexual battery, object sexual penetration, forcible sodomy and abduction with intent to defile. A TSA spokesperson confirmed that Rodman works for the agency but wouldn’t say in what capacity or where.
Police said the victim reported that she and a friend were in the 10500 block of Winfield Loop in Manassas when the suspect approached them. The suspect flashed a badge and sexually assaulted the victim before fleeing on foot, police said. More
Sweden slides into becoming a police state
Swedish officials on the Island of Gotland are seeking to terminate the parental rights of homeschool parents Christer and Annie Johansson. The latest development in this monumental homeschool rights case started when the state seized the parents seven year old son in June 2009. Domenic, now 9 years old, has been held in state foster care for more than 24 months.
News of these developments does not sit well in the homeschool community. “The United States Supreme Court has called the termination of parental rights the family court equivalent of the death penalty,” notes Michael Donnelly, Director of International Relations at the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).
Seven-year-old Domenic Johansson was snatched by Swedish police in June 2009 from an airplane bound for India, his Mother’s homeland. Among the reasons given for the seizure was that Domenic was homeschooled. Since then his entire family has been denied virtually any contact with their son. HSLDA and the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) filed a joint application on behalf of the Johansson family at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in June 2010 and have been working to support the family since shortly after Domenic’s seizure. More
TX High School Students Made to Recite Mexican National Anthem, Pledge
Students in a Texas public high school were made to stand up and recite the Mexican national anthem and Mexican pledge of allegiance as part of a Spanish class assignment, but the school district maintains there was nothing wrong with the lesson.
It happened last month in an intermediate Spanish class at Achieve Early College High School in McAllen, Texas — a city located about 10 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.
Wearing red, white and green, students had to memorize the Mexican anthem and pledge and stand up and recite them in individually in front of the class. That didn’t go over well with sophomore Brenda Brinsdon. The 15-year-old sat down and refused to participate.
“I just thought it was out of hand, I didn’t think it was right,” she told The Blaze. “Reciting pledges to Mexico and being loyal to it has nothing to do with learning Spanish.” More
Pregnant Seattle protester miscarries after being kicked, pepper sprayed
A woman who was pepper sprayed during during a raid on Occupy Seattle last week is blaming police after she miscarried Sunday.
Jennifer Fox, 19, told The Stranger that she had been with the Occupy protests since they started in Westlake Park. She said she was homeless and three months pregnant, but felt the need to join activists during their march last Tuesday.
“I was standing in the middle of the crowd when the police started moving in,” Fox recalled. “I was screaming, ‘I am pregnant, I am pregnant. Let me through. I am trying to get out.’”
She claimed that police hit her in the stomach twice before pepper spraying her. One officer struck her with his foot and another pushed his bicycle into her. It wasn’t clear if either of those incidents were intentional.
“Right before I turned, both cops lifted their pepper spray and sprayed me. My eyes puffed up and my eyes swelled shut,” Fox said. More
Drug Smugglers Tunnel Into Arizona Parking Spaces
Drug smugglers are endlessly creative when it comes to inventing ways to move marijuana, cocaine and other contraband from Mexico into the United States.
In the latest innovation uncovered by law enforcement, smugglers in the border town of Nogales, Arizona were bringing drugs into the U.S. for the cost of a quarter.
The parking meters on International Street, which hugs the border fence in Nogales, cost 25 cents. Smugglers in Mexico tunneled under the fence and under the metered parking spaces, and then carefully cut neat rectangles out of the pavement. Their confederates on the U.S. side would park false-bottomed vehicles in the spaces above the holes, feed the meters, and then wait while the underground smugglers stuffed their cars full of drugs from below.
When the exchange was finished, the smugglers would use jacks to put the pavement "plugs" back into place. The car would drive away, and only those observers who were looking closely would notice the seams in the street. More
Arrest marks growing pains for superhero movement
SEATTLE - Fabio Heuring was standing outside a Seattle nightclub on a Saturday night and smoking cigarettes with a friend when a man bolting from a bouncer ran into them. The enraged man ripped off his shirt in the middle of the street and prepared to give Heuring's buddy a beating.
Just then, in swooped a bizarre sight: a self-proclaimed superhero in a black mask and matching muscle-suit. He doused the aggressor with pepper spray, much to Heuring's shocked relief.
A couple hours later, though, the superhero ended up in jail for investigation of assault after using those tactics on another group of clubgoers, sending pangs of anxiety through the small, eccentric and mostly anonymous community of masked crime-fighters across the U.S.
The comic book-inspired patrolling of city streets by "real life super-heroes" has been getting more popular in recent years, thanks largely to mainstream attention in movies like last year's "Kick-Ass" and the recent HBO documentary "Superheroes." And as the ranks of the masked, caped and sometimes bullet-proof-vested avengers swell, many fret that even well-intentioned vigilantes risk hurting themselves, the public and the movement if they're as aggressive as the crime-fighter in Seattle.
Some have gone so far as to propose a sanctioning body to ensure that high super-hero standards are maintained. More
Police 'threatened' me for taking pictures of daughter in shopping centre, dad claims
A DAD says he was threatened by police under anti-terror laws - for taking a picture of his wee girl eating ice cream.
Chris White was pulled up by a security guard and police were called after he snapped his four-year-old daughter Hazel on his phone in Braehead shopping centre, near Glasgow.
Chris was asked to delete the photos and banned from the mall.
Police also warned him they could confiscate his phone under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
He said yesterday: "I just couldn't believe what was happening to me."
Chris, 45, took the snap of Hazel as she sat at an ice cream stall in Braehead.
Later, when he was carrying her through the centre, he was stopped by a security guard.
Chris added: "He said I had been spotted taking photos in the shopping centre which was illegal and then asked me to delete any photos I had taken. More
Breast cancer patient: TSA pat-down was ‘humiliating’
A New York breast cancer patient says she was subjected to an "insulting" and "humiliating" pat-down by a TSA agent at Kennedy Airport last week as she prepared to board a flight to San Francisco.
Lori Dorn, a human resources consultant, recounted the experience on her blog, describing how, last Thursday, Sept. 29, she walked through an imaging scanner at Terminal 4 when a TSA agent asked her to step aside to have her breast examined.
"I explained to the agent that I was a breast cancer patient and had a bilateral mastectomy in April and had tissue expanders put in to make way for reconstruction at a later date," Dorn wrote.
Dorn told the agent she was not comfortable having her breasts touched and explained that she had a medical card in her wallet that described such expanders and included her doctor's contact information. She asked the agent if she could retrieve the card. More
China used prisoners in lucrative internet gaming work
As a prisoner at the Jixi labour camp, Liu Dali would slog through tough days breaking rocks and digging trenches in the open cast coalmines of north-east China. By night, he would slay demons, battle goblins and cast spells.
Liu says he was one of scores of prisoners forced to play online games to build up credits that prison guards would then trade for real money. The 54-year-old, a former prison guard who was jailed for three years in 2004 for "illegally petitioning" the central government about corruption in his hometown, reckons the operation was even more lucrative than the physical labour that prisoners were also forced to do.
"Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labour," Liu told the Guardian. "There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb [£470-570] a day. We didn't see any of the money. The computers were never turned off." More
Child labor returns to USA
In a move that is raising plenty of eyebrows, Missouri state Senator Jane Cunningham has proposed a bill that would "modify" child labor laws, eliminating the prohibition on employment of children under 14. The proposal has sparked an outcry in the state but Cunningham defends the bill, saying that it's important to cultivate a work ethic in young people and emphasizing that kids are still prohibited from working in dangerous professions.
"It's kind of a common sense thing," she tells The Huffington Post. "Right now, it's so over the top with regulations -- what businesses have to do, schools have to do. Parents should be in charge, deciding on the work ethic of their children."
Cunningham says that children are still protected by law from working in "dangerous jobs, like coal mines, with animals, with blades or involving dangerous stunts." She says that her bill simply loosens an overly broad prohibition on child labor and would allow kids to work at movie theaters, to babysit or to cut lawns, blaming the hysteria on union "misinformation" and politics. More
Why Do the Police Have Tanks? The Strange and Dangerous Militarization of the US Police Force
ust after midnight on May 16, 2010, a SWAT team threw a flash-bang grenade through the window of a 25-year-old man while his 7-year-old daughter slept on the couch as her grandmother watched television. The grenade landed so close to the child that it burned her blanket. The SWAT team leader then burst into the house and fired a single shot which struck the child in the throat, killing her.
The police were there to apprehend a man suspected of murdering a teenage boy days earlier. The man they were after lived in the unit above the girl's family.
The shooting death of Aiyana Mo'Nay Stanley-Jones sounds like it happened in a war zone. But the tragic SWAT team raid took place in Detroit.
Shockingly, paramilitary raids that mirror the tactics of US soldiers in combat are not uncommon in America. According to an investigation carried out by the Huffington Post's Radley Balko, America has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement over the last 30 years, along with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units for routine police work. In fact, the most common use of SWAT teams today is to serve narcotics warrants, usually with forced, unannounced entry into the home. More
Homeowner associations foreclose on residents
The Inlet House condo complex in Fort Pierce, Fla., was once the kind of place the 55-and-older set aspired to. It was affordable. The pool and clubhouse were tidy, the lawns freshly snipped. Residents, push-carts in tow, walked to the beach, the bank, the beauty parlor, the cinema and the supermarket. In post-crash America, this was a dreamy little spot. Especially on a fixed income.
But that was Inlet House before the rats started chewing through the toilet seats in vacant units and sewage started seeping from the ceiling. Before condos that were worth $79,000 four years ago sold for as little as $3,000. And before the homeowners' association levied $6,000 assessments on everyone — and then foreclosed on seniors who couldn't pay the association bill, even if they didn't owe the bank a dime.
Normally, it's the bankers who go after delinquent homeowners. But in communities governed by the mighty homeowners' association, as the sour economy leaves more people unable to pay their fees, it's neighbor vs. neighbor. More
US universities in Africa 'land grab'
Harvard and other major American universities are working through British hedge funds and European financial speculators to buy or lease vast areas of African farmland in deals, some of which may force many thousands of people off their land, according to a new study.
Researchers say foreign investors are profiting from "land grabs" that often fail to deliver the promised benefits of jobs and economic development, and can lead to environmental and social problems in the poorest countries in the world.
The new report on land acquisitions in seven African countries suggests that Harvard, Vanderbilt and many other US colleges with large endowment funds have invested heavily in African land in the past few years. Much of the money is said to be channelled through London-based Emergent asset management, which runs one of Africa's largest land acquisition funds, run by former JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs currency dealers. More
Solar-Panel Company Visited by Obama in 2010 Suspends Operation
Solyndra Inc., a maker of solar modules that received a $535 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Energy Department, suspended operations and plans to file for bankruptcy, saying it couldn’t compete with larger rivals.
The closely held company will seek Chapter 11 protection, Fremont, California-based Solyndra said today in a statement. It didn’t say how much it owes to creditors. Solyndra is the third U.S. solar manufacturer to fail in a month as falling panel prices and weak global demand are driving a wave of industry consolidation.
President Obama visited Solyndra’s factory in May 2010 to promote investments in renewable energy and its closure will provide fuel to critics of his policies.
“Solyndra could not achieve full-scale operations rapidly enough to compete in the near term with the resources of larger foreign manufacturers,” the company said in the statement. Its problems were exacerbated by a global glut of solar panels and slowing demand “that in part resulted from uncertainty in governmental incentive programs in Europe.” More
Costco uses E-Verify Nationwide to Check Employees
Costco Wholesale, the nation’s largest warehouse retailer, has adopted the use of E-Verify to check all prospective new hires. The multi-billion dollar global chain has been using the free government online verification system nationwide since March 2010.
Costco posts the official E-Verify poster (left) inside all their stores near the Member Services counter to warn any illegal aliens thinking of applying for a job there that will be rejected. They also clearly announce their nationwide participation in E-Verify on the employment page on their website.
Sam’s Club, the nation’s second largest big box store, does not use E-Verify in their hiring practices. Sam’s Club is owned by Walmart and has 33 stores in California.
After Arizona passed their mandatory E-Verify law several years ago, which requires all employers in that state to check their new employees through the Homeland Security database, Costco decided to be pro-active and adopt the system at all their stores and offices nationwide. More
Grisly US Gov't Testing On Humans Revealed
ATLANTA -- Shocking as it may seem, U.S. government doctors once thought it was fine to experiment on disabled people and prison inmates. Such experiments included giving hepatitis to mental patients in Connecticut, squirting a pandemic flu virus up the noses of prisoners in Maryland, and injecting cancer cells into chronically ill people at a New York hospital.
Much of this horrific history is 40 to 80 years old, but it is the backdrop for a meeting in Washington this week by a presidential bioethics commission. The meeting was triggered by the government's apology last fall for federal doctors infecting prisoners and mental patients in Guatemala with syphilis 65 years ago.
U.S. officials also acknowledged there had been dozens of similar experiments in the United States - studies that often involved making healthy people sick.
An exhaustive review by The Associated Press of medical journal reports and decades-old press clippings found more than 40 such studies.
At best, these were a search for lifesaving treatments; at worst, some amounted to curiosity-satisfying experiments that hurt people but provided no useful results. More
Iraqis: We won't repay U.S.
BAGHDAD — The suggestion by a U.S. congressman that Iraq repay the United States for the money it has spent in the country has stirred anger, with an Iraqi lawmaker ridiculing the idea as “stupid” and others saying Iraqis should be compensated for the hardships they’ve endured.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican from California, suggested during a trip to Baghdad with fellow lawmakers Friday that once Iraq becomes a rich and prosperous country, it could repay the United States.
That comment triggered outrage among an Iraqi public and political establishment that had little or no say in the U.S.-led invasion of 2003. Iraqis are largely glad to be rid of Saddam Hussein but blame the U.S. for the chaos and sectarian violence that followed the invasion.
“We as a government reject such statements, and we have informed the American embassy that these congressmen are not welcome in Iraq,” said government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh. More
TSA Agent Caught With Passenger's iPad in His Pants
While most Transportation Security Administration employees are busy groping people or taking naked pictures of them, the cops say one of those employees was putting fliers' electronics down his pants.
The Broward Sheriff's Office says 30-year-old Nelson Santiago stole around $50,000 worth of electronics over the past six months from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport's Terminal 1.
Santiago -- a TSA officer since 2009 -- was caught earlier this week by a Continental Airlines employee taking an iPad out of someone's luggage and stuffing it into his pants, the cops say.
After being arrested Monday on two counts of grand theft, police say Santiago admitted to stealing computers, GPS devices, video cameras, and other electronic merchandise from luggage he was supposed to be screening. More
Congress prepares repressive Internet legislation
While some lawmakers are leaning towards a legislation that would cripple the internet and give the government the power to wipe websites offline, a group of professors have penned a letter to Congress protesting the proposed Protect IP Act.
The letter comes from three “law professors who teach and write about intellectual property law” and urges Congress to reject the Act, which is currently on hold in the Senate after Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) put a freeze on it back in May.
The Protect IP Act, if approved, would give the government the power to take websites offline and censor search engines after copyright infringement claims are made by the content in question’s actual owner. Last month screenwriters stood up for the bill, speaking in front of Congress about what the passing would mean to them.
"There's a popular misconception that when you steal content, you’re only stealing from rich corporations who don’t need the money," said Gina Gionfriddo, a television writer and member of the Writers Guild of America. "But Internet piracy really takes income out of my pocket, out of the pockets of actors, writers, directors and technicians who create these programs." More
US troops protect China's copper mine in Afghanistan
JALREZ VALLEY, Afghanistan — In this Taliban stronghold in the mountains south of Kabul, the U.S. Army is providing the security that will enable China to exploit one of the world's largest unexploited deposits of copper, earn tens of billions of dollars and feed its voracious appetite for raw materials.
U.S. troops set up bases last month along a dirt track that a Chinese firm is paving as part of a $3 billion project to gain access to the Aynak copper reserves. Some troops made camp outside a compound built for the Chinese road crews, who are about to return from winter break. American forces also have expanded their presence in neighboring Logar province, where the Aynak deposit is.
The U.S. deployment wasn't intended to protect the Chinese investment — the largest in Afghanistan's history — but to strangle Taliban infiltration into the capital of Kabul. But if the mission provides the security that a project to revive Afghanistan's economy needs, the synergy will be welcome. More
Smugglers Turn To Ultralights To Drop Drugs Over Border
SAN DIEGO -- Mexican drug cartels have used trucks, tunnels, boats and submarines to smuggle their drugs across the border. Now, more and more, authorities said they're turning to ultralight aircraft to do the job.
"They get frustrated, so they end up resorting to different methods of smuggling and the use of this ultralight aircraft is one of those methods," said Border Patrol Agent Rodolfo Zuniga.
The U.S. Border Patrol said it has seen an increase in air smuggling in the last three years. In 2009, it tracked 118 ultralight incursions into the U.S.; 228 in 2010; and 71 so far in 2011.
The San Diego Ultralight Association is stationed at Nichols Airfield just east of Chula Vista, and members there said they have known about the cartels' use of ultralights for some time. More
Teaching Kids to Mistrust Government Makes Couple ‘Unsuitable’ Parents
Texans, beware: If you teach your kids that the “government is out to harm them,” police in Williamson County might just deem you an “unsuitable” parent.
That startling claim, leveled by officers in Child Protective Services documents detailing an investigation into an Austin-area activist couple, should be enough to give reason for pause to any staunch conservative in the state.
The allegation was made against drug reform activist filmmakers Barry and Candi Cooper, whose home was recently raided and searched after the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department claimed Barry’s voice was heard in the background audio of an allegedly false police report.
Once in the couple’s home, officers discovered a small amount of marijuana and charged the Coopers with Class B misdemeanors, resulting in both their arrests. Each immediately bonded out of jail and paid a small fine. Days later, while Candi’s youngest son was visiting his father in east Texas, Child Protective Services contacted the Coopers, revealing that the incident could cost them not only custody of the boy, but also their freedom on felony child endangerment charges. More
Deadly NATO raid hits Libyan university
New images have emerged showing the aftermath of an alleged NATO air raid targeting Tripoli's Nasser University. The attack reportedly left many university staff and students dead.
Libyan state television says dozens of others were also injured.
The UN Security Council Resolution 1973 has authorized the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians against forces loyal to Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi.
NATO has carried out many airstrikes in accordance with the UN mandate. However, many civilians have been killed in the attacks.
Meanwhile, clashes between revolutionary forces and Gaddafi loyalists intensified on Sunday. At least seven people were killed in the town of Dafniya, near the besieged city of Misratah, Khaled Abu Falgha of Misrata's Hekma hospital said. More
Rental chain 'caught spying on customers at home
PITTSBURGH — A major furniture rental chain provides its customers with computers that allow it to track keystrokes, take screenshots and even snap webcam pictures of renters using the devices at home, a Wyoming couple said in a lawsuit.
Computer privacy experts said the firm has the right to equip its computers with software it can use to shut off the devices remotely if customers stop paying their bills, but they must be told if they're being monitored.
"If I'm renting a computer ... then I have a right to know what the limitations are and I have a right to know if they're going to be collecting data from my computer," said Annie Anton, a professor and computer privacy expert with North Carolina State University.
But the couple who sued Atlanta-based Aaron's Inc. said they had no clue the computer they rented last year was equipped with a device that could spy on them.
Brian Byrd, 26, and his wife, Crystal, 24, said they didn't even realize that was possible until a store manager in Casper came to their home on Dec. 22. More
Meet the Department of Education's SWAT team
Kenneth Wright does not have a criminal record and he had no reason to believe a SWAT team would be breaking down his door at 6 a.m. “I look out of my window and I see 15 police officers,” Wright said.
Wright came downstairs in his boxer shorts as a SWAT team breached his front door. Wright said an officer grabbed him by the neck and led him outside on his front lawn. “He had his knee on my back and I had no idea why they were there,” Wright said.
According to Wright, officers also woke his three young children ages 3, 7, and 11 and put them in a Stockton police patrol car with him. Officers then searched his house.
As it turned out, law enforcement were there looking for Wright’s estranged wife.
“They put me in handcuffs in that hot patrol car for six hours, traumatizing my kids,” Wright said. Wright said he later went to the mayor and Stockton Police Department, but the City of Stockton had nothing to do with Wright’s search warrant. More
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s Financial Martial Law on Poor Cities
My friend Judith Browne-Dianis, who runs the Advancement Project, just turned me on to this evil mechanism that allows governors to take over local decision making. On the heels of Wisconsin’s move to strip public employees of collective bargaining rights, Michigan has taken things to the next level: stripping cities of self-governance.
Last week, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act. Now he can declare any city or district in financial emergency, appoint an emergency manager (at county, city, district or township level) and give that person the power to control budgets, sell off assets, bypass city councils and boards of education, take over school systems, de-certify public unions, and even to dissolve the city itself as an entity. This is corporate martial law—it won’t be the military taking over, but business interests that constitute an authoritarian regime.
The idea is that the state will punish localities where incompetent public officials and administrators are wasting money. This is the punishment angle on the master narrative that Republican governors across the country are taking up—“balancing the budget requires sacrifice.” Of course it only requires sacrifice from the people who have already cut to the bone. Simultaneously, Snyder, supposedly a moderate Republican, proposes a state budget that includes a 60 percent cut in corporate taxes, along with plans to tax pensions and kill the earned income tax credit. More
Witness releases new video of fatal police-involved shooting
A West Palm Beach couple who filmed Monday morning’s deadly officer-involved shooting on South Beach has accused officers of intimidation, destroying evidence and twisting the facts in the chaos surrounding the Memorial Day shootings – a charge that police officials say they know nothing about.
Meanwhile, a South Carolina man charged with DUI in a second officer-involved shooting that morning says he is innocent.
On Thursday, The Miami Herald spoke to the couple that saw the end of the 4 a.m. police chase on Collins Avenue, then watched and filmed from just a few feet away as a dozen officers fired their guns repeatedly into Raymond Herisse’s blue Hyundai. They say the only reason they were able to show the video to a reporter is because they hid a memory card after police allegedly pointed guns at their heads, threw them to the ground and smashed the cell phone that took the video.
The three-minute video captured on Narces Benoit’s HTC EVO phone begins as officers crowd around the east side of Herisse’s car with guns drawn. Roughly 15 seconds into the video, officers open fire.
Benoit filmed the incident from the sidewalk on the northeast corner of 13th Street and Collins Avenue, close enough to see some officers’ faces and individual muzzle flashes. More
Court: No right to resist illegal cop entry into home
INDIANAPOLIS | Overturning a common law dating back to the English Magna Carta of 1215, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Hoosiers have no right to resist unlawful police entry into their homes.
In a 3-2 decision, Justice Steven David writing for the court said if a police officer wants to enter a home for any reason or no reason at all, a homeowner cannot do anything to block the officer's entry.
"We believe ... a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence," David said. "We also find that allowing resistance unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest."
David said a person arrested following an unlawful entry by police still can be released on bail and has plenty of opportunities to protest the illegal entry through the court system.
Justice Robert Rucker, a Gary native, and Justice Brent Dickson, a Hobart native, dissented from the ruling, saying the court's decision runs afoul of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
"In my view the majority sweeps with far too broad a brush by essentially telling Indiana citizens that government agents may now enter their homes illegally -- that is, without the necessity of a warrant, consent or exigent circumstances," Rucker said. "I disagree." More
US says dropping bombs is not war, but guessing a computer password is
The US government sure has an interesting way of defining war these days. Just a few months after the Obama administration played word games with the public by insisting that air strikes in Libya were just "kinetic military action," not acts of war, the Pentagon has now come on the record stating that it will treat all acts of cyber-hacking against the US as "acts of war."
The announcement came on the heels of a supposed cyber-attack that occurred a few weeks ago against defense contractor Lockheed Martin. Officials say when hacking incidents like this occur in the future, retaliation in the form of reverse cyber-attacks, economic sanctions, and even "military strike[s]" may take place.
"A response to a cyber-incident or attack on the US would not necessarily be a cyber-response," said Col. Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman. "All appropriate options would be on the table." A White House statement also said the US plans to "respond to hostile acts in cyberspace as we would to any other threat to our country," implying that computer hackers could soon face retaliatory attacks by the US military. More
Washable RFID Tags Help Catch Hotel Towel Thieves
Plush terrycloth bathrobes, 800-thread-count sheets and fluffy, freshly laundered towels can tempt even the most law-abiding hotel guest to take up a life of suitcase-stuffing crime.
Irresistible as they may be, petty theft of these luxurious (and free!) linens are gouging the hotel industry to the rude wake-up call of approximately $100 million a year.
Sticky-fingers everywhere, consider this a warning! Some hotels are reinforcing their defences against pilfering patrons like yourself and they're using radio frequency identification (RFID) to catch you in the act.
Three hotels in Honolulu, Miami and New York City have begun using towels, sheets and bathrobes equipped with washable RFID tags to keep guests from snagging the coveted items. Just to keep you guessing, the hotels have chosen to remain anonymous. More
Unabomber's Items in Auction
The manifesto and other items belonging to the man known as the "Unabomber" will soon be available for purchase, the government announced Thursday, May 12, 2011.
The infamous manifesto, in which Ted Kaczynski condemned the industrial and technological revolutions, will be offered in an online government auction from May 18 through June 2, the U.S. Marshals Service said in a statement.
The auction offering will include more than 20,000 pages of written documents, including the original handwritten and typewritten versions of the manifesto. Personal documents including Kaczynski's birth certificate, photos, handwritten notes, driver's licenses, deeds, checks, academic transcripts will also be up for auction. More
'Flo' wants to spy on you
You may have seen Progressive's TV ads promising big discounts for safe driving. One commercial, featuring a perky spokeswoman named Flo, says "are you a safe driver? Yes. Discount! Do you own a home? Yes. Discount! Are you gonna buy online? Yes. Discount! Aren't discounts great? Yes!"
Now, Progressive is taking it further, offering drivers in Ohio, Kentucky, and 20 states a program called "Snapshot," that provides discounts up to 30 percent.
There's one catch. You have to let Progressive install a gadget under your dash to monitor and transmit your driving habits.
Company spokesman Richard Hutchinson told us, "This is a new approach to auto insurance. It allows you the consumer to share your driving to get a discount." More
WikiLeaks founder: Facebook is “most appalling spying machine ever invented”
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange may be awaiting extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges but that doesn’t mean the media has lost interest in what he has to say about various important issues. In a recent interview with Russia Today, Assange was asked for his perspective on the revolutions in the Middle East.
After Assange compared the differences between what is happening in Egypt and Libya, he was asked about the role of social networks such as Facebook. That’s when the WikiLeaks founder erupted:
"Facebook, in particular, is the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented. Here we have the world’s most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations, their communications with each other, their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to US intelligence. Facebook, Google, Yahoo – all these major US organizations have built-in interfaces for US intelligence. It’s not a matter of serving a subpoena – they have an interface that they have developed for US intelligence to use." More
Report: 230,000 Displaced By Mexico's Drug War
MEXICO CITY -- About 230,000 people have been displaced in Mexico because of drug violence, and about half of them may have taken refuge in the United States, according to a new study.
The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre based this week's report on studies by local researchers, saying that the Mexican government does not compile figures on people who have had to leave their homes because of turf battles between drug gangs.
"Independent surveys put their number at around 230,000," according to the global report's section on Mexico. "An estimated half of those displaced crossed the border into the United States, which would leave about 115,000 people internally displaced, most likely in the States of Chihuahua, Durango, Coahuila and Veracruz."
While that number is far below the estimated 3.6 to 5.2 million displaced by decades of drug- and guerrilla-war violence in Colombia, the report suggested that people who had to flee drug violence in Mexico have received little support. More
Prisoners Help Build Patriot Missiles
This spring, the United Arab Emirates is expected to close a deal for $7 billion dollars’ worth of American arms. Nearly half of the cash will be spent on Patriot missiles, which cost as much as $5.9 million apiece.
But what makes those eye-popping sums even more shocking is that some of the workers manufacturing parts for those Patriot missiles are prisoners, earning as little as 23 cents an hour. (Credit Justin Rohrlich with the catch.)
The work is done by Unicor, previously known as Federal Prison Industries. It’s a government-owned corporation, established during the Depression, that employs about 20,000 inmates in 70 prisons to make everything from clothing to office furniture to solar panels to military electronics.
One of the company’s high-tech specialties: Patriot missile parts. “UNICOR/FPI supplies numerous electronic components and services for guided missiles, including the Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missile,” Unicor’s website explains. “We assemble and distribute the Intermediate Frequency Processor (IFP) for the PAC-3s seeker. The IFP receives and filters radio-frequency signals that guide the missile toward its target.” More
Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media
The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.
A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with United States Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to develop what is described as an "online persona management service" that will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world.
The project has been likened by web experts to China's attempts to control and restrict free speech on the internet. Critics are likely to complain that it will allow the US military to create a false consensus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives.
The discovery that the US military is developing false online personalities – known to users of social media as "sock puppets" – could also encourage other governments, private companies and non-government organisations to do the same. More
Young Mexican police chief seeks US asylum
EL PASO, Texas — A young woman who received death threats after recently becoming police chief of a violence-plagued Mexican town is in the U.S and seeking asylum, Mexican and U.S. officials said Tuesday.
Marisol Valles Garcia, who was 20 when she was hired last October, made international headlines when she accepted the top law enforcement job in Praxedis G. Guerrero, a township near the Texas border overrun by drug violence. Her predecessor was shot to death in July 2009.
Garcia is now in the U.S. and will be allowed to present her case to an immigration judge, according to a statement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The town is in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, where ombudsman Gustavo de la Rosa confirmed that Garcia was in the U.S. and said she has initiated a formal asylum petition.
Neither ICE nor De la Rosa would say where Garcia was staying, citing privacy and security concerns.
Drug violence has transformed the township from a string of quiet farming communities into a lawless no-man's-land only about a mile from the Texas border. Between 1995 and 2005, it had a steady population of about 8,500 inhabitants. Five years later, slightly more than 4,500 people live there. Two rival gangs - the Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels - are battling over control of its single highway, a lucrative drug-trafficking route along the Texas border. More
The Deindustrialization Of America
The United States is rapidly becoming the very first "post-industrial" nation on the globe. All great economic empires eventually become fat and lazy and squander the great wealth that their forefathers have left them, but the pace at which America is accomplishing this is absolutely amazing.
It was America that was at the forefront of the industrial revolution. It was America that showed the world how to mass produce everything from automobiles to televisions to airplanes.
It was the great American manufacturing base that crushed Germany and Japan in World War II. But now we are witnessing the deindustrialization of America. Tens of thousands of factories have left the United States in the past decade alone. Millions upon millions of manufacturing jobs have been lost in the same time period.
The United States has become a nation that consumes everything in sight and yet produces increasingly little. Do you know what our biggest export is today? Waste paper. Yes, trash is the number one thing that we ship out to the rest of the world as we voraciously blow our money on whatever the rest of the world wants to sell to us. More
US Army Apologizes for Horrific Photos from Afghanistan
The United States and NATO are concerned that reactions could be intense to the publication of images documenting killings committed by US soldiers in Afghanistan. The images appeared in the most recent edition of SPIEGEL, which hit the newsstands on Monday.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has already telephoned with her Afghan counterpart to discuss the situation. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon has likewise made contact with officials in Kabul. The case threatens to strain already fragile US-Afghan relations at a time when the two countries are negotiating over the establishment of permanent US military bases in Afghanistan.
In a statement released by Colonel Thomas Collins, the US Army, which is currently preparing a court martial to try a total of 12 suspects in connection with the killings, apologized for the suffering the photos have caused. The actions depicted in the photos, the statement read, are "repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States."
The suspected perpetrators are part of a group of US soldiers accused of several killings. Their court martials are expected to start soon. The photos, the army statement said, stand "in stark contrast to the discipline, professionalism and respect that have characterized our soldiers' performance during nearly 10 years of sustained operations." More
Canada, U.S. agree to use each other’s troops in civil emergencies
Canada and the U.S. have signed an agreement that paves the way for the militaries from either nation to send troops across each other’s borders during an emergency, but some are questioning why the Harper government has kept silent on the deal.
Neither the Canadian government nor the Canadian Forces announced the new agreement, which was signed Feb. 14 in Texas.
The U.S. military’s Northern Command, however, publicized the agreement with a statement outlining how its top officer, Gen. Gene Renuart, and Canadian Lt.-Gen. Marc Dumais, head of Canada Command, signed the plan, which allows the military from one nation to support the armed forces of the other nation during a civil emergency.
The new agreement has been greeted with suspicion by the left wing in Canada and the right wing in the U.S.
The left-leaning Council of Canadians, which is campaigning against what it calls the increasing integration of the U.S. and Canadian militaries, is raising concerns about the deal. More
Homeland Security keeps keeps Americans safe from Copyright and Trademark Violations
The U.S. government’s crackdown on file sharing and counterfeiting has taken a new and disturbing turn.
Yesterday, we reported that the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement office had seized Torrent-Finder.com, a site that linked to other sites that hosted and shared torrent files of copyrighted material.
The news itself was not too unusual; what struck us as out of order was that the site had been shut down without the owner being notified and without a court conviction or, to our knowledge, any other legal proceedings.
At the time, we knew that several other websites had also been seized; however, today, we are hearing reports that as many as 77 different websites have been seized and shut down, all without any notification or warning to the owners. More
Former Pennsylvania judge found guilty in kids-for-cash scheme
A federal jury found a former Pennsylvania judge guilty in a so-called kids-for-cash scheme, in which he took money in exchange for sending juvenile offenders to for-profit detention centers.
Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. was accused of taking $2.8 million in bribes and kickbacks for putting juveniles into detention centers owned by friends.
The jury in Scranton found him guilty of racketeering, money-laundering conspiracy, fraud and filing false income tax returns.
The jury found him not guilty, however, of seven counts of extortion and 10 counts of bribery.
Prosecutors said he took kickbacks from Robert Mericle, the builder of the PA Child Care detention center near Wilkes Barre, and from Robert Powell, a co-owner of the center. More
Academic freedom under assault
"A group of sociologists did a poll in Arizona about the new immigration law. Sixty percent said they were in favor, and 40 percent said, 'No hablo English.'"
That joke in class has Robert Engler, a 12-year sociology professor at Roosevelt University, fighting for his career.
It elicited two written complaints in the spring of 2010 as ethnically offensive, and what followed was a protracted argument that eventually included the termination of his employment from the fall semester.
Administrators have also discontinued his course "City and Citizenship," previously a requirement for graduation.
Now his attorney, Doug Ibendahl, is about to file suit. Ibendahl believes university administrators are dragging their feet over a "harmless joke that would not be considered offensive by any reasonable standard." More
Using Your Blackberry In Illinois Could Send You To Prison
This is one of those technology and legal stories that is hard to believe in this day and age. If you are in Illinois, you better be careful where you point your cameraphone or voice recorder. Chris Drew, a Chicago artist, and Tiawanda Moore, a former stripper, are facing up to 15 years in prison for eavesdropping, according to a story in the Chicago News Cooperative. Drew used an Olympus voice recorder to commit his crime and Moore used her Blackberry.
Moore is scheduled to go on trial early next month for recording Internal Affairs investigators when she filed a sexual harassment complaint. Moore claims the investigators tried to get her to drop her complaint, so she took out her Blackberry and started a recording which resulted in her arrest. Drew goes on trial in April for recording his conversation with Chicago police officers, without their permission, when he was arrested for selling art without a permit. It’s just a misdemeanor to sell art with no permit, but the voice recorder is causing much bigger problems. More
More than 1,000 young American women have been raped or sexually assaulted in the last decade while serving as Peace Corps volunteers in foreign countries, an investigation has found.
In some cases, victims say, the Peace Corps has ignored safety concerns and later tried to blame the women who were raped for bringing on the attacks.
"I have two daughters now and I would never ever let them join the Peace Corps," said Adrianna Ault Nolan of New York, who was raped while serving in Haiti.
She is one of six rape and sexual assault victims who agreed to tell their stories, in hopes the Peace Corps will do a better job of volunteer training and victim counseling. More
Obama Eyeing Internet ID for Americans
STANFORD, Calif. - President Obama is planning to hand the U.S. Commerce Department authority over a forthcoming cybersecurity effort to create an Internet ID for Americans, a White House official said here today.
It's "the absolute perfect spot in the U.S. government" to centralize efforts toward creating an "identity ecosystem" for the Internet, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt said.
That news, first reported by CNET, effectively pushes the department to the forefront of the issue, beating out other potential candidates including the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. The move also is likely to please privacy and civil liberties groups that have raised concerns in the past over the dual roles of police and intelligence agencies. More
Top US Official Murdered After Arkansas Weapons Test Causes Mass Death
A shocking report prepared for Prime Minister Putin by the Foreign Military Intelligence Directorate (GRU) states that one of the United States top experts in biological and chemical weapons was brutally murdered after he threatened to expose a US Military test of poison gas that killed hundreds of thousands of animals in Arkansas this past week.
According to this report, John P. Wheeler III, Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force, Washington, D.C. from 2005-2008, when he became the Special Assistant to the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Logistics and Environment, was found brutally murdered and dumped in a landfill, and as we can read as reported by Fox News:
“Delaware Police are investigating the apparent murder of a former Bush official who also championed the fund-raising effort to build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C. Wheeler’s body was found in Wilmington on Friday. More
British cops swoop in drug raid, find only guinea pigs
COPS have been forced to apologise to a British mum after they swooped on the family home in Bradford searching for a cannabis factory and instead found an electric heater keeping two pet guinea pigs warm, the Yorkshire Evening Post reported yesterday.
Pam Hardcastle, 42, said officers from West Yorkshire Police obtained a search warrant and mounted a raid on her family's home when they thought they had uncovered a specialist heating system designed to grow cannabis.
Elevated heat levels recorded at the property by a police surveillance helicopter sparked the raid, but instead of drugs, cops found her 10-year-old son's two guinea pigs - named Simon and Kenny - cuddled up in the garage in front of a heater. More
The TSA's New Security Procedures Touch a Nerve
America is in the middle of a vigorous privacy debate. The Transportation Security Administration's full-body scanners and new "enhanced pat-down" procedures have (ahem) touched a nerve.
The new scanners, which have been introduced in more and more airports over the last few months, provide a full, head-to-toe picture of a passenger. Depending on the technology, the image is either pretty grainy and abstract or damn near NSFW.
You can opt out of the full-body scan, but that means enduring an "enhanced pat-down" with a TSA agent. In the new pat-down, introduced on November 1, agents use the front of their hands and "women’s breasts and all passengers’ genital areas are patted firmly." Sounds awkward to say the least.
Protests over the new procedures have exploded online, with sites like Boing Boing, Gizmodo, and the Drudge Report raising the alarm. More
FBI: New 'Video Girl Barbie' Could be Used by Pedophiles
LOS ANGELES -- The FBI is warning parents that a new Barbie doll could be used against little girls, possibly by pedophiles.
"Video Girl Barbie" has a camera in her chest that can record up to 30 minutes of video, which can be streamed to a computer.
In a Nov. 30th memo, the FBI dubbed the doll a "possible child pornography production method." Authorities say there have been no incidents so far. In response, Barbie-maker Mattel released this statement:
"The FBI is not reporting that anything has happened. Steve Dupre from the FBI Sacramento field office has confirmed there have been no incidents of this doll being used as anything other than its intent. Mattel products are designed with children and their best interests in mind.
Many of Mattel's employees are parents themselves and we understand the importance of child safety - it is our number one priority." More
Obamacare waivers given to 111 businesses, but few know where to apply for it
The Obama administration has given waivers for the new Healthcare program to 111 corporations and entities so far, but few know where the application is to apply for it. On the Health and Human Services (HHS) website, it takes clicking through six pages of information and misdirection to find the waiver application, and also to see a list of approved businesses who have opted out.
Approved Applications for Waiver of the Annual Limits Requirements of the PHS Act Section 2711 as of November 1, 2010.
Unfortunately, to receive a waiver it appears you must have political capital with the administration to be accepted. For most small businesses, you will be incurring the new taxes, fees, and programs that will add thousands to your bottom line, and in more than a few cases, might cause a small business to close their doors. More
Oil change reignites debate over GPS trackers
Yasir Afifi, a 20-year-old computer salesman and community college student, took his car in for an oil change earlier this month and his mechanic spotted an odd wire hanging from the undercarriage.
The wire was attached to a strange magnetic device that puzzled Afifi and the mechanic. They freed it from the car and posted images of it online, asking for help in identifying it.
Two days later, FBI agents arrived at Afifi's Santa Clara apartment and demanded the return of their property _ a global positioning system tracking device now at the center of a raging legal debate over privacy rights.
One federal judge wrote that the widespread use of the device was straight out of George Orwell's novel, "1984". More
Disabled Woman Goes Through Airport Security in Her Underwear
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Airport security got a surprise on Tuesday when a woman in a wheelchair approached a checkpoint wearing only a black lace bra and panties.
Police were called to question the woman, Tammy Banovac, who was then allowed her to proceed to security.
She was given an "enhanced" pat down because she was in a wheelchair. However, during the screening procedure for her carry-on items an alarm for nitrates was triggered, according to the TSA.
Authorities said nitrates could legitimately be present in medication, or if someone was hunting recently and there were traces of nitrates from the bullets.
But the TSA refused to allow her to board her Southwest Airlines flight to Phoenix.
Officials said they had no idea why Banovac acted the way she did, or if she was attempting to protest airport security. More
Unemployment Offices To Add Armed Guards
INDIANAPOLIS -- Armed security guards will be on hand at 36 unemployment offices around Indiana in what state officials said is a step to improve safety and make branch security more consistent.
No specific incidents prompted the action, Department of Workforce Development spokesman Marc Lotter told 6News' Norman Cox.
Lotter said the agency is merely being cautious with the approach of an early-December deadline when thousands of Indiana residents could see their unemployment benefits end after exhausting the maximum 99 weeks provided through multiple federal extension periods.
"Given the upcoming expiration of the federal extensions and the increased stress on some of the unemployed, we thought added security would provide an extra level of protection for our employees and clients," he said. More
TSA says man who refused screening under investigation
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration is investigating an Oceanside man's refusal to submit to security screening at Lindbergh Field over the weekend, and he could face up to $11,000 in civil penalties, the agency's San Diego security director said Monday.
John Tyner, 31, a software engineer who captured his Saturday confrontation with TSA agents on his cell phone and posted it on the Internet, could not be reached for comment Monday.
On Sunday, he said he didn't know whether the agency was going to fine him. But he said the detailed narrative of his experiences Saturday at Lindbergh Field now featured on his blog was originally written as documentation of his side of the story in case the agency sued him.
He also said he expected he might not be allowed to fly anymore, but that he was prepared for that.
He won't be planning airplane trips with his wife and infant son anyhow, he said, because he doesn't want them subjected to body scans or pat-downs. More
The New Tax Man From Ancient Rome
Sheila Rice, who sold her Maryland home to avoid foreclosure, was surprised to learn JPMorgan Chase was her property tax collector. But the bank can't claim to be the first private company to play the role of tax man: It's taken part in a more than 2,000-year-old tradition that, from its very start, has been tainted by abuse.
As the Huffington Post Investigative Fund reported this week, big banks and hedge funds in the U.S. have been quietly collecting taxes on hundreds of thousands of homes.
The process, called "tax farming," is simple: A company goes to a local government and reimburses it for taxes that citizens aren't paying. In return, the company gets to act like an old-fashioned tax thug -- the kind rabbis condemn in the Bible -- charging up to 18 percent interest and thousands of dollars in legal fees, simply because it can. As the District of Columbia attorney general told the HuffPost Investigative Fund, there's "no oversight at all."
Like many great American traditions, the tax farming game was perfected by the ancient Romans. Provincial governors, and later Rome itself, sold tax-collection rights to private companies called publicani. As in modern America, this was a speculative bet -- a company paid a local government's tax debt, and then tried its own hand at recouping the loss. The Roman version was plainly brutal. In ours, the brutality is subtle. But in the estimation of one expert in ancient finance, it's just as bad: In our own way, we're sliding toward the conditions of ancient Rome, where private tax collectors employed soldiers to wring excessive amounts of cash from debtors. More
Texting bans may add risk to roads
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Laws banning texting while driving actually may prompt a slight increase in road crashes, research out today shows.
The findings, to be unveiled at a meeting here of 550 traffic safety professionals from around the USA, come amid a heightened national debate over distracted driving.
"Texting bans haven't reduced crashes at all," says Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, whose research arm studied the effectiveness of the laws.
Thirty states and the District of Columbia ban texting while driving; 11 of the laws were passed this year. The assertion that those efforts are futile will be a major issue at this week's annual meeting here of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)." More
U.S. apologizes for Guatemala STD experiments
U.S. government medical researchers intentionally infected hundreds of people in Guatemala, including institutionalized mental patients, with gonorrhea and syphilis without their knowledge or permission more than 60 years ago.
Many of those infected were encouraged to pass the infection onto others as part of the study.
About one third of those who were infected never got adequate treatment.
On Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius offered extensive apologies for actions taken by the U.S. Public Health Service.
"The sexually transmitted disease inoculation study conducted from 1946-1948 in Guatemala was clearly unethical," according to the joint statement from Clinton and Sebelius. "Although these events occurred more than 64 years ago, we are outraged that such reprehensible research could have occurred under the guise of public health. We deeply regret that it happened, and we apologize to all the individuals who were affected by such abhorrent research practices." More
Kids swap DNA for fairground rides
If attendees at the Minnesota State Fair aren't too busy revelling in the performances of Kiss or "Weird Al" Yankovic, or enjoying a celebrity cow-milking contest, they might just try spitting for science.
This week, researchers from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis are collecting DNA from young fair-goers and their parents as part of an effort to uncover genetic influences on normal child health and development.
Logan Spector, a paediatrics researcher who is leading the project, dubbed the Gopher Kids Study, feels the fair provides an innovative opportunity to attract participants. His team hopes to recruit 500 children aged 1–11.
Along with DNA from cheek cells, Spector's team is measuring volunteers' height, weight, waist size and blood pressure. Participating children also have the option of donating blood-spot samples and nail clippings, which can be used to measure hormones and micronutrients. More
Want a mansion? Just take one
For years, the 8,000-square-foot mansion in suburban Seattle sat vacant and for sale, the price gradually coming down from $5.8 million to $3.3 million. One day in June, a 30-year-old woman, a man and two children took down the for-sale signs, changed the locks, moved in and declared it their home. They didn't actually buy the house, or even rent it. They just moved in and declared it their house.
Jill Lane, who was arrested on a charge of trespassing after two weeks in the house, is not contrite, The Seattle Times' Danny Westneat reports. Not only did she try to take over the mansion, with its wine cellar, home theater, six bedrooms and nine baths, she has staked a claim to 10 other bank-owned houses in the Seattle area.
"Banks do whatever they want and nobody holds them accountable," Lane told Westneat by phone from Disneyland, where she went on vacation after she was released by the police.
She and her partner ran a company that pledged to "eliminate mortgages" and help others move into empty foreclosed homes. More
How your Apple iPhone spies on you
As the communications device grows in popularity, technology experts and US law enforcement agencies are devoting increasing efforts to understanding their potential for forensics investigators.
While police have tracked criminals by locating their position via conventional mobile phone towers, iPhones offer far more information, say experts.
"There are a lot of security issues in the design of the iPhone that lend themselves to retaining more personal information than any other device," said Jonathan Zdziarski, a former computer hacker who now teaches US law enforcers how to retrieve data from mobile phones.
"These devices organise people's lives and, if you're doing something criminal, something about it is going to go through that phone." Apple has sold more than 50 million iPhones since the product was launched in 2007.
Mr Zdziarski told The Daily Telegraph he suspected that security had been neglected on the iPhone as it had been intended as a consumer product rather than a business one like rivals such as the Blackberry.
An example was the iPhone's keyboard logging cache, which was designed to correct spelling but meant that an expert could retrieve anything typed on the keyboard over the past three to 12 months, he said.
In addition, every time an iPhone's internal mapping system is closed down, the device snaps a screenshot of the phone's last position and stores it. More
Quebec student shaken by U.S. border ordeal
A young woman from Gatineau, Que., says she was strip-searched and stranded in Windsor, Ont., in the middle of the night by U.S. border officials.
"It was a horrible experience," said Nina Vroemen, 20, who was on her way to volunteer at a California organic farm. "There was no need for that humiliation and mistreatment of a young, female Canadian volunteer."
Vroemen, who studies theatre at Concordia University, set off from Montreal on May 5 on a Greyhound bus. She had found the volunteer job in California through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, and planned to spend a month helping run art workshops at the farm. She thought she would explore the U.S. by bus on the way there.
"You can go to a farm anywhere in the world and help out," she told CBC's Ottawa Morning. "You gain friends and experience…you travel, it's low cost and you feel good." More
Republicans vandalize school
PORTLAND - One School Committee member, saying she's "appalled" by the behavior of some of the Republicans who used a room at King Middle School last weekend, wants to protect the city's public schools from future harm.
Sarah Thompson said she plans to raise the issue when the committee meets on May 19. She has asked Superintendent Jim Morse to contact City Manager Joe Gray so the committee will have a clear understanding of policies and legalities related to the rental and public use of school buildings.
"We allowed them to use the space and I'm appalled that they would go through a teacher's things, let alone remove something from a classroom," Thompson said Wednesday. "We want the public to use school spaces, but they need to respect that it's a school and understand that they should leave it the way they find it."
The Republican State Convention was held at the Portland Exposition Building, which is on Park Avenue, near the middle school. Party members from Knox County caucused in a classroom used by eighth-grade social studies teacher Paul Clifford. When Clifford returned to school on Monday, he found that a favorite poster about the U.S. labor movement had been taken and replaced with a bumper sticker that read, "Working People Vote Republican." More
Privacy fears over device that can eavesdrop on crimes
Civil-liberties campaigners have demanded a controversial audio surveillance system be kept out of Scotland.
Their call comes after microphones that can detect aggression by the tone of someone’s voice were installed in Coventry, where they will cover an area blighted by drunken violence.
The Coventry decision has raised the prospect of microphones coming to Scottish cities, as Glasgow was one of the places where a trial was conducted.
The system, called Sigard, is able to direct CCTV cameras towards suspicious sounds, which can also be gunshots or the smashing of glass.
Operators can then direct police straight to a confrontation, in the hope they can stop violence before it erupts. More
Activists blast Mexico's immigration law
TULTITLN, Mexico — Arizona's new law forcing local police to take a greater role in enforcing immigration law has caused a lot of criticism from Mexico, the largest single source of illegal immigrants in the United States.
But in Mexico, illegal immigrants receive terrible treatment from corrupt Mexican authorities, say people involved in the system.
And Mexico has a law that is no different from Arizona's that empowers local police to check the immigration documents of people suspected of not being in the country legally.
"There (in the United States), they'll deport you," Hector Vázquez, an illegal immigrant from Honduras, said as he rested in a makeshift camp with other migrants under a highway bridge in Tultitlán. "In Mexico they'll probably let you go, but they'll beat you up and steal everything you've got first." More
Facebook’s Gone Rogue
Facebook has gone rogue, drunk on founder Mark Zuckerberg’s dreams of world domination. It’s time the rest of the web ecosystem recognizes this and works to replace it with something open and distributed.
Facebook used to be a place to share photos and thoughts with friends and family and maybe play a few stupid games that let you pretend you were a mafia don or a homesteader. It became a very useful way to connect with your friends, long-lost friends and family members. Even if you didn’t really want to keep up with them.
Soon everybody — including your uncle Louie and that guy you hated from your last job — had a profile. And Facebook realized it owned the network.
Then Facebook decided to turn “your” profile page into your identity online — figuring, rightly, that there’s money and power in being the place where people define themselves. But to do that, the folks at Facebook had to make sure that the information you give it was public. More
Eye in sky finds illegal Pierce County buildings
TACOMA, Wash. -- Pierce County has identified more than 3,200 illegal garages and other structures under a controversial program that uses aerial photographs to spot buildings constructed without a permit.
Gordon Aleshire, assistant director of the county's planning department, told a County Council committee Monday that the program has prompted hundreds of property owners to seek amnesty for their illegal buildings. And it has generated more than $107,000 in revenue for the county as property owners seek building permits they should have obtained in the first place.
But council members remain critical of the program, which some local residents see as a Big Brother-style high-tech surveillance program. "This has been a troubling program to a number of council members," Chairman Roger Bush, R-Frederickson, said at a meeting of the council's Community Development Committee on Monday. More
Data mining for fun and profit
BOCA RATON — At any one time, some 750,000 pedophiles are prowling the Internet, the United Nations says. They might be lurking in chat rooms. Or swapping images of adults having sex with kids.
It's a virtual epidemic of child pornography, and to fight it, law enforcement officers from all over are converging on a cavernous building in South Florida. Here they have access to the most advanced technology for finding pedophiles.
But this isn't run by any government agency. The desks, computers, technology — all are provided free by a former drug smuggler named Hank Asher.
Called a "mad scientist'' by one employee, Asher has made a fortune collecting public records — deeds, lawsuits, voter registrations — and combining them into databases that can be invaluable in locating people. Plug a name into Accurint, Asher's best-known product, and you'll see addresses, possible relatives, licenses held. More
Jolly Rancher lands third-grader in detention for a week
ORCHARD, Texas – A third-grader at Brazos Elementary was given a week’s detention for possessing a Jolly Rancher.
School officials in Brazos County are defending the seemingly harsh sentence. The school’s principal and superintendent said they were simply complying with a state law that limits junk food in schools.
But the girl’s parents say it’s a huge overreaction.
“I think it’s stupid to give a kid a week’s worth of detention for a piece of candy,” said Amber Brazda, the girl’s mother. "The whole thing was just ridiculous to me." Leighann Adair, 10, was eating lunch Monday when a teacher confiscated the candy. Her parents said she was in tears when she arrived home later that afternoon and handed them the detention notice. More
FBI wants records kept of Web sites visited
WASHINGTON--The FBI is pressing Internet service providers to record which Web sites customers visit and retain those logs for two years, a requirement that law enforcement believes could help it in investigations of child pornography and other serious crimes.
FBI Director Robert Mueller supports storing Internet users' "origin and destination information," a bureau attorney said at a federal task force meeting.
As far back as a 2006 speech, Mueller had called for data retention on the part of Internet providers, and emphasized the point two years later when explicitly asking Congress to enact a law making it mandatory. But it had not been clear before that the FBI was asking companies to begin to keep logs of what Web sites are visited, which few if any currently do. More
NJ Mom Recognizes Census Worker as Sex Offender
A man with a U.S. census badge knocked on Amy Schmalbach’s door on May 4. Thinking that answering the door to a government worker was a safe bet, she did. And then she wondered why he looked so familiar.
As soon as the man left her Pennsauken home, Schmalbach realized where she had seen him before: on the state’s sex-offender registry.
"I figured this is a government worker, I'm safe," Schmalbach, 33, told the Inquirer. She had given him names and birthdates of her family to the man who called himself “Jamie.”
The man’s real name is Frank J. Kuni, but goes by many aliases, including Jamie Shepard. It was under the name “Jamie Shepard” that he applied for a door-to-door job with the census bureau. More
Seattle police OK to stun pregnant woman
SEATTLE - Three Seattle police officers were justified when they used a stun gun on a pregnant mother who refused to sign a traffic ticket, a federal appeals court ruled Friday in a case that prompted an incredulous dissent.
Malaika Brooks was driving her son to Seattle's African American Academy in 2004 when she was stopped for doing 32 mph in a school zone.
She insisted it was the car in front of her that was speeding, and refused to sign the ticket because she thought she'd be admitting guilt.
Rather than give her the ticket and let her go on her way, the officers decided to arrest her. One reached in, turned off her car and dropped the keys on the floor. Brooks stiffened her arms against the steering wheel and told the officers she was pregnant, but refused to get out, even after they threatened to stun her. More
FBI May Be Behind Your New Facebook Friend
The Feds are on Facebook. And MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter, too.
U.S. law enforcement agents are following the rest of the Internet world into popular social-networking services, going undercover with false online profiles to communicate with suspects and gather private information, according to an internal Justice Department document that offers a tantalizing glimpse of issues related to privacy and crime-fighting.
Think you know who's behind that "friend" request? Think again. Your new "friend" just might be the FBI.
The document, obtained in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, makes clear that U.S. agents are already logging on surreptitiously to exchange messages with suspects, identify a target's friends or relatives and browse private information such as postings, personal photographs and video clips.
Among other purposes: Investigators can check suspects' alibis by comparing stories told to police with tweets sent at the same time about their whereabouts. More
School condemned after pupils left in tears by mock shooting
Blackminster Middle School in Evesham, Worcs, faced condemnation from parents after their children were left traumatised by the mock shooting.
The youngsters, aged between 10 and 13, thought they were taking part in a fire drill when an alarm bell rang and they were ushered out into the playground.
But they were left in terror as a man appeared brandishing a gun and appeared to shoot dead Richard Kent, their science teacher, as he ran across a field.
Following a loud bang simulating a gunshot, other staff involved in the act rushed to the teacher's aid and appeared to try to resuscitate him.
There was a delay of 10 minutes before weeping pupils were taken back to the assembly hall where teachers explained that the pretend shooting had been laid on as part of a science lesson. More
Employer told not to post advert for 'reliable' workers because it discriminates against 'unreliable' applicants
When it comes to hiring staff, there are plenty of legal pitfalls employers need to watch out for these days.
So recruitment agency boss Nicole Mamo was especially careful to ensure her advert for hospital workers did not offend on grounds of race, age or sexual orientation.
However, she hadn't reckoned on discriminating against a wholly different section of the community - the completely useless.
When she ran the ad past a job centre, she was told she couldn't ask for 'reliable' and 'hard-working' applicants because it could be offensive to unreliable people.
'In my 15 years in recruitment I haven't heard anything so ridiculous,' Mrs Mamo said. 'If the matter wasn't so serious I would be laughing out loud. More
TSA Forces Disabled 4 Year Old to Remove Leg Braces
Philadelphia TSA screeners forced the developmentally delayed, four-year-old son of a Camden, PA police officer to remove his leg-braces and wobble through a checkpoint, despite the fact that their procedure calls for such a case to be handled through a swabbing in a private room.
When the police officer complained, the supervising TSA screener turned around and walked away. Then a Philadelphia police officer asked what was wrong and "suggested he calm down and enjoy his vacation."
Ryan was taking his first flight, to Walt Disney World, for his fourth birthday.
The boy is developmentally delayed, one of the effects of being born 16 weeks prematurely. His ankles are malformed and his legs have low muscle tone. In March he was just starting to walk.
The screener told them to take off the boy's braces. More
Marines split over openly gay service
Lance Cpl. Daniel Beasley will shoulder a portable missile launcher when he's on patrol in Afghanistan in a few weeks. He said it won't matter whether the Marine next to him is gay.
"If you don't bother me and you don't bring it to work, I don't care," the 20-year-old Chicago native said Tuesday as he headed into an Oceanside dry cleaner. "If people aren't blatant about it, I think they should be able to serve."
Interviews with several active-duty and retired Marines revealed different opinions as the Pentagon begins a review, mandated by President Barack Obama, aimed at repealing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy and allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly. North County and Southwest Riverside County congressional representatives oppose any immediate change, though one left the door open to an eventual repeal.
The interviews also showed that many in the Marines, a force that prides itself on its warrior ethos, are conflicted. While saying they're not bothered by homosexuality, some Marines say having gays and lesbians serve in the open could hurt order and discipline. More
Gun-toting investigators raid Venice raw foods grocery
Investigators recently entered an organic grocery with a search warrant and ordered the hemp-clad workers to put down their buckets of mashed coconut cream and to step away from the nuts.
Then, guns drawn, four officers fanned out across Rawesome Foods in Venice. Skirting past the arugula and peering under crates of zucchini, they found the raid's target inside a walk-in refrigerator: unmarked jugs of raw milk.
"I still can't believe they took our yogurt," said Rawesome volunteer Sea J. Jones, a few days after the raid. "There's a medical marijuana shop a couple miles away, and they're raiding us because we're selling raw dairy products?"
Cartons of raw goat and cow milk and blocks of unpasteurized goat cheese were among the groceries seized in the June 30 raid by federal, state and local authorities — the latest salvo in the heated food fight over what people can put in their mouths. More
Pennsylvania School Accused of Cyberspying on Students
PA Philadelphia-area school district finds itself under scrutiny after remotely activating a MacBook Web cam and capturing a young student engaging in "improper behavior at home." The student was confronted by a Harrington High School official and shown photographs of his actions. These photographs set off privacy alarms and have led to a class-action lawsuit alleging that the school district has been spying on its students in their homes.
Christopher McGinley, the superintendent of Lower Merion School District of Ardmore, Pennsylvania, released a statement yesterday admitting the MacBook cameras could be remotely activated without the user's knowledge. McGinley claimed the remote camera activation was meant as a theft-prevention measure. "The District has not used the tracking feature or web cam for any other purpose or in any other manner whatsoever," McGinley said. More
Clothing destroyed while people are too poor to buy it
In the bitter cold on Monday night, a man and woman picked apart a pyramid of clear trash bags, the discards of the HM clothing store that reigns in blazing plate-glass glory on 34th Street, just east of Sixth Avenue in Manhattan.
At the back entrance on 35th Street, awaiting trash haulers, were bags of garments that appear to have never been worn. And to make sure that they never would be worn or sold, someone had slashed most of them with box cutters or razors, a familiar sight outside H & M’s back door. The man and woman were there to salvage what had not been destroyed.
He worked quickly, never uttering a word. A bag was opened and eyed, and if it held something of promise, was tossed at the feet of the woman. She said her name was Pepa. More
Romulus Police Disgust other Police Agencies
ROMULUS, Mich. -- Romulus police officers are being so aggressive that another police agency is warning drivers to be wary of a so-called “speed trap.” Detroit Metropolitan police are outing Romulus officers who are pulling over drivers for speeding in the area of Interstate 94 around the airport.
"Under the bridge might be an unmarked Dodge Charger that’s there to nail you," said airport spokesman Mike Conway.
Conway said Romulus police are pulling over record-number of drivers in an effort to raise cash.
"To us, it’s more of a revenue generation for the city of Romulus than traffic safety enforcement," he said. Conway said court records show the city has written 10,000 tickets since July 1st.
The Wayne County Airport Authority has even begun circulating fliers that read,
"The Romulus Police Department has dramatically increased its patrols at the entrances and exits to Detroit Metropolitan Airport, using unmarked vehicles. Please be careful to observe all speed limits and traffic laws." More
Jet diverts to Philly over teen passenger's prayer
A Jewish teenager trying to pray on a New York-to-Kentucky flight caused a scare Thursday when he pulled out a set of small boxes containing holy scrolls, leading the captain to divert the flight to Philadelphia, where the commuter plane was greeted by police, bomb-sniffing dogs and federal agents.
The 17-year-old on US Airways Express Flight 3079 was using tefillin, a set of small boxes containing biblical passages that are attached to leather straps, Philadelphia police Lt. Frank Vanore said.
When used in prayer, one box is strapped to the arm while the other box is placed on the head.
"It's something that the average person is not going to see very often, if ever," FBI spokesman J.J. Klaver said. More
What Should You Worry About?
Humans are good at many things—typing, inventing stuff—but we're quite bad at assessing risk. Day after day, we get bent out of shape over things we shouldn’t worry about so much, like airplane crashes and lightning strikes, instead of things we should, like heart disease and the flu.
So how can we find out what's truly dangerous? Economics. Upon hearing the word, most people think of incomprehensible charts and jargon and promptly change the subject.
However, we can use the field's powerful ideas and tools, along with huge piles of data, to understand topics that aren't typically associated with economics. Topics like shark attacks. More
Raped by lookalike foods: ammoniated beef
Eight years ago, federal officials were struggling to remove potentially deadly E. coli from hamburgers when an entrepreneurial company from South Dakota came up with a novel idea: injecting beef with ammonia.
The company, Beef Products Inc., had been looking to expand into the hamburger business with a product made from beef that included fatty trimmings the industry once relegated to pet food and cooking oil. The trimmings were particularly susceptible to contamination, but a study commissioned by the company showed that the ammonia process would kill E. coli as well as salmonella.
Officials at the United States Department of Agriculture endorsed the company’s ammonia treatment, and have said it destroys E. coli “to an undetectable level.” They decided it was so effective that in 2007, when the department began routine testing of meat used in hamburger sold to the general public, they exempted Beef Products. More
Cop shoots fire chief in Ark. court over tickets
JERICHO, Ark. - It was just too much, having to return to court twice on the same day to contest yet another traffic ticket, and Fire Chief Don Payne didn't hesitate to tell the judge what he thought of the police and their speed traps.
The response from cops? They shot him. Right there in court.
Payne ended up in the hospital, but his shooting last week brought to a boil simmering tensions between residents of this tiny former cotton city and their police force. Drivers quickly learn to slow to a crawl along the gravel roads and the two-lane highway that run through Jericho, but they say sometimes that isn't enough to fend off the city ticketing machine. More
New scanners break child porn laws
The rapid introduction of full body scanners at British airports threatens to breach child protection laws which ban the creation of indecent images of children, the Guardian has learned.
Privacy campaigners claim the images created by the machines are so graphic they amount to "virtual strip-searching" and have called for safeguards to protect the privacy of passengers involved.
Ministers now face having to exempt under 18s from the scans or face the delays of introducing new legislation to ensure airport security staff do not commit offences under child pornography laws.
They also face demands from civil liberties groups for safeguards to ensure that images from the scanners, including those of celebrities, do not end up on the internet. MoreStaff in carbon footprint trial face fines for high emissions
People who emit more than their fair share of carbon emissions are having their pay docked in a trial that could lead to rationing being reintroduced via the workplace after an absence of half a century.
Britain’s first employee carbon rationing scheme is about to be extended, after the trial demonstrated the effectiveness of fining people for exceeding their personal emissions target. Unlike the energy-saving schemes adopted by thousands of companies, the rationing scheme monitors employees’ personal emissions, including home energy bills, petrol purchases and holiday flights.
Workers who take a long-haul flight are likely to be fined for exceeding their annual ration unless they take drastic action in other areas, such as switching off the central heating or cutting out almost all car journeys. More
Motorists run gauntlet on highway
Pretoria, South Africa - Gangs of armed robbers are attacking motorists on the R21 Highway - the main road linking OR Tambo International Airport to Pretoria.
The gangs, which are also attacking construction workers upgrading the highway, have left a trail of terror behind them over the past three months.
The gang's ambushes, which have included attacks on businessmen and a US Aid agency employee, have left at least four motorists and a security guard at a construction site seriously injured after they were shot by the robbers.
he most recent attack took place last Tuesday night when a businessman was shot in the legs as he was changing a flat tyre on his car. More
Danish Police Arrest Over 1,000 Protesters
One week into the COP15 and protesters are taking to the streets of Copenhagen. Police are using the recently passed protest package laws to the full, having detained more than 1,000 protesters for up to 12 hours and charging only six of these.
Hundreds of protesters under arrest were forced to sit on the cold ground for up to five hours before being taken to the special detention cages on the outskirts of Copenhagen.
By far the largest protest of the COP15 took place on Saturday, where up to 100,000 people were involved. The huge crowd started out at the Danish Parliament and was en-route to the Bella Center, where COP15 is taking place, when police made their presence known by arresting between 3,400 protesters in a pincer movement at the back of the demonstration. More
San Diego PD ignore child prostitution, illlegal camps
Nearly two weeks after a group of illegal immigration activists stumbled upon prostitution in McGonigle Canyon in San Diego, there is little to show the community in the form of action.
The San Diego Police Department’s slow reaction has caused many to scratch their heads wondering why it is taking police so long to remove the illegal migrant campers.
“What are you doing out here?” asked one resident about this reporter. “If it wasn’t for you reporting this nothing would be done. I’m scared to visit the canyon any more.”
After several days of speculation, SDPD Capt. Rosario said there would be a mobile command van placed in the canyon as well as some quads and horses.
A quick visit inside the police mobile command unit shows a communication network, radios and a television for the officers who are stationed inside the van. Again, there was no word about the SDPD actually being on foot inside the canyon where the prostitution is taking place. More
Milking the Poor: One Family's Fall Into Homelessness
The descent into homelessness can be equated to falling off a cliff. Wealth buys passage on toll roads a safe distance from the edge, but poverty's foot path runs along the craggy and unstable lip of a gaping precipice. Emma and her family hit a few ledges on the way down, blown by winds of misfortune every time they began to regain stable footing. As Emma describes their story: "It's too much bad luck for anyone to believe."
At the moment, Emma's fiance, Wilkins, sits in a windowless cell of the Lynnwood City Holding Facility serving a 30-day sentence for driving with a suspended license--the result of an unpaid ticket for driving without insurance. Though the term 'debtor's prison' evokes Dickensian inequalities of a past era, I find it difficult to characterize Wilkins's incarceration as anything more just.
"If you don't have money for insurance, and you get pulled over, then you'll never have money again," Emma explains, summarizing the painful lesson realized through her entanglement with Washington law. "Fines rack up every time they make a judgment against you. If you don't respond, if you don't get the notice, then it goes to collections, additional penalties are levied. It just gets worse and worse. And that's how our hole got deeper and deeper." More
Man accused of using Twitter to direct protesters during G20 summit
A New York-based anarchist has been arrested by the FBI and charged with hindering prosecution after he allegedly used the social networking site Twitter to help protesters at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh evade the police.
Elliot Madison, 41, from Queens, had his home raided and was put on $30,000 (£19,000) bail after he and Michael Wallschlaeger, 46, were tracked to the Carefree Inn motel in Pittsburgh during the summit on 24 and 25 September.
The pair were found sitting in front of a bank of laptops and emergency frequency radio scanners. They were wearing headphones and microphones and had many maps and contact numbers in the room.
Official police documents allege the two men used Twitter messages to contact protesters at the summit "and to inform the protesters and groups of the movements and actions of law enforcement". More
Geely pops a big wheelie for metro cop
South Africa - Can a Chinese-made Geely car cover 4,6km in just 19 seconds - at 871km/h? Yes say the Joburg metro police, this is quite possible.
For, on April 26, they caught Midrand motorist Francisca Al-Halaseh on two cameras.
One was near the Canada Road Bridge on the N12 South and the second, 4.6km later, at the Randshow Road Bridge on the N12 South. But despite the cameras being 4.6km apart, the time difference between the two clips is a mere 19 seconds.
This means Al-Halaseh, who was driving the Geely, should have been driving 871km/h and not the 102km in an 80km zone that she was caught at. More
US Spies Buy Stake in Firm That Monitors Blogs, Tweets
America’s spy agencies want to read your blog posts, keep track of your Twitter updates — even check out your book reviews on Amazon.
In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA and the wider intelligence community, is putting cash into Visible Technologies, a software firm that specializes in monitoring social media.
It’s part of a larger movement within the spy services to get better at using ”open source intelligence” — information that’s publicly available, but often hidden in the flood of TV shows, newspaper articles, blog posts, online videos and radio reports generated every day.
Visible crawls over half a million web 2.0 sites a day, scraping more than a million posts and conversations taking place on blogs, online forums, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon. (It doesn’t touch closed social networks, like Facebook, at the moment.) Customers get customized, real-time feeds of what’s being said on these sites, based on a series of keywords. More
'Naked' scanner in airport trial
A trial of a scanner that produces "naked" images of passengers has begun at Manchester Airport.
The authorities say it will speed up security checks by quickly revealing any concealed weapons or explosives.
But the full body scans will also show up breast enlargements, body piercings and a clear black-and-white outline of passengers' genitals.
The airport has stressed that the images are not pornographic and will be destroyed straight away.
Sarah Barrett, head of customer experience at the airport, said most passengers did not like the traditional "pat down" search.
Ms Barrett said: "This scanner completely takes away the hassle of needing to undress." More
Thumbprint rule at Tampa Bank of America stymies armless man trying to cash check
TAMPA — Steve Valdez used one of his prosthetic arms to slip a check to the teller at Bank of America downtown.
"She said, 'Obviously you aren't going to be able to give us a thumbprint,' " Valdez recalled. The teller went to get the branch manager to find out what to do, Valdez said.
Valdez was born without arms, and this wasn't his first time cashing a check at someone else's bank. The check was from his wife, so he took it to her bank Thursday, thinking that would make it simple.
Not this time. He could not understand why his two forms of photo ID were unacceptable. He said the manager gave him two options: open an account or come back with your wife.
He did neither. More
Obama Youth to patrol American cities
In Barack Obama’s July 2, 2008 speech calling America to national service, Obama promised he would develop a paramilitary force of unmatched size, "We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."
He has made good on that promise.
Ten minutes into arrant mayhem in this town near the Mexican border, and the gunman, a disgruntled Iraq war veteran, has already taken out two people, one slumped in his desk, the other covered in blood on the floor.
The responding officers — eight teenage boys and girls, the youngest 14 — face tripwire, a thin cloud of poisonous gas and loud shots — BAM! BAM! — fired from behind a flimsy wall. They move quickly, pellet guns drawn and masks affixed.
“United States Border Patrol! Put your hands up!” screams one in a voice cracking with adolescent determination as the suspect is subdued.
The Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years ago, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence — an intense ratcheting up of one of the group’s longtime missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters. More
Is It Now a Crime to Be Poor?
IT’S too bad so many people are falling into poverty at a time when it’s almost illegal to be poor. You won’t be arrested for shopping in a Dollar Store, but if you are truly, deeply, in-the-streets poor, you’re well advised not to engage in any of the biological necessities of life — like sitting, sleeping, lying down or loitering.
City officials boast that there is nothing discriminatory about the ordinances that afflict the destitute, most of which go back to the dawn of gentrification in the ’80s and ’90s.
“If you’re lying on a sidewalk, whether you’re homeless or a millionaire, you’re in violation of the ordinance,” a city attorney in St. Petersburg, Fla., said in June, echoing Anatole France’s immortal observation that “the law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges.” More
State to Mom: Stop Baby-Sitting Neighbors' Kids
Each day before the school bus comes to pick up the neighborhood's children, Lisa Snyder did a favor for three of her fellow moms, welcoming their children into her home for about an hour before they left for school.
Regulators who oversee child care, however, don't see it as charity. Days after the start of the new school year, Snyder received a letter from the Michigan Department of Human Services warning her that if she continued, she'd be violating a law aimed at the operators of unlicensed day care centers.
"I was freaked out. I was blown away," she said.
"I got on the phone immediately, called my husband, then I called all the girls" — that is, the mothers whose kids she watches — "every one of them." More
Hot tiles a headache for San Onofre
SAN ONOFRE ---- At the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, even throwing out a batch of old ceramic tiles sets off alarms.
Southern California Edison, the plant's owner, reported to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Friday that a shipment of various materials from the seaside plant was rejected at Terminal Island in Long Beach Harbor after a "portal monitor" detected radiation.
Edison spokesman Gil Alexander said Tuesday that an inspection performed after the shipment was returned to San Onofre found the radiation reading stemmed from a common ingredient in ceramic tiles, not anything absorbed at the plant.
"They were garden-variety standard retail decorative tiles," Alexander said. "The clay in them can give off a very low level of natural background radiation." More
Obama: We Need To Bail Out Newspapers Or Blogs Will Run The World
Obama yesterday expressed concern at the sorry state of the news industry and said that he will look at a news paper bailout , because otherwise, blogs will take over the world, and that would be a threat to democracy, The Hill reports.
"I am concerned that if the direction of the news is all blogosphere, all opinions, with no serious fact-checking, no serious attempts to put stories in context, that what you will end up getting is people shouting at each other across the void but not a lot of mutual understanding," he said.
He said he would be happy to look a bills that could give tax newspapers tax-breaks if they were to restructure as 50 (c) (3) educational corporations. One of the bills is that of Senator Ben Cardin, who has introduced the "Newspaper Revitalization Act." More
Blackwater’s ‘License to Kill’ under the Lens
Did the non-disclosure clauses just expire for some former Blackwater Xe executives? It would seem to be the case, based on the New York Times‘ series of scoops on the company’s more-intimate-than-previously-reported ties to the CIA.
The latest revelation: The company’s contractors help assemble and load missiles and smart bombs on the CIA’s Predator drones. The firm, the Times reports, also provided security at secret bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
That latter point should come as little surprise to Blackwater-watchers. According to Robert Young Pelton’s Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror, Blackwater first got into the security business to provide protective details for the CIA in Afghanistan post-9/11. More
Ridge accuses Bush White House of political use of terror alert system
In his new book, the first Homeland Security chief, Tom Ridge, accuses top aides to President George W. Bush of pressing him to raise the terror alert level to influence the 2004 presidential election.
Ridge, a former Republican governor of Pennsylvania, says that he refused the entreaty just before the election from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General John Ashcroft, according to a summary of the book from publisher Thomas Dunne Books.
Ridge writes that there was a "vigorous, some might say dramatic, discussion" about raising the threat level. He says his aides told the White House that doing so would politicize national security.
"I believe our strong interventions had pulled the 'go-up' advocates back from the brink," Ridge writes. "But I consider the episode to be not only a dramatic moment in Washington's recent history, but another illustration of the intersection of politics, fear, credibility and security." More
Newborn's Blood Samples Raise Questions of Privacy
Matthew Brzica and his wife hardly noticed when the hospital took a few drops of blood from each of their four newborn children for routine genetic testing. But then they discovered that the state had kept the dried blood samples ever since -- and was making them available to scientists for medical research.
"They're just taking DNA from young kids right out of the womb and putting it into a warehouse," said Brzica, of Victoria, Minn. "DNA is what makes us who we are. It's just not right."
The couple is among a group of parents challenging Minnesota's practice of storing babies' blood samples and allowing researchers to study them without their permission. The confrontation, and a similar one in Texas, has focused attention on the practice at a time when there is increasing interest in using millions of these collected "blood spots" to study diseases. More
Whoops! Cash For Clunkers Payments Are Taxable!
The Cash For Clunkers program is adding to the activity at treasurers' offices all around South Dakota. First, people were asking for proof of ownership, so they could show they owned their vehicle for a full year, allowing them to cash it in. Now, they'll be returning to register their new vehicle. And when they do, new owners need to bring every bit of paperwork provided to them by their dealer.
"That means they need their title, their damage disclosure, their bill of sale and the dealers have 30 days to get that to them," Minnehaha County Treasurer Pam Nelson said.
But many of those cashing in on the clunkers program are surprised when they get to the treasurer's office windows. That's because the government's rebate of up to $4500 dollars for every clunker is taxable.
"They didn't realize that would be taxable. A lot of people don't realize that. So they're not happy and kind of surprised when they find that out," Nelson said. More
Legal Immunity Set for Swine Flu Vaccine Makers
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius has not only given immunity to the makers of Tamiflu and Relenza for injuries stemming from their use against swine flu, she has granted immunity to future swine flu vaccines and “any associated adjuvants”.
The last time the government embarked on a major vaccine campaign against a new swine flu, thousands filed claims contending they suffered side effects from the shots. This time around, they will have no recourse.
The 2006 Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (the PREP Act) allows the DHHS Secretary to invoke almost complete immunity from liability for manufacturers of vaccines and drugs used to combat a declared public health emergency. More
Obama's Science Czar: Eugenics is wonderful
Forced abortions. Mass sterilization. A "Planetary Regime" with the power of life and death over American citizens.
The tyrannical fantasies of a madman? Or merely the opinions of the person now in control of science policy in the United States? Or both?
These ideas (among many other equally horrifying recommendations)
were put forth by John Holdren, whom Barack Obama has recently appointed
Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy,
Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, and Co-Chair
of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology --
informally known as the United States' Science Czar. In a book Holdren
co-authored in 1977, the man now firmly in control of science policy
in this country wrote that:
• Women could be forced to abort their pregnancies, whether
they wanted to or not;
Judge sentences man to 6 months in jail for yawning
Clifton Williams arrived at the Will County Courthouse in Joliet and sat in the fourth-floor courtroom where his cousin was pleading guilty to a felony drug charge.
As Circuit Judge Daniel Rozak handed down the cousin's sentence -- 2 years' probation -- Williams, 33, stretched and let out a very ill-timed yawn.
Williams' sentence? Six months in jail -- the maximum penalty for criminal contempt without a jury trial. The Richton Park man was locked up July 23 and will serve at least 21 days.
"I was flabbergasted because I didn't realize a judge could do that," said Williams' father, Clifton Williams Sr. "It seems to me like a yawn is an involuntary action." More
Unsafe tractor-trailer and bus companies ordered to shut down still on US highways
WASHINGTON — Hundreds of tractor-trailer and bus companies ordered to shut down because of federal safety violations ranging from suspended licenses to possible drug use have stayed on the road by using different names, investigators say.
The study by the Government Accountability Office comes a year after an unlicensed charter bus carrying a Vietnamese-American Catholic group blew a retreaded tire installed on a steering axle and skidded off a Texas highway, killing 17 people in one of the nation's deadliest bus crashes. The use of recapped tires on the steering wheels is a violation of federal regulations, the study stated.
The GAO report found that at least 20 of the roughly 220 commercial bus companies that had been fined and ordered out of service in 2007 and 2008 by federal regulators evaded compliance by setting up shop under a new name, the same tactic used by the bus operator in the Texas crash. More
Police chief denounces 'cowardly' iPhone users monitoring speed traps
Area drivers looking to outwit police speed traps and traffic cameras are using an iPhone application and other global positioning system devices that pinpoint the location of the cameras.
That has irked D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier, who promised her officers would pick up their game to counteract the devices, which can also help drivers dodge sobriety checkpoints.
"I think that's the whole point of this program," she told The Examiner. "It's designed to circumvent law enforcement -- law enforcement that is designed specifically to save lives." More
School bans pupils from wearing goggles
Teachers at St Sidwells Primary school, Exeter, Devon, have told parents of pupils goggles can now only be worn by children who have an 'adverse reaction to chemicals in water'.
Authorities at the school say they're following advice from the British Association of Advisors and Lecturers in Physical Education (BAALPE).
The BAALPE advice states: "Head teachers should inform parents and carers that goggles can be a hazard and cause permanent eye injury. More
Researchers: Social Security Numbers Can Be Guessed
Researchers have found that it is possible to guess many -- if not all -- of the nine digits in an individual's Social Security number using publicly available information, a finding they say compromises the security of one of the most widely used consumer identifiers in the United States.
Many numbers could be guessed at by simply knowing a person's birth data, the researchers from Carnegie Mellon University said.
The results come as concern grows over identity theft and lawmakers in Washington push legislation that would bar businesses from requiring people to supply their Social Security number when purchasing a good or service. More
Police Check Into Kids' Lemonade Sales
HAVERFORD, Pa. -- Seven suburban Philadelphia children had a brush with the law for selling lemonade without a permit.
But police say it was all a misunderstanding. A neighbor called Haverford Township police July 10 about the sales. He said the youngsters were going door to door and he didn't think they were being properly supervised.
A responding officer told the kids they were violating an ordinance that bans sales without a permit. But Deputy Chief John Viola said the officer didn't know the law doesn't apply to anyone under 16 years old. More
People on terrorist watch list allowed to buy guns
When people on the government's terrorist watch list have tried to buy guns or explosives in recent years, the government has let them the vast majority of the time.
That's the finding of a new report by the Government Accountability Office, sent to lawmakers last month and released publicly Monday.
From February 2004 to February 2009, 963 background checks using the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System "resulted in valid matches with terrorist watch list records; of these matches, approximately 90 percent were allowed to proceed because the checks revealed no prohibiting information," the GAO report says.
About 10 percent were denied. More
Single father turned away from swimming pool by health and safety rules
A single father was left stunned after he was turned away from a swimming pool when staff told him he could not provide proper supervision for his two sons.
Phillip Smith and sons Jake, aged five, and Aiden, three, were not allowed to enjoy a swim at the leisure centre because under-eights must be accompanied on a one-to-one basis by adults.
He was told sessions were available for single parents with more than one child, where there is extra supervision available, but these were early in the morning at weekends or during school hours in the week.
Mr Smith, 37, from Killamarsh in Sheffield, who is separated from his sons' mother, accused the leisure centre of 'discriminating against single parents'. More
Americans Fed Up with Out of Control Airport 'Searches'
The Transportation Security Administration has moved beyond just checking for weapons and explosives. It’s now training airport screeners to spot anything suspicious, and then honoring them when searches lead to arrests for crimes like drug possession and credit-card fraud.
But two court cases in the past month question whether TSA searches—which the agency says have broadened to allow screeners to use more judgment—have been going too far.
A federal judge in June threw out seizure of three fake passports from a traveler, saying that TSA screeners violated his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. Congress authorizes TSA to search travelers for weapons and explosives; beyond that, the agency is overstepping its bounds, U.S. District Court Judge Algenon L. Marbley said. “The extent of the search went beyond the permissible purpose of detecting weapons and explosives and was instead motivated by a desire to uncover contraband evidencing ordinary criminal wrongdoing,” Judge Marbley wrote. More
Kids touring prisons get stun-gunned
TALLAHASSEE -- Children held hands so 50,000 volts could pass through their fingers. Other children were dangerously close to breathing tear gas.
A total of 43 children were directly and indirectly shocked by electric stun guns during simultaneous ''Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work Day'' events gone wrong at three state prisons last month. One was a warden's daughter.
The bizarre descriptions of kids being exposed to tear gas and shocked while holding hands in circles were revealed during a Friday news conference by Walter McNeil, the surprised chief of the Florida Department of Corrections. Three prison guards have been fired, two have resigned and 16 others will be disciplined for what happened on April 23, McNeil said. More
Shelter scans fingerprints of homeless
A Calgary shelter is scanning the fingerprints of its homeless clients, citing problems with gang members and drug dealers sneaking into the facility.
Dermot Baldwin, head of the Calgary Drop-In Centre, said people who have been barred from the shelter use fake identification to get in.
The homeless shelter is testing a new $150,000 security system that scans clients' fingerprints, and Baldwin said he expects it will be fully up and running in a few weeks.
Brian Edy, a civil rights lawyer, suggested that the centre rely on metal detectors or install lockers for people to leave their belongings outside as alternatives to the "intrusive" fingerprinting.
"We can give that helping hand without requiring fingerprints before you get a bowl of soup." More
Key health care senators have industry ties
Influential senators working to overhaul the nation's health care system have investments and family ties with some of the biggest names in the industry. The wife of Sen. Chris Dodd, the lawmaker in charge of writing the Senate's bill, sits on the boards of four health care companies.
Members of both parties have industry connections, including Democrats Jay Rockefeller and Tom Harkin, in addition to Dodd, and Republicans Tom Coburn, Judd Gregg, John Kyl and Orrin Hatch, financial reports showed Friday. . Jackie Clegg Dodd, wife of the Connecticut Democrat, is on the boards of Javelin Pharmaceuticals Inc., Cardiome Pharma Corp., Brookdale Senior Living and Pear Tree Pharmaceuticals.
Other publicly available documents show Mrs. Dodd last year was one of the most highly compensated non-employee members of the Javelin Pharmaceuticals Inc. board, on which she has served since 2004. She earned $32,000 in fees and $109,587 in stock option awards last year, according to the company's SEC filings. More
Banks Use Life Insurance to Fund Bonuses
Banks are using a little-known tactic to help pay bonuses, deferred pay and pensions they owe executives: They're holding life-insurance policies on hundreds of thousands of their workers, with themselves as the beneficiaries.
Banks took out much of this life insurance during the mortgage bubble, when executives' pay -- and the IOUs for their deferred compensation -- surged, and banking regulators affirmed the use of life insurance as a way to finance executive pay and benefits.
The insurance policies essentially are informal pension funds for executives: Companies deposit money into the contracts, which are like big, nondeductible IRAs, and allocate the cash among investments that grow tax-free. Over time, employers receive tax-free death benefits when employees, former employees and retirees die. More
New South Africa law forces registration of cell phones
South Africa has passed a new law that compels all cell phone users to register their SIM cards. Users who fail to register would be barred from their network services.
The new law came into effect on July 1 2009. It seeks to assist the country’s law enforcement agencies investigate and combat serious crimes. All cell phone subscribers have to show proof of identity as well as present a utility bill to show proof of residence to be registered.
When registering, customers would need to have with them their cell phone number, full names and surname, and ID number or passport number. Proof of identity should be provided by a green barcoded ID document, an ID card, temporary ID certificate, or passport. More
Firms With Bailout Cash Find Money to Fund Lobbying
Top recipients of federal bailout money spent more than $10 million on political lobbying in the first three months of this year, including aggressive efforts aimed at blocking executive pay limits and tougher financial regulations, according to newly filed disclosure records.
The biggest spenders among major firms in the group included General Motors, which spent nearly $1 million a month on lobbying, and Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase, which together spent more than $2.5 million in their efforts to sway lawmakers and Obama administration officials on a wide range of financial issues.
In all, major bailout recipients have spent more than $22 million on lobbying in the six months since the government began doling out rescue funds, Senate disclosure records show. More
Suspect Dies After Being Tased During Arrest
SALEM, Ore. - Police say a Salem man died Saturday night after physically resisting officers of the Salem Police Department during his arrest.
Salem Police Lt. Dave Okada says the incident began at 7:38 p.m. when Salem Police were called to an apartment at 1251 Royvonne Ave SE #5 regarding a report of a male trespassing at that location.
"While investigating the trespass situation, officers encountered and attempted to arrest 37-year old Gregory Rold, who violently resisted the officers," Okada said. "Rold continued to violently resist the officers' attempts to take him into custody, causing the officers to deploy their Tasers and ASP batons."
Okada says once Rold was restrained and handcuffed, "officers noticed that Rold was unconscious and unresponsive. Officers called for immediate medical assistance and rendered emergency medical aid to Rold until medical assistance arrived." More
Computer Spies Breach Fighter-Jet Project
WASHINGTON -- Computer spies have broken into the Pentagon's $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter project -- the Defense Department's costliest weapons program ever -- according to current and former government officials familiar with the attacks.
Similar incidents have also breached the Air Force's air-traffic-control system in recent months, these people say. In the case of the fighter-jet program, the intruders were able to copy and siphon off several terabytes of data related to design and electronics systems, officials say, potentially making it easier to defend against the craft.
The latest intrusions provide new evidence that a battle is heating up between the U.S. and potential adversaries over the data networks that tie the world together. The revelations follow a recent report that computers used to control the U.S. electrical-distribution system, as well as other infrastructure, have also been infiltrated by spies abroad. More
Census Takers Recording The GPS Coordinates Of Homes
The Census Bureau has launched a massive field operation to kick off the 2010 Census. More than 140,000 temporary U.S. Census Bureau workers are now verifying addresses across the nation as the first major field operation of the 2010 Census began is underway. It is called address verification or address canvassing.
Address verification is a critically important step to assure that every housing unit receives a census questionnaire in March 2010. Address verification will take approximately six to eight weeks to complete.
“We go to all communities and neighborhoods to make sure that we have correct addresses,” said Dennis Johnson, Regional Director. “This is the first publicly visible activity of the 2010 Census. Census workers are not in uniforms, they will have official identification and they’ll use hand-held computers equipped with GPS to increase geographic accuracy. We’ve also sent notices about this operation to law enforcement agencies. ” More
Airline sorry for omitting Israel
British airline BMI has apologised after in-flight maps on its London-Tel Aviv service did not identify Israel.
The moving maps marked Islamic holy sites but showed only the city of Haifa in Israel, identified by its Arabic name, Khefa.
Israeli officials accused BMI of trying to "hide the existence of Israel".
But BMI said it was a technical error - the maps had not been changed since the planes were taken over from a former airline which flew to the Middle East. More
Ex-Pentagon Official Sentenced For Child Porn
SAN DIEGO -- A former decorated swift-boat captain in the Vietnam War, who went on to become an official at the Pentagon, was sentenced Monday in San Diego to 37 months behind bars for keeping hundreds of child pornography images on his computers.
Wade Sanders, 69, will surrender in July to begin serving the federal prison term handed down by U.S. District Judge Thomas Whelan.
Sanders told the judge that he pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography because that's what he did. Sanders had faced a maximum of 10 years in prison. More
Debtors’ Prisons make a comeback in Amerika
The jailers of the 19th century — even in the pre-Civil War South — largely abandoned the practice of imprisoning people for falling into debt as counterproductive and ultimately barbaric. In the 1970s and ’80s, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that incarcerating people who can’t pay fines because of poverty violates the U.S. Constitution.
Apparently, though, some states and county jails never got the memo. Welcome to the debtors’ prisons of the 21st century. “Edwina Nowlin, a poor Michigan resident, was ordered to reimburse a juvenile detention center $104 a month for holding her 16-year-old son,” the New York Times wrote in an editorial.
“When she explained to the court that she could not afford to pay, Ms. Nowlin was sent to prison. The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, which helped get her out last week after she spent 28 days behind bars, says it is seeing more people being sent to jail because they cannot make various court-ordered payments. That is both barbaric and unconstitutional.” More
Wiretap Recorded Rep. Harman Discussing Aid for AIPAC Defendants
Rep. Jane Harman , a California Democrat long involved in intelligence issues, was overheard on a 2005 National Security Agency wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
In return, the Israeli agent pledged to help lobby for Harman to become chairwoman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Two former senior national security officials, one who has read a transcript of the wiretap and a second who was briefed on its contents, said Harman agreed during the conversation to “waddle into” the AIPAC case “if you think it’ll make a difference.” Their accounts were confirmed by a third source with knowledge of the wiretapped conversation and subsequent events.
AIPAC is the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington. More
The Bilbray case: $50,000 gets you $26 million
Rep. Brian Bilbray is asking Congress to approve a special funding request known as an earmark and spend $26 million to buy two Predator unmanned airplanes for the military.
The earmark request is raising eyebrows for two reasons: It bypasses the normal process for Pentagon spending, and the company that builds the planes has given Bilbray thousands of dollars in political contributions.
The Solana Beach Republican recently announced the request on his Web site, along with another request for $6 million to upgrade an imaging system to help the California National Guard track natural disasters, such as wildfires.
General Atomics, the San Diego-based firm that makes the Predator, has contributed $50,000 to Bilbray through its political action committee since 1997, according to figures kept by the Federal Election Commission. More
Police Chief Jailed for Using Taser on Wife
He's been the Oakwood Police Chief for almost two months. Now he's out of a job and jailed on a warrant for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The Leon County community had sworn in Oly Yahnson Ivy, 30, just two months earlier as its police chief.
Ivy's warrant was apparently issued after authorities had investigated a possible past incident in his home. A teletype had been sent out Monday morning advising law enforcement agencies that a "wanted individual was a peace officer possibly in possession of a badge, police radio and weapons".
He was arrested in nearby Anderson County shortly after that. Anderson County then transferred Ivy to Leon County where he is being held on a $100,000 bond. More
Michelle Obama's organic garden angers US farming companies
Michelle Obama's decision to make her new White House vegetable garden entirely organic has angered America's powerful agribusiness lobby who are urging the First Lady to consider the use of appropriate "crop protection products".
Mrs Obama started work on the kitchen garden with a gang of schoolchildren last month. Media coverage of the first White House food plot since Eleanor Roosevelt "dug for victory" in the Second World War garnered media coverage across the world.
But to the consernation of Big Ag, Mrs Obama has said the project will not use chemical products to tackle pests or give her plants a boost, the Times reports. More
Social network sites 'monitored'
Social networking sites like Facebook could be monitored by the UK government under proposals to make them keep details of users' contacts.
The Home Office said it was needed to tackle crime gangs and terrorists who might use the sites, but said it would not keep the content of conversations.
It is part of a plan to store details of all phone calls, e-mails and websites visited on a central database. Civil liberties campaigners have called the proposals a "snoopers' charter".
Tens of millions of people use sites like Facebook, Bebo and MySpace to chat with friends, but ministers say they have no interest in the content of discussions - just who people have been talking to. More
Mom says Patriot Act stripped son of due process
Oxford, N.C. — Sixteen-year-old Ashton Lundeby's bedroom in his mother's Granville County home is nothing, if not patriotic. Images of American flags are everywhere – on the bed, on the floor, on the wall.
But according to the United States government, the tenth-grade home-schooler is being held on a criminal complaint that he made a bomb threat from his home on the night of Feb. 15.
The family was at a church function that night, his mother, Annette Lundeby, said.
"Undoubtedly, they were given false information, or they would not have had 12 agents in my house with a widow and two children and three cats," Lundeby said. More
Deadly new flu virus in US and Mexico may go pandemic
A novel flu virus has struck hundreds of people in Mexico, and at least 18 have died. It has also infected 20 people in five states in the US, and appears able to spread readily from human to human. The US has declared a public health emergency, and the World Health Organization is holding emergency meetings to decide whether to declare the possible onset of a flu pandemic.
Ironically, after years of concern about H5N1 bird flu, the new flu causing concern is a pig virus, of a family known as H1N1.
Flu viruses are named after the two main proteins on their surfaces, abbreviated H and N. They are also differentiated by what animal they usually infect. The H in the new virus comes from pigs, but some of its other genes come from bird and human flu viruses, a mixture that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls "very unusual". More
Senator's husband's firm cashes in on crisis
On the day the new Congress convened this year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation to route $25 billion in taxpayer money to a government agency that had just awarded her husband's real estate firm a lucrative contract to sell foreclosed properties at compensation rates higher than the industry norms.
Mrs. Feinstein's intervention on behalf of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was unusual: the California Democrat isn't a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs with jurisdiction over FDIC; and the agency is supposed to operate from money it raises from bank-paid insurance payments - not direct federal dollars. More
US Marshals Use Taser On Wrong Man
GRANDVIEW, Mo. -- A local man said he was shocked to be rushed by U.S. marshals at a basketball game Wednesday.
Surveillance cameras at a Grandview community center captured video of Stuart Wright at a men's basketball game when the marshals burst in, guns drawn and a Taser gun deployed.
"I've never been through anything like this before. I was in shock," said Wright.
Wright played basketball in college and even the semi-pros, but now his biggest accomplishments are his kids. More
Homeland Security officials say US is fertile ground for recruiting by right-wing extremists
WASHINGTON - Homeland Security officials are warning that right-wing extremists could use the bad state of the U.S. economy and the election of the country's first black president to recruit members to their cause.
In an intelligence assessment issued to law enforcement last week, Homeland Security officials said there was no specific information about an attack in the works by right-wing extremists.
The agency warns that an extended economic downturn with real estate foreclosures, unemployment and an inability to obtain credit could foster an environment for extremists to recruit members who may not have been supportive of these causes in the past. More
Safety team warns of 'catastrophic' wiring in Iraq
A military team sent to evaluate electrical problems at U.S. facilities in Iraq determined there was a high risk that flawed wiring could cause further "catastrophic results"—namely, the electrocutions of U.S. soldiers.
The team said the use of a required device, commonly found in American houses to prevent electrical shocks, was "patchy at best" near showers and latrines in U.S. military facilities. There also was widespread use of uncertified electrical devices and "incomplete application" of U.S. electrical codes in buildings throughout the war-torn country, the team found.
At least three U.S. service members have been electrocuted in Iraq while taking showers in the six years since the U.S.-led invasion of the country. More
Finding a Way to Review Surveillance Tape in Bulk
An agency under the director of national intelligence is seeking to develop an automated computer program that could process millions of feet of videotape, such as surveillance-camera data from countries other than the United States, according to a report released last week.
The goal is to identify "well established patterns of clearly suspicious behavior" of individuals outside the United States.
The research program, called Video Analysis and Content Extraction, has been underway since 2001 and is being undertaken by the Office of Incisive Analysis, part of the government's Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA). It is one of several IARPA research projects aimed at developing systems that would permit subject-based review of massive video and other databases for counterterrorism and other intelligence purposes. More
America Occupied: TSA Thugs
Steve Bierfeldt was traveling from a regional meeting of a conservative political organization known to advocate sound money, small government, civil liberties and belief in The United States Constitution when he was detained and interrogated by Transportation Security Administration officials for having cash in his possession.
TSA agents claim having a large sum of money which could be any amount over $50.00 is cause to be detained and interrogated. When Mr. Bierfeldt asks if the interrogation over having cash is lawful he was threatened with further detainment and investigation by DEA and FBI.
TSA contacts an FBI agent who quickly discovers the funds being transported are political contributions the FBI agent tells Mr. Bierfeldt he is free to go. However the lead TSA agent quickly responds that he must contact his supervisor first because Mr. Bierfeldt is a “suspicious person” in his opinion. More
Here is an excerpt from audio recorded by Mr. Bierfeldt. There is no documented instance of any passenger threatening or endangering an aircraft with cash.
Are peanut allergy people nuts?
Peanut-allergy panic has spread across the nation. In a recent essay, Harvard physician and sociologist Nicholas Christakis relates an incident in which a peanut was spotted on the floor of a school bus, "whereupon the bus was evacuated and cleaned (I am tempted to say decontaminated), even though it was full of 10 year olds who, unlike 2 year olds, could actually be told not to eat off the floor."
Actions like that are no doubt overdue in the minds of organizations like the 30,000-member Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), a Virginia-based advocacy organization that has led the fight to raise awareness about peanut and other food allergies in both children and adults. Go to its Web site and you'll see some eyebrow-raising points. More
Man Robs Stores With Klingon Sword
Have the Klingons fallen on hard times?
A surveillance picture released by police shows a man armed with what appears to be a small Klingon sword, holding up a 7-Eleven convenience store.
That same man robbed another 7-Eleven store store a half-hour later, and remains at large, Colorado Springs police Lt. David Whitlock said. The first robbery was reported at 1:50 a.m.
The clerk told police a white man in his 20s, wearing a black mask, black jacket, and blue jeans, entered the store with a weapon the clerk recognized from the Star Trek TV series. More
War vet pulls 13 of his teeth out
A BRITISH Gulf War veteran pulled out 13 of his teeth with pliers when he could not find an NHS dentist. TA soldier Ian Boynton could not afford to go private for treatment after suffering with excruciating toothache since 2006.
So instead he took drastic action and removed them himself. The 42-year-old, from Beverley, East Yorks, had not had his teeth looked at since seeing the army dentist in 2003.
And he has not registered with a dentist of his own since 2001. He said: “I’ve tried to get in at 30 dentists over the last eight years but have never been able to find one to take on NHS patients. More
Would You Pay $103,000 for This Arizona Fixer-Upper?
AVONDALE, Ariz. -- The little blue house rests on a few pieces of wood and concrete block. The exterior walls, ravaged by dry rot, bend to the touch. At some point, someone jabbed a kitchen knife into the siding. The condemnation notice stapled to the wall says: "Unfit for human occupancy."
The story of the two-bedroom, one-bath shack on West Hopi Street, is the story of this year's financial panic, told in 576 square feet. It helps explain how a series of bad decisions can add up to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Less than two years ago, Integrity Funding LLC, a local lender, gave a $103,000 mortgage to the owner, Marvene Halterman, an unemployed woman with a long list of creditors and, by her own account, a long history of drug and alcohol abuse. More
PTSD pushed Marine to abandon family and service
CAMP PENDLETON ---- Marine Lance Cpl. Lance Hering says the war in Iraq pushed him to abandon his family and his service. On Friday, two years after he faked his own death and deserted his unit, the 23-year-old Hering stood in a Camp Pendleton courtroom.
By the end of an emotional court-martial, Hering emerged with a sentence of time served behind bars since his Nov. 16 arrest, a fine of $1,166 and an administrative discharge from the service. Marine Corps officials refused to characterize the nature of the discharge, saying it was subject to privacy regulations.
Hering's case was different from others in that authorities acknowledged he had not been treated for post-traumatic stress syndrome before leaving Iraq in the summer of 2006, even though he sought counseling, according to unchallenged testimony heard Friday. More
Teenager dies after being tased by Martinsville Police
State Police are investigating the death of a 17-year-old after Martinsville Police used a stun device on a teenager Thursday night.
It happened at 307 Rives Road. When 10 On Your side came to the apartment on Friday afternoon, the door was already open, but nobody was inside. What appears empty now, was swarming with police and investigators Thursday night.
Justin Gregory, 15, says his friend, 17-year-old Derick, died after a Martinsville officer used a taser on him. Gregory told us Derick and Derick’s mother had only lived in the home for about a week; however, the boys were alone on Thursday night. Although friends say the victim’s name was Derick, police have not released the victim’s name; therefore, Ten On Your Side has decided not to release the victim’s full name, yet. More
Bailed out banks sought foreign workers for high-paying jobs
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Major U.S. banks sought government permission to bring thousands of foreign workers into the country for high-paying jobs even as the system was melting down last year and Americans were getting laid off, according to a review of visa applications.
The dozen banks now receiving the biggest rescue packages, totaling more than $150 billion, requested visas for more than 21,800 foreign workers over the past six years for positions that included senior vice presidents, corporate lawyers, junior investment analysts and human resources specialists.
The average annual salary for those jobs was $90,721, nearly twice the median income for all American households. More
Laws to Track Sex Offenders Encouraging Homelessness
LOS ANGELES -- Upon release from state custody, Ross Wollschlager began an intensive search for a home, one that abided by the restrictions imposed on convicted sex offenders in California -- and, in various versions, by about 30 other states. Obliged by law to return to Ventura County, the convicted rapist was forbidden to sleep within 2,000 feet of a school or a park. He ended up in a tent on the dry bed of the Ventura River.
Strict new laws aimed at keeping track of sex offenders after they leave prison appear to be having the opposite effect, encouraging homelessness in a population believed more likely to re-offend if cast into the streets without structure or family support, say prosecutors, police, parole officials and experts on managing sex offenders. MoreYou’re Leaving a Digital Trail. What About Privacy?
HARRISON BROWN, an 18-year-old freshman majoring in mathematics at M.I.T., didn’t need to do complex calculations to figure out he liked this deal: in exchange for letting researchers track his every move, he receives a free smartphone.
Now, when he dials another student, researchers know. When he sends an e-mail or text message, they also know. When he listens to music, they know the song. Every moment he has his Windows Mobile smartphone with him, they know where he is, and who’s nearby.
Mr. Brown and about 100 other students living in Random Hall at M.I.T. have agreed to swap their privacy for smartphones that generate digital trails to be beamed to a central computer. Beyond individual actions, the devices capture a moving picture of the dorm’s social network. More
Suit claims Halliburton, KBR sickened base
A Georgia man has filed a lawsuit against contractor KBR and its former parent company, Halliburton, saying the companies exposed everyone at Joint Base Balad in Iraq to unsafe water, food and hazardous fumes from the burn pit there.
Joshua Eller, who worked as a civilian computer-aided drafting technician with the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, said military personnel, contractors and third-country nationals may have been sickened by contamination at the largest U.S. installation in Iraq, home to more than 30,000 service members, Defense Department civilians and contractors.
“Defendants promised the United States government that they would supply safe water for hygienic and recreational uses, safe food supplies and properly operate base incinerators to dispose of medical waste safely,” according to the lawsuit, filed Nov. 26 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. “Defendants utterly failed to perform their promised duties.” More
Barky: A Luo tribesman in the White House?
As he reminded us again after losing narrowly to Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, Barack Obama likes to evoke Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech.
We must all hope that, like King's, Mr. Obama's dream is "deeply rooted in the American dream." But before giving him the keys to the White House, Americans might like to know a little more about the content of Mr. Obama's dream.
Let me propose an unlikely place to start looking: Kenya. Even in the midst of the primaries, the horrific scenes from that country since the disputed election on December 27 will not have escaped most people. In particular, the burning of a church with up to 50 men, women, and children inside, while machete-armed mobs slaughter up to 600 more people, have evoked memories of the Rwandan genocide of 1994.
The opposition leader, Raila Odinga, has had a good press in the West, after he accused the president, Mwai Kibaki, of rigging the election. But the victims of the recent violence have mostly been members of Mr. Kibaki's tribe, the Kikuyu, while those who have gone berserk are supporters of Mr. Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement, which is dominated by the rival Luo tribe. More
Big Brother is watching, but seniors don't mind
Sensors keep track of just about everything Shirley Player does in her apartment, but she's not worried that Big Brother is watching. Far from it. "I feel very safe with it," Player said. "It's nice to know you're being watched."
Player is one of 68 residents of the Masonicare retirement community participating in a study that aims to determine whether keeping a technological eye on seniors can help them live longer independently in their own homes.
Player's place has a motion detector in the corner of each room, a sensor on her refrigerator that keeps track of her eating habits, a sensor on the medicine cabinet to see if she's taking her medications on time, and a pressure sensor underneath the mattress of her bed to track her sleeping. More
Blue Pills Help CIA Wins Friends in Afghanistan
The Afghan chieftain looked older than his 60-odd years, and his bearded face bore the creases of a man burdened with duties as tribal patriarch and husband to four younger women. His visitor, a CIA officer, saw an opportunity, and reached into his bag for a small gift.
Four blue pills. Viagra.
"Take one of these. You'll love it," the officer said. Compliments of Uncle Sam.
The enticement worked. The officer, who described the encounter, returned four days later to an enthusiastic reception. The grinning chief offered up a bonanza of information about Taliban movements and supply routes -- followed by a request for more pills. More
Anti-terror powers used to spy on paperboys
Cambridgeshire County Council sent undercover officers to monitor whether eight children delivering papers in Melbourn, Cambs, were doing their rounds without the correct paperwork.
Campaigners accused the council of acting like a "jumped up version of the A-Team" by using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) to target the former postmistress Rashmi Solanki and her husband Dips, who run the local shop. It is the latest in a series of incidents where local authorities have used surveillance powers to investigate minor matters from dog fouling to underage smoking. More
Troop Surge for President-elect Barack Obama's inaugural
The latest U.S. troop surge will be much closer to home - in the nation's capital to secure Barack Obama's Inauguration Day.
Government officials are set to deploy an additional 3,000 troops - for a total of 7,000 - and an extra 2,000 cops, bringing the tally to 10,000 police, sources said.
The joint security and transportation plan disclosed yesterday by authorities included this understatement: "Access into Washington, D.C. will be limited" on Jan. 20.
All four bridges over the Potomac River from Virginia into D.C. will be closed to traffic, except for buses and authorized vehicles, and boat traffic on the river will be banned. More
Former 'Yuppies' struggle for cash
Nearly half of people who were dubbed Yuppies in the 1980s say they now struggling financially, according to a report.
So-called Yuppies or Young Urban Professionals epitomised 1980s success, and were infamous for their high spending, Filofaxes, having the latest gadgets and splashing out on expensive dining.
But 20 years on, 45% of former Yuppies claim they are struggling financially or failing to live within their means, according to Liverpool Victoria friendly society.
At the same time, seven out of 10 former Yuppies, now aged between 45 and 55, say they should have saved more money earlier in their career and 32% worry about how they would cope if their regular income stopped. More
The Cold War's Missing Atom Bombs
It was a little early to be swimming in the Mediterranean that year. But in early March 1966, Manuel Fraga Iribarne, the Spanish information minister at the time, and Biddle Duke, the American ambassador in Madrid, together with their respective families, plunged into the chilly waters off the Costa Cálida.
Journalists from around the world had gathered on the beach of the small village of Palomares to report on the two families' spring bathing outing. Their interest would have been surprising, if it hadn't been for the hydrogen bomb lying on the ocean floor only a few kilometers away, a bomb with more than 1,000 times the explosive force of the one that flattened Hiroshima.
Only a few weeks earlier, on Jan. 17, 1966, the worst nuclear weapons incident of the entire Cold War had taken place off Spain's southeastern coast. During an aerial tanking maneuver, an American B-52 bomber and a KC-135 tanking aircraft collided in mid-air at 9,000 meters (29,000 feet), and both planes exploded in a giant fireball over Palomares. There were four hydrogen bombs in the hold of the B-52. One landed, unharmed, in tomato fields near the village. The non-nuclear fuse detonated in two others causing bomb fragments and plutonium dust to rain down on the impact site. More
Girl sues police over assault, wrongful arrest
A 12-year-old girl wrongfully arrested as a suspected prostitute, beaten by police and then arrested for assaulting a public servant has launched a lawsuit against the officers, the Houston Press reports.
Dymond Milburn, from Galveston, Texas, was grabbed by three plain-clothed police officers out the front of her house and told, “You’re a prostitute. You’re coming with me”, according to the lawsuit.
After struggling with the men and screaming, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy”, the girl had her mouth covered and was struck in the face and throat, leaving her with black eyes and throat and ear drum injuries, her lawyer said. More
$1.6B went to bailed-out bank execs
Banks that are getting taxpayer bailouts awarded their top executives nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses, and other benefits last year, an Associated Press analysis reveals. The rewards came even at banks where poor results last year foretold the economic crisis that sent them to Washington for a government rescue.
Some trimmed their executive compensation due to lagging bank performance, but still forked over multimillion-dollar executive pay packages.
Benefits included cash bonuses, stock options, personal use of company jets and chauffeurs, home security, country club memberships and professional money management, a review of federal securities documents found. The total amount given to nearly 600 executives would cover bailout costs for many of the 116 banks that have so far accepted tax dollars. More
German Parliament Passes Anti-Terror Law
For months, a large number of Germans have fretted over whether federal lawmakers would grant federal police aggressive evidence-gathering abilities to combat terrorism. They feared they could be similar to the highly developed -- and criticized -- ones enjoyed by the FBI or those portrayed in "The Lives of Others," the Oscar-winning film about an eavesdropper working for the Stasi, the secret police of the former East Germany.
Recently, a partial answer finally came, when the lower house of the German parliament, the Bundestag, approved anti-terrorism legislation that will vastly expand the cyber-spying powers of the federal police to gather information from the computers, telephone lines and homes of suspected terrorists. More
All that money you've lost — where did it go?
Trillions in stock market value — gone. Trillions in retirement savings — gone. A huge chunk of the money you paid for your house, the money you're saving for college, the money your boss needs to make payroll — gone, gone, gone.
Whether you're a stock broker or Joe Six-pack, if you have a 401(k), a mutual fund or a college savings plan, tumbling stock markets and sagging home prices mean you've lost a whole lot of the money that was right there on your account statements just a few months ago.
But if you no longer have that money, who does? The fat cats on Wall Street? Some oil baron in Saudi Arabia? The government of China? More
al-Qaida has funds despite economic woes
Al-Qaida, which gets its money from the drug trade in Afghanistan and sympathizers in the oil-rich Gulf states, is likely to escape the effects of the global financial crisis.
One reason is that al-Qaida and other Islamic terrorists have been forced to avoid using banks, relying instead on less-efficient ways to move their cash around the world, analysts said.
Those methods include hand-carrying money and using informal transfer networks called hawalas.
While escaping official scrutiny, those networks also are slower and less efficient — and thus could hamper efforts to finance attacks. More
First sight of the ID cards that will soon be compulsory
The Government was accused yesterday of cynically targeting immigrants to boost support for its controversial £4.7bn compulsory identity cards scheme as the Home Office unveiled the documents it plans will eventually be held by every adult in Britain.
A coalition of opposition parties, trade unions and civil liberties campaigners condemned the symbolic release of the pink and blue cards, which will be introduced for foreign nationals living in Britain from next month. The plastic permits, containing the personal details, fingerprints and immigration status of foreign nationals, offer the first glimpse of what ID cards for British citizens will look like.
Critics attacked the project as a dangerous waste of money that would undermine hundreds of years of civil rights and warned that targeting foreign residents could lead to discrimination and abuse.
Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, said the scheme would protect against identity fraud, illegal working and cut organised crime and terrorism. More
China: 1,500 raccoon dogs die from tainted feed
BEIJING - Some 1,500 raccoon dogs bred for their fur have died after eating feed tainted with melamine, a veterinarian said Monday, raising questions about how widespread the industrial chemical is in China's food chain.
The revelation comes amid a crisis over dairy products tainted with melamine that has caused kidney stones in tens of thousands of Chinese children and has been linked to the deaths of four infants.
The raccoon dogs — a breed native to east Asia whose fur is used to trim coats and other clothing — died of kidney failure after eating the tainted feed, said Zhang Wenkui, a veterinary professor at Shenyang Agriculture University. More
Economic Tough Times Hit Nevada Brothel
A woman who had just scored a precious high-paying job in the midst of a disastrous economy was willing to fly in from out of town to take it.
Her new boss, Susan Austin, had spared no expense and the woman was quickly whisked into a waiting limo at the Reno, Nev., airport.
For the sake of privacy, we're calling the woman "Kimberly," and the coveted job she got was as a prostitute at one of the few places in America where it's legal -- the self-proclaimed "world famous" Mustang Ranch.
"I'm nervous, you know," said Kimberly, who would be working as a prostitute for the first time. "I've got a little shake. I'm more nervous than I think I've ever been in my life." More
Judge: Blackwater guards must report to DC court
WASHINGTON -- Wild, unprovoked gunfire and grenades killed 14 innocent Iraqis and hurt dozens more in a 2007 Baghdad attack, prosecutors said Monday in announcing charges with mandatory 30-year prison terms against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards.
The Justice Department called the shooting a shocking and devastating violation of human rights. The harsh words echoed the outrage of Iraqis, who have waited more than a year to see how the U.S. would respond to the shooting on a busy street in the Iraqi capital.
The five security guards surrendered in federal court in Utah, where one of them lives. The five guards walked wordlessly through a phalanx of reporters. A judge ordered the guards to report to a Washington courthouse Jan. 6, where they were expected to plead not guilty. More
Democrats' victory leads to boom in gun sales
In the weeks since the presidential election, Justin Mundy, who owns Wolverine Shooting Sports Inc. in Brownstown Township, has held four classes for those seeking concealed weapons permits instead of the usual once-a-month course.
And Mark Cortis, who conducts concealed weapons license training and sits on the Oakland County gun board, has had people from as far away as Iron Mountain and Traverse City call about classes.
Both Cortis and Mundy say the prospective students fear President-elect Barack Obama will try to take away gun owners' rights. And people also are afraid that as the economy worsens, crime will increase. The permits allow people to legally carry a loaded firearm in most places. More
Vice president, former AG, state senator indicted
McALLEN, Texas — A South Texas grand jury has indicted Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on state charges related to the alleged abuse of prisoners in Willacy County's federal detention centers.
The indictment, which had not yet been signed by the presiding judge, was one of seven released Tuesday in a county that has been a source of bizarre legal and political battles in recent years. Another of the indictments named a state senator on charges of profiting from his position.
Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra himself had been under indictment for more than a year and half before a judge dismissed the indictments last month. This flurry of charges came in the twilight of Guerra's tenure, which ends this year after nearly two decades in office. He lost convincingly in a Democratic primary in March. More
IRS computer systems faulted
WASHINGTON - Two new IRS computer systems that will eventually cost taxpayers almost $2 billion are being put into service despite known security and privacy vulnerabilities, a Treasury watchdog said in a report yesterday.
The office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said Internal Revenue Service officials failed to ensure that identified weaknesses had been addressed before putting the new systems into use.
Inspector General J. Russell George said it was "very troublesome" that the IRS "was aware of, and even self-identified, these weaknesses." More
Blackwater Sees Treasure in Pirates
VIRGINIA BEACH -- Blackbeard, meet Blackwater. Worldwide.
The Moyock, N.C., company has a ship in Hampton Roads ready to begin patrolling the Gulf of Aden to protect merchant vessels against pirates. The company has spoken to about 10 shipping firms but as yet has no takers, said Bill Mathews, Blackwater Worldwide executive vice president.
"There's definitely a need and a desire," Mathews said during a tour of the 183-foot vessel, named McArthur, on Friday. It's moored at a commercial pier at Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base.
Somali pirates in late September seized a Ukrainian ship loaded with military vehicles in the Gulf of Aden and still hold the ship while demanding a multimillion-dollar ransom. The standoff is being monitored by the U.S. Navy. More
Grizzlies on the prowl in urban Alaska
As winter creeps down the Chugach Mountains and the grizzly bears start the move toward their dens, wildlife biologists and others have begun to contemplate whether the city's summer of bears was an aberration or the face of what is to come.
Some now wonder if an environmental success story -- the restoration of salmon runs in Anchorage streams -- has set the stage for an unfolding community crisis. They are wondering whether a mandate to maintain salmon runs at maximum sustainable levels will make the growing bear-human problems in the city even worse.
What garbage is to black bears, salmon are to grizzlies. Salmon lure bears into the city. The attendant problems became painfully clear this summer. More
'Constitution-Free Zone' 100 miles from border
This past summer, Craig Johnson joined dozens of other activists in a San Diego-area park to protest the expansion of a fence along the US-Mexico border.
An associate professor at Point Loma Nazarene University, Johnson says he took his two children, aged 8 and 10, to Border Field State Park in Imperial Beach in June. Scores of border patrol agents were on the scene, Johnson said, and some were recording license plate numbers from protesters' cars parked a more than a mile away from the border.
It seems that Johnson's participation in the anti-fence demonstration may have landed him on a government watch list that has inhibited his ability to travel freely between the US and Mexico. A professor of Music, Johnson said he traveled to Tijuana about a week after the protest; upon returning to the US, Johnson says he was handcuffed and arrested by customs agents after a listing associated with his name pegged him as armed and dangerous. "I was thoroughly and aggressively searched. ... Every inch and crack and crevice of my body was poked and prodded," Johnson said. "I was in complete bewilderment of what was going on; I felt violated and frankly was embarrassed." More
Researchers warn of 'clickjacking' threat
Researchers have begun publishing details of a new type of attack called 'clickjacking', which can lead users to malicious websites by tricking them into clicking on unseen elements in a web browser.
Jeremiah Grossman, chief technology officer of White Hat Security, and SecTheory chief executive Robert Hansen, began publicly discussing their research into what they call clickjacking, following the public release of a proof-of-concept exploit by another researcher.
Clickjacking is a set of different techniques for disguising elements such as dialogue boxes and links, so that the user can be fooled into changing security settings or visiting malicious websites, Grossman and Hansen said. More
Air Force pirates software, court says okay
American expect the Air Force to be part of the team that protects them from those who would harm them, but it turns out that Americans have no protection from an Air Force that would prey on them.
Last week, a US Court of Appeals upheld a ruling on software piracy. The organization doing the piracy, however, happened to be a branch of the US government, and the decision highlights the significant limits to the application of copyright law to the government charged with enforcing it. Most significantly, perhaps, the court found that because the DMCA is written in a way that targets individual infringers, the government cannot be liable for claims made under the statute.
The backstory on the case involved, Blueport v. United States, borders on the absurd. It started when Sergeant Mark Davenport went to work in the group within the US Air Force that ran its manpower database. Finding the existing system inefficient, Davenport requested training in computer programming so that he could improve it; the request was denied. Showing the sort of personal initiative that only gets people into trouble, Davenport then taught himself the needed skills and went to work redesigning the system. More
Army Brigade to patrol Homeland
The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys. Now they’re training for the same mission — with a twist — at home.
Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks. It is not the first time an active-duty unit has been tapped to help at home.
In August 2005, for example, when Hurricane Katrina unleashed hell in Mississippi and Louisiana, several active-duty units were pulled from various posts and mobilized to those areas. But this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts. After 1st BCT finishes its dwell-time mission, expectations are that another, as yet unnamed, active-duty brigade will take over and that the mission will be a permanent one. More
Woman Handcuffed and Booked Over Overdue Library Books
A young Wisconsin woman was cuffed by cops, perp-walked down her parents' suburban driveway and hustled into a waiting cruiser - all because she hadn't returned two library books or paid the library's $38 fine.
Heidi Dalibor, 20, a cosmetology student and beloved neighborhood baby sitter in Grafton, was arrested, fingerprinted and booked earlier this month for violating an "overdue library materials" ordinance, authorities said.
The Grafton Public Library sicced the law on Dalibor after she failed to return Dan Brown's "Angels & Demons" and Janet Fitch's best-selling "White Oleander." More
Credit Card Debt: This Popping Bubble Is Going to Hurt
Let me try a few words out on you: "Charge It," "Swipe It" and "Priceless."
You know exactly what I am talking about. We all have credit and debit cards. We all use them, and many of us keep our lives going because of them.
That is, until the bill becomes due.
The sad truth is that we are all complicit in our own economic servitude even if, at bottom, it's not our fault because we live in a consumption society, and don't feel we could live without them.
While many eyes are focusing on the housing meltdown and its hugely negative effect on an economy clearly moving into recession, few are paying attention to the next bubble expected to burst: credit cards. You would never know it by watching those slick VISA card ads on the Olympic TV broadcasts.
Combined with the subprime losses, such a credit card nightmare has the potential, experts say, of bringing down the entire financial system and global economy. More
Over 1,000 laws will let the state into your home
UK — The march of the Big Brother state under Labour was highlighted last night as it was revealed that there are now 1,043 laws that give the authorities the power to enter a home or business.
Nearly half have been introduced since Labour came to power 11 years ago. They include the right to:
• Invade your home to see if your pot plants have pests or do not have a 'plant passport' (Plant Health England Order 2005).
• Survey your home and garden to see if your hedge is too high (Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003).
• Seize fridges without the correct energy rating (Energy Information Household Refrigerators and Freezers Regulations 2004).
The rise in clipboard-wielding state inspectors flies in the face of repeated pledges by Ministers to curb the power of bureaucrats. More
Feeble dollar sends Americans to European hostels
The tumbling U.S. dollar is forcing a new experience on many Americans traveling through Europe: a stay in a youth hostel.
With prices as low as $31 in some of Europe's most expensive cities — and luxury options such as digital camera chargers for hire — hostels are shedding their image of bedbug-ridden dorm rooms and mildewed showers.
Annie Worth, a 21-year-old from Orinda, Calif., said she and her friends were used to staying in nice hotels with their parents on vacation, but had chosen to stay in no-frill hostels during an 11-country backpacking trip through Europe.
"Especially with the euro being so strong and the U.S. dollar being so weak, I think a lot of younger people who had initially avoided them are staying there because they are hearing so many great things about them and money is tight," she said. More
Journalist Censored by Military
Zoriah Miller is a photo journalist who was embedded withe the military in Iraq. When he took photographs of the aftermath of a recent suicide bombing, he was asked to delete these photographs. He also got booted by the military and got asked to remove the photographs from his web blog. The suicide bombing that Zoriah photographed happened in Anbar Province a few, one of the last few days of June and more than 20 people lost their lives including a few marines.
According to what Zoriah wrote on his blog about the situation the photographer was contacted by a high ranking Public Affairs Officer who notified him about the governments request to remove any and every photograph from the Zoriah blog. The journalist claimed that in the grizzly photos of the carnage no person was recognizable and the killed soldiers could be portrayed in images as long as their name tags and identifiable features are not shown. Furthermore, Zoriah claimed that he made sure the images he published followed every single guideline. See the blog (warning: graphic images)
Apple sued for slavery
A LAWSUIT filed Monday in California seeks class action status alleging that Apple denied technical staffers required overtime pay and meal compensation in violation of state law.
Filed in the US District Court for Southern California, the complaint claims that many Apple employees are routinely subjected to working conditions resembling indentured servitude.
Lead plaintiff David Walsh was employed by Apple as a network engineer from 1995 until 2007. His complaint says he was often required to work more than 40 hours per week, miss meals, and spend his evenings and even entire weekends on call without any overtime pay or meal compensation. He fielded technical support calls that often came after 11 pm. More
Lone accountant takes on IRS and wins
It took seven years, but Charles Ulrich did something many people dream about, but few succeed at: He beat the IRS in a tax dispute. Not only that, but tax experts say potentially millions of other taxpayers could benefit from his victory.
The accountant from Baxter, Minn., challenged the method the IRS has used for more than 20 years to tax shares and cash distributed by mutual life insurance firms to their policyholders when they reorganize as public companies. A federal court recently agreed with his interpretation.
"There's a tremendous amount of money at stake," said Robert Willens, a New York City-based tax analyst at Robert Willens LLC. "Tens of thousands of people could be in line for a refund." More
U.S. tightens security along Great Lakes border
The United States will unveil new border surveillance measures Friday in a move that has one New Democratic MP decrying what he sees as the "weaponization" of the Canada-U.S. frontier.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is slated to open an air and marine border-monitoring outpost just north of the Detroit-Windsor border at Selfridge Air National Guard Base on Lake St. Clair in Michigan.
The $17-million Great Lakes Air and Marine Branch will help fight human and drug smuggling, U.S. officials said. The post will use 11 aircraft, including a Black Hawk helicopter, and five boats to patrol the Great Lakes waterways daily, said Eric Rembold, director of aviation operations at U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Windsor West MP and NDP border critic Brian Masse voiced his concern Thursday about the implications of the new surveillance measures.
"If we're going to continue to see weaponization that is used in conflicts like Afghanistan and Iraq put on the Canada-U.S. border, saying that it's required for safety and security, it really changes the nature of our relationship," he said. More
Mexican soldiers enter US, hold border agent at gunpoint
Four Mexican army soldiers entered southern Arizona and pointed their rifles at a U.S. Border Patrol agent early this week, the Border Patrol said.
The incident Sunday was the Mexican military's 43rd incursion across the U.S. border since October, the agency said. However, it was unusual because firearms were involved. The Border Patrol and the Mexican government are investigating, Border Patrol spokesman Mike Scioli said.
Details remain sketchy, but the incident occurred at 2 a.m. on the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation about 50 miles southeast of Ajo. The incident took place just north of the border in sight of the new border fence.
The soldiers held their weapons on the agent for several minutes until he identified himself in Spanish, whereupon they lowered their guns and walked back across a gap in the fence, Scioli said. More
America goes to the Dark Side - torture for fun and profit
In a series of gripping articles, Jane Mayer has chronicled the Bush Administration’s grim and furtive dealings with torture and has exposed both the individuals within the administration who “made it happen” (a group that starts with Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, David Addington), the team of psychologists who put together the palette of techniques, and the Fox television program “24,” which was developed to help sell it to the American public.
In a new book, The Dark Side, Mayer puts together the major conclusions from her articles and fills in a number of important gaps. Most significantly, we learn the details on the torture techniques and the drama behind the fierce and lingering struggle within the administration over torture, and we learn that many within the administration recognized the potential criminal accountability they faced over these torture tactics and moved frantically to protect themselves from possible future prosecution. More
Feds to snoop your eBay, Amazon transactions
The U.S. Congress puts on a big show about "doing something" to solve your many problems, but they really contrive ways to monitor, control and feed off of your life energy.
Hidden deep in Senator Christopher Dodd's 630-page Senate housing legislation is a sweeping provision that affects the privacy and operation of nearly all of America's small businesses. The provision, which was added by the bill's managers without debate this week, would require the nation's payment systems to track, aggregate, and report information on nearly every electronic transaction to the federal government.
FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey commented: "This is a provision with astonishing reach, and it was slipped into the bill just this week. Not only does it affect nearly every credit card transaction in America, such as Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express, but the bill specifically targets payment systems like eBay's PayPal, Amazon, and Google Checkout that are used by many small online businesses. The privacy implications for America's small businesses are breathtaking." More
Navy prosecutor claims flight 93 shootdown in trial
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — The Pentagon opened its first war crimes prosecution Tuesday with words purportedly from the mouth of Osama bin Laden, overheard by his driver in the aftermath of 9-11:
"If they hadn’t shot down the fourth plane, it would’ve hit the dome," the al Qaeda leader supposedly told his deputy, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahari, referring to the U.S. Capitol.
With his first words to a military jury, a Pentagon prosecutor, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Stone, evoked a conversation — a conspiracy theory, actually — that defendant Salim Hamdan had revealed to the Americans after his arrest.
Bin Laden told his No. 2 that U.S. forces, not heroic passengers, stopped the hijackers from slamming United Airlines Flight 93 into the Capitol. It crashed into a Pennsylvania field instead. More
Drug smugglers bribing U.S. agents on Mexico border
U.S. Border Patrol agent Reynaldo Zuniga was arrested last month lugging a bag of cocaine up from the Rio Grande, one of a growing number of law enforcement officers accused of taking bribes from drug gangs.
Former colleagues say Zuniga used to wait until agents in the south Texas town of Harlingen were distracted with paperwork, then slip down to the river and help smuggle in drugs from Mexico.
The increasing use of bribes by Mexican drug cartels to corrupt U.S. agents comes as Washington is sending $400 million to help Mexico's army-led war on the trafficking gangs, whose brutal murders have surged to unprecedented levels.
"Zuniga was a good agent and a hard worker. I can't understand why he would do this. We're supposed to be protecting our borders," said Border Patrol agent Daniel Doty, a former colleague. More
Cheney Considered Proposal To Dress Up Navy Seals As Iranians And Shoot At Them to Provoke War
Speaking at the Campus Progress journalism conference earlier this month, Seymour Hersh — a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist for The New Yorker — revealed that Bush administration officials held a meeting recently in the Vice President’s office to discuss ways to provoke a war with Iran.
In Hersh’s most recent article, he reports that this meeting occurred in the wake of the overblown incident in the Strait of Hormuz, when a U.S. carrier almost shot at a few small Iranian speedboats. The “meeting took place in the Vice-President’s office. ‘The subject was how to create a casus belli between Tehran and Washington,’” according to one of Hersh’s sources.
According to Hersh, "There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build — we in our shipyard — build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up." More
O'Reilly, Savage, Hannity on accused church shooter's reading list
Police found right-wing political books, brass knuckles, empty shotgun shell boxes and a handgun in the Powell home of a man who said he attacked a church in order to kill liberals "who are ruining the country," court records show.
Knoxville police Sunday evening searched the Levy Drive home of Jim David Adkisson after he allegedly entered the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church and killed two people and wounded six others during the presentation of a children's musical.
Adkisson told officers he left the house unlocked for them because "he expected to be killed during the assault."
Inside the house, officers found "Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder" by radio talk show host Michael Savage, "Let Freedom Ring" by talk show host Sean Hannity, and "The O'Reilly Factor," by television talk show host Bill O'Reilly. More
Overzealous drug war claims another casualty
The question isn't whether a Pembroke Pines police officer was justified in fatally shooting Vincent Hodgkiss in his home early Thursday morning, or whether illegal drug activity was taking place there. The real question is this: Was a paramilitary-style dawn raid the best way to go about serving a drug-related search warrant?
Deputy Police Chief David Golt defended the use of the Special Response Team, Pembroke Pines' version of SWAT, to carry out the 6:30 a.m. raid that left Hodgkiss, 46, dead.
"We use SRT to serve all narcotics warrants," Golt said Friday. "You never know what you're going to encounter."
In addition to providing a special court review of lawsuits against telecommunication companies, the bill would increase oversight of U.S. intelligence activities and bolster privacy protection -- but not as much as civil liberties groups and a number of lawmakers want. More
Barky woos Germans, gets cheered
In a stirring speech in Germany on Thursday, U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama called on the world to look to Berlin as a symbol of strength and hope that persevered against the threat of communism.
He started off his speech with a blatant lie. He denies being a presidential candidate, as if he were giving his delegates over to Hillary Clinton.
“I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before,” Obama said, confronting the delicate issue of campaigning abroad. “Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen — a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.”
His speech went downhill from there. He mentioned the "burdens of global citizenship" and that "Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more" as if Americans and Europeans had voted to do more, which they had not. The public has no choice as it will be forced on them. This requirement comes from his own personal desires, and those of his hidden backers. They desire to put a burden on the public. You have been warned!
“Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe,” Obama said. “No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more — not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.” More
Hear a dictator in the making.
WASHINGTON - Vice President Cheney's invitation to address wounded combat veterans next month has been yanked because the group felt his security demands were Draconian and unreasonable.
The veep had planned to speak to the Disabled American Veterans at 8:30 a.m. at its August convention in Las Vegas.
His staff insisted the sick vets be sequestered for two hours before Cheney's arrival and couldn't leave until he'd finished talking, officials confirmed.
"Word got back to us ... that this would be a prerequisite," said the veterans executive director, David Gorman, who noted the meeting hall doesn't have any rest rooms. "We told them it just wasn't acceptable." More
Fake Government set up in India
In Uttar Pradesh, new-age fraudsters are redefining trickery. Authorities here have unearthed a fully functional "branch" office of a "Nagar Nigam" in Jhansi.
The office, run by an employee of Jhansi Nagar Nigam, not only employed over 20 people, but was also performing civic works and collecting taxes and even issuing birth and death certificates. It was only after the authorities got a whiff that the person running it, Shyam Valmiki alias Shyam Netaji, was caught.
Jhansi district magistrate (DM) Rajeev Agarwal, shocked by the manner in which the entire racket was operating, says: "It would've been difficult for me to believe that a racket like this could exist, had we not actually stumbled upon this."
Police believe the racket was initially confined to fake appointment of sweepers. Valmiki's idea, according to the police, would have primarily been to pocket Rs 40 lakh in the name of ensuring their appointment and then disappear. "But he later seems to have decided to carry on with the office as it didn't appear to be a loss-making proposition. And when he tried to change his decision, things went out of hand," said a police officer. More
Congressmen's Plane Makes Emergency Landing
Houston, TX — The Federal Aviation Administration has started investigating the emergency landing in New Orleans of a Continental Airlines Boeing 737 carrying former presidential candidate Ron Paul and six other members of Congress, officials said.
Les Dorr, an FAA spokesman, said the plane, from Houston enroute to Washington D.C., was being inspected in New Orleans, where Continental Flight 458 landed late Tuesday. After a loss in cabin pressure, the pilot declared a mid-air emergency and oxygen masks dropped from overhead compartments.
He said the agency routinely reviews such incidents and that it made no difference that seven national lawmakers were aboard. The aircraft and its maintenance records are being reviewed to see "if there was any kind of possible correlation," Dorr said. He said that there could have been a number of reasons why the plane made the emergency landing.
The seven congressmen, all from Texas, were trying to get back in time for a Tuesday night vote on an aviation safety bill when the flight landed without incident, a spokesman for one of the representatives said. No injuries were reported among the 128 crew and passengers. More
Police, Firefighters, Utility Workers Trained as “Terrorism Liaison Officers”
Hundreds of police, firefighters, paramedics and even utility workers have been trained and recently dispatched as "Terrorism Liaison Officers" in Colorado and a handful of other states to hunt for "suspicious activity" — and are reporting their findings into secret government databases.
It's a tactic intended to feed better data into terrorism early-warning systems and uncover intelligence that could help fight anti-U.S. forces. But the vague nature of the TLOs' mission, and their focus on reporting both legal and illegal activity, has generated objections from privacy advocates and civil libertarians.
"Suspicious activity" is broadly defined in TLO training as behavior that could lead to terrorism: taking photos of no apparent aesthetic value, making measurements or notes, espousing extremist beliefs or conversing in code. More
San Diego Comes Under Mock Bio-Terror Attack
A four-day training exercise stretching from the U.S.-Mexico border to East County puts more than 70 agencies to the test during a fake anthrax attack.
"Operation Golden Phoenix 2008" began Monday and will put physicians, nurses, Marines, Border Patrol agents and city and county officials to the test, with cameras recording every move.
Its all part of a mock bio-terrorism attack on San Diego, in which the city comes under a fake anthrax contamination. Officials said the drill involves the simulation of terrorists sneaking in anthrax at the border.
Temporary houses made of foil covered with foam and tape were setup for victims along with a reunification center for families affected by the mock drill. More
McCain, Obama address racial supremist group
Republican nominee John McCain and Democratic nominee Barack Obama spoke at the annual conference of the National Council of La Raza, which in English is translated as "The Race", and is an extreme Hispanic lobby group that advocates a militant "reconquista" of the Southwestern United States.
“Obama spoke to all the important issues to our community. It was a very good speech that helped connect him to the Latino community,” said Raul Yzaguirre, who served as NCLR’s president from 1974 to 2005.
“Incredibly, McCain did not even address the issues of the war in Iraq or his policy on health care. On immigration it was more of the same: secure the borders and no stop to the raids,” said Angela Sambrano, an NCLR board member and director of the National Alliance of Latin-American and Caribbean Communities. More
War on Photography: No freedom on July 4th
As millions of Americans celebrated a holiday that marks their freedom, an Oklahoma man got a real look at what it is like to have that freedom taken away by thugs and bullies.
Chris Owens said he was handcuffed, thrown into the back of a police car and harassed for taking pictures of a car crash scene Monday evening.
He said he witnessed the end of a high-speed chase while riding his scooter down N Classen Blvd. Monday.
"That black SUV passed me doing about 120," Owens said. "I stopped, pulled off on the median, had my camera and just walked around and shot a few pictures."
Much to Owens' surprise, when police saw him taking the pictures, they demanded he hand them over or go to jail. Owens said three troopers and an Oklahoma City police officer were present during the incident.
Troopers told Owens he was inside a crime scene and had no right taking pictures. Owens said he was outside the tape, but deleted the pictures fearing he would be thrown in jail.
"Where's the checks and balances? Who lets them run like unleashed dogs," Owens said. More
The popular board game Monopoly was introduced by Parker Brothers company in 1934 and sold for five cents.
In 2008 the game sells for a typical price of $20 and still includes the same amouint of game money as in 1934.
Even is the game currency is only a fraction of the value of the game, this represents an astonishing plummet in value of the dollar, relative to a cheaply printed pretend currency.
The US Treasury and Federal Reserve offered no explanation as to why their policies would cause this steep devaluation to occur to the dollar.
“Strike teams” invade Iowa flood victims’ homes
So far the federal government has done little to respond to the historic floods in eastern Iowa which are among the worst in recorded history. In order to maintain tyranny in the flooded areas, local governments have had to step up to meet the challenge.
Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff said that he was pleased with the federal government’s virtually invisible response to the Midwest flooding, which in some areas exceeded 500-year plan levels and has destroyed millions of acres of crops across six states and displaced tens of thousands of people.
In Cedar Rapids, where the Cedar River crested at 31.1 feet, flooding nine square miles and displacing over 24,000 people, police have cordoned off large areas of the town and have sent in so-called “strike teams” to “inspect” houses as floodwaters begin to recede.
Police chief Greg Graham said that while firefighters would enter homes through unlocked doors and windows, law enforcement would not enter homes. Yet video evidence has surfaced that police officers were not only entering homes, but breaking down locked doors and windows to do so. More
Chinese Olympics clean-up: death camp for cats
Thousands of pet cats in Beijing are being abandoned by their owners and sent to die in secretive government pounds as China mounts an aggressive drive to clean up the capital in preparation for the Olympic Games.
Hundreds of cats a day are being rounded and crammed into cages so small they cannot even turn around.
Then they are trucked to what animal welfare groups describe as death camps on the edges of the city.
The cull comes in the wake of a government campaign warning of the diseases cats carry and ordering residents to help clear the streets of them. More
"Goatse" Congress gives it up for Bush
WASHINGTON - A White House-backed spy bill to protect telecommunication companies from billions of dollars in possible privacy lawsuits passed a Senate test vote and headed toward final congressional approval.
On a vote of 80-15, mostly Republican supporters of the bipartisan measure, which would also implement the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. spy laws in decades, easily mustered the 60 needed to clear a Democratic procedural roadblock.
Overwhelmingly approved by the House of Representatives on Friday, the bill may win needed Senate concurrence before Congress begins a holiday break the end of this week.
President Bush has promised to sign the measure, which would replace a temporary surveillance law that had expired in February.
In addition to providing a special court review of lawsuits against telecommunication companies, the bill would increase oversight of U.S. intelligence activities and bolster privacy protection -- but not as much as civil liberties groups and a number of lawmakers want. More
Substantial vote tallies across Ireland show the European Union Lisbon reform treaty has been rejected, Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern has said.
European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso said all indications were that Ireland had indeed rejected the treaty.
He called for other states to continue their ratification processes and said a solution should be sought.
The treaty must be ratified by all 27 members. Only Ireland has held a public vote on it. More
Michael Reagan, son of former president Ronald Reagan, advocated sexually abusing Arab children by anally assaulting them with a foreign object. He made the comments on his publicly aired radio program.
Speaking of Arab babies, Mr. Reagan said, "You know what I'd get them for their first birthday? I'd put a grenade up their butts and light it. Happy birthday baby, bye-bye."
Later in his program, Reagan stated that we will achieve peace "when everybody in the Middle East is dead."
Reagan wrote an autobiography in which he claims he was sexually abused as a child. Being well paid to catapult neocon propaganda, he apparent draws on his unresolved emotional anguish to do his job.
Raped by lookalike foods: The Tomato Caper
The source of the Salmonella that has sickened hundreds of people through tainted tomatoes may be in Mexico and South and Central Florida, according to U.S. investigators.
Health officials said all indications pointed to a single geographic region as the source of the outbreak, which has sickened 228 people in 23 states.
David Acheson, associate commissioner for foods at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on a conference call that nine people who became ill with Salmonella had eaten at two different outlets of the same restaurant chain. He declined to name the chain or the location of the restaurants. "That represents a small cluster within this outbreak," he said.
The outbreak has been disastrous for the U.S. tomato industry, which produced $1.28 billion of the fruit last year. More
Hillary Clinton has finally ended her pretend campaign against Barak Obama and has conceded to his effort to be elected president of the United States.
Ms. Clinton, shown here with a supporter, also told her supporters they should join her in the fight to help Obama win the White House.
Life is too short, time is too precious, and the stakes are too high to dwell on what might have been,'' Clinton, 60, told a crowd of more than 1,000 supporters gathered at the National Building Museum in Washington.
``We have to work together for what still can be. And that is why I will work my heart out to make sure that Senator Obama is our next president.''
This news did not find acceptance from Harriet Christian, an alleged Clinton supporter, who ranted angrily about how inadequate Obama is and how she was now going to vote for McCain.
Council snoopers use terror powers to scour people's phone records
Council snoopers using terror powers have delved into almost 1,000 peoples' phone records in a bid to probe anything from a bogus faith healer to dog smuggling.
Other bizarre investigations carried out under surveillance powers designed to track terrorists include a rogue pharmacist and unburied animal carcasses.
A survey of Big Brother spying Town Halls revealed that one council used the powers almost 100 times to monitor private phone calls and emails.
It comes just a month after it was revealed Poole Council in Dorset had spied on a family because it wrongly suspected the parents of abusing rules on school catchment areas.
In total councils looked into 936 people's private communications data - who they phoned and emailed - under the Regulation Of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) in the 2006/2007 financial year. More
States make room for DNA samples
At last fall's groundbreaking ceremony for North Dakota's 7,300-square-foot crime laboratory, state Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said space at the existing facility was so "desperately" short, some staffers had resorted to "cutting mouse pads in half to make them fit."
When the $5.3 million Bismarck facility is completed in October, the spacious quarters will easily accommodate the current staff, who soon will be asked to process and maintain an increasing amount of DNA.
A rapid expansion of DNA sampling is corresponding with a building and hiring boom in North Dakota and other states to accommodate the collection of hundreds of thousands of new genetic profiles.
Five states are slated to begin new sampling of suspects arrested for felony offenses between July and January 2009. Of those, North Dakota, California, Maryland and Kansas are spending millions of dollars to prepare for the additional testing. South Dakota, which will begin additional sampling in July, built a new lab in 2006. More
Unsafe Deposit Boxes Thanks to States Greed
The 50 U.S. states are holding more than $32 billion worth of unclaimed property that they're supposed to safeguard for their citizens. But a "Good Morning America" investigation found some states aggressively seize property that isn't really unclaimed and then use the money -- your money -- to balance their budgets.
Unclaimed property consists of things like forgotten apartment security deposits, uncashed dividend checks and safe-deposit boxes abandoned when an elderly relative dies. Banks and other businesses are required to turn that property over to the state for safekeeping. The problem is that the states return less than a quarter of unclaimed property to the rightful owners. More
Aboriginal stolen children 'were used in leprosy tests'
The Australian government has launched an investigation into claims that aboriginal children seized from their parents during the 1920s and 1930s were secretly used as guinea pigs for leprosy treatments.
The allegations surfaced at a Senate inquiry this week into plans to compensate the "stolen generation" of aboriginal Australians who were taken from their families as part of a government programme.
"As well as being taken away, they were used... There are a lot of things that Australia does not know about," Kathleen Mills, a member of the Stolen Generations Alliance and an indigenous elder, told the hearing.
Ms Mills said children held at a compound in Darwin were injected with serums designed to be used in the treatment of leprosy – a practice which seriously damaged their health. Her uncle, who worked there as a medical orderly, had told her about the sinister goings-on.
"He said it made our people very, very ill. The treatment almost killed them," she told reporters outside the hearing. "It was a common experience and a common practice." More
Food Rationing begins in US
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Many parts of America, long considered the breadbasket of the world, are now confronting a once unthinkable phenomenon: food rationing.
Major retailers in New York, in areas of New England, and on the West Coast are limiting purchases of flour, rice, and cooking oil as demand outstrips supply. There are also anecdotal reports that some consumers are hoarding grain stocks.
At a Costco Warehouse in Mountain View, Calif., yesterday, shoppers grew frustrated and occasionally uttered expletives as they searched in vain for the large sacks of rice they usually buy. More
Vancouver transit riders tasered for not paying fares
VANCOUVER, Canada — The country's only armed transit police have been tasering passengers who try to avoid paying fares.
According to documents provided in response to a Freedom of Information request, police patrolling public transit in the Metro Vancouver area have used tasers 10 times in the past 18 months, including five occasions when victims had been accosted for riding free.
In one incident, a non-paying passenger was tasered after he held onto a railing on the SkyTrain platform and refused to let go.
"After several warnings to the subject to stop resisting arrest and the subject failing to comply with the officers' commands, the taser was deployed and the subject was taken into control," said the report provided by TransLink, the region's transit authority.
An internal review of the incident concluded that the action taken by transit police officers complied with the force's policy and was within guidelines "set out in the National Use of Force Model," the report said. More
Experts dubious about 3rd-graders’ plot
WAYCROSS, Ga. - Allegations that third-graders hatched an elaborate plot to knock out, handcuff and stab their teacher were met with shock by neighbors and with doubt by psychiatry experts who said it is unlikely that children that young seriously intended to hurt anyone.
Police say the plot at Center Elementary School began because the children, ages 8 to 10, were apparently angry after the teacher disciplined one of the students for standing on a chair.
Students brought a crystal paperweight, a steak knife with a broken handle, steel handcuffs and other items as part of last week's plot, police said Tuesday. They said nine students were involved, but prosecutors are seeking juvenile charges against only three of them. More
Absolut vodka pulls ad showing California in Mexico
The contours of the billboard map of Mexico and its neighbors may have been familiar, but not its political boundaries: California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas were shaded in the green of a Mexico that stretched from close to Canada to the jungles of Guatemala. "In an Absolut World!" the billboard proclaimed, alongside the image of a bottle of Absolut vodka.
Ruminating over the loss to the U.S. of what had been Mexican territories before the Mexican-American war of 1846-1848 may have been an ad maker's idea of a good way to sell hard liquor and get a chuckle south of the Rio Grande, but some up north didn't find it so funny. After a barrage of complaints on its Internet site and threats to boycott the Swedish-made brand in the U.S., Absolut announced it was withdrawing the advert. "In no way was this meant to offend or disparage, nor does it advocate an altering of borders, nor does it lend support to any anti-American sentiment, nor does it reflect immigration issues," wrote Absolut spokeswoman Paula Eriksson on the company website. "Instead, it hearkens to a time which the population of Mexico may feel was more ideal." More
Possible Japan Ban For Chinese Torch 'Thugs'
LONDON - The mysterious Chinese guardians of the Olympic flame, whose charming blue tracksuits do not make them seem any less sinister, may have to hang up their fanny-packs when they return to the Pacific.
Japan is the latest country to consider banning the boys in blue from protecting the Olympic torch, according to Japan's Kyodo News Agency. National police chief Shinya Izumi told the agency that security would be firmly maintained by Japanese police, adding: "We do not know what position the people who escorted the relay are in…If they are for the consideration of security, it is our role."
The comments mirror the position of Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd, who was adamant that security should be the preserve of the country hosting the torch relay. "We will not be having Chinese security forces, or the security services, providing security for the torch when it's in Australia," Rudd told reporters on Wednesday. "We in Australia will be providing that security." More
TSA nipple ring nightmare
LOS ANGELES, CA - The Transportation Security Administration said Friday its officers at a Texas airport appear to have properly followed procedures when they allegedly forced a woman to remove her nipple rings -- one with pliers -- but acknowledged the procedures should be changed.
The woman involved -- Mandi Hamlin -- told reporters earlier Friday she was humiliated by last month's incident, in which she was forced to painfully remove the piercings behind a curtain as she heard snickers from male TSA officers nearby. The incident occurred at the Lubbock, Texas, airport.
The officers "rightly insisted that the alarm that was raised be resolved," the TSA said in a statement posted on its Web site Friday afternoon. "TSA supports the thoroughness of the officers involved as they were acting to protect the passengers and crews of the flights departing Lubbock that day.".
However, "TSA has reviewed the procedures themselves and agrees that they need to be changed," the statement said. "In the future, TSA will inform passengers that they have the option to resolve the alarm through a visual inspection of the article in lieu of removing the item in question." More
Police insert fingers into woman's vagina to search for drugs
ALBANY, NY - The cops in the marked patrol car had circled through West Hill a couple times keeping an eye on their female target.
They were part of the Street Drug Unit, an aggressive squad assigned to help rid Albany's neighborhoods of drug dealers and addicts blamed for much of the city's problems.
It was early evening and already dark when the patrol car's emergency lights flashed in the rearview mirror of Lisa Shutter's Mitsubishi sedan on Quail Street, just off Central Avenue. Police records show the officers called out a "Signal 38" to alert a dispatcher they were onto something suspicious and about to pull someone over.
They would later write in a report that they had pulled her over for "failure to signal," although no ticket was issued, according to police records shared with the Times Union. The actions of police in the minutes that followed would end in controversy rather than with an arrest. They would also leave Shutter, a 28-year-old single mother from Ravena, shaken and angry after one of the officers allegedly inserted his finger into Shutter's vagina on a public street during an apparent search for drugs.
When it was over, "I pulled off down the road and I just cried for probably a half hour," Shutter said. "I called my dad. ... I felt like I had been basically raped." More
FBI spawns 'shoot-to-kill' citizens
An alliance dubbed the 'InfraGard', which reportedly consists of over 23,000 representatives of the US' private sector in addition to the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, is engaged in secret activities to maintain elements of 'critical national infrastructure'.
According to an article published in the Progressive magazine, these businessmen impart vital information to the FBI in return for secret intelligence about 'terrorist threats' prior to informing the public and perhaps even government officials.
"One business owner in the United States tells me that InfraGard members are being advised on how to prepare for a martial law situation-and what their role might be," author Matthew Rothschild quoted a whistleblower as saying. More
Canadians with disabilities to pay single fare - including the obese
GATINEAU, Que. - Canadian airline passengers with disabilities, including passengers in wheelchairs and the severely obese, will no longer have to pay double fares for an extra seat on domestic flights, the Canadian Transportation Agency has ruled.
The agency has ordered Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz and WestJet to adopt a one-person, one-fare policy to allow persons with severe disabilities to travel on flights within Canada without having to pay twice.
One of the Canadians who launched the case, a B.C. woman who is confined to a wheelchair, was thrilled with the decision.
"It means we have the same rights as everyone else," said Joanne Neubauer from her home in Victoria. "I've always wanted to go to the Maritimes," she said. "I've seen pictures but I've never been because I haven't been able to afford (two seats.)" More
80-year-old Texan puts attacker in hospital
Investigators say they were definitely going to rob him - possibly even kill him. But an 80-year-old North Texan wasn't about to let that happen, so he took action.
One of the suspects is in the hospital and both are facing charges.
Two men obviously thought James Pickett, 80, was an easy target when they showed up at his home on Saturday with a knife.
"He just came through that door, stabbing and beating," said Pickett.
Captain Clint Pullin said it looked as though the men wanted to kill him. More
It's the immigration theme park
Ever wonder what it's like to be an illegal border crosser? Mexico's Parque EcoAlberto offers tourists the chance to find out with caminata nocturna - a staged adventure that simulates illegally crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico into the United States.
The Parque EcoAlberto is a 3,000 acre eco-park owned by the Hñahñu Indians in Hidalgo, Mexico. It does not border the United States but is in central Mexico, about 700 miles south of the actual crossing.
The park opened in 2004 with funding from the Mexican government and created the caminata nocturna - nighttime hike - in July of the same year. It costs 200 pesos (about $18 USD) to become "illegal" for about four hours. More
I hear voices: highly directional sound advertising
Advertising:- They’re determined to get into your head by one means or another, and a US company has found yet another way of invading your privacy in the name of forcing you to pay attention to advertisements.
You’re walking down a street in New York when all of a sudden, “Who’s that?” - whispers a woman’s voice. “Who’s There?”
No. You weren’t having a schizoid episode.
And, “There’s more going on here,” says a spooky voice with heart-beats in the background.
This time, it’s an online ad for Paranormal State, “a ghost-themed series premiering on A&E this week”.
The voice you heard in New York meant you were being subjected, without your permission, to an “audio spotlight” from a rooftop speaker. More
Sean Hannity gets paid very generously to catapult propaganda, and he is very enthuthiastic about what he does, In this clip, from his program in which he is speaking with former California governor, Jerry Brown, Hannity credits Ronald Reagan with creating 21 million new jobs, doubling income to federal government, and the longest peacetime period of econimic growth in history.
The problem is that these are outright lies. It is unclear whether he made up these lies on the spot, or he carefully scripts his lies, but here are the facts.
The number of jobs created when Reagan presided was 16 million. Adjusted for inflation, revenue increased under Reagan by only 15%. The unadjusted figure is 50%, not anything like the manufactured figure of doubling. Finally, economic growth lasted 92 months under Reagan, while it lasted 120 months under Bill Clinton.
The lesson is clear. When something comes out of the mouth of a paid propagandist, you can be sure it is a blatant lie!
Evil Canadian seeks to jail political opponents
David Suzuki has called for political leaders to be thrown in jail for ignoring the science behind climate change.
At a Montreal conference last Thursday, the prominent scientist, broadcaster and Order of Canada recipient exhorted a packed house of 600 to hold politicians legally accountable for what he called an intergenerational crime. Though a spokesman said yesterday the call for imprisonment was not meant to be taken literally, Dr. Suzuki reportedly made similar remarks in an address at the University of Toronto last month.
Addressing the McGill Business Conference on Sustainability, hosted by the Faculty of Management, Dr. Suzuki's wide-ranging speech warned against favouring the economy to the detriment of the ecology -- the tarsands in Northern Alberta being his prime example.
Toward the end of his speech, Dr. Suzuki said that "we can no longer tolerate what's going on in Ottawa and Edmonton" and then encouraged attendees to hold politicians to a greater green standard.
"What I would challenge you to do is to put a lot of effort into trying to see whether there's a legal way of throwing our so-called leaders into jail because what they're doing is a criminal act," said Dr. Suzuki, a former board member of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. More
Lakota group secedes from U.S.
Political activist Russell Means, a founder of the American Indian Movement, says he and other members of Lakota tribes have renounced treaties and are withdrawing from the United States.
"We are now a free country and independent of the United States of America," Means said in a telephone interview. "This is all completely legal."
Means said a Lakota delegation on Monday delivered a statement of "unilateral withdrawal" from the United States to the U.S. State Department in Washington.
The State Department did not respond. "That'll take some time," Means said.
Meanwhile, the delegation has delivered copies of the letter to the embassies of Bolivia, Venezuela, Chile and South Africa. "We're asking for recognition," Means said, adding that Ireland and East Timor are "very interested" in the declaration.. More
San Diego, California - This is a Blackwater vehicle parked out front of the cigar shop on 7094 Miramar Road in a handicapped spot, although there is no apparent handicapped placard hanging from their rearview mirror.
Tent city in suburbs is cost of US home crisis
ONTARIO, California--Between railroad tracks and beneath the roar of departing planes sits "tent city," a terminus for homeless people. It is not, as might be expected, in a blighted city center, but in the once-booming suburbia of Southern California.
The noisy, dusty camp sprang up in July with 20 residents and now numbers 200 people, including several children, growing as this region east of Los Angeles has been hit by the US housing crisis.
The unraveling of the Inland Empire region reads like a 21st century version of "The Grapes of Wrath," John Steinbeck's novel about families driven from their lands by the Great Depression. More
Maine steals unused gift card funds
Having a ravenous apetite for funing sources, the state of Maine has contrived a way to take funds set aside to cover unused gift cards.
Ever wonder what will happen if someone sticks a gift card from Circuit City, Target, Barnes & Noble or another retail chain into your stocking this holiday season and you lose it, forget about it or can't find anything you want to buy with it?
If you don't use it within two years, the card will become dormant. Once that happens, you'll inadvertently do your small part to fuel a face-off between the state and dozens of out-of-state retailers over who should get that $25, $50 or $100 that you misplaced or tossed aside.
It's a high-stakes game involving dueling claims of ownership and unresolved legal issues. And for state government, it represents more - a multimillion-dollar hole in the budget. More
What New Yorkers know about Rudy Giuliani
When Rudolph Giuliani awoke on the morning of September 11, 2001, his political career was in the toilet. Nearing the end of his second term as mayor of New York City, a tenure marred by conflict and personal scandal, his approval rating was in the dismal 30th percentile, and he was term-limited from running again.
He dropped out of a 2000 Senate race against Hillary Rodham Clinton after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Besides, no New York City mayor had gone on to higher office since 1868. Newsweek referred to pre-9/11 Rudy as “unpopular” and “irrelevant.”
What a difference a day can make.
Later that day, the American public was introduced to Giuliani, covered in soot, addressing his city with a strength and poise not lacking the emotional weight of the tragedy. He was on the scene, not holed up in a bunker, and he commanded from the streets, just as at-risk as the people he was charged to serve. Holding impromptu press conferences amongst falling buildings and chaos, he displayed the valor of a true leader. That day, even New Yorkers who had long called their mayor a “fascist” and “Adolph Giuliani” loved Rudy. More
TSA Kicks Off New Year With Battery Restrictions
Battery enthusiasts who enjoy lining their checked baggage with excess power supplies are out of luck in 2008 under new government travel regulations, but it looks as though the average traveler with a laptop, cell phone or digital camera will not encounter nearly as much hassle as they might should they be holding more than 3 ounces of moisturizer.
Starting January 1, passengers will not be able to put loose, lithium-based batteries in their checked bags due to the possibility of fire, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Batteries that are attached to their designated devices, however, are permitted. Batteries rolling around with your clothes? Denied. Batteries installed in that extra digital camera? Good to go. Spare batteries must be packed with carry-on luggage.. More
The 10 most dangerous toys of all time
Lawn Darts, Clackers, Sky Dancer, are all dangerous toys that serve the purpose of weeding the gene pool and must be taken away.
Recently, Target recalled 10 of its Kool Toyz-brand play sets, citing hazards like "lead paint," "sharp points," and "puncture wound potential." The toys, which included plastic aircraft carriers, dinosaurs, and tanks, all appeared harmless enough. But according to the killjoys at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, children—at least those prone to eating plastic objects as big as their head—were at serious risk.
Not to be outdone, Mattel recalled 4.4 million Polly Pocket dolls and accessories because kids were swallowing the toy's magnets. The Associated Press reported, "If more than one magnet is swallowed, they can attach to each other and cause intestinal perforation, infection or blockage." Three children required surgery.
In recognition of these wonderful toys, Radar presents the 10 most dangerous toys of all time, those treasured playthings that drew blood, chewed digits, took out eyes, and, in one case, actually irradiated. To keep things interesting, they excluded BB guns, slingshots, throwing stars, and anything else actually intended to inflict harm. Visit the toy box from hell
Can cyborg moths bring down terrorists?
At some point in the not too distant future, a moth will take flight in the hills of northern Pakistan, and flap towards a suspected terrorist training camp.
But this will be no ordinary moth.
Inside it will be a computer chip that was implanted when the creature was still a pupa, in the cocoon, meaning that the moth’s entire nervous system can be controlled remotely.
The moth will thus be capable of landing in the camp without arousing suspicion, all the while beaming video and other information back to its masters via what its developers refer to as a “reliable tissue-machine interface.” More
Terrorsmack: Scuba Terrorism
In the 1960's Lloyd Bridges starred in a television program called Sea Hunt. As Mike Nelson, he would encounter terrorists almost every week while he was diving underwater investigating things.
These terrorists would hide behind rocks and then spring out at the unsuspecting Nelson. There would usually be a struggle which resulted in someone getting their air hose cut. Strangely, Mike Nelson would go right back each week and swim again in terrorist infested waters as if nothing had happened.
Now the FBI has warned dive shops about would be SCUBA terrorists that might seek training.
Warning signs of possible terrorism include requests for specialty training, including odd inquiries that are inconsistent with recreational diving. These may include: Requests to dive in murky water or sewer pipes. Inquires about procedures such as diver towing. More
A Haircut in the two Americas
In one America, a haircut costs $5-10 and consumes ten minutes of electricity.
In the other America, a haircut can cost as much as $1200 and emit tons of carbon emissions as the barber jets around to the location.
That is the America of John Edwards.
Joe Torrenueva, a Democrat, said he began cutting Edwards' hair for free but wound up charging him $300 to $500 per haircut, plus the cost of airfare and hotel stays. That's because Torrenueva was often forced to meet Edwards on the campaign trail to shear his locks. More
New laws are equating environmentalists with Al Qaeda
Rodney Coronado is caught up in a prosecution he never could have foreseen and which has the environmentalist community, in particular, digging in for a long fight with the federal government.
That's because his alleged crime doesn't involve something he actually did. Rather, it only involves something he said.
In 2003, Coronado gave a public speech about animal rights in Hillcrest attended by about 100 people and hosted by a vegetarian group. It was, he says, his "standard" speech at the time, talking about his own extreme efforts to protect wildlife, including a 1991-92 arson campaign against fur farms as an agent of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), for which he served 57 months in prison. During a Q&A period after the speech, someone asked him how he once made his incendiary devices. Having long retired from that kind of action, and having paid for it with prison time, he answered the question.
U.S. attorneys now say Coronado's brief response—the actual words themselves—is a federal crime. Not only that, it's terrorism.
And that word—"terrorism"—is new to the environmental movement when it comes to punishment for crimes. The word "eco-terrorist" was coined in 1982 by Ron Arnold, a prime mover in the anti-environmentalist "Wise Use Movement," but only recent laws make ecologically motivated speech a terrorist crime. The attorneys aren't even totally certain how it works. More
Canada to launch no-fly list in June
OTTAWA–A Canadian "no-fly" list of people to be barred from boarding domestic and international airline flights is set to take effect June 18, just as the busy summer flying season gets underway.
The move, nearly six years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, amounts to a flight blacklist of people "reasonably suspected" by federal officials as immediate threats to the safety of commercial aircraft, passengers or crew.
Under the rules, as passengers check in for flights, whether at kiosks or counters, their names will be automatically screened against the government's list, known as the "Passenger Protect" program.
The no-fly list will be drawn up by Transport Canada, with input from the RCMP and CSIS.
If a name is red-flagged as a possible match with a name on the no-fly list, the traveller will be directed to a flight agent, who will contact Transport Canada for a decision on whether to allow boarding. Airlines are responsible for protecting the passenger's confidentiality.
People denied access to a flight will be able to challenge their inclusion on the list, but in the short haul, they will be grounded. And the airport or local police will be notified.
Critics say the plan will not make air travel safer, and will likely lead to the kinds of "false positive" identification of people that has plagued a similar list in the United States. The most celebrated example involved Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, who was barred from boarding a flight when he was wrongly identified as being on the list. Infants have also been banned. More
Accounting Rules 'hiding' trillions in debt
Are you an American? Then you owe over $500,000 in debt. Pay up now!
The federal government recorded a $1.3 trillion loss last year — far more than the official $248 billion deficit — when corporate-style accounting standards are used.
The loss reflects a continued deterioration in the finances of Social Security and government retirement programs for civil servants and military personnel. The loss — equal to $11,434 per household — is more than Americans paid in income taxes in 2006.
Modern accounting requires that corporations, state governments and local governments count expenses immediately when a transaction occurs, even if the payment will be made later.
The federal government does not follow the rule, so promises for Social Security and Medicare don't show up when the government reports its financial condition.
Bottom line: Taxpayers are now on the hook for a record $59.1 trillion in liabilities, a 2.3% increase from 2006. That amount is equal to $516,348 for every U.S. household. By comparison, U.S. households owe an average of $112,043 for mortgages, car loans, credit cards and all other debt combined. More
Why are there so many Girly Men?
Parents become rightly upset when they read news accounts of federal inspectors finding insect bits, pesticides, and other contaminants lacing foods that their children will eat. A new Japanese study now suggests that the plastic tableware and containers from which we often serve foods may contribute adulterants of their own—hormone-mimicking building blocks of a plastic.
Roughly 95 percent of all baby bottles currently on the market are made of polycarbonate. As the poly in polycarbonate implies, this plastic is a polymer—a chainlike molecule constructed by linking up individual units of a common chemical. In this case, each link is a molecule of bisphenol A.
Toxicologist Koji Arizono of the Prefectural University of Kumamoto, Japan, and his colleagues tested 10 different brands of polycarbonate baby bottles—purchased in the United States, Germany, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines—along with other types of clear-plastic tableware. When heated, all leached bisphenol A, a chemical that mimics the hormone estrogen, into the liquids they held. More
Remains of 9/11 Victims May Fill NYC Potholes
The pulverized remains of bodies from the World Trade Center disaster site were used by city workers to fill ruts and potholes, a city contractor says in a sworn affidavit filed yesterday in Manhattan Federal Court.
Eric Beck says debris powders - known as fines - were put in a pothole-fill mixture by crews at the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, where more than 1.65 million tons of World Trade Center debris were deposited after the Sept. 11 attacks.
"I observed the New York City Department of Sanitation taking these fines from the conveyor belts of our machines, loading it onto tractors and using it to pave roads and fill in potholes, dips and ruts," Eric Beck said.
In his first few months on the job, Beck said mechanical sifters found 2,000 bones per day. He recalled finding "bones, fingers, skulls, feet and hands" as well as a man's chest and "the full body of a man dressed in a suit." The remains were catalogued and turned over to the city, he said. But Beck said he was pushed to sift the debris quickly, and that remains may have been missed. More
Cicada Brood XIII: Prepare to be invaded!
The bees may have gone AWOL, but the cicadas have arrived!
It's been 17 long years, but they're coming back again. Cicada Brood XIII is on the verge of emerging from the ground, and swarming all over parts of the American Midwest. Based on the warmth of the ground, which should be a temperature of at least 64 degrees, together with rain moisture content, experts are predicting that the first cicadas will be emerging around May 21 or 22. Then the pesky little flying critters will be flitting about for a couple of weeks after that.
This current crop of Periodical Cicadas, going by the genus term Magicicada, are the same ones that tunneled into the ground in 1990. But these teenagers will soon be back, and they'll be looking for mates. The males will be doing it noisily, making that shrill, "screeeee"-ing sound for days and days. The females will be quiet, more or less.
The cicadas usually have demonic-looking little red eyes, although a small percentage may have white, pale blue, orange, or even chocolate brown eyes. They grow to a length of 1 to 1.5 inches, and have a black "W" near the tips of their forewings. More
Feds go gunning for endangered species
Most people think the the US federal government is responsible for protecting endangered species of plants and animals. Their assumption is wrong.
Fortunately, most Americans realize that killing endangered critters isn't just ethically heinous; it's also a big legal no-no. Which raises this question: Why is a federal agency using taxpayer dollars to kill such animals, and then playing hide-and-seek with the facts?
Welcome to the world of Wildlife Services. Southern Arizona residents will recall this U.S. Department of Agriculture division for its shooting spree last year in the San Rafael Valley near Sonoita. Invited by several area ranchers, airborne federal gunners ultimately sniped 200 coyotes.
But coyotes are just the beginning. The most recent stats available (finally, and perhaps grudgingly, posted on the agency's Web site) present a grim tally. In 2005, Wildlife Services killed 1.7 million animals. And a sizable slice of those were endangered, threatened or otherwise specially protected animals. More
Where's the Bees?
MISSOULA, MT - The disappearance and deaths of millions of honeybees in nearly half of the nation's states is a mystery seemingly befitting an episode of "CSI" and is threatening an estimated $14 billion in crops that rely on pollination.
In an inconspicuous office suite here -- the home of Bee Alert Technology Inc. -- scientists are feverishly working to solve an entomological mystery: What happened to tens of thousands of honeybee colonies in at least 24 states?
These are crime scenes without bodies. Beekeepers have been opening hives and instead of finding thriving colonies with as many as 60,000 bees, they find an apian ghost town.
"It's called Colony Collapse Disorder," said Jerry Bromenshenk, a University of Montana professor and head of Bee Alert who has studied honeybees for more than three decades. "We don't know that it's a disease, we don't know if it's due to management practices by beekeepers. There are so many variables. We can't yet find a common denominator." More
War on Drugs becomes War on Soap
The so called War on Drugs has been raised to a new height of absurdity, or perhaps descended to a new low of effectivness.
It was just another average day in the flamboyantly messy life of Don Bolles, once the drummer for the legendarily messy, flamboyant Los Angeles punk band, the Germs. On April 4, Bolles had picked up his girlfriend, the 21-year-old drummer for a band called Civet who goes by the name Cat Scandal, from a Newport Beach rehab, where she had, as he put it, “a day off.” They had just had coffee and were on their way to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
Cat Scandal was riding in the passenger seat of Bolles’s 1968 Dodge Van and they had just crossed out of Newport Beach into Costa Mesa when they were pulled over by police, who told Bolles that he allegedly had a broken brake light.
But what he really had was a crazy old van, a wild Russian fur cap, long hair, and a gorgeous young girlfriend. Bolles called it a classic case of profiling: driving while weird. And then they found the soap.
“It’s hilarious. A Germ arrested for soap,” says Bolles, 50, talking Monday via cell phone as he ran errands for a Friday court appearance. “It’s just ridiculous. I’ve already been in jail almost four days over this, and it’s completely wrong. It’s soap. It’s peppermint Dr. Bronner’s soap.” More
Support the Iraq War - Pay Your Taxes!
Millions of Americans who claim they oppose the war in Iraq recetly paid to keep it going.
Defunding the war in Iraq begins at home if you're John Schwiebert, a 68-year-old pastor at Metanoia Peace Community United Methodist Church in Northeast Portland.
This week, while the rest of us scrape together money to feed insatiable Uncle Sam, Schwiebert and his 62-year-old wife, Pat, one "seriously pissed-off granny" (see "Surge Protection Brigade," WW, Feb. 21, 2007), won't be filing federal taxes at all.
Instead, in an effort to prevent their money from paying for bloodshed overseas, they're redirecting the $3,500 they figure they owe the Internal Revenue Service to a government without a standing army—in this case, Multnomah County. (Although they say they oppose filing federal taxes, the Schwieberts don't object to paying state and local ones.) More
1944 Miss America Defends Farm With Gun
She's 82 years old and today says she's not afraid to use a gun to protect her community. This comes after she did just that shooting at a man's car she says was trying to steal metal near her home in Pulaski County.
Venus Ramey knows it would be easy for someone to take advantage of her. She's 82 and needs a walker to get around.
"I'm an old woman. They figure they can get away with a lot," Ramey said.
Last Friday, she says some people tried to get away with some of her scrap metal. They were caught in the act and police say Curtis Parish was the ringleader.
"And he said if you get out of my way, we'll leave. And I said oh no you won't and I shot 2 shots in one of their tires," Ramey said. More
CIA Thief Gets 3-Year Term for Treasure Hunt
A CIA employee who broke into McLean homes, stealing valuables and 1,074 pairs of women's undergarments, suffered from several mental health disorders, a forensic psychologist testified yesterday. Among other compulsions, he kept his fingernail clippings for 20 years and carefully inspected his pens for fear that they were bugged.
Anita Boss, testifying at the sentencing hearing for George C. Dalmas III, said the 48-year-old father of two had a "transvestic fetishism," which involved wearing women's clothes not for erotic reasons but to comfort himself. She said he also had a schizotypal personality disorder, making it difficult for him to form long-term relationships. The combination of the disorders "can be very disabling," Boss said. More
Army Bills Combat Soldiers for Missing Gear
Two years and 7,000 miles separate Spc. Ryan Preston of Gresham from his service in Iraq.
Yet Preston now faces a fresh battle—with his superiors in the Oregon Army National Guard.
Preston, whose six-year commitment to the Guard ends in October, learned in February that the Guard was planning to charge him $4,000 for military equipment it now considers missing from the year-plus he spent fighting in Iraq.
That list of personal equipment includes two canteens Preston says he had to leave on the battlefield under enemy fire. It also includes several other items—from Kevlar vests to body armor breast plates—that Preston says he left in military custody when he departed the Middle East.
Circuit City fires thousands for earning too much money
Los Angeles, CA - Circuit City fired 3,400 employees in stores across the country yesterday, saying they were making too much money and would be replaced by new hires willing to work for less.
The company said the dismissals had nothing to do with performance but were part of a larger effort to improve the bottom line. The firings represent about 9 percent of the company's in-store workforce of 40,000.
"Retail is very competitive and store operations just have to contain their costs," said Jim Babb, a Circuit City spokesman. "We deeply regret the negative impact that was had on these folks. It was no fault of theirs."
However, this SEC filing shows that there has been no effort to contain costs of CEO and executive compensation over the last three years, with Chairman W. Alan McCollough raking in over $2 million in salary and bonus. More
Bananas and Terrorism: The Chiquita Connection
Banana company Chiquita Brands International said Wednesday it has agreed to a $25 million fine after admitting it paid terrorists for protection in a volatile farming region of Colombia.
The settlement resolves a lengthy Justice Department investigation into the company’s financial dealings with right-wing paramilitaries and leftist rebels the U.S. government deems terrorist groups.
In court documents filed Wednesday, federal prosecutors said the Cincinnati-based company and several unnamed high-ranking corporate officers paid about $1.7 million between 1997 and 2004 to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, known as AUC for its Spanish initials.
The AUC has been responsible for some of the worst massacres in Colombia’s civil conflict and for a sizable percentage of the country’s cocaine exports. The U.S. government designated the right-wing militia a terrorist organization in September 2001.. More
National Guard Troops Attacked by Armed Mexicans
Tucson, AZ - President George Bush had ineptly handled the military mission in Iraq, while his efforts to safegaurd the homeland have also proven to be a dismal failure.
In a story that should have rang alarm bells in very newsroom across the nation, armed Mexicans entered the United States and attacked unarmed National Guard troops working at a border patrol post near the US-Mexican border. The troops had to retreat to safety.
According to the Border Patrol, an unknown number of gunmen attacked the site in the state's West Desert Region on January 3rd. The guardsmen were forced to retreat.
Unfortunately, President Bush and his Administration did not even comment on this vicious attack on unarmed US troops as well as the unbridled assault on American sovereignty. During a press conference held on Friday afternoon by Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, there was not one word about this unprovoked attack on soldiers. More
Saddam Hussein Lynched
Baghdad, Iraq - Saddam Hussein, the man who was president of Iraq for three times longer than George Bush has been president of the US, was taken to the gallows and lynched on Saturday.
Saddam's half-brother Barzan Ibrahim and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, the former chief justice of the Revolutionary Court were also lynched.
The lynching came 56 days after a court convicted Saddam and sentenced him to death for his role in the killings of 148 Shiite Muslims from a town where assassins tried to kill the dictator in 1982.
"Our respect for human rights requires us to execute him, and there will be no review or delay in carrying out the sentence," said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Saddam was removed from office by an invasion force that has caused nearly 3000 American soldiers to be sent to their deaths, as well as an estimated half million Iraqis.
Disguised duo get new licenses at Virginia DMV
Richmond, VA - A video is making rounds on the Internet with men donning disguises for a DMV photo. Posted last week, the nearly two-minute clip has already prompted the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to revisit policies regarding how the state agency reissues driver's licenses and how photographs appear on IDs.
The video was made by Will Carsola and Dave Stewart. Carsola and Stewart said that they knew they were crossing the line, but did it solely for comedic value.
"Honestly, I think DMV is a little at fault for letting us get away with it, with terrorists and stuff going on now," Stewart added.
The filmmakers' actions were not illegal, Foy said, though it is against DMV policy to obscure faces with objects such as hats or sunglasses, which none of them did. They had beards and heavy brows, but there are no laws against facial hair. Headgear is allowed in an ID photo so long as it is for medical or religious purposes.
"Clearly these individuals abused the system," Foy said. More
Dead Ducks Found in Idaho
Oakley, ID- Ten dead ducks were reported by hunters on Friday, Dec. 8. By Dec. 10, the number climbed to 500. Several Idaho and federal agencies concluded an investigation this week and counted around 2,500 carcasses when cleanup was complete Thursday. Most were found along the banks of Land Springs Creek, 14 miles south of Burley.
Officials have determined that some 2,500 ducks that died near here over the last week were the victims of a fungus often found in moldy grain, among other things, according to an Idaho Fish and Game press release issued late Friday.
The respiratory tract infection, officially termed acute aspergillosis, is found in soil, dead leaves, moldy grain, compost piles or other decaying vegetation, the release said. “They ruled out Avian flu,” said Cassia County Sheriff Jim Higens early Friday. More
Border Fence Contractor Eyed for Hiring Illegal Labor
Washington DC – A California company under investigation on suspicion of hiring undocumented workers won a contract in the late 1990s to help build the San Diego border fence with Mexico to thwart illegal immigration, federal records show.
Federal authorities said there is no indication that the company, Golden State Fence Co., which has an office in Oceanside, hired undocumented workers on the fence project.
Over the past year, Golden State has been the focus of an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security for allegedly hiring undocumented workers on several projects, including those at military bases. No charges have been filed. More
Nazi Laws Alive and Well in Germany
Under a law enacted by Hitler in 1938 to enable the Reich to indoctrinate children, if you practice home schooling in Germany youcan get police forcing their way through your door, with you taken away and imprisoned in an undisclosed location.
In 1937, the Hitler said, "The Youth of today is ever the people of tomorrow. For this reason we have set before ourselves the task of inoculating our youth with the spirit of this community of the people at a very early age, at an age when human beings are still unperverted and therefore unspoiled. This Reich stands, and it is building itself up for the future, upon its youth. And this new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing."
In 2006, his legacy still lives on in Germany. More
Florida Diebold machines help pick the right candidate
Diebold's easily hacked voting machines have made voting to be an unpredictable endeavor. Down in the Sunshine State, during a week of early voting before next week's nationwide midterm election, certain Diebold machines have been registering some votes for Democrats as selections for the Republican candidate.
For instance, Gary Rudolf, a voter at a polling site near Ft. Lauderdale, tried to vote for gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis (D); however, when the Diebold machine gave him the final review screen, it showed his vote was about to be cast for Charlie Crist (R). The problem took three tries to get resolved with the help of a local poll worker. More
Al-Qaeda Wants Republicans to Win
George W. Bush’s blunt assertion that a Democratic victory in the Nov. 7 elections means “the terrorists win and America loses” misses the point that Osama bin Laden stands to advance his strategic goals much faster with a Republican victory.
Last April, a National Intelligence Estimate, representing the consensus view of the U.S. intelligence community, concluded that Bush’s Iraq War had become the “cause celebre” that had helped spread Islamic extremism around the globe.
In June, U.S. intelligence also learned from an intercepted al-Qaeda communiqué that bin Laden’s terrorist band wants to keep U.S. soldiers bogged down in Iraq as the best way to maintain and expand al-Qaeda’s influence.
“Prolonging the war is in our interest,” wrote “Atiyah,” one of bin Laden’s top lieutenants. More
Papers, Please: Travel Only if Permitted by Our Leader
Should you have to ask for permission from the government before you are allowed to get on a plane or cruise ship? ("Mother, may I?")
The USA Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has proposed that airlines cruise lines, and operators of all other ships and planes -- including charter flights, air taxis, fishing vessels, etc. -- be required to get individual permission (”clearance”) from the DHS for each passenger on all flights or ocean voyages to, from, or via the USA. Unless the answer is “Yes” -- if the answer is “no” or “maybe”, or if the DHS doesn’t answer at all -- the airline wouldn’t be allowed to give you a boarding pass, or let you or your luggage on the plane.. More
US Army headed downhill
Military recruiting in 2006 has been marked by upbeat pronouncements from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, claims of success by the White House, propaganda releases by the Pentagon, and a spate of recent press reports touting the way the military has made its wo/manpower goals.
Last year, despite NASCAR, professional bull-riding, and Arena Football sponsorships; popular video games that doubled as recruiting tools; TV commercials dripping with seductive scenes of military glory; a "joint marketing communications and market research and studies" program actively engaged in measures to target for military service Hispanics, drop outs, and those with criminal records; and at least $16,000 in promotional costs for each soldier it managed to sign up, the U.S. military failed to meet its recruiting goals.
Brad Knickerbocker of the Christian Science Monitor noted, "The Army has had to recruit more soldiers from the ‘lowest acceptable' category based on test scores, education levels, personal background, and other indicators of ability." Even Undersecretary of Defense Chu admitted in July that almost 40% of all military recruits scored in the bottom half of the Armed Forces' own aptitude test. More
For years Bill Clinton has been dogged by persistent rumors about killing or having killed sevearal of his various enemies. Many of these are listed in a document called the Clinton Body Count, and they include several Arkansas enemies, as well as Vincent Foster. Foster allegedly commited suicide during the Clinton administration, but a cloud of suspicion remains concerning details of his death.
Recently, in a combative interview on "Fox News Sunday," former President Clinton defended his handling of the threat posed by Osama bin Laden, saying he tried to have bin Laden killed and was attacked for his efforts by the same people who now criticize him for not doing enough.
Clinton said he "worked hard" to try to kill bin Laden.
"We contracted with people to kill him. I got closer to killing him than anybody's gotten since," he said, in an animated manner that was menacing to host Chris Wallace.
Clinton's insistence of his obsession to kill bin Laden gives new life to the Clinton Body Count document, since he forcefully admits his desire to commit homicide.
Bush administration seeks amnesty for any war crimes
An obscure law approved by a Republican-controlled Congress a decade ago has made the Bush administration nervous that officials and troops involved in handling detainee matters might be accused of committing war crimes, and prosecuted at some point in U.S. courts.
Senior officials have responded by drafting legislation that would grant U.S. personnel involved in the terrorism fight new protections against prosecution for past violations of the War Crimes Act of 1996. That law criminalizes violations of the Geneva Conventions governing conduct in war and threatens the death penalty if U.S.-held detainees die in custody from abusive treatment. More
U.S. Citizens Watched by Rifle Toting Guards in Airports
Growing lines of irritated travelers snaked through U.S. airports Thursday as people waited hours to reach security checkpoints, then had to dump their water bottles, suntan lotion and even toothpaste following the discovery of a terror plot in Britain.
Guards armed with rifles stood watch in several airports, and the governors of California, New York and Massachusetts said they were sending National Guard troops to bolster security.
The "War on Terror", which President Bush has demonstrably faked up, is being turned inward against U.S. citizens. Many of them voted for Mr. Bush, and believed he was going to protect them from an enemy, but get treated like suspects instead. More
Southwest Co-pilot suspected of intoxication
Salt Lake City, UT - A Southwest Airlines co-pilot was arrested minutes before takeoff Sunday, after a security screener reported that his breath smelled of alcohol, authorities said.
Carl Fulton, 41, of Fort Worth, Texas, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on suspicion of operating a common carrier while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a federal offense.
Federal Aviation Administration officials will conduct an investigation. More
Hooters Offers to Reimburse FEMA $200 for Champagne
Atlanta, GA - Hooters of America announced that it is prepared to reimburse FEMA for the cost of a $200 bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne that was purchased with government funds at a San Antonio Hooters during the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts conducted by the Federal Agency.
The purchase was discovered as part of an investigation by the GAO into improper spending of over a billion dollars by supposed victims and has been highly publicized in various news stories about the investigation following recent Congressional hearing on the matter. More
Homeland Security accepts fake ID
A man using a fake identification card was able to enter the Department of Homeland Security headquarters in Washington, even though the type of Mexican-issued "matricula consular" card he used is not recognized as valid by the United States government.
Retired New York City policeman Bruce DeCell, who had arranged to meet with DHS officials to lobby for document security, purposely used a forged version of identification that Mexican consulates in the United States issue to their nationals living here illegally.
Undocumented Mexicans can use the cards at banks and other institutions that accept them. The cards are not valid for entry into federal government buildings. More
FEMA hurricane funds spent on sex change, divorce
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The government doled out as much as $1.4 billion in bogus assistance to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, getting hoodwinked to pay for season football tickets, a tropical vacation and even a divorce lawyer, congressional investigators have found.
Prison inmates, a supposed victim who used a New Orleans cemetery for a home address, and a person who spent 70 days at a Hawaiian hotel all were able to wrongly get taxpayer help, according to evidence that gives a new black eye to the nation's disaster relief agency.
To demonstrate how easy it was to fool FEMA, the GAO told of an individual who used 13 different Social Security numbers, including the person's own, to receive $139,000 in payments on 13 separate registrations for aid. The payments were sent to one address. More
With the proliferation of government and private databases, which are often linked together, a simple transaction could take on a new character in the near future.
Data that has been traditionally unavailable to the government because of constitutional issues can now be purchased from private firms such as Choicepoint. This circumvention of the law allows government databases to be more comprehensive.
For a humorous and cautionary look at what this could mean, follow this link. Order your pizza
'Get More' info on RFID
RFID tags are becoming more common, and will one day replace the Universal Product Code we have all been familiar with for over 30 years.
These microchips each contain a unique ID number that can be linked to a database and accesed over a network.
The database can contain anything, including the product manufacture date, lot number, shipping route and dates, vendor, price, buyer ID, and location in real time each time it passes by a chip reader that is connected to the network.
This lovely lady is going to demonstrate how RFID tagging works with technology that is already implemented today. More
How is the Drug War going?
The War on Drugs was started to rid society of illicit drugs by arresting suppliers, traffickers and users. After more than 40 years of effort, and hundreds of billions of dollars spent eradicating illicit drugs, the drug business is doing quite well. It would not be difficult to conclude that the drug wars have cause the drug trade to prosper.
Now it seems even the Teletubbies, stars of the popular television show bearing their name, have gotten involved in the drug trade. A recent bust uncovered millions of dollars worth of cocaine that was branded with the Teletubbies images. Perhaps alarmed pundits should quit sniping at Tinky Winky for carrying a purse, and take a closer look at what the allegedly gay character is carrying in the purse. More
There has been an ongoing story of the NSA listening to phone calls of Americans who are talking to people in other countries. President Bush has authorized this spying on Americans without warrants and has told the American people it is okay to do this because he is president and therefore he can do whatever he wants to do.
More recently it has come to light that a large database is being built by the NSA that contains records of phone calls made by customers of AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, despite previous denials by Bush of scrutinizing domestic only calls.
If you ever wanted to hear what an NSA analyst would listen to, now you have a chance. StaggerOn.org has obtained some exclusive SIGINT (signal intelligence) intercepts of American citizens who thought their phone calls were private, even as they were being eavesdropped on. More
Oceanside, Alta California - A video was submitted to StaggerOn.org that shows Mexican flags and a sign the says "La Raza" (The Race) being consumed in fire.
The video clip was submitted by an Oceanside student who did not identify him/her self, but made a brief statement.
"My father was born in Mexico and came here before I was born," the source said. "I have gone back with him to his home, and I can see why he left. No human would want to live there."
"I think it's a joke that many of the activists of immigration scream about their opponents being rascist, while they call theselves La Raza. That means The Race in English. So I burned these flags and made a video to show how stupid that is." Watch the Video
Shell has higher profits, watered down gas
PATERSON, NJ - Darnell Greene had a bone to pick today with this Delta gas station attendant in Paterson, all due to yesterday's ten-dollar fill-up.
The problem? Watered down gasoline, part of a bad shipment. A big shipment - totaling tens-of-thousands of gallons of fuel supplied by the Shell Oil Company and distributed out a Newark refinery.
Darnell told us as soon as he "pulled out of the lot, the car started sputtering, and backfiring." More
Washington, DC - President George W Bush has warned the country's schoolchildren that if they did not have the skills needed to compete with their counterparts from India and China, new jobs would go to those countries.
The President was addressing a magnet school in Rockville, Maryland, on Tuesday, stressing among other things, the criticality of such subjects as Mathematics and Science.
"It's important to understand, if children don't have those skill sets needed to compete with a child from India or a child from China, the new jobs will be going there," Bush told the students.
"And so, in order to make sure we remain the leader of the world, we have got to continue our focus in education on high standards, accountability, and a new focus and intense focus on math and science, just like as what's happening in this school," he said.
The most important factor in jobs going abroad, and left unmentioned by Bush, is that none of the training in math and science prepare a student in the skills they really need to compete. The skills they really need is to learn how to live on a wage of a dollar an hour, because that is what they are really competing with, and why those jobs are sent elsewhere. More
Each trip to the gas pump digs a little deeper into your pocket. As you pay more and more for the fuel to run your transportation needs, you have less to spend on your other needs in your life. This cuts your standard of living to a lower level.
Oil companies pay people to explain why you must pay them more for the same amount of fuel. The story is usually some variation on higher costs to them being passed along to you at the pump. It could be higher crude oil prices one week, a refinery explosion the next week, and reduced capacity on another week, creating costs that must be passed on.
Somehow, in spite of all these hardships suffered by the oil companies, one of them did quite well. Exxon did so well, in fact, that it had record profits of $36 billion.
Exxon's retiring chairman was able to get the company to share the wealth with him.The company is giving Lee Raymond one of the most generous retirement packages in history, nearly $400 million, including pension, stock options and other perks, such as a $1 million consulting deal, two years of home security, personal security, a car and driver, and use of a corporate jet for professional purposes.
That kind of compensation should keep Mr. Raymond stocked with plenty of groceries in his larder. The company car will insulate him from paying the escalating fuel prices the rest of us a stuck with. Perhaps the windfall will motivate him to replace his poorly crafted hairpiece with expertly done hairplugs. Next time you are getting fuel in your vehicle, it would be interesting to do a calculation of how much you are contribution to the Lee Raymond retirement package. More
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Claims by the Bush administration or the Pentagon of completing the mission in Iraq and ordering troop withdrawal have been shown to be a lie.
A new U.S. Embassy the size of Vatican City, is being constructed beside the Tigris River. Having the population of a small town, its own defense force, self-contained power and water, the fortresslike compound is a monument to an occupation force that plans to dig in and stay a long while, perhaps permanently.
The embassy complex - 21 buildings on 104 acres, according to a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee report - is taking shape on riverside parkland in the fortified ''Green Zone,'' just east of al-Samoud, a former palace of Saddam Hussein's, and across the road from the building where the ex-dictator is now on trial. More
Austin, Texas - Perhaps Homeland Security agents might want to take a break from cruising the net for young teen poon and take a look at Eric R. Pianka.
The University of Texas Professor has grand schemes for wholesale liquidation of human populations that would dwarf the grandest ambitions of Stalin, Hilter and Mao combined, by using the Ebola virus.
"Every one of you who gets to survive has to bury nine," Eric Pianka cautioned students and guests at St. Edward's University on Friday. Pianka's words are part of what he calls his "doomsday talk" - a 45-minute presentation outlining humanity's ecological misdeeds and Pianka's predictions about how nature, or perhaps humans themselves, will exterminate all but a fraction of civilization.
Professor Pianka said the Earth as we know it will not survive without drastic measures. Then, and without presenting any data to justify this number, he asserted that the only feasible solution to saving the Earth is to reduce the population to 10 percent of the present number.
In an account by Forrest M. Mims III, (known for authoring those Radio Shack technical booklets instructing in the use of logic chips) Pianka advocated for the extermination of 90 percent of the human species in a most horrible and painful manner. Apparently at the speaker's direction, the speech was not video taped by the Academy and so Forrest's may be the only record of what was said. More
Miami, Florida - One Homeland Security official got tired of connecting dots leading to terrorists and botching emergency aid, so he decided to whet his appetite for sexual encounters with young teen girls.
Unfortunately, his intelligence gathering abilities did not include watching recent news reports about undercover officers setting up stings to catch adult men trying to seduce underage girls, and he got caught sending pornographic movie clips and having sexually explicit conversations via the internet with someone he was tricked into thinking was a 14 year old girl.
Brian J. Doyle, 55, was arrested at his residence in Maryland on charges of use of a computer to seduce a child and transmission of harmful material to a minor. The charges were issued out of Polk County, Fla.
On several occasions, Doyle instructed the girl to perform a sexual act while thinking of him and described explicit activities he wanted to have with her, investigators said. More
Reconquest of "Aztlan" march in "Alta California"
Los Angeles, California - A crowd of pro-immigration demonstrators estimated at over 500,000 marched on downtown Los Angeles on Monday.
The size of the march and rally surprised the world and the nation. A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department made a statement on Thursday, to the local media, that they expected between 10,000 to 15,000 to participate in the march. The LAPD is now reporting that over 500,000 participated.
In their account of the march, pro-reconquest site La Voz de Aztlan reports:
La Voz de Aztlan also stated their goal to eventually "elect our own governors" of all the states within "Aztlan." More
Federal lawyers tell doctors how to practice medicine
Wheelchairbound multiple sclerosis patient Richard Paey is serving 25 years in a Florida prison for “trafficking” 1/2 gram of OxyContin, even though the prosecutor concedes that Paey never sold any of his medications. In prison, he now receives more pain-killing drugs than he was convicted of having.
Dr. William Hurwitz, a pioneering pain physician, was tried and convicted of violating the Controlled Substances Act -- which is intended to curb the illicit use of drugs -- and is serving a 25-year term in federal prison. He was also fined $2 million.
These are but two of hundreds of cases in which, in its zeal to stamp out the illegal drug use, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is cracking down on doctors who prescribe medications to relieve chronic pain, and the patients who depend on these drugs to live normal lives.
The DEA’s dilemma is separating legitimate prescribers and users from drug dealers. And the DEA’s task is made more difficult, not only by its zeal, but by the fact that those investigating and prosecuting are not doctors but lawyers and law enforcement agents. More
Fort Hood Soldier Charged In Child Injury Case
KILLEEN, Texas -- The "special training" that a soldier gets to complete missions like say, guarding Iraqi prisoners, is often useful at home.
One of Bush's shock troops used his skills to get his 3-year-old daughter to fight a 5-year-old boy his wife was babysitting.
Dennis Michael Bittinger, 22, a Fort Hood soldier, was arrested and charged with injury to a child in connection with a videotaped attack on a 5-year-old boy, Killeen police said. He was ordered held in lieu of $100,000 bond. More
The historic 2005 storm Katrina taught some very important lessons to those who will learn from them.
The most important lesson is that you are on your own. There is no state, local, or federal agency that have any legal obligation to look after your safety and well being. Some agency might help, or they might make it worse for you. It is unwise to include help from any agency in your emergency plans. Any assistance you receive will be an added unplanned bonus. So you must take stock of your needs and plan ahead.
Another important lesson is that many people in your same situation will share resources and abilities to get you through the crisis. Even while the authorities who are chartered to help you turn against you, there are individuals who will pitch in and do their part to help in survival.
One other lesson is that there are people who will prey on you, and you must plan for this. Whether your plan involves hiding and avoidance, or self defense, you must consider this as a possibility. In New Orleans, the authorities were the perpetrators. While a third of the police force was on a self appointed junket in places like Las Vegas, some of the remaining police, along with National Guard, were forcibly removing some people, and stripping others of firearms, leaving them defenseless against the looters that they refused to protect them from. Video
These are lessons that are best to never be forgotten. If you live somewhere that will have storms, fires, flooding, quakes or infrastructure breakdown, these lessons may some day be very relevant to you.
It is curious that George W. Bush appears to be administering a border policy that is dictated to him by the Mexican president, Vicente Fox.
Mexico has very strict enforcement of crossing it's southern border with Guatemala, with armed troops turning back would be immigrants from the south.
However, if the U.S. were to have the same policy towards it's southern neighbor, Mexico would find that unacceptable. Mexico prefers for it's nationals to have unrestricted access to the U.S. with an open border.
Vicente Fox has been able to convince Bush to adopt the Mexican policy, in spite of Bush's insistence that there is a war on terror that requires some control of who immigrates. One view is that Fox is able to keep Bush in line on this policy because he posesses something incriminating, such as a video of sexual improprieties.
It is likely to be a much simpler issue than that.
Bush is in love with Fox.
.He has strong romantic feelings that Fox is willing to exploit for his own national interests. Since Fox is the alpha male or "top" in the relationship, he rations out affection. This maintains Bush in a state of desire to win the adoration from Fox, even at the expense of U.S. interests.
Observe their body language when they are together. Who stands ramrod straight in one position, and who moves about, fawning over the other? Watch a video, or view pictures and see for yourself. This gives an important indication of who is the dominant male in the relationship, and who is taking a submissive role. This star crossed, forbidden relationship between these two men has an impact on the destiny of millions of people in both nations.
One of the little goodies hidden in the Bush Administration "No Child Left Behind" program is that it gives military recruiters closer access to children in school.
Section 9528 grants the Pentagon access to directories with students names, addresses and phone numbers so that they may be more easily contacted and recruited for military service. Prior to this provision, one-third of the nation’s high schools refused recruiters’ requests for students’ names or access to campus because they believed it was inappropriate for educational institutions to promote military service.
And you thought NCLB was implemented to create better readers, testers and homework-doers.
One of the consequences of this program was to give adult men close access to underage teen girls. The result of this, which could be argued was unavoidable, is that many of these recruiters have been "recruiting" for more than just military "service".
One intrepid recuiter, Indiana National Guard Sgt. Eric P. Vetesy, has been accused of sexually assaulting six female recruits he met during his 18 months as a full-time recruiter. Hamilton County investigators said Monday he is accused of raping at least one recruit. More
In another case two women have said two U.S. Marine Corps recruiters forced them to have sex after they expressed interest in joining the force while they were 17 year old students. They have sued in a complaint alleging that one of them was raped on three separate occasions in, each time telling her that she had to have sex with him if she wanted to join the Marines." More
These cases, and the other like them, may not be all that unusual. It may be part of a training program for running prisons in Iraq and other locations in the alleged war on terror.
You may have been listening to the financial gurus who admonish you about carrying a large amount of debt, so you decide to pull your resources together and pay off your credit card.
That bit of financial responsibility could get you snared as a possible terrorist by the Patriot Act.
Walter Soehnge and his wife, Deana, of Rhode Island found out about this recently. The Soehnges decided to do the kind of thing that just about anyone would say makes good, solid financial sense. They paid down some debt.
The balance on their JCPenney Platinum MasterCard had gotten to an unhealthy level. So they sent in a large payment, a check for $6,522. And an alarm went off. A red flag went up. The Soehnges' behavior was found questionable.
And all they did was pay down their debt. They didn't call a suspected terrorist on their cell phone. They didn't try to sneak a machine gun through customs.
They just paid a hefty chunk of their credit card balance. After sending in the check, they checked online to see if their account had been duly credited. They learned that the check had arrived, but the amount available for credit on their account hadn't changed.
They both learned the same astounding piece of information about the little things that can set the threat sensors to beeping and blinking. They were told, as they moved up the managerial ladder at the call center, that the amount they had sent in was much larger than their normal monthly payment. And if the increase hits a certain percentage higher than that normal payment, Homeland Security has to be notified. And the money doesn't move until the threat alert is lifted. More
Despite reassurances from Bush aministration paid propagandists, the Patriot Act is used to harass and annoy Americans, with almost no prosecution of terrorists being done.
The latest incarnation of the Patriot Act includes provisions sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Jim Talent, R-Mo., which would require a would-be purchaser to show identification to buy cold and allergy medication.
The purported reason for this law is to halt the production of methamphetamine, an illegal drug that cannot be made without a key ingredient of everyday cold and allergy medicines.
Besides providing more evidence that the War on Drugs is another administration miserable failure, this provision of the Patriot Act could have a perverse effect, to drive methamphetamine production away from American soil, making it an imported product. This adds a new layer of profits for those who will traffic in the drug, including terrorists. More
With the Bush administation being synonymous with "miserable failure" it is increasingly difficult to find supporters who defend any of the policies that have strip mined American assets and squandered so many lives.
However, there are still staunch defenders of Bush, who are able to put aside the facts, squelch any internal doubts, and attack any critics of their Fearless Leader. But you have to pay someone rather well to hold their nose and surrender their soul to this thankless duty.
Rush Limbaugh leads the pack at a healthy $31 million. These numbers get a bit fuzzy, because in addition to base salary there are speaking fees, and reimbursed expenses. Sean Hannity commands a $100,000 speaking fee, plus expenses. If money is his motive, he chose the right side. Michael Moore gets about half of that for a speaking engagement. Al Franken gets paid, for his oratory at Air America, a paltry $1.7 million.
The important point here, is that for most Americans it would be difficult to get in front of a microphone, or in front of a camera, and lie to their fellow citizens. It would be hard to keep a straight face while insisting black is white, up is down, and war is peace. It would cause many sleepless nights knowing that those lies were causing people to live with more hardships, and could even die from the consequences of them. There is a saying, "Drag a few million dollars through a cesspool and you are sure to get a few bites."
In the week that Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on the southeast U.S. coast in August 2005, Bush administration officials knew what to expect, and reassured others that they would have the assets in place needed to deal with the disaster.
The AP had started promoting a videotape that shows a presidential videoconference briefing, made on Aug. 28, 2005.
The tape showed former Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael Brown issuing stark warnings. "We're going to need everything that we can possibly muster, not only in this state and in the region, but the nation, to respond to this event," said Brown.
Brown told colleagues on the tape that one of his top concerns was whether evacuees who went to New Orleans' Superdome would be safe and have adequate medical care.
But his concerns were disregarded by Bush, who didn't ask any questions. He reassured state officials that the federal government was prepared to handle the storm and its aftermath.
"I want to assure the folks at the state level that we are fully prepared to not only help you during the storm, but we will move in whatever resources and assets we have at our disposal after the storm," he said.
History would prove otherwise. More
U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is on a mission from God. In between solving cases of terrorism, or some cynics would insist instead of solving terrorism cases, Gonzales is on a crusade to eradicate pornography. He may be acting on behalf of certain elements of the Bush administation's religious supporters who get apoplectic at the sight of a Victoria's Secret catalog. He could learn a lot from past investigations of this sort.
The FBI put their agents in trench coats and sent them into porn theaters throughout the U.S. in 1972-73 for a sticky investigation of Deep Throat.
The movie, not the Watergate leaker.
This time, instead of nasty dives in the seedy parts of town, agents can remain in their offices with a computer and broadband net connection. They might want to get some pointers from the old report, preserved here by the Memory Hole, so as not to reinvent the wheel.
Gonzales might keep in mind, while he is busy sniffing those panties, he might overlook the next terror attack. On September 11, 2001, FBI agents were busy listening to wiretaps of a brothel in New Orleans - a much more important job than say, investigating soon to be terrorists attending flight school.
There is no information if Gonzales' stepson Jared Freeze, who used to work for Larry Flynt, is helping Pops with the investigation.
Hours after a commercial plane struck the Pentagon on September 11 2001 the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, was issuing rapid orders to his aides to look for evidence of Iraqi involvement, according to notes taken by one of them.
"Hard to get good case. Need to move swiftly," the notes say. "Near term target needs - go massive - sweep it all up, things related and not."
The handwritten notes, with some parts blanked out, were declassified this month in response to a request by a law student and blogger, Thad Anderson, under the US Freedom of Information Act. Anderson has posted them on his blog at outragedmoderates.org. More
SAN FRANCISCO - KBR, the engineering and construction subsidiary of Halliburton Co., said Tuesday it has been awarded a contingency contract from the Department of Homeland Security to supports its Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities in the event of an emergency. The maximum total value of the contract is $385 million and consists of a 1-year base period with four 1-year options. KBR held the previous ICE contract from 2000 to 2005. More
That is the official story. Haliburton may be getting $385 million, but they are not going to be building detention camps for illegal aliens. That is an outright lie, propped up by disinformation. So the fact is that we do not know what service, if any, Haliburton is going to perform to get that money from the American taxpayers. The official Bush policy, whether it gets put into law or not, is that illegal aliens are no longer considered "illegal". They are to be given amnesty and mainstreamed into the economy. Despite another Bush lie, they are not just doing the "jobs that Americans will not do". You are not able to afford to buy a house with money earned from picking lettuce. See this article. More
While U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales squanders law enforcement resources to broaden his panty sniffing campaign to root out porn, FEMA was spending millions of taxpayer dollars that help put more porn in the hands of Americans.
Tens of millions of dollars of relief money for Hurricane Katrina was squandered in scams and poorly thought out projects, US government auditors reported yesterday.
As many as 900,000 of the 2.5 million applicants who received aid under an emergency cash assistance program - which included giving $2,000 debit cards to evacuees - based their requests on duplicate or invalid social security numbers, or false addresses and names. More
For many years states have required the collection of Social Security numbers in order to issue a drivers license. Many people may not recall why this is.
It was a 1996 federal law that makes the availability of federal welfare funds contingent upon states collecting SSNs to assist in the enforcement of child support laws. This was passed by the Congress presided over by Newt Gingrich, and signed off by Bill Clinton. Most stated complied with this law instead of jumping through the hoops set up if a state wanted to opt out. It was questionable if it ever was effective at collecting any more child support, but one gift that it gave us to merge the drivers license and Social Security number was the rampant identity theft we have enjoyed since then. It is so bad that new legislation has been passed ordering states to not display the SSN, though they must still collect it. Unfortunately, communication has been botched between state and federal governments in many states, so many licenses are still issued with the number and others are recalled.
Thanks Newt and Bill. More
Iraq veteran gets hit with "friendly fire" in USA
CHINO, Calif. - Elio Carrion is an Air Force policeman who spent six months deployed in Iraq. He was to have rejoined his unit Tuesday.
Unfortunately, he was shot in California by a San Bernadino sheriffs deputy.
The incident began Sunday night, officials said, when Carrion was a passenger in a blue Corvette that was speeding about 100 mph near the Chino Hills, California, area, east of Los Angeles. The driver, whom authorities didn't identify, failed to pull the car over after police signaled to do so, leading to a five-minute chase that ended abruptly when the vehicle crashed into a brick wall, said Cindy Beavers, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.
The incident was taped by a witness. On the tape, it sounds like one of the deputies tells Carrion to get off the ground. He does and that`s followed by a number of shots. Police say Carrion was hit four times. The driver of the vehicle was eventually arrested. More
Bush calls for less dependence on Mideast oil
WASHINGTON - Although 5 years of policy and action do not support his suggestion, President George W Bush called for a cut of U.S. dependence on Mideast oil by 75 percent.
"America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world," Bush said as he sought to drive the election-year agenda in his annual State of the Union address.
"Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years," the president said. "Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025.
By targeting only Mideast oil, Bush was ignoring the largest sources of American oil consumption, such as Mexico and Canada.
Imports of oil and refined product from the Persian Gulf make up less than a fifth of all imports and 11 percent of total consumption, according to Energy Department statistics. More
Drug smugglers and invaders in Mexican military uniforms
U.S. and Mexican officials on Tuesday were investigating a bizarre encounter between Texas lawmen and heavily armed intruders who were wearing Mexican military uniforms while evidently escorting a caravan of sport utility vehicles that was smuggling marijuana into the United States.
The smugglers, spotted on the U.S. side of the border in remote western Texas on Monday afternoon, hastily fled back into Mexico, leaving behind nearly a half ton of marijuana and setting one of their vehicles ablaze. More
The disturbing unanswered question for the Bush administration is: How can you tell the people you are fighting a war on terror abroad when you can not effectively secure your own border? This is one incident, there are many others More
FBI questions student over doodle
Elk Grove, California - The FBI and local school officials are under fire after a high school student was interviewed by federal agents while on campus. The FBI interview and resulting controversy was prompted by a tip.
Munir Rashed is a 16-year-old high school student from Elk Grove and a fourth generation American. Two years ago, while attending Elk Grove High, a teacher confronted him.
Munir Rashed, Palestinian American student: "I had PLO on my folder as a doodle." More
Weapons for the Terror War, energy beams and stun guns
Is Captain Kirk to be employed in the War on Terror?
Like the phasers on "Star Trek', which' could be set to kill or merely stun, the U.S. military has desired a new kind of firepower that is instantaneous, precise and virtually inexhaustible: beams of electromagnetic energy.
The hallmark of all directed-energy weapons is that the target -- whether a human or a mechanical object -- has no chance to avoid the shot because it moves at the speed of light. At some frequencies, it can penetrate walls.
Once this technology becomes commonplace, and relatively inexpensive, how will it be deployed at home against civilians by the military and police departments? More
Dorismar -- aka Dora Noemi Kerchen -- has been many things: Playboy Playmate, calendar pinup, performer at a Democratic National Convention party and purveyor of sophisticated soft-core videos inspired by Girls Gone Wild.
Now, she qualifies as an ''Alien of Extraordinary Ability'' -- but that legal designation may not be enough to get her back into the United States.
The 29-year-old Argentine sexpot -- blessed with copious curves and a seemingly boundless capacity to promote them -- was deported with her husband/manager Alejandro Schiff on Jan. 5, after five years in Miami as an illegal immigrant and Hispanic media star. More
When Cops trade donuts and coffee for alcohol...
Public safety goes in the tank when this happens. Then we are all in danger. More
Military researched "Gay Bomb"
The US military investigated building a "gay bomb", which would make enemy soldiers "sexually irresistible" to each other, government papers say.
The plan for a so-called "love bomb" envisaged an aphrodisiac chemical that would provoke widespread homosexual behaviour among troops, causing what the military called a "distasteful but completely non-lethal" blow to morale.
Considering the law of unintended consequences, this may have been a bad idea. Instead of facing adversaries preoccupied with decorating the mess tent, or playing with Barbies, U.S. forces may have ended up facing some leather clad bears willing to rip their arms out of their sockets. More
US Border Patrol uniforms made in Mexico
Demonstrating once again that the Bush administration is out of touch with the concerns of the American people, the latest example of this disconnect concerns the uniform of the Border patrol, which has the duty of securing U.S. borders, including a border with Mexico.
For more than a year, the shirts and pants worn by agents and inspectors with U.S. Customs and Border Protection have been made in Mexico. The uniforms are supplied by VF Solutions of Nashville, Tenn., which subcontracts its work to plants in the United States, Mexico, Canada and the Dominican Republic.
"It's embarrassing to be protecting the U.S.-Mexico border and be wearing a uniform made in Mexico," says T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a 6,500-member union.
The illegal flow of immigrants across the border also include gang members and fugitives from Mexican justice who might welcome a chance to get their hands on a Border Patrol uniform. There is also the possibility that unscrupulous gang members might help sneak terrorists into the country if the price is right.
"Who's going to miss a few dozen uniforms?" said Bonner, "That could be very dangerous to the agents. You see a uniform, and you assume that's one of the good guys.". More
Screw up your job really badly? Be a consultant instead
That is the career strategy of former FEMA director Michael Brown. He is starting a new disaster preparedness firm.
“If I can help people focus on preparedness, how to be better prepared in their homes and better prepared in their businesses — because that goes straight to the bottom line — then I hope I can help the country in some way,” Brown said.
The problem is, he does not know much about preparedness, except preparing a jacked up resume that makes him look like he is capable of doing something worthwhile.
Whether it is horse shows, or his recent dog and pony show, the old adage comes to mind when thinking about anyone contracting for his "sevices".
Sneaking across the border in style, with new sneakers
Argentine artist Judi Werthein gave away 50 pairs of expensive high top sneakers in Tijuana at a migrant shelter. These sneakers are unique, with a compass and flashlight dangling from one shoelace. The pocket in the tongue is for money or pain relievers. A rough map of the border region is printed on a removable insole.Werthein waved the insole and pointed to Interstate 8, the main road between San Diego and Phoenix.
"This blue line is where you want to go," Werthein, 38, said in Spanish. More
US Attorney General Gonzales on a panty sniffing crusade
With the terrorists at large, as well as public corruption, narcotics and other menaces to the nation, it would seem that the US Attorney General would be judicious in how he allocates resources to protect public safety. Not so. It appears he has a fascination with the affairs of what consenting adults do in private. His panty sniffing mission is the latest development in the Bush War on Porn. Agents are not so eager to join his crusade, sharing such comments as, "I already gave at home", and "Honestly, most of the guys would have to recuse themselves." The largest resistance comes from the very large, and very mainstream porn industry, which includes many very well known corporations. More
A Homeland toy story
Homeland security agents work tirelessly to protect us from terrorists and disasters. Right? Well, not exactly. Showing us a textbook case of "mission creep", homeland security agents in Portland terrorize a toy store owner in an effort to purge America of the menace of lookalike toys. More
Bush to lead Katrina emergency response failures
U.S. President George Bush wants to get to the bottom of what went wrong with the response to Hurricane Katrina. He announced Tuesday that he will oversee an investigation.
Whether it is the misdeeds of his good pal Brownie, or FEMA personnel blocking private aid to victims, Bush will investigate and take corrective measures to prevent future disasters.
So he says. More
‘We’re not like New Orleans’ says China
South-eastern China braced itself as tropical storm Damrey was upgraded on Saturday to a typhoon, though officials insisted the country’s experience dealing with cyclones would prevent a New Orleans-style disaster. More
Presidents George H., and George W. Bush were seen fishing in the New Orleans flood water on Tuesday. Both men were aboard a fishing boat, motoring down the flooded streets and trolling for freshwater fish.
At one point George W. was observed poking at a human corpse with a stick. "Yes, I was poking at that stiff," George W. said, "poor fellah was taking a real dirt nap. Or I should say, water nap. Hehehehe. Heheehee."
George H. pointed out the benefits that were brought by the hurricane and flood. "This area has been blighted for a long time, with the economy thing. Now we have a unique opportunity to bring forth a new economic order" "With all those useless eaters flushed away, we can now develop this area for business and for recreation." the elder Bush noted.
Mr. Bill knew, Mr. Bush didn't
Hello. My name is Mr. Bill. I knew that New Orleans was in danger from a hurricane and flooding for many years. I even made a video of it with my friends. See what I knew and the president did not know. More
Someone better give FEMA a map and compass
Could FEMA find you in a disaster? Would they know where to take you to safety? Probably not. They took one planeload of, uh, evacuees to the wrong state. Perhaps their motto is "any port in a storm". More
Getting rescued: better than beads
Flashing your breasts in New Orleans can get you something better than beads. You might even get authorities to rescue you from flood water.
"At one point, there were a load of girls on the roof of the hotel saying 'Can you help us?' and the policemen said 'Show us what you've got' and made signs for them to lift their T-shirts. When the girls refused, they said 'Fine' and motored off down the road in their boat." More
You hurry to get to the airport early. You make sure you are not carrying
any Forbidded Items. You also wear shoes that are easy to slip off for
inspection. All this in order to get through the Transportation Security
gauntlet and board the plane easily. But wait! You overlooked something.
You brought your baby and your govenment thinks the cute little tyke
is a terrorist. Oops! More
Lance Armstrong wants to focus on a war against Americans' true enemy, cancer
Tour de France winner and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong on Sunday said the United States, which is embroiled in a costly war in Iraq, should focus more effort on a war facing many Americans — the one against cancer. More
A Homeland toy story
Homeland security agents work tirelessly to protect us from terrorists and disasters. Right? Well, not exactly. Showing us a textbook case of "mission creep", homeland security agents in Portland terrorize a toy store owner in an effort to purge America of the menace of lookalike toys. More
Terrorists beware: American women are watching you!
"This is a huge untapped market with people that live and work in this country and are capable of buying homes to realize the American dream," said Chan Peterson, executive vice president and head of community banking at Banco Popular, one of the earliest banks to enter this field.
"It's institutionalizing illegality," said Marti Dinerstein, president of Immigration Matters, a New York-based think tank. "Now there's no distinction being made between the people that follow all the rules and those who break our laws by entering the country or overstaying their visas." Dinerstein also worried that lack of knowledge on the part of illegal immigrants could pave the way for abuse in the form of predatory lending. More
Port Security Flawed
Latest detection machines are not doing the job, and
YOU pay for it.
Mexican flag placed higher than American flag in Oregon state office
Mexican flag gets hoisted above the Stars and Stripes on the back wall of Oregon state-run employment office.
Despite this being a violation of federal and state law, office staff is indifferent to complaints. More
DHS Fraud and Waste to be Investigated
Inspector General to investigate IT contracts, and other
Homeland Security programs,
Think those airport patdowns you endure make you safe?