Incompetence and Absurd Application of the Law

Law and order is a wonderful thing, and I'm all for it.  But I object to petty, hair-splitting legalism and heavy-handed overzealousness on the part of the local police.  Especially the small town badge-happy self-important deputy sheriff who's determined to advance his career by taking a bite out of crime, no matter how petty the crime may be.  Or the morbidly obese constable who hides in the roadside bushes with a radar gun.  Some examples are shown below, along with examples of sheer stupidity exhibited by judges and other government officials.



Rest Easy, America, The FDA Is Keeping 'Love' Off Our Food Labels.  Bloomberg reports that an artisan baker in Massachusetts got a warning letter from the FDA last Tuesday complaining, among other thing, about an ingredient listed on the label of a bag of its granola.  "Your Nashoba Granola label lists ingredient 'Love,'" the letter reads.  It goes on to inform the baker that "Ingredients required to be declared on the label or labeling of food must be listed by their common or usual name (21 CFR 101.4(a)(1)).  'Love' is not a common or usual name of an ingredient, and is considered to be intervening material because it is not part of the common or usual name of the ingredient."  Translation:  Your attempt at light humor isn't funny to us rule-enforcing bureaucrats down in the bowels of some dreary federal building.

A bakery listed 'love' in the ingredients.  The food cops had something to say about it.  Among the myriad problems the FDA listed after inspecting Nashoba Brook Bakery's manufacturing facility:  Love in the granola.  Deep in a Sept. 22 warning letter by Food and Drug Administration to the Concord, Massachusetts, manufacturer is this admonishment:  "Your Nashoba Granola label lists ingredient 'Love.'  Ingredients required to be declared on the label or labeling of food must be listed by their common or usual name [21 CFR 101.4(a)(1).  'Love' is not a common or usual name of an ingredient, and is considered to be intervening material because it is not part of the common or usual name of the ingredient."

Food Truck Giving Free Food to Hurricane Workers, Kicked Out of Town for Not Having a Permit.  After Irma devastated Florida, most restaurants and stores were shut down in certain areas.  Green Cove Springs was one of those places.  So, when Jack Roundtree, owner of the Triple J BBQ food truck, arrived in town, not only was he welcomed with open arms — he was desperately needed.  As he sold BBQ to paying customers, Roundtree used the extra money to feed utility workers for free for all their hard work.  However, once officials saw a man who'd dare sell food in their town without paying them first, police were called in to make quick work of this entrepreneurial good samaritan.

Houston FEMA flood map missed 75 percent of flood damages, says new study.  FEMA's 100-year flood plain map doesn't have the best reputation in Bayou City — just ask any Houstonian whose home was outside the flood risk zone yet still filled with water during one if the city's many and recent flooding events.  Still, a new study by Rice University and Texas A&M-Galveston suggests FEMA's hazard mapping may be even less accurate than most people think.  Researchers examined flood damage claims from several southeast Houston suburbs between 1999 to 2009 and found that FEMA's flood predictive maps failed to show 75 percent of flood damage.

Murderers, Rapists And Pedophiles Got Government Security Clearances.  The head of the Pentagon's Defense Security Service says the troubled and clogged process to grant security clearances has led to criminals receiving access to classified information.  "I've got murderers who have access to classified information," Daniel Payne, head of the Defense Security Service, said during a conference Wednesday [9/6/2017], McClatchy reports.  "I have rapists.  I have pedophiles.  I have people involved in child porn."  The Defense Security Service grants temporary security clearances for civilian workers and contractors, and the Department of Defense (DOD) has been so hard pressed for employees with clearances that some criminals have slipped through.

The NSA Must Be Reined In.  More than 230,000 computer systems from across the globe were recently attacked by a vicious ransomware virus, named "Wanna Cry," that crippled computers for some of America's largest companies, including FedEx.  The virus, one of the largest of its kind, was paid for by the American taxpayers.  How did this happen?  How did this life threatening tool end up in the hands of seemingly illiterate hackers?  Simple answer:  government incompetency.  The NSA has spent the last decade building up an arsenal of digital doomsday weapons completely in the dark.  The American public has been barred from seeing exactly how much of their money is used by the NSA to create these monstrosities.

Ignorance of the Law is no Excuse — Unless You're a Refugee.  A man in Manchester, NH was arrested on six counts of domestic violence.  “According to court paperwork, he was accused of striking, pushing, grabbing, kicking and pulling out the hair of a woman who was 27 weeks pregnant at the time.”  It was evidently an open and shut case.  The man, 33 year old Augustin Bahati, is a refugee from the Congo who was “resettled” in 2015.  He, like many refugees, has been placed in Manchester, and many cities like it, without the permission, and quite often without even the knowledge of the city.  The feds, under Obama, just brought in refugees and quietly bussed them to cities around the country. [...] You may be thinking — oh great — another immigrant clogging up the judicial system, and another for which we taxpayers must pay to incarcerate.  You’d be wrong.  He got off scot-free.

Amish Man Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison for Improper FDA Labeling.  Samuel Girod is a farmer who belongs to the "Old Order Amish community" and a father to twelve in Bath County, Kentucky.  According to Ricochet, the 57-year-old Girod got in trouble with the government after selling homemade herbal remedies, [...] Girod, who said the FDA had no right to oversight since he made herbal remedies, wouldn't let them in.  His deeply-held beliefs require he "avoid the modern world as much as possible, including modern pharmaceuticals."  Unsurprisingly, the FDA disagreed with his assessment of their level of possible involvement, so the federal behemoth came down on him for the "vague medical claims" on his labels.

It's Not Your Father's FBI.  Omar Mir Seddique, also known as Omar Mateen, was an American mass murderer who killed 49 people and wounded 58 others in a mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 12, 2016.  He had been interviewed by the FBI three times and was on their radar because he had made comments sympathetic to terrorists and attended the same Florida mosque as a suicide bomber named Moner Abusalha, who had gone to Syria to blow up Syrian government soldiers in 2014.  When asked why Mateen was dropped from the FBI list, Comey indicated that the FBI's concerns about Mateen were eased after a witness told the bureau that Mateen got married, had a child and found steady work.  Oh! [...] Many innocent individuals have been under FBI surveillance but the real reason for the FBI failures may be due to an increase in a PC policy.

North Carolina man receives shocking $100 million charge on water bill.  The News & Observer of Raleigh reports that Kieran Healy of Orange County in central North Carolina got a water bill for $189.92.  The service charge was a dollar shy of $100 million.

Inept or crooked, Comey deserved to be fired.  While President Donald J. Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey on May 9, Barack Obama should have sacked him July 5.  Comey's behavior in the E-mailgate investigation suggests either staggering incompetence or a clumsy effort to whitewash Hillary Clinton's crimes.  During Clinton's July 2 interrogation at FBI headquarters, she was not under oath.  How could the FBI possibly reach in its probe "the last step of a year-long investigation" — as Comey described it at a July 7 House Government Oversight Committee hearing — without a potential perjury conviction hanging over her head?  Given Clinton's peanut-allergy-like aversion to the truth, not swearing her in confirmed either the FBI's grotesque ineptness or a deliberate loophole to allow her to slither free.

For 18 years, I thought she was stealing my identity.  Until I found her.  [Scroll down]  Finally, the DMV told me that I wasn't the victim of identity theft; there was simply another Lisa S Davis with the same birthday in New York City.  Our records were crossed.  When cops run a license, they don't check the person's address, signature, or social security numbers.  They check the name and the birthday, and both the other Lisa S Davis's and mine were the same.  We were, in the eyes of the law, one person, caught in a perfect storm of DMV and NYPD idiocy.

Senate staffers' ID cards have photo of smart chip, no security.  The Government Accountability Office repeatedly warned of gaps in federal information security, including the lack of two-factor authentication on critical federal systems like those at OPM.  And during President Barack Obama's "cyber-sprint," many more agencies did roll out smartcards for authentication.  But apparently Congress never took its own advice.  A letter from Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to the Senate's Committee on Rules and Administration last week pointed out that while many executive branch employees now have PIV cards with chips embedded in them, Senate employees get ID cards with a picture of a chip on them.

Massachusetts Prepares to Vacate Nearly 24,000 Tainted Drug Convictions.  Massachusetts prosecutors will move in mid-April to vacate nearly all of the roughly 24,000 drug convictions tainted by a single corrupt forensic lab chemist, The Boston Globe reported Saturday [3/25/2017], marking the denouement of one of the largest drug lab scandals in U.S. history.  A Massachusetts prosecutor told the state's Supreme Judicial Court last week that D.A.'s would seek to keep fewer than 1,000 of the 24,000 convictions tainted by drug lab chemist Annie Dookahn, who pled guilty in 2012 to falsifying test results in favor of law enforcement and tampering with evidence over a nine-year period starting in 2003.

FBI Undercover Agent Was In Car Behind Terrorists And Failed To Stop Attack.  An FBI undercover agent encouraged a terrorist to "tear up Texas" before the 2015 Garland, Texas shooting, and was at the crime scene and failed to stop or engage the perpetrators.  This was revealed in an investigation by CBS's "60 Minutes" that aired Sunday.  The Garland shooting left two terrorists, Elliot Simpson and Nadir Soofi, dead.  They attempted to attack an event featuring cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed, but were stopped by local police.

Iraqi insurgent fighter allegedly lied about identity, got through 'extreme' vetting.  Federal lawmakers are investigating how a former Iraqi insurgent fighter was able to lie about his identity and still get through America's 'extreme' vetting process.  The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to find out why the terror suspect's pending arrest was allegedly spiked just over a week before the election.  Trump had run on a tough-on-terror platform and had been critical of President Obama's refugee policy.

Watchdog: Obamacare Exchanges Fail to Detect Counterfeit Documents.  Obamacare exchanges are failing to verify key enrollment information, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).  This new report is the latest in a long line finding that controls on federal and state Obamacare exchanges are abysmal.  As part of its review, GAO tested application and enrollment controls on the federal exchange and two state exchanges (California and Kentucky).  Ten fictitious applicants were created to test whether verification steps including validating an applicant's Social Security number, verifying citizenship, and verifying household income were completed properly.

The American Indian Word for Woman Now Deemed "Offensive".  You may remember the term "squaw".  It's the Narragansett (American Indian) word for "woman" dating back to at least the 17th century.  Algonquian dialects also employed the word.  But now, your PC betters have deemed the term Offensive.

Agents and Agencies.  The failures of the intelligence community leading up to 9/11 are well documented, and there is very little reason to believe that the reforms undertaken since then have radically improved things.  Coordination among relevant agencies, which include law-enforcement agencies, remains shockingly poor.  Orlando, San Bernardino, Boston, Fort Hood — when was the last time we had a domestic terrorist attack in which the perpetrators were not already on the authorities' radar or in a position in which they obviously should have been?

Ft. Lauderdale Fighter Claimed He Was Being 'Forced to Fight for ISIS'.  Pamela Geller is reporting that the Ft. Lauderdale shooter today was previously known to the FBI, and that in November he had walked into an FBI office in Anchorage, Alaska[,] claiming he was being forced to fight for ISIS.

Ft. Lauderdale shooting suspect made confused visit to FBI, said US intelligence forced him to watch ISIS videos.  Estaban Santiago, the 26-year-old airline passenger accused of shooting up a baggage claim area at the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood airport Friday [1/6/2017], leaving five dead and eight injured, visited the FBI Anchorage field office and told officers he was being forced to watch ISIS videos, law enforcement sources told Fox News.  The visit took place last November.  The sources said Santiago told agents that US intelligence had infiltrated his mind and were forcing him to watch ISIS propaganda videos.  "In November 2016, Esteban Santiago walked into the Anchorage FBI Field Office to report that his mind was being controlled by a U.S. intelligence agency," a senior federal law enforcement official said.

The Editor says...
Hmmm.  There are two mutually-exclusive possibilities here:  [#1] His mind was being controlled by a U.S. intelligence agency, in which case the federal government is culpable in the Fort Lauderdale shooting; or [#2] his mind was not being controlled by a U.S. intelligence agency, in which case the federal government should have locked him up immediately, and put him on the no-fly list, and made sure he never had access to firearms again until his mental problems were resolved.  But none of that happened, so in either case, the federal government is culpable in the Fort Lauderdale shooting.  The FBI had this guy in their office and let him go.

DHS 'snafu' gives Illegal aliens green cards.  [T]hanks to the Obama administration's incompetence that's been observed repeatedly, upon taking office on Jan. 20, 2017, President Trump will face an immigration and homeland security behemoth gone berserk.  For example, a report released by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General admits that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services problems experienced in the agency's so-called Green Cards issuance program are far worse than originally believed.  The audit was conducted as a follow-up to a March 2016 report in which the DHS OIG revealed that the USCIS had sent hundreds of Green Cards to the wrong addresses.

Department of Homeland Security Overwhelmed by Green Card Catastrophe.  The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued thousands of duplicate green cards to immigrants, including many that include incorrect information and allow these individuals to stay longer than permitted in the United States, according to a new government oversight report that warns the Department of Homeland Security is incapable of tracking immigrants who may pose a security risk to the United States.  USCIS, which handles immigration cases and the distribution of green cards, was found to have produced at least 19,000 green cards during the past three years that were duplicates or contained incorrect information, according to a new report by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general.

HUD Has No Answer For Why Its Financial Books Are Worthless.  Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) officials refuse to explain why they haven't fixed poor accounting practices and useless financial books their inspector general (IG) has been exposing for four years.  It's not clear whether HUD officials understand what they're doing is wrong because, their spokesman, Brian Sullivan, told The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group that "HUD does apply generally accepted accounting standards."  Not so, said the IG, whose most recent audit found 11 "material weaknesses," seven "significant deficiencies" in internal controls, and five instances of "noncompliance with applicable laws and regulations."

No More Accidental Criminals.  Consider the retiree on a snowmobile outing in Colorado who got lost in a blizzard and unwittingly crossed into a National Forest Wilderness Area; the Native Alaskan trapper who sold 10 sea otters to a buyer he mistakenly believed was also a Native Alaskan; and the 11-year-old Virginia girl who rescued a baby woodpecker from her cat.  The first two incidents resulted in misdemeanor and felony convictions, respectively, while the third led to a fine (later rescinded) and threats of prosecution.  All three qualify as federal crimes, even though the perpetrators had no idea they were breaking the law.  The federal code contains something like 5,000 criminal statutes and describes an estimated 30,000 regulatory violations that can be treated as crimes.

Washington at Its Worst:  Senate Passes Non-Existent Bill.  On Tuesday night, the Senate voted to proceed to the continuing resolution, a bill that will allegedly fund the government until Dec. 9.  The only problem is that there isn't actually a bill yet.  There is no text.  There is no agreement between Democrats and Republicans on what the bill will fund — Planned Parenthood, the Export-Import Bank, control of the internet — all of it remains a mystery.  Yet the Senate voted 89-7 to proceed to this nonexistent bill.  The Senate operates under complex parliamentary rules that require a series of votes in order to "proceed to" or "get onto" a bill.  The vote Tuesday night was the first in what will be a series of votes on the continuing resolution, or spending bill.

N.M. fire started by feds has rural residents devastated, angry.  Residents of this tiny Mozano Mountain community were devastated when a fire last month scorched 18,000 acres and destroyed a dozen homes.  When they learned it was started by the federal government, they were angry.  The Dog Head Fire broke out June 14 when U.S. Forest Service workers and a private contractor were using a giant shredder to clear forest debris in an ironic bid to prevent a blaze.  The equipment, called a masticator, is believed to have thrown the spark that ignited the blaze that burned out of control for nearly two weeks.  "The start of the fire has been confirmed with equipment operating in the forest service lands on a thinning project," said Elaine Kohrman, U.S. Forest Service supervisor.

FBI Failed To Contact Americans On ISIS Kill Lists.  According to a report by Circa News, the lists, which are not public but encrypted online, name over 15,000 people the terrorist organization wants to see snuffed out by sleeper cells or lone wolves in New York, Texas, Florida and California.  The lists reportedly include names of college professors and military personnel, as well as art collectors and homemakers.  In a sampling of 24 individuals contacted in Texas, 22 told Circa they were not made aware by government officials that they are the targets of the terror group.

Lessons from Fort Hood and Asking the Right Questions in Orlando.  In 2009, debilitating coordination problems within the [FBI] kept it from capitalizing on early intel about Nidal Hasan, a radicalizing Muslim Army officer who was emailing AQAP's Anwar al-Aulaqi nearly a year before the officer went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, firing more than 200 rounds and killing 13 people.  In the email, Hasan asked whether a Muslim US solider who committed fratricide would be considered a martyr in the eyes of Islam.  To the FBI's credit, the email "tripped the wire."  An agent and analyst singled it out despite a crushing workload.  The signal was found amidst the noise — but the FBI's coordination weaknesses then let it get lost again.

How Obama Officials Cried 'Terrorism' to Cover Up a Paperwork Error.  After seven years of litigation, two trips to a federal appeals court and $3.8 million worth of lawyer time, the public has finally learned why a wheelchair-bound Stanford University scholar was cuffed, detained and denied a flight from San Francisco to Hawaii:  FBI human error.  FBI agent Kevin Kelley was investigating Muslims in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2004 when he checked the wrong box on a terrorism form, erroneously placing Rahinah Ibrahim on the no-fly list.  What happened next was the real shame.  Instead of admitting to the error, high-ranking President Barack Obama administration officials spent years covering it up.

Flashback: Does The Government Still Think This Cub Scout Is A Terrorist?  Let's go back in time to The New York Times' 2010 article about then-eight-year-old Mikey Hicks.  Was he a cub scout or a terrorist?  His parents knew.  In fact, most people with cognitive function would know that he's not hell bent on attacking the country, but our government wasn't sure.  He could be the face of absolute evil, so thank goodness the U.S. Senate could bar him from buying a firearm since he's on one of the many terror watch lists maintained by the FBI.  He never had any due process of law concerning his designation as someone who might be the next bin Laden, but who cares — due process is killing us.

Liberal Blogger:  Senate Democrats Forced Me To Side With The NRA.  The criteria concerning how one catches the attention of the FBI who maintains the database isn't really known.  It doesn't seem to be specific, as a cub scout was considered to be suspicious of terrorist activities back in 2010.  The point is the kid, Mikey Hicks, is innocent.  I'm sure there are many more Americans wrongfully placed on these lists, but with no due process — it's difficult to get your name cleared.  Nevertheless, [forget] due process if it means restricting gun rights, am I right Democrats?  Now, Drum is in favor of other gun control initiatives, like a ban on high-capacity magazine, but he gives a forceful "no thanks" concerning stripping an American's gun rights if they happen to catch the eye of the FBI.

FBI never even VISITED the gun store after owner reported suspicious Omar last month when he tried to buy ammo and surveillance has since been erased.  A gun store owner who reported Orlando shooter Omar Mateen to authorities weeks before the massacre has said the FBI did not investigate the store and that no copies of surveillance had been taken.  Robbie Abell, co-owner of Lotus Gunworks, told ABC news that while there was a follow-up conversation with agents, the FBI never visited the south Florida store after he alerted them and failed to investigate further.  Mateen came into the store in May and asked for heavy-duty body armor like the kind used by law enforcement, which they did not sell.

A Modest Proposal for Improving U.S. Intelligence Operations.  While the distressing failures of the FBI and local law enforcement to follow through on evidence that the shooter, Omar Mateen, was a dangerous radicalized person, no apparent effort was made to suspend his security guard license or keep watch on his firearm and ammunition purchases.  Internal operating instructions of the FBI limited the amount of time they could keep watch on him and both the local and federal authorities were paralyzed by fear of being dubbed Islamophobic.  So chilling accounts by his fellow workers were discounted as the result of prejudice, and a report by a local gun shop that he'd tried without success to purchase "body armor and bulk ammunition from the store" was ignored.  Although the FBI interviewed Mateen in 2013 and 2014 following reports by his fellow workers nothing was done — not even to suspend his security licenses or keep tabs on his firearm and ammunition purchases.

Government Rates 99% of Federal Employees 'Fully Successful' or Higher.  According to a recent study by the Government Accountability Office, virtually all federal employees are above average.  In a five-scale rating system, 74 percent of federal employees were given the highest two ratings of "exceeds fully successful" and "outstanding."  Including the middle category of "fully successful" encompasses more than 99 percent of federal employees, leaving less than one-half of one percent as either "minimally successful" or "unacceptable."  Under a normal, bell curve distribution, an equally low percentage of employees would be rated in the lowest and highest categories.  Yet, for every federal employee with the lowest "unacceptable" rating, 386 employees receive the highest "outstanding" rating.

In The Federal Government, All The Workers Are Way Above Average.  A review of federal worker performance ratings by the Government Accountability Office found that 99.5% of them got a "fully successful" rating or above.  More than a third were given the highest rating of "outstanding."  At the other end of the spectrum, just 0.4% of federal workers were rated as "minimally successful" and 0.1% as "unacceptable."  Anyone who has ever had the misfortune of dealing with federal bureaucrats, or who has read countless reports from government auditors detailing gross incompetence across every federal agency, can attest to the fact that these ratings are ludicrous.

DHS ordered me to scrub records of Muslims with terror ties.  Amid the chaos of the 2009 holiday travel season, jihadists planned to slaughter 290 innocent travelers on a Christmas Day flight from the Netherlands to Detroit, Michigan.  Twenty-three-year old Nigerian Muslim Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab intended to detonate Northwest Airlines Flight 253, but the explosives in his underwear malfunctioned and brave passengers subdued him until he could be arrested.  The graphic and traumatic defeat they planned for the United States failed, that time.  Following the attempted attack, President Obama threw the intelligence community under the bus for its failure to "connect the dots."  He said, "this was not a failure to collect intelligence, it was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had."  Most Americans were unaware of the enormous damage to morale at the Department of Homeland Security, where I worked, his condemnation caused.  His words infuriated many of us because we knew his administration had been engaged in a bureaucratic effort to destroy the raw material — the actual intelligence we had collected for years, and erase those dots.  The dots constitute the intelligence needed to keep Americans safe, and the Obama administration was ordering they be wiped away.

Federal officials delayed San Bernardino terrorist attack probe.  A report today [6/2/2016] by the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General concludes that the field office director at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services "improperly delayed" investigators from Immigration and Customs Enforcement from conducting a "lawful and routine law enforcement action" after the San Bernardino terrrorist attack last December.  The report will be posted soon on the Inspector General's website.  Inspector General John Roth conducted the investigation at the request of Sen.  Ron Johnson, Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs.  Roth notes that the "situation" was "corrected" once the incident was "elevated" to supervisors.  But the report provides new evidence that despite extensive money and effort spent to help federal agencies better coordinate and cooperate, especially when it comes to terrorist-related risks, inter-agency bungling continues.

America's nuke program runs on floppy disks.  A report from the Government Accountability Office finds US government agencies spend $60 billion a year operating and maintaining outdated systems — three times more than is spent on upgrades, per CNN.  One such system:  the Pentagon's IBM Series-1 computer which uses 8-inch floppy disks "in a legacy system that coordinates the operational functions of the nation's nuclear forces," including intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombers.

US military uses 8-inch floppy disks to coordinate nuclear force operations.  The U.S. Defense Department is still using — after several decades — 8-inch floppy disks in a computer system that coordinates the operational functions of the nation's nuclear forces, a jaw-dropping new report reveals.  The Defense Department's 1970s-era IBM Series/1 Computer and long-outdated floppy disks handle functions related to intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear bombers and tanker support aircraft, according to the new Government Accountability Office report.

USDA Awards $746,827 to Improve 'Shopping Practices of Adolescents'.  Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced Thursday [5/19/2016] six universities have been awarded nearly $3.8 million in funding by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for programs designed to help fight obesity.  The USDA's program descriptions for the six grants include:
  •   $746,827 to the University of Kentucky for the testing of the program "Smart Shopping."  According to the program description, Smart Shopping is "aimed at improving the shopping practices of adolescents with the ultimate goal of increasing fruit and vegetable intake."
  •   $797,995 was awarded to the University of New England, Biddeford, Maine for the "Supermarket Science: Multipronged Approaches to Increasing Fresh, Frozen and Canned Fruit and Vegetable Purchases" program.
  •   The University of Maryland received $943,287 for a program designed to enhance implementation of school wellness policies.  The efforts['] goal "is to create health promoting school environments that support healthy growth/development of children to prevent obesity."

An Answer to TSA Incompetence:  Less Government.  The Transportation Security Administration has become infamous over the years for things that it doesn't allow on planes.  Consider these examples of the Keystone Cops in action.
  •   Confiscating a plastic hammer from a mentally retarded man.
  •   Detaining a woman for carrying breast milk.
  •   Hassling a woman for the unexplained red flag of having sequentially numbered checks.
  •   Demanding that a handicapped 4-year old boy walk through a metal detector without his leg braces.
  •   Putting an 8-year old cub scout on the no-fly list.
  •   Stopping a teenager from flying because her purse had an image of a gun.
  •   Seizing raygun belt buckles and Kitty Cat keychains.
But now the TSA is moving with such tortoise-like inefficiency that even the passengers without plastic hammers and kitty cat keychains aren't getting on planes.  Our cousins across the Atlantic are amused by the TSA's incompetence.

Wyoming welder, facing $16M in fines, beats EPA in battle over stock pond.  A Wyoming man threatened with $16 million in fines over the building of a stock pond reached a settlement with the Environment Protection Agency, allowing him to keep the pond without a federal permit or hefty fine.  Andy Johnson, of Fort Bridger, Wyoming obtained a state permit before building the stock pond in 2012 on his sprawling nine-acre farm for a small herd of livestock.  Not long after contruction [sic], the EPA threatened Johnson with civil and criminal penalties — including the threat of a $37,500-a-day fine — claiming he needed the agency's permission before building the 40-by-300 foot pond, which is filled by a natural stream.

The Editor says...
This sounds like an Eighth Amendment issue:  Does the act of building a stock pond justify fines of $37,500 per day?  Does the pond do that much damage?  For that matter, can anyone beyond Mr. Johnson's fence tell if he has stock pond or not>

No regrets expressed by officials in dismissed freeway case.  The charges were formally dismissed Monday [4/25/2016] at the request of prosecutors after undisclosed questions arose about the case's evidence.

The Editor says...
They got the wrong guy, in other words.

State Dept.  Hack Who Issued Visas to 9/11 Hijackers Still Employed by State Dept..  Writing at PJ Media, Nicholas Ballasy passes along a story that — in a sane world — would startle regular Americans and merit front page headlines around the country.  But, given the legendary incompetence of Democrat administrations, it's not and it won't.

Killer Illegal Immigrant ICE Failed to Detain Now on ICE's Most Wanted List.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement is adding the illegal immigrant arrested and then released after killing 21-year old Sarah Root while street-racing drunk to ICE's Most Wanted list, according to Sen.  Ben Sasse (R-NE).  Edwin (Eswin) Mejia, an illegal immigrant from Honduras, absconded after ICE declined to detain him — as his crimes "did not meet ICE's enforcement priorities" as laid out by the Obama administration — and he posted bail.

Feds hold man's check, confuse service dog with terrorist.  Sometimes truth is much stranger than fiction.  On Monday [3/28/23016], the New York Post, citing a report at KTVU, reported that a man's payment was placed on hold because someone confused a dog's name with terrorists.  The Post reported:  ["]The Department of Treasury flagged a California man's bank account — because his dog's name, Dash, was similar to a term used for ISIS in the Islamic world, Daesh.["]

Immigration Printed, Mailed Hundreds Of Inaccurate Green Cards.  Immigration officials sent hundreds of green cards to incorrect addresses, fueling national security concerns they "may have fallen into the wrong hands," a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General report finds.  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), using a 480-percent-over-budget automated immigration processing system that has increased green card errors rather than reducing them, printed "potentially hundreds" of green cards with the wrong names or sent them to the wrong addresses in recent years.  That error "has created potential security concerns about documents that cannot be accounted for or that may have fallen into the wrong hands," the IG found.

More Government Abuse: 120 Years in Prison for Firing Two Shots in the Air.  An Army veteran has been charged with 12 criminal counts for firing two shots off in the air that hit no one.  He didn't hurt anyone.  This is a case of blatant prosecutorial abuse.

The Absurdly Harsh Penalties that Sparked the Oregon Rancher Protest.  In addition to the long-running conflict between ranchers and the federal government over control of land in the West, the case illustrates the practical impossibility of challenging harsh mandatory minimum sentences as violations of the Eighth Amendment's ban on "cruel and unusual punishments."  The first fire set by the Hammonds, which Steven Hammond said was intended to eliminate invasive species on their property, ended up consuming 139 acres of federal land.  The second fire, which was aimed at protecting the Hammonds' winter feed from a wildfire sparked by lightning, burned about an acre of public land.  Although the Hammonds did not seek the required government permission for either burn, the damage to federal land seems to have been unintentional.  In 2012 they were nevertheless convicted under 18 USC 844(f)(1), which prescribes a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for anyone who "maliciously damages or destroys, or attempts to damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive," any federal property.

'It's Because I'm Black, Isn't It?'  Race makes people crazy, but often not in the way you'd expect.  A nation watched wide-eyed as Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC complained that the Star Wars franchise was racist because the major villain is "black."  Darth Vader is black in the sense that Johnny Cash or Ben Roethlisberger or certain figures from Arthurian legend are "black" — white guys in black outfits — so people kept waiting for Harris-Perry, "America's foremost public intellectual," to crack and let us know that she was joking.  But she wasn't joking.

Gov't Watchdog: HUD's Financial Books Are Impossible To Audit.  A government watchdog says it can't audit billions in Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) spending because the agency's financial books are kept so poorly.  HUD's financial statements and systems are missing records, inaccurate and sometimes even violated federal laws, according to a HUD inspector general report released Monday [11/30/2015].  Included among the programs with useless financial accounting records is nearly $20 billion at the Government National Mortgage Association.

Homeland Security [is] Running Hundreds of Sensitive, Top Secret Databases Vulnerable to Attacks.  The Department of Homeland Security is running hundreds of sensitive and top secret databases without the proper authorization, leaving the agency unsure if it can "protect sensitive information" from cyber attacks.  An audit released publicly Thursday [11/19/2015] by the inspector general found multiple areas of weaknesses within the agency's information security programs.  Specifically, the department is operating 136 "sensitive but unclassified," "Secret," and "Top Secret" systems with "expired authorities to operate."

TSA Says 73 Employees Were on Terror Watch List.  A few months ago, top TSA officials were forced to hand over their plastic badges and report for bin-stacking duty after it was discovered that 95% of the time, fake, planted "bombs" and "firearms" were able to make it swiftly through security at a bunch of American airports (just don't wrap your face powder up in your underwear or they'll spill out the contents of your luggage across the "security screening area" with abandon, before testing you and your laptop for exploses, because obviously you're a terrorist, boarding a flight to that high-impact target Cleveland at an ungodly morning hour... not that I'm bitter).  Anyway, the malfeasance inside the TSA extends throughout the agency, apparently, from line workers, to top brass and even to HR.

6 Million Un-Dead Have Social Security Numbers, Audit Finds.  An internal audit out this week reports that there are 6 million people with Social Security numbers who were born more than 112 years ago.  Unless there is a Missouri's worth of extremely aged Americans, what this means is that Social Security didn't get the death information that it was supposed to receive on these people.  These un-dead aren't collecting benefits, apparently, but it's still a huge problem, the auditors note, because those "live" numbers can be, and have been, used to commit fraud.

The Editor says...
Guess who is using one of those very old Social Security numbers.

Obama promises to vet Syrian migrants, can't even run immigration database.  The disastrous ObamaCare website wasn't an extraordinary exception to the way this administration does things. [...] Did anyone really expect another outcome?  The VA records system is a disaster.  The ObamaCare database was a disaster.  The only database that works is the one used to track Democratic voters.

A decade into a project to digitize U.S. immigration forms, just 1 is online.  Heaving under mountains of paperwork, the government has spent more than $1 billion trying to replace its antiquated approach to managing immigration with a system of digitized records, online applications and a full suite of nearly 100 electronic forms.  A decade in, all that officials have to show for the effort is a single form that's now available for online applications and a single type of fee that immigrants pay electronically.  The 94 other forms can be filed only with paper.

EMT Suspended Without Pay for Stopping to Help a Choking 7-Year-Old Girl.  What would you risk to save a child's life?  A New York EMT didn't hesitate to act when he found out that a girl was choking, but it may have cost him his job.

ObamaCare Still Can't Catch Fraudulent Enrollees — Audit.  The Government Accountability Office sent 10 auditors with fictitious enrollment information to the federal healthcare.gov site as well as two state-run ObamaCare exchanges, to sign up for subsidized insurance.  While eight didn't make it through the initial identity-checking process, all 10 eventually obtained coverage, even though four obviously had made up Social Security numbers that started with "000."  They all were able to keep their coverage despite filing fake follow-up documentation.  In addition, the GAO tried to sign eight more up for Medicaid coverage.  Three made it through the process, and four ended up getting subsidized private coverage instead.

Easy To Cheat Obamacare, Medicaid? GAO Says No Sweat.  How easy is it to cheat Obamacare or Medicaid to receive highly subsidized federal health insurance?  Very, it turns out, according to a U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) and its undercover operation.  All 10 fictitious Obamacare applicants who worked for GAO were approved for federal government subsidies and issued health insurance coverage, many using phony Social Security and a fictitious employer.  Seven out of eight other applicants to Medicaid insurance were also approved.

Remind me again:  Why does the Department of Energy exist?
Obama Administration Yawns As Energy Dept. Gets Hacked 159 Times.  USA Today obtained federal records showing that the Department of Energy was successfully hacked 159 times between 2010 and 2014 ) — potentially putting the nation's power grid at risk and nuclear stockpile at risk.  A third of these intrusions were "root compromises," the paper found, which means that the hackers gained administrative privileges, giving them wide access to the Energy Department network.  The USA Today investigation also found that 19 of the successful attacks involved the National Nuclear Security Administration, which is responsible for managing the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile.

HUD Allowing Wealthy Families To Live In Public Housing While Poor Families Linger On Waiting Lists.  Welfare benefits like food stamps and public housing are supposed to be a "safety net" to protect our poorest and most vulnerable citizens.  But does a family with a half million dollars in income really need a government-provided safety net?  According to a report by the Washington Post, an audit of the public housing assistance provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) found more than 25,000 "over income" families who earned more than the maximum income for public housing but were still allowed to remain.

Indian restaurant fined for trying to hire Indian waiter.  An Indian waiter in an Indian restaurant — imagine that!  City bureaucrats slapped a $5,000 fine on a Midtown Indian restaurant for trying to hire a server who is Indian, according to official documents.  Following an inquiry by The [New York] Post, the city's Commission on Human Rights — which cited the eatery two years ago — said it's assessing its practices.  Commission staffers have been trawling Craigslist to ensnare unwary restaurant owners who violate the law for things like seeking a "waitress" instead of a "wait-person."

30 Blocks of Government Incompetence.  There were two accidents on the Schuylkill Expressway last Monday morning.  You know what this meant.  I had the pleasure of traveling to work on the scenic 30 Blocks of Squalor.  The 30 blocks from 69th Street in Upper Darby to 39th Street in West Philly is a tribute to government incompetence, failed government policies, shoddy union labor practices and fiscal mismanagement.  This entire thirty block trek could be completed in 5 to 10 minutes if the hundreds of union government drones in the Philadelphia Streets Department would get [to work] and [synchronize] the lights.  The blocks are identical in distance.  They don't need advanced degrees in physics or calculus to set the lights to go green every ten seconds in order.

Big water bill
Some still struggle with wildly inaccurate water bills from city.  Baltimore says it has fixed its well-known water bill problems — grossly inaccurate bills, haphazard record-keeping, a dysfunctional bureaucracy — but reports from city customers suggest that debugging the long-troubled system is no easy task.  Take the case of Jacqueline Robarge, a Remington homeowner who recently found herself facing a $65,469.50 quarterly water bill.

The Editor says...
Obviously the biggest problem with this utility bill is that it does not specify the number of gallons of water used by the customer.  That's a feature that would add a sanity check and error-correction mechanism for cases like this one.  Also note that the billing amount looks like it could easily be 65535 minus the actual amount owed, which would mean there's a binary inversion somewhere in the billing computer.


Wyoming law could mean jail for sunset picture, claims critic.  A new Wyoming law theoretically could land a nature lover in prison simply for taking a picture of a Cowboy State sunset and proudly entering it in a photo contest, at least according to one critic's reading of it.  The law, dubbed the Data Process Bill, makes it illegal to "collect resource data" from any land outside of city boundaries.  Critics, including University of Denver Law Professor Justin Pidot, say it appears aimed at stopping self-appointed watchdogs from documenting pollution of waterways caused by runoff from farms and ranches.

School freaks out over boys baseball storage shed.  One of the parents knew the owner of a company that made precast one-story buildings.  The company offered to donate the manpower and materials to build the boys a shed. [...] "It cost the booster club zero," Carl told me.  And that was that — until a few months ago.  That's when officials with the Clark County School District showed up at the school and demanded that the storage shed be torn down.  They said it violated Title IX. [...]In other words, for every boy sport there must be a girls alternative.  And in the case of Arbor View High School — if the boys have a storage shed — the girls must have a storage shed.

Leaving a Guy Imprisoned for Five Days Without Food, Water Not Enough to Get Fired from DEA.  Can we hire Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) head Michele Leonhart back just to fire her again?  Technically she's resigning, but everybody knows she's being forced out because her agency had become too lawless, even in an administration that seems to believe in few checks on executive power.  Here's the latest example:  Back in 2012, the DEA snatched up Daniel Chong near San Diego in a marijuana-related raid (it was April 20) of a friend's home.  Chong was not charged with any crime at the time.  Instead, he was forgotten entirely.  The problem was that Chong was forgotten while he was handcuffed in a DEA holding cell with no food and water.  For five days.

Mayor Mike's Dislikes.  Cigarettes are the latest vice to come under fire from Bloomberg, who recently lost his battle to ban large sodas.  He has previously banned or tried to ban trans-fats, smoking in public places, salty food, and traffic in the city.

The Complete List of Everything Banned by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  Michael Bloomberg leaves office tomorrow [1/1/2014] after 12 years as New York City's mayor.  No mayor in recent memory has added so much to a city.  Or taken so much away.  To remember him properly, here's a list of everything Bloomberg banned during his time in office.

Let's Talk about the Clueless Financial Regulators.  [Scroll down]  The point is that all regulatory bureaucrats are useless, especially financial regulatory bureaucrats.  Which bureaucrat at the SEC stopped Bernie Madoff from ripping off thousands of rich Americans?  Which bureaucrat stopped those greedy bankers?  Which bureaucrat at the FHFA stopped Fannie and Freddie in time?  Which bureaucrat at the independent FCC stopped President Obama's improper arm-twist to push "net neutrality?"

Feds to Weigh Children in Daycare.  Bureaucrats from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will weigh and measure children in daycare as part of a study mandated by First Lady Michelle Obama's Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.  The agency published a notice in the Federal Register on Friday [3/20/2015] proposing data collection on what meals are served in professional and home daycare facilities and how much physical activity children perform.  Aside from assessing how healthy the food in daycare is, the USDA will also check the weight and height of roughly 3,000 children.

'We're really sorry': US sends 14,000 draft notices to men born in 1800s.  [T]he Selective Service System mistakenly sent notices to more than 14,000 Pennsylvania men born between 1893 and 1897, ordering them to register for the nation's military draft and warning that failure to do so is "punishable by a fine and imprisonment."

Y2K bug triggers army conscription notices sent to 14,000 dead men.  A year 2000-related bug has caused the US military to send more than 14,000 letters of conscription to men who were all born in the 1800s and died decades ago.  Shocked residents of Pennsylvania began receiving letters ordering their great grandparents to register for the US military draft by pain of "fine and imprisonment."

Foreign backpacker arrested for staying in US half hour too long.  A backpacker visiting from South America is locked in federal detention after reportedly over-extending his stay by 30 minutes.  A Seattle immigration attorney has taken on the case for free, saying it's "absurd."  For six months Diego Simonassi said he roamed freely about the United States, backpacking all over the country.  But, when his time was up on June 14 and he tried to enter Canada to continue his trip, he didn't know he needed a visa to get through the border.  Canadian authorities at the Peace Arch crossing turned him back to the US side.  But it was 30 minutes passed [sic] midnight.

Pinterest Users, Beware: Giving Cooking Advice Could Be a Crime.  You'd better think twice before you recommend that fellow Pinterest users substitute fat-free evaporated milk for heavy cream.  You just might end up on the wrong side of the law.  That's the risk you run in North Carolina, where dispensing free dietary advice on the Internet got Steven Cooksey threatened with criminal penalties.  What did Cooksey do?  According to the Carolina Journal, in May of 2009, Cooksey started a blog on which he described his ordeal with diabetes and told readers how a new diet helped him through his illness.  His website explicitly informed viewers that he wasn't a doctor or a nutritionist.  That was enough to alarm the North Carolina Board of Dietetics and Nutrition.  In January of 2012, the board warned Steve that he could not give readers personal advice on diet, whether for free or for compensation, because doing so constituted the unlicensed practice of "dietetics."  And unlicensed dietetics is a misdemeanor in North Carolina.

Taxman auctions widow's home over $6 bill.  A Pennsylvania judge ruled that it's perfectly OK for state tax authorities to have sold a widow's home at auction because she failed to pay a $6.30 tax bill.

Bureaucracy doesn't just hurt — it kills.  Government death panels weren't invented by Obamacare.  By hiding a list of 1,600 veterans waiting to see doctors in Phoenix, the Department of Veterans Affairs is accused of 40 deaths of those who died for lack of care.  Keeping them off the official list concealed the backlog and made VA bureaucrats look better and qualify for bonuses.  So far, no firings, no disciplinary actions, no screaming on the evening news has resulted, although the inspector general for VA is looking into it at the insistence of Arizona lawmakers.

Portland reservoir as a latrine? It'll be moot once EPA rule kicks in.  Portland's now-infamous teenager who was caught on camera urinating into a reservoir there apparently told an online news site that he was relieving himself on a wall.  Although tests on the open-air reservoir came back clean, the ick factor was enough for officials to go ahead with their plan to drain all 38 million gallons of drinking water and send it into the sea.

These 3 fails show U.S. is an awful boss.  Before taxpayers lost $529 million on solar energy company Solyndra and $10.5 billion on GM, the US government had a long history of backing the wrong horse.  Many of the great industries in US history — from the fur trade to steamships, railroads, chemicals and airplanes — failed in the hands of government but succeeded thanks to private entrepreneurs.  A closer reading of American history may have avoided the colossal mistake of President Obama's $700 billion stimulus bill.

Student Visa Program Vulnerable to 'Potential Terrorists'.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cannot account for nearly 50,000 foreign students taking advantage of a student work visa program, according to a new report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Friday [3/7/2014].  The program is a threat to national security and vulnerable to potential terrorists, said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), who asked the GAO to review the program.

U.S. has lost track of tens of thousands of foreign students who came study to then took jobs.  The federal government has lost track of tens of thousands of foreign students who came to the U.S. to study and then took jobs, often in violation of the terms of their visas, according to a new internal audit.  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement doesn't even consistently collect information or have the tools to monitor all of the foreign students who take part in the optional practical training (OPT) program, the Government Accountability Office said in a new report released late Friday [3/7/2014].

Man's good deed lands his home on DEA list of meth labs.  On Jan. 5, 2012, Paul Valin called the police to report he'd found a backpack containing what he believed to be meth-making equipment.  That simple act of good citizenship landed his and wife Cindy's house on the National Clandestine Laboratory Register, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency's list of meth labs. [...] The fact that Valin found the backpack more than 15 miles from his house isn't the sort of thing the DEA or any other division of the Department of Justice would have checked on before publishing his address on the NCLR.

Parent of dying boy has to prove her son can't take standardized test.  Andrea Rediske's 11-year-old son Ethan, is dying.  Last year, Ethan, who was born with brain damage, has cerebral palsy and is blind, was forced to take a version of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test over the space of two weeks last year because the state of Florida required that every student take one.  His mom has to prove that Ethan, now in a morphine coma, is in no condition to take another test this year.

D.C. man on trial for one shotgun shell — wasn't given David Gregory deal.  A year ago this month, the attorney general for the District of Columbia let NBC News anchor David Gregory off scot-free for possession of a "high capacity" magazine because doing so "would not promote public safety."  Now, Irvin Nathan refuses to use that same prosecutorial discretion for an average citizen who violated a bizarre technicality that makes empty casings and shells a crime as serious as having an illegal firearm.

Big government is really good at one thing:  the voice mail runaround.
EDD answers only 10% to 17% of calls from jobless, records show.  On any given day in recent months, as many as 90% of callers to the Employment Development Department seeking information about missed payments or unprocessed claims failed to reach a live worker, according to agency phone records obtained by The [Los Angeles] Times.  Callers who don't get through to staff are routed to a recorded voice directing them to seek answers on the EDD website or get help through an automated self-service phone number — options that many unemployed workers have already tried in vain.

Virtuoso's flutes destroyed by US Customs.  Before you whine about an airline temporarily losing your luggage, think of poor Boujemaa Razgui.  The flute virtuoso who performs regularly with The Boston Camerata lost 13 handmade flutes over the holidays when a US Customs official at New York's JFK Airport mistook the instruments for pieces of bamboo and destroyed them.

Tone Deaf? Musician claims feds destroyed rare flutes at airport.  A Canadian musician claims that U.S. Customs officials seized and destroyed 11 rare flutes as he passed through New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport last week.  The reason?  Concerns they were an ecological threat.

5 Political Fallacies Too Many Americans Embrace:  [#4]  There's no need to worry because politicians know what they're doing.  The primary reason most Americans don't pay attention to politics is that they just assume that despite all of the feuding and fighting, politicians generally know what they're doing and won't let anything too horrible happen to the country.  This is no longer a safe assumption because the people running the government aren't competent, they're not making decisions based on what's best for the country, and most government employees are just following orders, not trying to improve the system.

ATF Ruins the Lives of Disabled Teenagers to Solve a Problem the Bureau Created.  Nearly one year ago, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on an ATF sting gone bad when the bureau tried to catch bad guys by setting up a store.  The sting ended in a damaged rent space, $35,000 in stolen goods and with a fully automatic machine gun lost on the city streets.  Now it appears ATF failed during another store front sting and is punishing teenagers they convinced to help them by throwing them in jail.

Sock monkey gun
TSA agent confiscates sock monkey's toy pistol.  "Rooster Monkburn" the cowboy sock monkey is without his pistol, thanks to a diligent TSA agent in St. Louis.  Phyllis May of Redmond, Wash. says she is "appalled and shocked and embarrassed all at the same time" about the incident that happened on Dec. 3.

US's top secret launch nuclear launch code was frighteningly simple.  For nearly 20 years, the secret code to authorize launching U.S. nuclear missiles, and starting World War III, was terrifyingly simple and even noted down on a checklist.  From 1962, when John F Kennedy instituted PAL encoding on nuclear weapons, until 1977, the combination to fire the devastating missiles at the height of the Cold War was just 00000000.  This was chosen by Strategic Air Command in an effort to make the weapons as quick and as easy to launch as possible, as reported by Today I Found Out.

Countless Government Operator Errors — And Obama Wants to Give Us More.  We are currently hobbled by a whole host of federal government debacles.  An endless litany of Government Operator Errors (GOEs).  Many are chronic.  Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are staring down $84 trillion in unfunded liabilities — simply staggering, nationally debilitating GOEs.  And there is oh-so-much-more.

Woman Forced To Strip And Serve Jail Time For Overdue Ticket.  A North Texas woman was handcuffed, stripped down and booked into jail — all because of an overdue traffic ticket.  It was just a ticket.  Sarah Boaz was cited in August after an officer said she ran a stop sign.

It's ILLEGAL for federal employees to check their work email during the government shutdown.  Federal employees who have been furloughed could lose their jobs if they check their work email during the government shutdown.  The prohibition comes from an obscure law known as the Antideficiency Act that was first passed in 1884, the Washington Post reports.  Federal agencies say a violation of the law could result in a termination of employment.

Warning: Our Government Is a Threat to Public Safety.  Have you noticed the common thread among several mass killings and homeland security incidents lately?  Time and again, it's the control freaks in Washington who have fallen down on their jobs, allowing crazies, creeps and criminals to roam free and wreak havoc while ignoring rampant red flags.

Underzealous Prosecutor Fails To Press 'Terroristic Threats' Charges.  Normally, when a story involves someone being arrested for conveying a "threat" via social media, the protagonist usually has yet to hit the legal drinking age.  And usually the protagonist ends up facing serious "terroristic threat" charges for firing off an ill-advised statement that is subsequently stripped of context and offered up by prosecutors [...] as evidence of another youthful terrorist-in-the-making.  This particular case has none of the above.

Senators Wyden & Udall Ask...
If The NSA Is So Confused About Its Own Capabilities, Why Do We Trust Them With All That Data?  As you may remember, one of the points made by the NSA in its defense was that its surveillance systems were so complex that no one person actually understood them all.  That leads to a rather obvious question... If the NSA can't even keep track of how its systems work, how can we trust them to know that the system isn't being abused (or that it's accurately doing what the NSA claims)[?]

How Much Has Detroit's Police Force Been Cut? No One Knows.  Soon after the city of Detroit filed for bankruptcy, many blogs and news sites began running "facts" about the city.  One common "fact" repeated often was that "the size of the police force in Detroit has been cut by about 40 percent over the past decade."  Although it makes for interesting reading, just how much the police department has been cut is not that simple to determine and is another example of the city's dysfunction.

Woman Settles With Chicago Over $100,000 Parking Fine.  A Chicago woman has settled with the city of Chicago after she was left with more than $100,000 in parking fines when her ex-boyfriend abandoned her car in an inaccessible airport parking lot for nearly three years.

The Editor says...
Common sense would suggest a ceiling on parking fines, perhaps equal to the auction value of the offending vehicle.  But most traffic fines and parking fines have only a thin connection to common sense or public safety — they are all about raising money.

Man Accused of Blowing Up Dog Not Charged With Animal Cruelty.  A man accused of blowing up his daughter's dog because he was mad at her is being held on $500,000 bail, but not for harming the pet pooch.  "In the animal cruelty statute in the state of Washington it talks about animal suffering," Undersherriff Dave Cox told ABC News.  Since the dog died instantaneously and didn't suffer before it died, "the prosecutor was concerned about that verbiage," Cox said.

Lying as a Way of Life.  Society is increasingly unable to solve its pressing problems not for lack of a solution or resources, but primarily from an unshakable determination not to face politically inconvenient facts.  Take for example, Chicago's new crime-fighting strategy.  "Chicago police are going to hand deliver letters to people suspected of committing or being victims of gun crimes in an effort to stem violence in the city, according to a new report."  This is a triumph of PR over policy, fiction over reality and madness over sanity.

Feds Unwilling or Unable To Stop Illegal Checks.  A Long Island, N.Y., woman has spent nearly two years trying to convince the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Postal Service that persons with Hispanic-sounding surnames using her address to obtain tax refunds from the IRS are part of a fraud scheme.  She has not found a government agency that will stop the phony tax refunds from arriving in her mailbox.  Instead, federal and state authorities pass the buck.  The checks, including some offering payment for Hurricane Sandy "relief" to people who may not exist, keep coming.

Washington Deserves a Declaration of Incompetence.  According to a House Judiciary Committee statement, the Justice Department's inspector general "found that the number of known or suspected terrorists admitted to the Witness Security Program is unknown, that DOJ has lost track of two suspected terrorists in the program, and that critical national security information is not being shared with other agencies," including the FBI.  Such confirmed or assumed terrorists previously on the federal No Fly List did not have their new names added to the list.  Thus, "several known or suspected terrorists have been able to board commercial airplanes in the United States."

The Orwellian government depends on a continuous state of emergency.
Warning Pollution.  Anyone waiting even a short time for a train on the Metro will be told at least once not only that if he sees something to say something, but also to not smoke in the Metro system — perhaps an announcement left over from Metro's origins in 1976, when smoking was more common.  Riders are also told to not sit on escalators and that wet floors are slippery, and sometimes they are privy to pages for individual employees, which in the age of cell phone ubiquity seems absurd.

Homeland Security: Stop Complaining or Face Arrest.  [Scroll down]  That's when the trouble began.  A Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation deputy director warned the group that "unfounded complaints about water quality could be considered an 'act of terrorism.'  We take water quality very seriously.  Very, very seriously."  Attendees stared dumbfounded as the speaker continued, "You need to make sure that when you make water quality complaints you have a basis, because federally, if there's no water quality issues, that can be considered under Homeland Security an act of terrorism."  After a brief moment of stunned silence, one audience member asked if the speaker could "say that again, please."

Capitol Hill Police Block Tea Party Activists from Immigration Rally.  Capitol Hill police left a voicemail for Kevin Mooneyhan, Deputy Executive Director of Tea Party Patriots, saying that "your people" only are permitted to assemble for the event on the west side of the Capitol.  The activists' presence at the immigration event on the east side supposedly violates the terms of the Tea Party's permit.  Mooneyhan was instructed to move any activists who planned on attending the Tea Party rally away from the immigration event.  Keep in mind, the immigration event is hosted by sitting members of Congress.  The notion that citizens can't attend an event featuring duly elected Representatives in a public space is absurd.  "The Capitol police are violating our rights to assembly and association," Mooneyhan told Breitbart News.  "How does our permit limit the rights of individuals to attend public events?  It's intimidation."

The New American Enemies List.  The CIA and FBI knew of the suspicious activity of the Boston bombers, of Major Hasan, and of Anwar al-Awlaki.  And they did nothing to preempt their violence.  The FBI is said to be carefully avoiding monitoring mosques, although all of the above terrorists were known by many fellow Muslim worshipers to be either disturbed or extremist or both.

A flawed federal law enforcement agency?  The federal government maintains a bewildering number of armed law enforcement agencies, including the 295 armed Social Security special agents, for whom 174,000 .357 Sig 125 grain bonded jacketed hollow point bullets were recently put up for bid.  A much larger armed police force consists of about 2000 agents in the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security.  According to the New York Post, that police force is seriously compromised because numbers of people with hidden criminal backgrounds have been hired.  This makes them unable to participate in criminal prosecutions.

Obama's Snooping Excludes Mosques, Missed Boston Bombers.  The White House assures that tracking our every phone call and keystroke is to stop terrorists, and yet it won't snoop in mosques, where the terrorists are.  That's right, the government's sweeping surveillance of our most private communications excludes the jihad factories where homegrown terrorists are radicalized.  Since October 2011, mosques have been off-limits to FBI agents.  No more surveillance or undercover string operations without high-level approval from a special oversight body at the Justice Department dubbed the Sensitive Operations Review Committee.  Who makes up this body, and how do they decide requests?  Nobody knows; the names of the chairman, members and staff are kept secret.

Too bad to check: US won't allow Canadian relief for OK to cross border?  The people of Oklahoma can use every resource available after two weeks of tornadoes and destruction.  Our friends to the north have rallied to their cause, gathering badly-needed supplies of food, water, and other necessities.  However, Canada can't get their trucks across the border, thanks to US regulations  — and the absence of a federal declaration of disaster.

Witness protection program lost two former 'known or suspected terrorists'. The U.S. Marshals Service lost two former participants in the federal Witness Security Program "identified as known or suspected terrorists," according to the public summary of an interim Justice Department Inspector General's report obtained by CNN.  The Marshals Service has concluded that "one individual was and the other individual was believed to be residing outside of the United States," according to the summary.

Terrorists given new identities allowed to board commercial flights, IG report finds.  An investigation of the Justice Department's witness protection program uncovered glaring security problems that allowed terrorists who had been given new identities after cooperating with U.S. prosecutors to board commercial flights in the United States.  In some cases, suspects whose names were on federal watch lists that were meant to keep them off commercial aircraft were nevertheless able to board flights because the Justice Department had failed to add their new, government-issued identities to counterterrorism databases.

Terror database too vague to flag Boston suspect.  The Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment list, known as TIDE, was the government's attempt after the Sept. 11 attacks to consolidate a hodgepodge of watch lists, and ensure that every law enforcement agency would be alerted when it came into contact with a possible terrorist.  But TIDE has ballooned to 875,000 records, and critics say it is so all-encompassing that its value has been diminished.  The database includes the names of young children of suspected terrorists and of people who have been cleared of suspected links to terrorism, officials say.  A single credible tip raising "reasonable suspicion" is enough to add someone to the list.

Woulda. coulda. shoulda.  Starting with 9/11, Washington has been quick to holler "no one's connecting the dots!" whenever there's been an attack.  But when it comes to ensuring those dots are collected, it's another story.  Now we have the bombings in Boston, and we are seeing the same dynamic.  Of all the questions, surely the most salient are these:  What could the FBI have learned, when could it have learned it — and would it have made a difference?

One for the Citizens.  This marks something of a royal flush or bases-loaded home run in incompetent intelligence, something that required actual skill and will be difficult to surpass.  We can top this off with the sudden Mirandizing of Dzhokhar just as FBI questioning was starting to get answers.  Reports suggest that an FBI agent raced out to get a sympathetic judge to handle it.  Anybody want to bet that the agent in question had "Mohammed" in his name?  One thing for sure:  there will be no worthwhile investigation or punishment involving any of this.

The Supreme Court vs. Freedom of Information.  Let's say a resident of New York drives to Virginia in order to visit relatives and a member of her family uses her car to visit a prostitute one night and ends up getting arrested.  The owner has zero knowledge of this illegal activity and is of course never charged with any crime, let alone convicted of one, yet the police still seize the car as part of an asset forfeiture proceeding.  That's the controversial tool allowing law enforcement to take private property suspected of being used to facilitate a crime without first obtaining a criminal conviction against the owner of that property.  Shouldn't the New York-based car owner be permitted to file a Virginia Freedom of Information Act request as part of her efforts to get her property back?  Not in the eyes of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Top Intel Official: U.S. 'Took All Appropriate Steps' Before Boston Bombing.  Director of National Intelligence James Clapper already believes there was no intelligence failure in the lead-up to the Boston Marathon bombings, despite an inquiry into the matter only just beginning.

This is why we have lawyers and juries:
Social Security comes after man for $895 overpayment they made to his mom.  Imagine if your parent received an over-payment from the government but decades later, the government took the money out of your tax return.

82-Yr-Old Activist Breaches "Stringent Security" At U.S. Nuclear Weapons Lab.  In an inconceivable breach, an 82-year-old nun along with two other seniors somehow managed to evade what the U.S. government calls the "most stringent security in the world" to break into a nuclear weapons laboratory often referred to as the "Fort Knox of Uranium."  So much for the feds protecting nuclear labs from a terrorist attack with topnotch — and costly — security systems; this staggering story comes from the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  It's operated by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which is responsible for the management and security of the country's nuclear weapons, nuclear nonproliferation and naval reactor programs.

The Editor says...
Top-notch is a hyphenated word.  Five point penalty.  See me after class.

Investigate Employer Who Filed 37,375 Bad W-2s in One Year.  Investigate the employer who — according to the Office of the Inspector General of the Social Security Administration (SSA) — filed 37,375 inaccurate W-2s in tax year 2005.  In fact, investigate all employers who have similarly filed massive numbers of bad W-2s.  Forget the employers who filed 100, 200 or even 500 bad W-2s per year.  Give them a pass — for now.  Focus only on those that filed thousands.

Teacher Sues School over Suspension for 'Weapons' Charge: Showing Students Garden Tools.  Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute have filed a civil rights lawsuit against a Chicago public school district on behalf of a second-grade teacher who was suspended after he displayed garden-variety tools such as wrenches, pliers and screwdrivers in his classroom as part of a "tool discussion" in his class. [...] Bartlett was subsequently penalized with a four-day suspension without pay — charged with possessing, carrying, storing or using a weapon.

The Editor says...
The teacher must not have known about the "Screwdriver Free Zone" signs in front of the school.

Miami code enforcement to nuns: Stop feeding the poor.
Mother Teresa's Miami soup kitchen harassed by the powerful.  Thirty-three years ago, Mother Teresa of Calcutta came to Miami to put her merciful motto of love into action:  "To serve the poorest of the poor."  Since then, each morning a group of sisters of the congregation of the Missionaries of Charity, donning their distinctive white blue-bordered saris, passes through the gates of their beloved Overtown convent — where they live without air conditioning, washing machines or television — and cross the street to enter the world of the poor:  a soup kitchen founded by Mother Teresa.

Government Gave 4,317 Aliens two Social Security Numbers Apiece.  A report from the Social Security Administration Inspector General (IG) found 4,317 instances where a non-citizen was able to obtain two Social Security numbers, including 542 instances that happened since 2001.  "We identified 4,317 instances where the Numident record of 2 SSNs assigned to noncitizens contained matching first, middle, and last names; dates and places of birth; gender; and fathers' and mothers' names," the IG reported on Dec. 10, 2012.

Phoenix to Recruit Minority Lifeguards — Even If They Can't Swim.  In a bizarre case of affirmative action run amok, Phoenix is recruiting minority lifeguards for its public pools — even if they can't swim.

City Recruits Minority Lifeguards Even if They Can't Swim.  In a staggering case of affirmative action gone wild, officials in a major U.S. city are actually recruiting minorities to be lifeguards at public pools even if they're not good swimmers.  It's all in the name of diversity. [...] Blacks, Latinos and Asians who may not necessarily qualify can still get hired, says the city official who adds that "we will work with you in your swimming abilities."
...but only if you're black.

Lawmakers call for probe into 'botched' ATF sting in Milwaukee.  Several members of Congress are calling for an investigation into an embarrassing series of blunders made by the Milwaukee arm of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after a newspaper reported this week that the agency conducted a months-long undercover operation that cost taxpayers thousands of dollars and netted very few results.

D.C. man who shot dogs biting boy could face charges.  The incident unfolded Sunday afternoon [1/20/2013], after three pit bulls attacked an 11-year-old boy as he rode his bicycle through the Brightwood neighborhood of Northwest, according to a police report.  When the man, a neighbor, saw the boy being mauled by the dogs, he went inside his home and got a gun.  The man killed one of the dogs.  The gunfire attracted the attention of a police officer in the area near Eighth and Sheridan streets, where the attack occurred.  The officer responded and shot the other two pit bulls as they continued to attack the boy.

New York City Hits Sandy Victims With 'Failure To Maintain' Property Citation.  Residents in one Queens neighborhood are crying foul after they were written up for failing to clean up the city's own mess.  It is yet another new complication in life after Superstorm Sandy.

DHS Boss, In Charge Of Cybersecurity, Doesn't Use Email Or Any Online Services.  We've talked in the past about the problematic efforts to push for new cybersecurity regulations, especially when little to nothing has been done to show the actual problem.  There has been quite a turf war over who would "own" cybersecurity within the federal government, with some wanting to give it to the Defense Department, where the NSA would control it (along with all your info), and others wanting to give it to the Department of Homeland Security.

Katrina 2012.  When you vote for big, crappy, incompetent government run by a tool in a bomber jacket, don't be shocked when you get big, crappy, incompetent government run by a tool in a bomber jacket.

A post-election warning to liberals and conservatives alike.  To those liberals suffering in New York and New Jersey who voted for President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg, enjoy the Hurricane Sandy recovery effort.  We get the government we deserve and what we have now are angry citizens whose cries for help are not being returned, regardless of what a pre-election President promised.

Fakakta FEMA.  "It's been the worst nightmare possible," said Vinny Accetta, a Staten Island resident from the flooded Midland Beach area.  He, his wife, Devon, and their toddler twins are staying with relatives seven miles from their home.  Eight days after Hurricane Sandy, Accetta is still waiting for FEMA to come and assess the damage to his home.  After the hurricane, he was given a case number by FEMA.  Now he waits in the cold.  "FEMA came to my block and a few neighbors were assessed," he said.  "I asked the worker if he could check my home and he replied, 'You're not on my list.'"

Obama's Nameless War With a Nameless Enemy.  Just why and how has this refusal to name the Islamist enemy come to characterize the four years of Obama's presidency?  Because President Obama agrees with the view that Islamists as a force in world affairs are not be shunned and that wisdom dictates coming to terms with those among them who are hot engaged in active hostilities at this moment.  The idea is defective, because common to all Islamists is Muslim supremacism and the undeviating pursuit to subvert the non-Islamic world.  Yet, since Barack Obama took office, Islamist antagonists, other than those involved in active hostilities like al Qaeda and the Taliban, whose hostility cannot be denied or ignored, have gone unnamed.

Fox News Contributor Can't Accept New Heart for Wife Due to Government Regulations.  [Charles Payne's] friend recently lost his daughter.  Payne's wife needs a heart transplant.  His friend offered them his daughter's heart.  Overwhelmed, they accepted.  Then the government got involved.

Bribe wasn't big enough, so city inspector's conviction overturned, appeals court rules.  Dominick Owens, 46, twice took bribes of $600 to issue certifications of occupancy for four newly constructed homes he hadn't inspected, a jury found following a trial in November. [...] But the sentence was reversed Thursday [10/11/2012] in a ruling issued by the Seventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.  Justices ruled that Owens should not have been convicted because prosecutors didn't prove the bribes he took were worth more than $5,000, as the law requires.

Open hatch sank Port Authority's $500G boat.  A $500,000 Port Authority patrol boat sank this month after a veteran police sergeant took the advice of a clueless civilian safety instructor — and opened a hatch while it was under water, The [New York] Post has learned.  "It was like opening a window during a carwash," one PA insider lamented of the screw-up off Breezy Point, Queens, that left 11 people scrambling for their lives.

Intrusion embarrasses 'Fort Knox of uranium'.  Officials like to refer to the Y-12 National Security Complex as the Fort Knox for highly enriched uranium, which is why an unprecedented incursion by an 82-year-old nun and two fellow protesters has critics mocking the notion that the weapons plant is secure.

Officials: Federal Agencies Often Don't Share Tips on Potential Terrorist Activity.  The Homeland Security and Justice departments since 2008 have been teaching federal officials and police to deposit, through a secure network, reports of suspicious behavior while being mindful of civil liberties.  The point of the technology is to piece together terrorist plots before they are executed.  But, some criminal justice experts say, a major obstacle is dampening the effectiveness of the initiative.  Work is slow-going in connecting local agencies to fusion centers, intelligence facilities partly funded by the government that vet reports for possible distribution through the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative.

Insult added to injury:
Florida man who lost hand charged with feeding gator.  A Florida airboat captain whose hand was bitten off by a 9-foot alligator faces charges of feeding of the animal.

In Colorado wildfires, why won't the Forest Service use the biggest firefighting tool available?  My friend and fellow climate skeptic, nationally syndicated radio host Lars Larson, asks some pointed and pertinent questions about what appears to be some of the most idiotic policy ever devised by government.

Border Patrol union blasts Homeland Security instructions to 'run away' and 'hide' from gunmen.  Border Patrol agents in Arizona are blasting their bosses for telling them, along with all other Department of Homeland Security employees, to run and hide if they encounter an "active shooter."  It's one thing to tell civilian employees to cower under a desk if a gunman starts spraying fire in a confined area, say members of Tucson Local 2544/National Border Patrol Council, but to give armed law enforcement professionals the same advice is downright insulting.  The instructions from DHS come in the form of pamphlets and a mandatory computer tutorial.

$5B Camo Snafu.  Over the next year, America's largest fighting force is swapping its camouflage pattern.  The move is a quiet admission that the last uniform — a pixelated design that debuted in 2004 at a cost of $5 billion — was a colossal mistake.  Soldiers have roundly criticized the gray-green uniform for standing out almost everywhere it's been worn.  Industry insiders have called the financial mess surrounding the pattern a "fiasco."

Blood Money.  This account of a traffic fatality in South Carolina is perplexing in many ways.  For example, is it customary for the deceased to be charged with having his own blood washed off the asphalt?

Not Being a Felon Is Not Enough to Avoid Going to Federal Prison for Being a Felon in Possession of a Gun.  Following some lengthy, in-depth investigative work, USA Today has discovered more than 60 North Carolina men serving federal sentences for violating gun laws it turns out they didn't actually violate.

Quit worrying about "urban sprawl" and start worrying about federal stewardship.  The federal government owns and manages a full third of the United States' surface area.  The Department of Interior entities responsible for stewarding said land, including the NPS, the BLM, and the Forest Service, can all boast of cringe-worthy backlogs of deferred maintenance in the billions of dollars.

NJ dad saves 5-year-old, car plunges over cliff, dad gets traffic tickets.  Some stories so teem with action that they create a nightmare for headline writers.  This one not only teems with action but has a galling anticlimax.

Many more stories (about cops) like this can be found here.

Reluctant to raise taxes, some states push the tax man on tougher collection enforcement.  Dentist Frank Illuzzi was stunned when Vermont tax collectors began demanding a 6 percent sales tax on the value of toothbrushes and floss he hands out to patients.

The Editor says...
Sales taxes are usually levied on items based upon the prices of items as they are sold — not the MSRP or someone else's estimate of the value of those items.  If the dentist gives you a toothbrush, then the sale price is zero, and so is the tax.

Woman gets 20 years for firing warning shot.  Marissa Alexander had never been arrested before she fired a bullet at a wall one day in 2010 to scare off her husband when she felt he was threatening her.

Detroit groundskeeper fired after finding loaded gun, handing it to cops.  A Detroit groundskeeper, who turned in a loaded handgun he found hidden in weeds while working, was fired by the Wayne County Department of Public Services, MyFoxDetroit.com reports.  John Chevilott, who is just two years shy of retirement, found the loaded snub-nosed revolver on May 3 when he and his crew were mowing a lawn in Wayne County.  Chevilott secured the gun, waiting for police to drive by so he could hand it over to them.

Government Issues Study of a Study About Studies.  The Pentagon was inundated with so many studies in 2010 that it commissioned a study to determine how much it cost to produce all those studies.  Now the Government Accountability Office has reviewed the Pentagon's study and concluded in a report this week that it's a flop.

FAA rips Delta passenger for filming bird strike with iPad.  Grant Cardone, 54, became a viral hit after posting a video of birds being sucked into the engine of his Los Angeles-bound Delta flight on April 19.  The plane was forced to turn back to the airport and landed safely, the New York Post reports.  Soon afterward, Cardone received an official letter from the FAA complaining the video was taken illegally because he used his iPad to film the strike, and use of portable electronic devices is prohibited during "critical" phases of a flight, such as takeoffs.  Electronic devices also cannot be used during an in-flight emergency.

The Editor says...
Really?  I would think that an in-flight emergency would be the best time to start taking pictures.  And if the plane is in a Muslim-induced tailspin, there's no reason to stay off the phone.

20 Years for Standing Her Ground.  "I got five baby mammas, and I put my hands on every last one of them except for one," Rico Gray confessed during a November 2010 deposition.  "The way I was with women ... they had to walk on eggshells around me."  He recalled punching women in the face, shoving them, choking them, and tossing them out the door.  Yet somehow, after one of those women fired a warning shot into the ceiling of her Jacksonville, Florida, home to scare him away during yet another violent outburst, prosecutors managed to convince a jury that Gray was the victim.  As a result, Marissa Alexander, a 31-year-old mother of three, faces 20 years in prison for standing her ground against an abusive husband.

Are the investigators incompetent or just running out the clock?
Political slowdown in Corzine probe?  The FBI, two US attorneys, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and several congressional committees all say they're looking into the firm's spectacular collapse last fall — and at just who's responsible for the mysterious disappearance of $1.6 billion in customer money in its final days.  Yet investigators say they're having a tough time assigning culpability.  Then-CEO Jon Corzine insists he was clueless about what was happening; mass confusion is the best explanation the probes seem to have found.

Border Agent Indicted For Violating Illegal Alien's Rights.  In almost total secrecy, the Obama Justice Department has charged a U.S. Border Patrol agent, Luis Fonseca, for depriving the rights of a yet to be identified illegal alien at the Border Patrol station located on Imperial Beach, California, last July.  Fonseca, however, was not indicted until a week ago.  Agent Fonseca, 32, allegedly kneed and choked an unidentified alien during his tour near the Mexican border last summer.  During his arraignment on Monday April 16, he entered a not guilty plea.

Feds can't deport illegal immigrant arrested 35 times in Alabama.  Officers in Hueytown [Alabama] arrested an illegal immigrant on drug charges recently.  When they ran his name through the system, they learned he had previously been arrested 34 times in Alabama.  Despite his record, the government refuses to deport him.

Corzine Steals Billions Sans Charges, Errant Whale Watcher Faces Prison.  Which would you imagine might attract more aggressive enforcement from the Justice Department:  the theft of $1.2 billion from supposedly segregated customer brokerage funds, or lying about an alleged incident of whistling to attract the attention of a whale so that whale watchers could get a better peep?  If you said the latter, then you appreciate the extent to which federal law enforcement priorities have run off the rails.

Energy Dept. offers prize to create mobile apps that already exist.  The Department of Energy announced Thursday a $100,000 prize for software developers to come up with mobile applications to tell consumers how much energy they are using.  But there's already an app for that.  A quick scan of the iTunes and Android markets shows nearly two dozen existing applications that accomplish the same purpose — helping users keep track of their energy consumption at home.

Gun-tracking operation caught top suspect, then let him go.  Federal agents stopped the main target of the ill-fated Operation Fast and Furious in May 2010.  After they questioned him, he disappeared back into Mexico, and the program went on to spiral out of control.

Fast and Furious: Primary Target Arrested and Released in 2010.  Operation Fast and Furious, the Obama Administration's deadly gun-running outrage that put American weapons in the hands of Mexican cartel killers — while putting hundreds of Mexicans, plus at least two American law enforcement officers, in the ground — was ostensibly supposed to catch some big-time drug lords by pumping U.S. guns into their organizations, then following the trail of bullets to the big fish, who would then be nailed on firearms charges.  It never made a lot of sense, particularly given that no real effort was made to actually track the guns — they've been recovered from corpse-littered crime scenes, with hundreds of guns still unaccounted for.

More about Fast & Furious.

Tea Party Leader's Gun Arrest Highlights Tyranny of Law.  Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler was arrested on a firearms violation for declaring a locked, cased, unloaded gun at LaGuardia.  Don't you feel safer?

DC Resident Fined Thousands For Not Recycling Cat Litter.  Dupont Circle resident Patricia White says she has been fined eight times for throwing homemade cat litter in her trash.  The fines total $2,000.  White says she shreds old newspaper and junk mail to use as cat litter.  She believes she is helping the environment by reusing the paper and avoiding cat litter you will find in stores.  After being fined several times, White says she called the Department of Public Works inspector who issued the tickets.  According to White, the inspector admitted to digging through trash looking for violations.

Don't mention Islam, says new anti-terror plan.  The White House wants to use U.S. Attorneys to coordinate outreach to immigrant groups that produce Muslim terrorists, according to a new policy.  The White House-appointed U.S. Attorneys will work with Muslim groups to avert terror attacks, which the new policy dubs "violent extremism," and will give them access to law enforcement information, aid Muslim bloggers and re-train law enforcement departments around the country. ... Also, the new report does not mention Islam, whose texts are often used to provide the impetus and rationales for that spur terror strikes by Muslims.

Lawmakers Blast Administration For Calling Fort Hood Massacre 'Workplace Violence'.  Sen. Susan Collins on Wednesday [12/7/2011] blasted the Defense Department for classifying the Fort Hood massacre as workplace violence and suggested political correctness is being placed above the security of the nation's Armed Forces at home.  During a joint session of the Senate and House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday, the Maine Republican referenced a letter from the Defense Department depicting the Fort Hood shootings as workplace violence.  She criticized the Obama administration for failing to identify the threat as radical Islam.

Firing Incompetent Employees 'Would Harm The Agency's Work,' SEC Chief Says.  Perhaps no failure was as avoidable as that of the Bernie Madoff scheme.  After all, outside parties basically put the case together and brought it to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  Yet, the SEC did nothing until it was far too late.  Eventually the SEC's human resources department and an outside law firm advised the agency on how to handle these regulatory failures.  Their recommendation:  fire the manager responsible.  SEC Chair Mary Schapiro's response?  No, as such "would harm the agency's work."

Bringing down Bastrop's burned trees with bureaucracy.  Josh Van Buren of Taylor's Tree Service is listening to two contractors explain the bureaucracy involved with felling a tree burned in September's wildfires.  The charred 70-foot pine in the public right of way has been designated a risk and must come down.  But Van Buren, with a chain saw in hand, can't just cut the tree down.  Because the Federal Emergency Management Agency requires it, there are photographs to take, GPS information to record and paperwork to fill out.

Obama Justice Department Sends Border Agent to Prison for "Violating Rights" of Drug Smuggler.  After a complaint from the Mexican government, a U.S. Border Patrol agent has been sentenced to two years in prison for "violating" the constitutional rights of a 15-year-old drug smuggling suspect by not "lifting his arms properly."  The Obama Justice Department has accused the agent of using "unnecessary force," in handling the suspect while handcuffed.

U.S. border agent jailed for improper arrest of suspected drug smuggler.  A U.S. Border Patrol agent has been sentenced to two years in prison for improperly lifting the arms of a 15-year-old drug smuggling suspect while handcuffed — in what the Justice Department called a deprivation of the teenager's constitutional right to be free from the use of unreasonable force.

With Gibson, Obama 'actively discouraging' jobs.  Three House Republicans sent a letter yesterday [9/8/2011] to Attorney General Eric Holder, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Director Daniel Ashe challenging two raids on a Gibson Guitar Corporation factory by federal agents. ... The Department of Justice is reportedly investigating whether Gibson violated Indian export laws by importing "sawn wood" for their guitars, which in turn would violate the U.S. Lacey Act of 1900.

More about the raid on Gibson Guitar.

Contract Dispute Grounds Firefighting Planes.  Nearly half of the federal government's firefighting air tankers are siting idle at a California airport, grounded by the Obama administration in a contract dispute just weeks before wildfires swept through Texas killing a mother and her child, and destroying 100,000 acres.

Government Sues Trucking Company for Taking Keys Away From Alcoholic Driver.  Citing a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Obama administration is suing a trucking company for taking the keys away from an Arkansas driver and eventually firing him after he admitted he was battling alcohol abuse.

Feds to Drunk Drivers: Keep On Truckin!  The Old Dominion Freight Line trucking company, based in North Carolina but with 211 service centers across the country, found itself with a personnel problem back in June 2009.  An employee with an otherwise clean record approached management and confessed he had a drinking problem.  Following U.S. Department of Transportation regulations, the company suspended this employee from his driving position, and referred him for substance abuse counseling.  The company took one other action:  they told the alcoholic that they would never let him drive trucks for them again, even after he finished his counseling program.

State of Illinois Pays Violent Offenders and Sex Criminals to Baby-sit Children.  Leave it to Illinois to make sure violent criminals have state sponsored work.  Would you believe the state could pay a convicted rapist to baby sit children?

Federal woodpecker regulation ruins 11-year-old humanitarian's summer.  [Mary Katharine Ham complains] about a federal agent dropping the hammer on an 11-year-old for having the temerity to rescue a protected species of woodpecker.  The fine on the young girl has since been rescinded, not thanks to common sense, but thanks to media coverage.

Empathy thrown under Obama's bus.  Schylar Capo, 11 years old, of Virginia, ... made the mistake of rescuing a woodpecker from the jaws of a cat and nursing him back to health for a couple of days, and for her pains, was visited by a federal Fish & Wildlife gauleiter (with accompanying state troopers) who charged her with illegal transportation of a protected species and issued her a $535 fine.  If the federal child-abuser has that much time on his hands, he should have charged the cat, who was illegally transporting the protected species from his gullet to his intestine.

Woman Ticketed For Using City Trash Can.  An elderly Upper East Side woman claims a sanitation agent chased her, threatened her with arrest and slapped her with a ticket for putting day-old newspapers in a city trash can.  Darbe Pitofsky, 83, said she was on her way for a cup of coffee around 6:30 a.m. on June 25 when she threw a brown bag filled with old papers in a city litter basket near her apartment on East 71st Street.

Child pornography found on Assistant U.S. Attorney's computer.  Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder Thursday [7/7/2011] requesting an explanation as to why the Justice Department declined to file charges against a federal prosecutor with child pornography found on his work computer. ... Grassley further questioned why the department kept employing the individual for at least two months following the report...

The Purposeful Flooding of America's Heartland.  Some sixty years ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) began the process of taming the Missouri by constructing a series of six dams.  The idea was simple:  massive dams at the top moderating flow to the smaller dams below, generating electricity while providing desperately needed control of the river's devastating floods. ... But after about thirty years of operation, as the environmentalist movement gained strength throughout the seventies and eighties, the Corps received a great deal of pressure to include some specific environmental concerns into their MWCM (Master Water Control Manual).

Update:
The Corps of Engineers Doubles Down on Flood Folly.  It has been five months since the Missouri River overcame its banks, and for that entire time, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been peddling the line that there was nothing they could have done to avoid the worst flooding to ever occur on this river.  The Corps claims that its stewardship of the six massive dams on the upper Missouri River was without flaw, and the flood of 2011 was due to extraordinarily strong spring rains in Montana.  The statements of Corps representatives from the beginning have been inconsistent at best, and arguably deliberately misleading.

FEMA grant denied because of 'insufficient damage'.  Jefferson County resident Jonathan Stewart said he laughed in shock after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) claimed the house his family lost in the deadly April 27 twister was 'not unsafe to live in'.  The devastating reality is the house is now a concrete slab surrounded by rubble.

Computer errors let violent California prisoners go free.  A computer system that lacked key information about inmates factored in the release of an estimated 450 prisoners with a "high risk of violence," according to the California inspector general.

Once Again, FBI's 'Muslim Outreach' Welcomes Terror-Tied Man.  Despite knowing the Hamas ties of Kifah Mustapha, the FBI gave him a guided tour of a top-secret counterterrorism center and access to classified investigative techniques.

Family Facing $4 Million in Fines for Selling Bunnies.  Almost nine months after a Missouri dairy was ordered to stop selling cheese made from raw milk, I share details of another hare-raising story from the Show-Me State:  John Dollarhite and his wife Judy of tiny Nixa, Mo., have been told by the USDA that, by Monday [5/23/2011], they must pay a fine exceeding $90,000.  If they don't pay that fine, they could face additional fines of almost $4 million.  Why?  Because they sold more than $500 worth of bunnies — $4,600 worth to be exact — in a single calendar year.

Three Convicted in Terror-Related Cases Later Granted U.S. Citizenship.  Three people convicted of crimes as a result of a terrorism-related investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) were later naturalized as U.S. citizens by the Obama administration, according to federal auditors.

Don't We Have Enough Criminal Citizens Now?  Of all the fighting we legal citizens of this country have had to do to try to stop this anti-American, anti-U. S. Constitution, anti-responsible fiscal housekeeping, Socialist-communist government save for one half of the otherwise corrupt Congress from absolute criminal actions intent on the total destruction of our once good and honest country; we are now faced with openly dishonest and country killing "in-your-face-America" decisions by its leadership.

Texas county official says "stupid" feds sparked fire.  The fight between Texas and Washington, D.C., over wildfires in the Lone Star State just got nastier.  A county official in the Texas Panhandle is now blaming a federal agency for starting one of the fires through carelessness.

Mopping up the raw-milk mob.  Federal agents watched the home closely for a year, gathering evidence.  Then, in a pre-dawn raid, armed members from three agencies swooped in.  No, this is not a retelling of the lightning U.S. commando attack in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.  Rather, the target of the raid late last month by U.S. marshals, a state police trooper and inspectors from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was Amish farmer Dan Allgyer of Kinzers, Pa.  His so-called "crime" involved nothing more than providing unpasteurized, or raw, dairy milk to eager consumers here in the Washington area.

Mothers crying over raw milk.  Four weeks after the government moved to shut down Amish farmer Dan Allgyer for selling fresh, unpasteurized milk across state lines, angry moms who made up much of his customer base rallied on the Capitol's grounds Monday to demand that Congress rein in the food police.

DHS Can't Account for 10 Libyan Men It Caught and Released Inside U.S..  Even as President Barack Obama continued the U.S. military intervention in Libya's civil war — with armed Predator drones beginning patrols over that North African country on Thursday — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the division of the Department of Homeland Security responsible for enforcing immigration laws, could not account for 10 Libyan men it had caught and released inside the United States since July 2009.

Man Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison for Lawfully-owned Guns.  The Philadelphia Daily News reported on a disturbing story that should horrify every gun owner in this nation.  Brian Aitken, a 25-year-old successful media consultant who was going through a separation with his wife, was in the process of selling his home in Colorado and moving to a suburban New Jersey apartment to be closer to his two-year-old son when he was arrested in an odd series of events.

Mother Jailed for Enrolling Kids in Another School District.  An Akron, Ohio, woman was released from jail on Wednesday after serving 9 days of a 10-day sentence for enrolling her children in a neighboring school district.  Kelley Williams-Bolar, 40, was convicted of two felony counts of tampering with records by providing false information on sworn registration forms, applications for free or reduced-price school lunches, and other forms she submitted to the Copley-Fairlawn School District, where she enrolled her two daughters.

Valpo sixth-grader handcuffed over spilled milk.  A 12-year-old faces two counts of resisting law enforcement for his alleged actions when he refused to clean up spilled milk in the Ben Franklin Middle School cafeteria.  A police officer was helping supervise the lunch period on Tuesday, because both the principal and assistant principal were in a meeting, and the boy got into a confrontation with a school staff member.

Citizen activist grates on state over traffic signals.  David N. Cox says he was merely exercising his right to petition the government, but a state Department of Transportation official has raised allegations that Cox committed a misdemeanor:  practicing engineering without a license.  Cox and his North Raleigh neighbors are lobbying city and state officials to add traffic signals at two intersections as part of a planned widening of Falls of Neuse Road.  After an engineering consultant hired by the city said that the signals were not needed, Cox and the North Raleigh Coalition of Homeowners' Associations responded with a sophisticated analysis of their own.

Citizens Must Know Their Place.  In North Carolina, some state functionaries and politicians believe citizens must be credentialed by the state in order to be allowed to analyze and criticize certain state government plans.  Absent those credentials, citizen transgressors should be investigated and potentially face criminal penalties.  Would anyone be surprised that those politicians were Democrats?  The issues have to deal with road-widening and traffic signals in the city of Raleigh, the kind of local matter that is mundane unless it involves the streets your children travel.

All Aboard for Gun Safety?  From the New York City Department of the Absurd, Division of Performance Art, Bureau of Toys, comes a real-life poster currently displayed on subway cars rumbling through New York.  These things used to be called "public service announcements."  Lately, however, what with their cartoonish presentation, hypersimplified language, and bizarre messages both obvious and obtuse, I'm not sure what they are.

Government Screw-Up Of The Day.  A significant production problem with new high-tech $100 bills has caused government printers to shut down production of the new notes and to quarantine more than one billion of the bills in huge vaults in Fort Worth, Texas and Washington, CNBC has learned.  The total face value of the unusable bills, $100 billion, represents more than ten percent of the entire supply of U.S. currency on the planet.

FAA loses track of 119,000 aircraft.  The Federal Aviation Administration is missing key information on who owns one-third of the 357,000 private and commercial aircraft in the U.S. — a gap the agency fears could be exploited by terrorists and drug traffickers.

The Editor says...
This is an inexcusable breach of national security.  Who will be fired for this gross incompetence?  Probably nobody.  If the FAA were a private company that lost track of one third of its inventory, it would either go out of business or the stockholders would fire the entire board of directors.

Granny's $100 ticket — for throwing out newspaper.  An elderly Manhattan woman living on Social Security was slapped with a $100 ticket — for throwing away a newspaper in a city trash can.  Delia Gluckin, 80, tossed the paper, which was in a white plastic shopping bag, in a bin right outside her Inwood apartment building Saturday morning [12/4/2010] and was immediately ambushed by a Department of Sanitation agent wielding a handheld computerized ticket book.

Family:  New Jersey man serving 7 years for guns he owned legally.  Everything Brian Aitken was or had worked for was wiped away one winter afternoon after his mother called the police on him.

The FBI's Outreach to Terrorism.  Terrorism expert Patrick Poole reported recently the known Hamas operative Kifah Mustapha — an unindicted co-conspirator in the Texas Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial whose name appears on America's highest terror watch list — was given a tour of the top-secret National Counterterrorism Center and other secure government facilities, including the FBI's training center at Quantico, Va.  The tour is part of a six-week "Citizen's Academy" Muslim community outreach program hosted by the FBI.

Felons Can't Own Guns, So How Did This Guy Acquire Three Gun Companies?  Authorities have a lot to answer for in the case of convicted kidnapper Lee Booth.

This is an original compilation, Copyright © 2013 by Andrew K. Dart



Fast & Furious:  The Gun Walking scandal

This topic now has its own page, located here.



One Business Filed 37,375 Bad W-2 Forms — and Is Getting Away With It.  A single employer filed 37,375 W-2 forms in tax year 2005 on which the Social Security Number and the name did not match.  These "no-match" W-2 forms often — but not always — represent an illegal-alien worker fraudulently using someone else's Social Security number or a fake number.  An employer who files 37,375 no-match W-2s in one year is almost certainly employing many thousands of illegal aliens — and knows it.  Yet there is no indication our federal government has taken any action to stop this employer from continuing to employ mass numbers of illegal aliens.

County Sues Farmer, Cites Too Many Crops.  DeKalb County is suing a local farmer for growing too many vegetables, but he said he will fight the charges in the ongoing battle neighbors call "Cabbagegate."  Fig trees, broccoli and cabbages are among the many greens that line the soil on Steve Miller's more than two acres in Clarkston, who said he has spent fifteen years growing crops to give away and sell at local farmers markets.

The dark, dark world of illegal Segway tours of Washington, D.C..  In Washington, D.C., it is illegal to talk about the monuments or the history of the city if a person pays you to take them around town.  That is, unless you pay the government $200 and pass a 100 question multiple-choice exam.  The District requires that all tour guides get a tour operator's license, which can be obtained by paying an application fee, a license fee and an exam fee, all of which total $200, and taking the exam.

Emergency Bill to Close Tax 'Loopholes' Includes $46 Million Tax Loophole.  A bill titled "The American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010" that will add $115 billion to the federal deficit between now and October 2011, and that the Democratic leadership intends to push through Congress before they leave for their week-long Memorial Day recess, includes a special $46 million tax loophole for Hollywood movie and television producers.

Enemy of the States.  [Scroll down slowly]  The federal government is willfully obstructionist and incompetent when it comes to securing the border.  Border patrol agents need to wait for the Parks Service before they can enter the parkland and preserve what makes up the vast majority of the Arizona border area, leaving huge gaps where drugs and people swarm north.

Woman Accused Of Hitting TSA Agent Over Applesauce.  A judge Tuesday [4/20/2010] threw out a case against Nadine Hays, who is accused of hitting a TSA agent who allegedly tried to take away her elderly mother's applesauce — if she stays out of trouble for six months.

More about the TSA.

Meter, timer blamed for $600 bill.  Kathy Roberts got a $600 water bill last month for 96,000 gallons.  She says her water consumption didn't go up and her normal monthly bill from the Cocoa water division doesn't top $30.  A plumber didn't find any leaks, so she blames a new digital meter installed in April.

The Editor says...
The water meter can't possibly be wrong — after all, it has computer chips in it, and computers never mis-count, especially when used outdoors in an area that has more thunderstorms than any other part of the country.

Avoiding the slick spots.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is a perplexing beast.  While the agency remains hellbent on regulating colorless, odorless and likely harmless greenhouse gas emissions, it has been utterly incapable of living up to its name with respect to the Gulf oil spill.  Not only was the EPA caught entirely unprepared for the oil spill, but also last week it actually tried to interfere with BP's efforts to use a chemical called Corexit to speed up dispersal of the oil.  When the EPA told BP that it should use a less toxic chemical, BP rightly ignored the order because it's the oil, not the dispersant (stupid) that is the real threat to the environment, and there is no better option than the detergentlike Corexit.

The Editor says...
How does the EPA presume to have the authority to tell BP what to do in international waters?

More about the EPA.

NYPD detectives now have to ask for permission to use unmarked cars.  Detectives who need to park near courthouses now have to ask for permission if they want to use their unmarked cars, the Daily News has learned.  The directive comes in the wake of revelations by The News that the NYPD has been towing unmarked cop cars, leaving detectives stranded with no way to transport suspects, witnesses or victims.

Littleton fires judge who issued warrant for overdue DVD.  The City Council fired longtime Municipal Judge James Kimmel on Tuesday night after he issued an arrest warrant for a teenager who had an overdue $30 DVD from a local library.

States give inmates access to personal data of others.  Prisons in eight states let convicts work in jobs that give them access to Social Security numbers and other personal information for the public, despite years of warnings that the practice should end, a federal audit finds.

Homeland Security Reports Losing Guns.  The nation's Homeland Security officers lost nearly 200 guns in bowling alleys, public restrooms, unlocked cars and other unsecure areas, with some ending up in the hands of felons.  The problem, outlined in a new federal report, has prompted disciplinary actions and extra training.

TSA Dodges Congressional Investigation of Breach.  Osama bin Laden has approximately 53 half-siblings.  Last week, ABC reported that 12 of them have FAA pilot's licenses, making them "eligible to fly aircraft anywhere in the United States."  While this is indeed an eye-opener of a headline, Osama bin Laden's high-profile siblings and the FAA are a small concern compared to the threat posed by thousands of would-be foreign pilots routinely granted pilot licenses thanks to the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA).

Rep. Hank Johnson:  Guam could 'tip over and capsize'.  Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) is afraid that the U.S. Territory of Guam is going to "tip over and capsize" due to overpopulation.  Johnson expressed his worries during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the defense budget Friday [3/26/2010].

Democrat Rep. wonders if additional Navy personnel will make Guam 'tip over and capsize'.  Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., was questioning Admiral Robert Willard about the Navy's plans to relocate 8,000 personnel and their families to Guam.  After noting at some length that the island is narrow, Johnson says "My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated it will tip over and capsize."

The Editor says...
If a Republican had demonstrated such monumental ignorance, does anyone believe this would not be front-page news?

Dumb Dems to be Drummed Out.  The good news is that we may be on a verge of a wave election where some of the dead wood is removed.  Speaking of dead wood, who is the dumbest Democratic Congressman of them all?  Two recent nominees:  Congressman Hank Johnson of Georgia, who is concerned that if more US troops move to Guam, the island will tip over. ... [and] Congressman Phil Hare of Illinois, who seems unaware that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are separate documents, and that only one is the law of the land.

There's no IQ test for serving in Congress.  Q:  How many Marines does it take to capsize the island of Guam?  The correct answer is, "You are asking the wrong question."  The correct question is how many congressmen are stupid enough to think you can capsize an island?  A:  So far as we know (praise God!) just one...

Hank Johnson warns Guam might capsize.

Saving Guam from Capsizing All in a Day's Work for U.S. Congressmen.  Could Guam capsize?  This is not a question a lot of people would think to ask. ... This is exactly why we have politicians.  Politicians know to study and be concerned about actual important issues so the average citizen doesn't have to worry about anything more consequential than which funny outfits he should dress his pets in.  Our politicians are our best and brightest, and that's why we put them in charge of what's most important in this nation.

Gun Nuts at 30,000 Feet?  [Scroll down]  Some would-be marshals were hired even after they repeatedly shot flight attendants in mock hijack-response training exercises.  One marshal groused that the training for new marshals was "like security-guard training for the mall." ... The air marshal who brandished his weapon had twice applied to be a cop in Philadelphia but failed the police department's psychological tests; the marshal was also rejected in his attempt to get a job as a prison guard.  The marshal had received only two weeks of training at the time he threatened scores of coach passengers.

How AP Helped Cover for a Female "Captain Bligh":  It was big news when Capt. Holly Graf was fired as skipper of the USS Cowpens.  But the story behind the story is how www.MilitaryCorruption.com unearthed a dramatic photo of Graf's cruiser nearly hitting the destroyer the USS John S. McCain while drag racing at sea and coming within 300 feet of collision.  Many media outlets in this country wanted to quote us and publish the photo.  But some — like the AP — wanted to avoid the truth.

Caught on Camera — Crazed Captain of Cruiser Cowpens.  It's been said a picture is worth a thousand words.  We can only hope the one [in this article] is worth a court martial, even if it makes the Navy blanch to punish an incompetent and unstable "politically correct" poster girl for all the super feminists at the Pentagon and the U.S. Naval Academy.

TSA Hands Al-Qaeda Its Playbook.  In a blunder of astonishingly poor judgment, the TSA allowed one of its most sensitive documents, the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) manual, to be posted online.  And then, instead of admitting the seriousness of its security breach, the TSA tried to take the position that the information wasn't that important.  Only after Congress got involved did TSA take any action.

Bureaucrats With Badges.  Shortly after the Transportation Security Administration assumed control of airport security and [Conrad] Burns was still serving in Congress he was at Washington's National Airport for a flight home.  National is the airport used almost exclusively by members of Congress to fly in and out of the nation's capital.  Burns showed his U.S. Senate identification to a TSA agent who refused to accept it, telling him she was not familiar with the government-issued photo ID.  He had to produce another form of picture ID she demanded.  In an attempt to be funny, Burns offered his Sam's Club shopping card.  The agent accepted it and sent Burns on his way.

The Federal Bureau of Non-Investigation.  On Monday, ABC News first reported that Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan had reached out to al Qaeda associates prior to his attack.  There were good reasons to speculate that one of these al Qaeda figures is Anwar al Awlaki — an al Qaeda recruiter who acted as a "spiritual advisor" to two of the 9/11 hijackers.  Awlaki preached at a mosque Hasan attended in 2001 and praised Hasan's attack on his web site Monday morning [11/9/2009].

A top psychiatrist at Walter Reed warned Fort Hood about Hasan.  This is really looking bad for the brass at Fort Hood.  One of the top psychiatrists at Walter Reed was so concerned about Hasan, that he wrote a memo outlining his belief in the terrorist's incompetence and reckless behavior.

The FBI in peace and war.  Twice we have suffered slaughters of US citizens on American soil — once on 9/11 and again at Fort Hood.  In both cases the FBI had advance information which might have stopped the plots and twice they failed to share it.  The first time they claimed it was because of the "Gorelick wall" although bureaucratic inertia and FBI problems with computers were claimed to have played a role as well.  This time, it will be interesting to see the excuse.

Citizenship study guide bungles US history.  The publishers of "Twenty-Five Lessons in Citizenship" claim to have sold 1 million copies in the past 83 years to people preparing to take the United States citizenship test.  But what does the book teach those eager new Americans?  Its 101st edition informs them that Alexander Hamilton served as president and that the Superior Court is California's highest court, and suggests citizens "must" vote.

From yard sales to jail yards.  When federal agents can swoop down on your personal garage sale and arrest you for selling the wrong old doll, this is no longer the land of the free.  Yet just such a scenario is possible because of a campaign called Resale Roundup, which stems from last year's jobs-destroying Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.  We wonder what's next:  handcuffing 10-year-olds for improperly mixing roadside lemonade?

Well, now that you mention it...
California city shuts down girl's lemonade stand.  Eight-year-old Daniela Earnest has made lemonade out of lemons in more ways than one this week.  Hoping to raise money for a family trip to Disneyland, the Tulare girl opened a lemonade stand Monday [8/3/2009].  But because Daniela didn't have a business license, the city of Tulare shut it down the same day.

The Editor says...
I'm so glad our government keeps us safe from little girls' lemonade stands.  Here's another one:

Sweet Lemonade Kid $lapped.  Three sourpuss Parks Department agents put the squeeze on a 10-year-old girl in Riverside Park yesterday, slapping the tyke with a $50 ticket for hawking lemonade without a permit.  Clementine Lee, who lives just blocks from the Upper West Side park, had dreamed of opening a lemonade stand since last year and took advantage of yesterday's beautiful weather to set up shop.

'Lemon' Law Kid Back in Drink Biz.  The 10-year-old West Side girl who got a $50 ticket for selling lemonade in Riverside Park was back in business yesterday and had a special customer — Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.  Clementine Lee set up her stand in Columbus Circle, where Benepe bought three cups at 50 cents a pop.

Bureaucrat scuffs dream of homeless shoe shiner.  He sleeps under a bridge, washes in a public bathroom and was panhandling for booze money 11 months ago, but now Larry Moore is the best-dressed shoeshine man in the city.  When he gets up from his cardboard mattress, he puts on a coat and tie.  It's a reminder of how he has turned things around.  In fact, until last week it looked like Moore was going to have saved enough money to rent a room and get off the street for the first time in six years.  But then, in a breathtakingly clueless move, an official for the Department of Public Works told Moore that he has to fork over the money he saved for his first month's rent to purchase a $491 sidewalk vendor permit.

Swine Flu:  Conservative Republicans Want to Kill You.  At a press conference yesterday [4/27/2009], Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano — you know, the official in charge of border security who doesn't think illegally crossing into America is a crime — did her best to cover all the bases as well as her own bureaucratic rear end.  She literally spoke out of both sides of her mouth in the same sentence as she tried to explain just what the government meant by a "public health emergency."

Woman gets 30 days in jail for texting in court.  A Utah mother of four small children has been jailed on a judge's order to serve 30 days behind bars for allegedly sending a text message while she was watching a court proceeding.  The report comes from her father-in-law, Dennis Jackson, who told WND of the series of events that left his daughter-in-law, Susan Henwood, imprisoned.

Teenage hiker's calls ignored; no street address.  Teenage hiker David Iredale used his cell phone to call Australia's equivalent of 911, seven times pleading for rescue after he became lost in tough scrubland and ran out of water in 100-degree heat.  Each time he got through, he was told he needed to give a street address before an ambulance could be sent.  Shortly after the final call, Ireland collapsed and died of thirst.

Food stamp rule frustrates police in North Dakota.  [John] Schweitzer's misfortune should have been an open-and-shut legal case.  The thief was caught on video surveillance, and he used his own food stamp swipe card to pay for groceries before leaving with Schweitzer's wallet.  But a federal law prohibiting the disclosure of information about food stamp recipients — even to law enforcement, unless a specific name is provided — meant it would take months and a lot of legwork before an arrest was made.

Feds' red tape left medical devices infected with computer virus.  The Conficker Internet virus has infected important computerized medical devices, but governmental red tape interfered with their repair, an organizer of an antivirus working group told Congress on Friday [5/1/2009].  Rodney Joffe, one of the founders of an unofficial organization known as the Conficker Working Group, said that government regulations prevented hospital staff from carrying out the repairs.

Prosecutor Appeals After Judge Drops Rape Charges Against Liberian Over Lack of Interpreter.  The prosecutor in the case of a Liberian native charged with repeatedly raping and molesting a 7-year-old girl said Monday that he is filing an appeal of a controversial judge's ruling that dismissed all charges because an interpreter who spoke the suspect's rare West African dialect could not be found.

Man, 81, charged for clearing pothole for repair.  An Ohio man said he chipped away loose material to prepare a pothole for repair and thought he was helping the city, not breaking the law.  An undercover police officer spotted 81-year-old James Stacy in the street near Stacy's home with a pickax and a broom last week.

Criminal Intent.  House Bill 1690 by Rep. Terry Keel comes in response to complaints that the City of Dallas has abused its public nuisance law, under which it may fine the property owner $500 for each day the nuisance exists and even place a lien on the property.  Although the law has historically been used to shut down brothels, Dallas is utilizing it to extract revenue from ordinary businesses located in high-crime areas.  For example, a carwash in a low-income neighborhood was targeted, even though those running it had nothing to do with criminal activity.

Living proof that the minimum wage is too high already...
Prisoner wrongly freed after officials get phony, typo-filled fax.  Officials mistakenly released a prisoner from a Kentucky facility after receiving a phony fax that ordered him freed, and it took them nearly two weeks to realize it.  The fax contained grammatical errors, was not typed on letterhead and was sent from a local grocery store.

Police said natural causes; funeral home said gunshots.  A man's death that police and a medical examiner had said was the result of natural causes has been ruled a homicide after a funeral home found three bullet holes in his body.  The Kansas City Star reported Thursday that the wounds — two of them in Anthony Crockett's head — were noticed by funeral home workers after the man's body was embalmed.

Forgotten, man sits in jail for two years.  Joseph A. Shepard Sr. sat in local jails for almost two years, assuming that his lawyer was making progress on his case and that drug-related charges against him would soon be resolved in federal court. [...] Shepard, 53, is a man the system forgot, apparently ignored by his own attorney — and the prosecutor and judge — as days ticked by in a municipal lockup where he was confined to a cell 23 hours a day.

What idiots!
Controversial Muslim group gets VIP airport security tour.  The Department of Homeland Security took a Muslim group with known past ties to terror organizations on a VIP tour of security operations at the nation's busiest airport at the same time British authorities were working to break up a plot to blow up U.S. airlines.

U.S. Issued 3,400 Visas to Immigrants from 'State Sponsors of Terror' in 2008.  A little-known State Department program has allowed about 3,400 immigrants to come to the U.S. in 2008 from the four nations that a currently listed by the State Department as "state sponsors of terror" — Iran, Cuba, Syria and Sudan.  According to a State Department report on the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, 691 visas were granted to immigrants from Cuba, 1,435 to immigrants from Iran, 1,147 to immigrants from Sudan and 94 to immigrants from Syria.

FBI:  Still not retooled for terror.  This weekend's arrest of 17 homegrown al Qaeda wannabes just across the border in Canada is a nightmarish reminder of the horrors that have been — and could be — right here at home again if we don't fully get our counterterrorism act together soon.  By many accounts, despite a ballooning budget and staff, the FBI is still struggling to get its arms around its newly reinvigorated counterterror (CT) mission — a critical capability that could prevent another 9/11.

The FBI Closes a Window to the Truth.  [Paul] Charlton, who was fired by the Justice Department in 2006 for trying (without success) to force the FBI to record confessions in Arizona, had been sorely frustrated by its policy.  "We lost cases, we had to plead down cases, we had to drop cases just because of this policy," he recalls in a phone interview.  The Justice Department, finally waking up to the arrival of the 21st century, now has a task force reexamining the virtual ban on recording, which by any reasonable standard is as obsolete as J. Edgar Hoover.  But the FBI shows no openness to change.

Rewrite Texas Graffiti Laws.  If a graffiti "artist" spray-paints your house or business, you could be the one who draws the attention of law enforcement.  Many Texas cities, including Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Fort Worth, have adopted ordinances creating a criminal offense for property owners who fail to clean up graffiti.

FAA outage reveals odd computing practices.  By using computing practices that would be considered poor in credit card networks or power plant operators, for example, the FAA was vulnerable to a problem caused when new software was loaded at the Atlanta center that distributes flight plans.  Because the FAA relies on just two computing systems, one in Atlanta and one in Salt Lake City, to handle that chore for the entire nation, the software glitch all but sank the system Tuesday [8/26/2008].

FAA Points Finger at Switch for Server Crash.  Earlier this week, the FAA servers in Atlanta responsible for handling all flight plans across the country crashed leaving massive flight delays at several major airports including Atlanta, Boston, Washington D.C., and Chicago.  Many would be surprised to hear that as important a task as these computers handled, the technology in use was from the 1970's.  One obvious question after the servers went down from many was — where are the backup systems?

The FBI's Upgrade That Wasn't:  $170 Million bought an unusable computer system.  "We had information that could have stopped 9/11," said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.  "It was sitting there and was not acted upon. … I haven't seen them correct the problems. … We might be in the 22nd century before we get the 21st-century technology."

AT&T disaster recovery awes Homeland Security.  To a government employee, for whom efficiency is something one hears about but is rarely able to achieve, the efficiency which the market can provide can seem like magic:  mysterious and forever out of reach.

Incompetence at the FBI is compromising presidential power.  This is another fiasco for the FBI, which may simply be incapable of effective counterterrorism.  Every independent group that has looked into the FBI — including the Robb-Silberman commission — has found that the agency is failing in that duty.  Whatever discipline is handed out for this latest foul-up, the country needs to debate again whether domestic antiterror functions should be taken from the FBI and given to a new agency modeled after Britain's MI5.

FBI Wiretaps Dropped Due to Unpaid Bills.  Telephone companies have cut off FBI wiretaps used to eavesdrop on suspected criminals because of the bureau's repeated failures to pay phone bills on time.  A Justice Department audit released Thursday blamed the lost connections on the FBI's lax oversight of money used in undercover investigations.  Poor supervision of the program also allowed one agent to steal $25,000, the audit said.

Top terrorist sighting raises no FBI interest.  Two Americans believe they have spotted Adnan el-Shukrijumah, the al-Qaida operative identified as "the next Mohamed Atta" at a location near Bakersfield, Calif., but have been unable to get the FBI or Homeland Security to investigate.

Maybe they're too busy investigating stuff like this:
"Weapon of Mass Destruction" Targets Sex Shop In Waldo, Florida.  The device, discovered Sunday morning [5/28/2006], was made of two gallon-size sports drink jugs connected by hoses.  Someone set it on top of the store's window air conditioning unit. … Under state law, by the book, deputies say the device is a weapon of mass destruction.  "They're looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, and … 30 years in jail," Faulk said.

Emergency manager didn't break off travel plans when bridge fell.  The Minnesota Department of Transportation's head of emergency management was attending a Harvard University program on terrorist attacks and natural disasters when the Interstate 35W bridge collapsed on Aug. 1.  Instead of rushing back to help coordinate the response, Sonia Kay Morphew Pitt stayed at Harvard for another two days and then spent eight days in Washington.

Update:  The chickens have come home to roost.
MnDOT fires manager accused of improper travel.  The Minnesota Department of Transportation on Friday [11/09/2007] fired the emergency manager whose frequent travel came under scrutiny, including her decision to remain out of state for several days after the Interstate 35W bridge collapse.  Sonia Morphew Pitt, who had been director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, committed "serious employee misconduct" by misusing state resources and putting her personal life ahead of her professional obligations, the agency said.

Speaking of the I-35 bridge...
Bridge collapse:  A half-inch closer to why.  The collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge may have originated with the failure of gusset plates that were sized a half-inch too thin in the original 1960s design, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Tuesday [1/15/2008].  In a Washington news conference, NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker also said there were no indications that Minnesota's upkeep of the bridge played any role in its collapse — a statement that immediately unleashed political debate, with Gov. Tim Pawlenty scolding critics for leaping to conclusions and DFLers insisting that the full cause has yet to be found.

The Editor says...
The politicians (in Minnesota and Washington) can't afford to have anyone discover that the original design was faulty.  Their crisis mode and proposed highway taxes depend on a finding that the bridge collapsed due to lack of maintenance.

Self-defense is, inexplicably, no defense.  On Sunday, Bob Mette and his son, Mike, 30, will go to the game at Soldier Field to watch the Bears play the Lions.  On Monday, Bob will drive Mike to Iowa, to prison.  Mike Mette, until recently a Chicago police officer, is scheduled to begin serving a 5-year prison sentence.  His crime?  According to the judge's ruling, Mike threw one punch at an angry drunk who chased Mike down the street and attacked him verbally, physically, repeatedly.

Girl, 10, Arrested for Using Knife to Cut Food at School.  A 10-year-old Florida girl faces felony weapons charges after bringing a small steak knife to school to cut up her lunch, according to a report on MyFOXOrlando.com.  School officials say the Ocala 5th grader had brought a piece of steak for her lunch, and a four and a half inch steak knife with which to cut it.  According to the report, a couple of teachers took the utensil and called authorities, who arrested the girl and took her to the county's juvenile assessment center.

Many more stories like this are on the Zero Tolerance Page.

Police in Laramie, Wyo., Cite Teen Girls Who Threw French Fries for 'Hurling Missiles'.  Three 13-year-old girls accused of throwing french fries during lunchtime at their school were cited for "hurling missiles," an adult infraction covered by city ordinances.

TSA can't believe MacBook Air is a real laptop; owner misses flight.  The TSA has been known to take issue with products designed in Cupertino before, but for one particular traveler, it was Apple's thinnest laptop ever that caused the latest holdup.  Upon tossing his ultra-sleek slab of aluminum underneath the scanner, security managed to find enough peculiarities to remove it from the flow, pull it aside and wrangle up the owner for some questions.

Did someone mention the TSA?

Death Investigation Deficiencies:  "The Mississippi medical examiner system doesn't exist, except in name only."  So says Dr. Vincent DiMaio, a renowned forensic pathologist, and author of the guiding textbook for medical examiners.  And he isn't alone.  Talk to forensic pathologists across the country about how the state of Mississippi conducts its forensic autopsies and you'll get chuckles, exasperated sighs and indignation.  What you'll be hard-pressed to find, however, is anyone outside the state who thinks things are being done properly.

NOPD officer punished for wearing the wrong uniform.  With minutes left in the last shift of his 35-year New Orleans police career, Sgt. Bobby Guidry received a call from a supervisor telling him he had been suspended for wearing the wrong uniform shirt, the veteran officer said.

Prosecute the shooters, not the guns.  Of some 2,500 stolen bikes recovered by the police breaking a thriving ring of thieves, only 55 have been claimed by previous owners, and only 18% of thefts were reported to police.  This indicates that most who have their bikes stolen feel informing the police is a waste of time.  Not everyone bothers to register their bikes or take down serial numbers and such.  What's the point?

EEOC:  An Out-of-Control Taxpayer-Financed Agency.  You need not be an American citizen to use a federal agency to file a lawsuit on your behalf.  In what other country is there an agency that would help you sue yet another government agency or a private company if you weren't a citizen?  And provide you with an interpreter to do so?  Not one that I can think of.  This case would be entirely moot if we had an "English First" rule in our schools and required everyone to learn English for employment.  I have given up on the idea that such common sense will again prevail in our society.

Historic Whiskey Could Go Down the Drain.  Here's a sobering thought:  Hundreds of bottles of Jack Daniel's whiskey, some of it almost 100 years old, may be unceremoniously poured down a drain because authorities suspect it was being sold by someone without a license.  Officials seized 2,400 bottles late last month during warehouse raids in Nashville and Lynchburg, the southern Tennessee town where the whiskey is distilled.

Update:
State settles for a sip of Jack.  A yearlong standoff between an avid Jack Daniel's collector and Tennessee liquor control agents has ended in compromise and the return of most of the man's million-dollar whiskey collection.

No Parking Spot?  Here Are About 142,000 Reasons.  Why is it so hard to find a parking place in New York City?  There are a lot of reasons, but this may be the most infuriating:  The city has given out no fewer than 142,000 free parking permits to public employees and others.  That's twice as many as City Hall had estimated were in circulation.  And after two months of research, city officials cannot say who has them all.

Beer runners' flour trail a recipe for trouble.  Two people who sprinkled flour in a parking lot to mark a trail for their offbeat running club inadvertently caused a bioterrorism scare and now face a felony charge.  The sprinkled powder forced hundreds to evacuate an IKEA furniture store Thursday [8/23/2007].

Referring to the item immediately above:
Stupidest Terrorist Overreaction?  Is this the stupidest terrorist reaction yet?  "Two people who sprinkled flour in a parking lot to mark a trail for their offbeat running club inadvertently caused a bioterrorism scare and now face a felony charge."  The competition is fierce, but I think we have a winner.  What bothers me most about the news coverage is that there isn't even a suggestion that the authorities' response might have been out of line.

Questions for the Pentagon:  In the sorry tradition of shooting the messenger, the Pentagon is cashiering its top expert on Islamist doctrine, Stephen Coughlin.  Some members of Congress are now contemplating hearings to ask why.  Along with drawing attention to Coughlin's research, now circulating on the Internet, the growing controversy has thrown a spotlight on Coughlin's alleged nemesis at the Pentagon, a top aide named Hesham Islam — whose tale deserves closer attention.

Public Land Mismanagement and Environmental Irresponsibility.  Decades of fire suppression by the Forest Service have disrupted natural fire cycles and turned many western forests into tinderboxes waiting to burn.  Dense stands of spindly deadfall and underbrush now occupy land once characterized by open savannahs and large, widely spaced trees.  One result is larger, more intense fires that burn the publicly owned forests to the ground.  Indeed, by the Forest Service's own estimates, 90 to 200 million acres of federal forests are at high risk of burning in catastrophic fire events.



Uncle Sam is afraid to say what he means
because he might offend the people who are determined to kill us all.

This topic now has its own page, located here.



State seizes antique gambling equipment.  Antique gambling equipment, including a roulette wheel dating to the 1880s, was seized from an antique store here by state agents under a state law prohibiting the possession of unlicensed gambling equipment.  "Some of these things are over 100 years old," said Ron Turner, owner of the Cowboy Cabin.  "These are not gambling devices.  These are antiques.  It's a historical collection.  This never is, nor will be, a gambling establishment."

Denver Mint Requires Visitors to be Ungroomed.  When taking a tour of the U.S. Mint, certain items are prohibited, including...
    Cameras or camera cell phones
    Handbags, book bags, backpacks, purses, fanny packs, diaper bags
    Packages of any type
    Strollers
    Food or beverages of any kind
    Video recorders or any type of recording device
    Tobacco products
    Personal grooming items (makeup, hair brush or comb, lip or hand lotions, etc.)

Illegals caught at BWI, released.  Federal authorities late last week detained and later released eight illegal aliens from Mexico who authorities said were acting suspiciously near a gate at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.  Officials said the illegals were detained Saturday morning [4/29/2006] near Gate D3, a Northwest Airlines gate, after federal air marshals noticed them gathered in the area with no carry-on luggage. … ICE officials said they were investigating possible connections between the illegals and a human-trafficking or human-smuggling operation, but would not comment on why they released the illegals.

McNab v. United States:  Invalid Foreign Laws Lead to Years in U.S. Prison.  The Supreme Court is currently considering whether to take the case of four businesspeople sent to prison for importing lobster tails from Honduras.  Their convictions are predicated on supposed violations of the Lacey Act, which makes it a crime to import "fish or wildlife taken ... in violation of any foreign law."  Here, the foreign laws are Honduran fishing regulations that have been declared null and void in Honduras, but are somehow still being enforced by American federal courts.

Zero Tolerance for Security Guards.  Security guard George Stevenson chased a suspected burglar onto Arlington Elementary School property and through the school itself.  When he was apprehended, the suspect was armed with a knife.  According to school officials, however, the real criminal was Stevenson.  Because he carried an otherwise legal pistol, Stevenson was arrested and charged with felony possession of a weapon on school property.

Government Puts Rat Control Business Out of Business.  The Arizona Structural Pest Control Commission (ASPCC) halted a teenager's innovative — and popular — rat control business because he failed to hold a $78 state-regulated commercial pest control license and pass an exam covering over 40 pages of laws and rules unrelated to his mesh wire rat prevention devices.

[If you build a better mousetrap, Big Brother will find a way to regulate and tax it.]

$58,000 Spent Fighting Over a Treehouse.  Two anonymous complaints about a treehouse have cost a Clinton, Mississippi homeowner at least $28,000 in legal fees and local taxpayers about $30,000 in a fight to have a playhouse torn down.

Homeowner reconsiders mowing lawn after jail stint.  Linda A. Ballew spent four nights in the Harris County Jail for ignoring court orders related to a long-running dispute about her overgrown lawn before she finally agreed to cut the grass Tuesday [6/5/2007].

Failure to Water.  In another example of overcriminalization, police in Orem, Utah decided to enforce an ordinance against neglected yards by arresting Betty Perry, a grandmother and widow who was seriously negligent in watering her lawn.  The 70-year old was handcuffed, arrested, and taken to jail.

She has been in the news before!
Gardening Grandma Arrested for Failure to Prune.  On April 3, 2002, Kay Leibrand surrendered to the police.  She was fingerprinted.  They took her mug shots.  The 61-year old grandmother and software engineer was told that she had broken the law.  She might go to jail or perhaps she would get off with just a fine.  On May 30, 2002, she was arraigned.  Her crime was allowing street-side xylosma bushes to grow more than two feet high. … Never before in city history had it prosecuted a resident for such horticultural excess.

Woman Arrested for Making Faces at a Dog.  A prosecutor has dropped charges against a woman who was arrested for staring at and making faces at a police dog.

Pennsylvania Woman Cited for Cursing at Toilet.  A Scranton woman who allegedly shouted profanities at her overflowing toilet within earshot of a neighbor was cited for disorderly conduct, authorities said.  Dawn Herb could face up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $300.

Update:
Potty mouth protected by First Amendment.  A woman who was cited for loudly cursing at her overflowing toilet — and then at a neighbor who told her to quiet down — has been acquitted on First Amendment grounds.

Guards make woman remove bra that triggered metal detector at Idaho courthouse.  Security guards refused to allow a woman into a federal courthouse in Idaho until she removed a bra that triggered a metal detector.  Lori Plato says she and her husband, Owen Plato, were stunned when U-S Marshals Service employees asked her to remove her bra after the underwire supports set off the alarm.

Truancy for Parents in Texas.  Texas may join the ranks of states like Minnesota and California who are attempting to use the criminal law as a parenting tool.  A proposal in the state legislature would charge parents with a misdemeanor and a fine if they fail to attend a parent-teacher conference at their child's school.

See a Smoker in a Non-Smoking Area?  Call 911.  If you catch someone smoking in a non-smoking area in Omaha, Neb., call the police.  The Omaha Police Department is encouraging city residents to call 911 in the wake of the citywide ban on smoking that went into effect on Oct. 2.

[Is that what the designers of the 9-1-1 system had in mind?]

Subway Rider Busted for Selling a Token.  Transit police handcuffed and cited a man who sold a $1.75 subway token to another rider who was having trouble with a token vending machine.  Transit authority spokeswoman Jocelyn Baker … acknowledged that [Donald] Pirone sold the token at face value and did not make a profit.  But the law is the law, she said.

HPD still issuing tickets for license plate borders.  "It was never the intention of the Legislature for people to be receiving traffic citations for having license brackets," said state Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, who sponsored the bill.  "It's clearly out of bounds for them to be issuing tickets now." ... The [Houston police] department's most prolific officer, Matthew Davis, issued at least 1,216 license bracket tickets since January.  He wrote 30 in one day in February and has issued more than 200 since [Governor] Perry signed Williams' bill.

Innocent Man Stuck With 100 Parking Tickets.  After two years, innocent man is still fighting parking tickets incorrectly issued because of a personalized license plate.  In the two years since San Carlos resident Nick Vautier moved to California's San Francisco Bay Area, he has received over a hundred parking tickets worth $3000.  He is not responsible for a single one of them, but several jurisdictions continue to prosecute him without ever having established any guilt.

Why was Cho Free?  Now comes news that a court in 2005 found Virginia Tech gunman Cho Seung-Hui to be "mentally ill" and an "imminent danger to others" — but then let him go.

The Wait for License Plates Still Tops Seven Weeks.  More than two years after installing a new computer system that cost twice as much as expected, the state Division of Motor Vehicles is still taking more than seven weeks to mail out license plates and vehicle titles — more than twice as long as it took before the system was installed, records show.

Is this any way to help the homeless?  Mary Baker and Ruth Neikirk love to cook.  What's more, they love to cook for poor people.  They do it frequently, preparing meals at home and bringing them to their church in Virginia. … The people they cook for love it too.  But there's a problem.  It was "criminal activity."  The Fairfax County health department points out that — horrors — Mary and Ruth are actually preparing food and serving it to people!  Without a license!

Wabash Valley woman didn't realize second cold medicine purchase violated drug laws.  When Sally Harpold bought cold medicine for her family back in March, she never dreamed that four months later she would end up in handcuffs.  Now, Harpold is trying to clear her name of criminal charges, and she is speaking out in hopes that a law will change so others won't endure the same embarrassment she still is facing.

Buy too much cold medicine, go to jail.  [Sally] Harpold is a grandmother of triplets who bought one box of Zyrtec-D cold medicine for her husband at a Rockville pharmacy.  Less than seven days later, she bought a box of Mucinex-D cold medicine for her adult daughter at a Clinton pharmacy, thereby purchasing 3.6 grams total of pseudoephedrine in a week's time.

Step Away from the Cold Medicine.  As is often the case with policies aimed at curbing the drug supply, civil liberties were one of the first casualties of the meth hysteria.  Several cities and states, for example, quickly made it illegal for businesses to sell customers combinations of ingredients that together, are used to make meth, but that are perfectly legal if bought separately.  Sell bhutane [sic], cold medicine, and matches to the same customer, and an unknowing store clerk could well be arrested.  These laws effectively deputized private business to begin policing the shopping habits of their customers — never a good idea.

[Certain combinations of products cannot be purchased simultaneously without sounding an alarm.  Try this experiment at your own risk:  Go to Radio Shack and try to buy a speed dialer and a 6.5536 MHz crystal at the same time.]

Tasering a little old lady. Police Hit Grandmother With Taser Gun Five Times.  Beverly Kidwell, 68, was in the waiting room of the police department in suburban Dayton when the incident occurred. … Kidwell said she waited a long time in the lobby and, when she got up to leave, the officer hit her with the Taser gun.

Illustration courtesy nbc4i.com

[That sounds like a one-sided story, but what could the other side possibly be?]

Take 32 Grams of Tylenol and Call Me in 25 Years.  In 2004 a Florida jury convicted Richard Paey of drug trafficking involving at least 28 grams of the narcotic painkiller oxycodone, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years.  But there was no evidence that Paey, who has suffered from severe chronic pain for two decades, planned to do anything with the pain reliever except relieve his pain. … This penalty is both cruel and unusual; first-time offenders charged with unauthorized possession of prescription drugs typically get probation.

Boulder Woman Jailed Over Garage Door.  A Boulder woman was out of jail Thursday, after being locked up over the weekend for installing a new garage door.  The Boulder Daily Camera reported in its Thursday editions that Megan Forbes was arrested and taken to jail on Sunday [4/9/2006] for failing to show up on a court summons she received for replacing her original garage door with a new one.

Risk of not knowing technology:  jail.  The AP recently ran a story about a substitute teacher who was convicted of exposing students to pornography.  Her contention that it was inadvertent because she couldn't keep up with pop-ups seems plausible, but the equally non-tech-savvy jury didn't buy it (despite the fact that the prosecution never even made a reasonable case by checking for spyware).  What seems particularly Kafka-esque is the potential 40-year sentence she faces.

What is wrong with the legal system in this country?
Michael Jackson Called for Jury Service.  Authorities want Michael Jackson back in court — this time as a juror.  Jackson received a jury summons at his Neverland Valley Ranch, four months after he was acquitted of child molestation charges.

Elderly Woman Slammed in the Slammer.  In a very sad story, 78-year-old Garland resident Betty Smith related her horrendous tale of woe to Dallas County Commissioners at their January 9th meeting.  Her story of abuse by the Dallas County judicial system and Sheriff's Department began when she was awakened by knocks on the door at 4:00 one morning.  The officer told her she was being arrested for illegally ordering a duplicate copy of her driver's license.  Never mind that Ms Smith's car had been carjacked not long ago, along with her purse and personal belongings, including her driver's license. … On the way to jail, the deputy told her that her record indicated that she had committed a homicide in Arizona.

Woman slammed against car by San Jose police officer wins appeal.  [Scroll down] [Laura] Bushell-McIntyre, a pediatric nurse who had just graduated from San Jose State, was attending the fraternity party when police arrived in response to a disturbance call.  The court said she had complied with Officer William Foster's request to leave the house, but touched his badge after repeatedly asking him for his badge number.  Foster then put her in a pain compliance hold and slammed her against a car, the court said.

They're being called the Kutztown 13.  They are a group of high schoolers charged with felonies for bypassing security with school-issued laptops, downloading forbidden internet goodies and using monitoring software to spy on district administrators. … The administrative password that allowed students to reconfigure computers and obtain unrestricted internet access was easy to obtain.  A shortened version of the school's street address, the password was taped to the backs of the computers.  The password got passed around and students began downloading such forbidden programs as the popular iChat instant-messaging tool.

 Editor's Note:   The school administrators acted with incompetence, putting the admin password on the back of the computer.  The kids who figured out how to use the computers to their full potential are the people who should go to the head of the class — not to prison.

Gonzales asked to probe prosecution of agents.  Rep. Dana Rohrabacher yesterday asked Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to investigate what he called "the exceedingly harsh prosecution" of two U.S. Border Patrol agents now facing 20 years in prison for shooting a suspected drug smuggler in the buttocks.

Connecticut Court Rules on Self Defense Shooting.  The state's highest court ruled Friday [7/9/2004] that a cab driver had no right to carry the pistol he used to shoot a robber because his taxi is not a place of business.

Dialectical Justice:  Most criminals are well aware that bank robbery is major crime that usually draws in the FBI and earns the thief years in the slammer.  Those currently casing a bank in California should be on notice that even if caught they could get away with only 60 days in jail, four months less than the mandatory maximum for first-time DUI.  To draw such a softball sentence, combined with media protection, it appears to help if the criminal is a professional ethnic and Marxist anti-war activist such as Carl Pinkston.

It's called hibiscus, but it won't get you high.  Landscape contractor Blair Davis was in his northwest Harris County home around 2 p.m. when there was a knock at his door.  Davis said he hadn't even gotten his hand on the doorknob when it flew open and he was looking at the barrel of a pistol.  Behind the gun were about 10 members of the Harris County Organized Crime and Narcotics Task Force, who burst into the home, guns drawn, and began shouting at him to get down on the floor.

 Editor's Note:   Even if this had actually been marijuana, which it wasn't, is marijuana really that dangerous?  Can you say, "Excessive force?"

Town Battles Army Corps Over Permafrost.  Challenging an Army Corps of Engineers assertion that permafrost 20 inches thick is a "navigable water" of the United States, an Alaskan borough attempting to build public playgrounds and athletic fields on a two-acre parcel of permafrost has sued the Corps over its enforcement of the Clean Water Act.  "This case is a classic example of the Corps operating without boundaries, limits, or common sense in its application of the Clean Water Act," said Russell Brooks, managing attorney of Pacific Legal Foundation's (PLF) Northwest Center.

So Much Has Changed in Just 60 Years.  One survey a few years back showed that a full one-third of the American people fear the government.  It has become intrusive and secretive.  Franklin Roosevelt managed a truly global war, with 12 million Americans under arms, using a White House staff of about 15 people.  There are now thousands on the White House staff, and they can't even manage a very small war in a little country.

Clarence Thomas laments marijuana ban.  Rehnquist concurred.  O'Connor is just unpredictable.  She has endorsed states rights for marijuana but not for abortion.  The other six justices, we can now say, is consistent in its centralization of power to Washington.  This paves the way for federal agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security, to control every private exchange of money and goods in the U.S.

Terrorism?  Naah … .  When explosions killed fifteen people and injured over 100 at an oil refinery in Texas City, Texas, on March 23, 2005, the FBI quickly ruled out terrorism as a possible cause.  When a group calling itself Qaeda al-Jihad and another Islamic group both claimed responsibility, the FBI was still dismissive.  But then it came to light that investigators did not even visit the blast site until eight days after the explosions — and eight days after they ruled out terrorism as a possibility.

Many more terrorist attacks have been reported as "isolated incidents."  See this page.

Security at Supermax slammed in fed report.  Prison officials allowed convicted terrorists in the federal super-maximum lockup in Florence to communicate with outside radicals for years and subsequent steps taken to shut down the links have serious gaps. … The FBI, which handles letters from the most dangerous prisoners, is supposed to produce translations within 60 days, according to the report.  In reality, it sometimes takes as long as six to 18 months, the report says.

[Why do known terrorists have mail privileges at the "Supermax" prison?]

Dubai undertow:  How about that INS official who mailed Mohamed Atta his visa six months to the day after he died in an unusual flying accident in Lower Manhattan?  How about leaving the ports to those State Department chaps who approved the September 11 killers' laughably incomplete paperwork ("Address in the United States:  HOTEL, AMERICA")?  Or how about those officials at Federal Aviation Administration headquarters who on the morning of September 11 found it all a little too much and just walked out of the room?  After all, all those guys still work for the U.S. government.  By golly, if we're gonna have security breaches at American ports, let's make sure they're all-American security breaches.

More about the Dubai port deal is on this page.

Boston transit police begin passenger ID stops.  Although officials would release few details about the initiative, the identity checks will mark the first time local rail and subway passengers will be asked to produce identification and be questioned about their activities.

When sexism claims are a real hoot.  You've probably heard of Hooters — the restaurant chain known for attracting male customers by hiring waitresses who are well-endowed and dressed to show it.  The firm now employs more than 30,000 people.  Some would consider this a success story, but our government didn't.  Not because Hooters is using sex to sell — but because its waitresses are — get ready — women!  "Discrimination!" cried the EEOC.

NOAA's radio transmitters missing backup power.  During the power failure two years ago, the NOAA (National Weather Service) radio station serving NYC was dead.

When date rape is a life sentence:  I opened the floodgates recently with a column about Rich Gorman, a former Florida State University student who is serving a five-year prison sentence for a "rape" that involved a 5- to 15-second sex act.  He stopped immediately when she said "stop," and asked, "What's wrong?" — not the usual query of a rapist — and then gave his soon-to-be accuser a ride home.

The employee whose office let 9/11 hijackers into the US gets a bonus.  The State Department official who was forced to retire because her office allowed most of the September 11 hijackers into the United States has won an "outstanding performance" award of $15,000.

It's now a crime to delete files:  International Airport Centers sues former employee, claiming use of a secure file deletion utility violated federal hacking laws.

More information about secure file deletion is on this page.

Court Declares Atheism a Religion.  A federal appeals court has sided with a Wisconsin prison inmate who claimed his constitutional rights were violated with officials would not allow him to create a study group for atheists.  In its ruling, the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Wisconsin prison officials were mistaken when they did not recognize atheism as a religion.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hasn't done its job.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has failed to conduct mandatory status reviews for nearly all of the 100 Florida species currently on the federal endangered species list, according to a legal challenge announced [recently] by Pacific Legal Foundation's Atlantic Center.

Mail Sent to Walter Reed Never Delivered.  Turns out the trouble at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the focus of a firestorm of criticism over poor treatment of wounded war veterans, reached into the mailroom.  The Army said Friday [6/15/2007] that it has opened an investigation into the recent discovery of 4,500 letters and parcels — some dating to May 2006 — at Walter Reed that were never delivered to soldiers.

Would the FBI Have Heeded "Able Danger"?  I really don't think the FBI would have acted on the information.  Instead, today, we'd be sweeping under the rug yet more ineptitude by the, unfortunately, "lead agency" in the War on Terror.  Let's look at what the FBI has done with other similar information they received before and, even worse, after 9/11.

Secret CIA details found easily on Internet:  report.  The names of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) personnel, including covert operatives, internal telephone numbers and locations of two dozen CIA installations can be found through Internet searches, a US newspaper has reported.  Through online services that provide public, legally obtained information for a fee, a reporter netted a directory of 2,600 CIA employees and 50 internal phone numbers, according to a Chicago Tribune investigation.

DHS Gets Another F in Computer Security.  Most federal agencies that play key roles in the war on terror are doing a dismal job of protecting their computers and information networks from hackers and viruses, according to portions of a report to be released by a key congressional oversight committee Thursday [3/16/2006].  The Department of Homeland Security, which is charged with setting the government's cyber security agenda, earned a grade of F for the third straight year from the House Government Reform Committee.

Homeland Security secretary has stopped using e-mail.  If you're like most of us, your e-mail box fills up daily with pure junk.  I'm not just talking about spam, though that's certainly a problem.  I'm talking about chain letters, stupid jokes forwarded 384 times, news you don't need, even wedding invitations.  Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff found a solution to his e-mail problem:  He no longer uses it.

Ineptitude Has Become a Hallmark of the Port Authority.  It is reasonable to ask:  How many major blunders and missteps arising from poor judgment and faulty analysis is any one governmental agency entitled to before heads roll and new management and strategies put in place?  The recent history of Port Authority projects suggests that the organization is in serious need of an overhaul.

State Department criticized for purchasing Chinese PCs.  A State Department purchase of more than 15,000 computers built by the Lenovo Group of China is starting to draw criticism in the latest sign of American unease about the role of foreign companies in the American economy.

The Editor says...
Setting aside the impact on our economy for a moment, what about the security risks of buying computer hardware from a Communist country which is a potential enemy?  How does anyone know that the computers are free of built-in timed-release viruses and military-grade spyware?

Visa And A Prayer.  A bruised and betrayed Britain vows to kick out foreign Muslim clerics who inspire violence and hatred while blocking entry of radical imams.  But America keeps ushering them in — by the hundreds.  Are we really that stupid?  Yes.  Since 9-11, the multiculturalists at the State Department have admitted more than 1,000 religious workers from Muslim nations, including terror hotbeds like Pakistan.  In fact, they've granted religious-worker visas to 113 imams from that country alone, immigration records show.

Woman threatened with arrest because of a bumper sticker.  A Denver police sergeant is under investigation for allegedly threatening to arrest a woman for displaying on her truck a derogatory bumper sticker about President Bush.

Meter reading without sanity checking:  An Illinois woman received a $74,000 water bill for allegedly using ten million gallons of water.  Of course it was the result of a faulty meter.  A utility bill like this should never have been mailed.

FBI, Please Protect Us from Terrorists and the ACLU.  Does the FBI suspect that the ACLU is planning a terrorist attack?  If not, why is the FBI wasting time and resources monitoring such groups when it admits it cannot process the information it already has?

 Editor's Note:   I'm not a big fan of the ACLU, as you can see here.  The ACLU is one of the most destructive forces acting upon our traditional American culture, and is especially threatening our freedom of religious expression in public places.  The ACLU is a lot of things, but it's not a violent terrorist organization.

An Object Lesson in Incompetence at the Social Security Administration.  This is one man's anecdote about a mixup at the Social Security Administration (SSA).  The software that the SSA uses to sort mailing addresses when sending out social security cards has a bug which causes correct ZIP codes in some addresses to be replaced with incorrect ZIP codes.

Regulating cornrows:  Usually, the established businesses get away with using licensing boards and "safety" regulations to crush competitors.  That's unfair.  And if the question is who's protecting the public, it seems to me Taalib-Din Uqdah has done much more than the bureaucrats who wanted him to spend 125 hours studying shampooing.

Domestic Violence & Show Trials With Predetermined Outcomes.  Introduced in the 1980's with good intentions, these laws have mutated into a system of repression, power and control, manipulated by the domestic violence industry and exploited by vengeful spouses seeking advantage in divorce and child custody.

Lost in translation.  The federal Bureau of Prisons is holding 119 persons with "specific ties" to international Islamist terrorist groups, yet has no full-time Arabic translators or a system to monitor their communications, according to Congressional sources and a whistleblower who now fears retaliation from inmates.

False negatives on fingerprints:  An accused murderer using an alias had been stopped and fingerprinted three times, but IAFIS (the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System) didn't match his fingerprints to those on file under his real name.

Are people working under false identities at DOD?  How many people using false identities have been employed by the Defense Department?  Are some illegal aliens?  As of now, the government does not have definitive answers to these questions.

Setting terrorists free:  The Department of Homeland Security is releasing drug smugglers and human traffickers, and perhaps even suspected terrorists and violent felons, as a matter of policy — because it doesn't have the resources to keep them in custody.




Uncle Sam loses stuff

This subsection has moved to a page of its own, located here.



Security Gaffes Cited in Courthouse Spree.  The deputy, a 51-year-old woman just 5 feet tall, was simply no match for the inmate she was escorting to the courtroom, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound former college linebacker on trial for rape.  Authorities say Brian Nichols overpowered deputy Cynthia Hall, took her gun, and easily gained access to the courtroom, where he went on to kill the judge and a court reporter.  Security cameras captured images of him overpowering the deputy, but no one, it turned out, was watching the screens.

Freeze!  I just had my nails done!  How many people have to die before the country stops humoring feminists?  Last week, a defendant in a rape case, Brian Nichols, wrested a gun from a female deputy in an Atlanta courthouse and went on a murderous rampage.  Liberals have proffered every possible explanation for this breakdown in security except the giant elephant in the room… The New York Times said the problem was not enough government spending on courthouse security.  Yes, it was tax-cuts-for-the-rich that somehow enabled a 200-pound former linebacker to take a gun from a 5-foot-tall grandmother.

Inaugural doomsday?  [Recently] it was revealed that the FBI is on the verge of scrapping a $170 million computer overhaul the agency said was critical in the war against terrorism.  The computers don't work.  The bureau will pay a research firm $2 million to discover what's wrong and see if it can be fixed.  Adding ludicrous to stupid, The New York Times reported some veteran agents are resisting the transition to computers because they favor pens and pads.

Update:
Lockheed Martin Picked for FBI Computers.  Lockheed Martin Corp. will build a new computer system for the FBI in an effort to put to rest the bureau's multimillion-dollar troubles with technology.  The Sentinel system, the replacement for a failed computerized case management project, is expected to cost $425 million and be finished in late 2009, the FBI's chief information officer said Thursday [3/16/2006] at a news conference.

Ohio Man Loses Home and Business After Allowing Employees to Play Golf.  William Pierce had no way of knowing he was violating a labor regulation because the DOL had not yet informed employers that flextime was illegal.  The Department of Labor sued him in 1989 for willfully violating the Fair Labor Standards Act and ordered him to pay $50,000 in fines.

Don't Pay for an Airline Ticket with Cash.  Willie Jones paid cash for a ticket to Houston, where he planned to purchase plants and shrubbery for his business.  But by paying in cash, Jones immediately aroused suspicions that he was a drug dealer.  Carrying large amounts of cash and being an African-American apparently fits the DEA's profile of such a criminal.

The Diane Klieman Story:  Special Agent Diane Klieman thought that working for the Custom Service at JFK Airport was the right way to continue to serve her country.  She turned out to be wrong.  Almost dead wrong!

Police seize legal gunowner:  A gunowners group is protesting the seizure of a legally armed citizen in a bookstore by two police officers who responded to an anonymous caller alarmed by the weapon.

The Kevin Mitnick Case:  Kevin Mitnick's sixth Amendment right of a speedy trial was violated.  Should this not be taken into account when passing sentence?  The amount of $80 million estimated for the supposed damages he caused are also out of hand.  At no time did he deprive anyone of their property by removing or damaging it — nor did he use any information he obtained for financial gain — instead pursued knowledge over monetary reward.  It is preposterous to punish activities that society normally rewards and encourages.

Hate Tour.  How the State Department invites and pays for extremists to visit the US.  Inviting members of extremist organizations or individuals that refuse a rational, civilized debate is, frankly, a waste of money.  If, moreover, the Americans chosen to meet with the program's foreign participants happen to be hard-line critics of the US, we have a recipe for disaster.

A heartless homeland security screw-up:  Do you remember when immigration officials sent out flight school visa approval notices for two of the 9/11 hijackers — six months after they had committed their suicide attacks on America?  President Bush proclaimed his outrage, four federal immigration officials were reassigned, and Washington vowed that such embarrassing bureaucratic paperwork snafus would never happen again.  I'm sorry to report to you that it has, in fact, happened again.

Release of Home Addresses Angers Concealed-Carry Licensees:  A Second Amendment group says the sheriff in Shelby County, Ohio, had no right to release the home addresses of 87 people licensed to carry concealed pistols.

Controlling Pests or Controlling Competition?  The Pacific Legal Foundation challenges a California licensing law that would require a 30-year business veteran to become an apprentice.

Justice for little Angelo:  It is too bad that only one man will go to jail for this crime.  There ought to be room in a cell somewhere for the social workers and their bosses who made this murder possible in the face of blatant evidence about the dangers that an infant could see, even if the responsible adults refused to see.

Is talking about online gambling illegal?  According to the U.S. Justice Department, I may have just committed a felony.  Federal prosecutors say helping Americans find online casinos or sports betting operations could amount to "aiding and abetting" illegal gambling, a crime punishable by up to two years in prison.

Not Guilty By Reason of Limited English Proficiency:  In a terrifying blow to the future of law enforcement and criminal proceedings, Pennsylvania prosecutors were forced to drop drug charges against a man after a Pennsylvania Superior Court declared a search void due to the accused's inability to understand English.

Government Workers: Working Hard or Hardly Working?  [In May 2004], the General Accounting Office (GAO) made headlines with its report that scores of high ranking employees from eight federal agencies had degrees from bogus colleges or unaccredited schools.

Unintended Consequences?  In August, 1991, 18 EPA agents burst into the offices of Higman Sand and Gravel with guns drawn.  After 53 years in business with a spotless record, the owners found themselves in federal court, accused of illegally storing hazardous waste.  The EPA agents had found a small quantity of paint thinner dumped on the property.  At trial, it was discovered that the paid informant had done the deed.  He stood to gain $24,000 if the owners been convicted, in addition to the $2,000 he had already been paid for the hot tip.

Suit filed after cops confiscate motor home:  A California man has filed suit in U.S. district court in Detroit after police from Royal Oak, Mich., confiscated his motor home because it allegedly bore "obscene" pro-life messages.

FDA Takes Tyranny to the Heartland.  In this age of almighty government, nearly every blade of grass is regulated, oftentimes heavy-handedly, as Michigan farmer Richard Hebron found out when the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA), on Oct. 13, 2006, carried out a highly orchestrated sting operation against him for transporting unpasteurized, unprocessed milk of the highest quality to enthusiastic consumers.  That day, his wife also was served a warrant in the dragnet.




The George Norris Subsection:

Feds raid orchid-grower's home:  George Norris said he believes his troubles may stem from the US Fish and Wildlife Service's use of CARNIVORE, a government system that can tap into computer e-mails.  "They showed me page three of a five-page e-mail from several years ago where I was being offered smuggled plants," he said.  "They did not show me pages four and five, which were my answer to this fellow, telling him we would not buy any such plants that were undocumented.  This was so old that I don't even remember this e-mail."

 Editor's Note:   In case the link to that article goes nowhere, the full text of the story can be found here.

Orchids… not Osama.  The Fish and Wildlife Service can walk into anyone's home at any time and tear it apart without even having to say what it is they are looking for; they spend taxpayer money on wild goose chases like this one, ripping apart lives for the sake of a few orchids that are legally in this country in the first place.

Criminalizing everyone.  "You don't need to know.  You can't know."  That's what Kathy Norris, a 60-year-old grandmother of eight, was told when she tried to ask court officials why, the day before, federal agents had subjected her home to a furious search.  The agents who spent half a day ransacking Mrs. Norris' longtime home in Spring, Texas, answered no questions while they emptied file cabinets, pulled books off shelves, rifled through drawers and closets, and threw the contents on the floor.  The six agents, wearing SWAT gear and carrying weapons, were with — get this — the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Norris Orchid Saga continues.  I've written extensively here about the drama surrounding George Norris and Manuel Arias Silva's troubles with the law.  Both are elderly and in ill health, and from what I can gather from those "in the know", they are not big bad orchid smugglers guilty of stripping the wild of rare orchids species, but victims of a complicated web of petty politics, egos, and treachery.

Sad News About George Norris, the Orchid Man.  There are ironies upon ironies in this set of events.  The chief among them is that George Norris, as part of the orchid-growing and -trading community, is dedicated to the preservation of orchid species and especially interested in the preservation and propagation of rare and endangered species.  The law which he was accused of breaking (provision of the CINES treaty) was ostensibly designed to preserve endangered orchid species, but it has financially ruined a thriving orchid business and orchid-grower, making the fate of orchid species more precarious by culling from the ranks of civil society someone who lived and breathed orchids.

The Unlikely Orchid Smuggler:  A Case Study in Overcriminalization.  George Norris, an elderly retiree, had turned his orchid hobby into a part-time business run from the greenhouse in back of his home.  He would import orchids from abroad — South Africa, Brazil, Peru — and resell them at plant shows and to local enthusiasts.  He never made more than a few thousand dollars a year from his orchid business, but it kept him engaged and provided a little extra money — an especially important thing as his wife, Kathy, neared retirement from her job managing a local mediation clinic.  Their life would take a turn for the worse on the bright fall morning of October 28, 2003, when federal agents, clad in protective Kevlar and bearing guns, raided his home, seizing his belongings and setting the gears in motion for a federal prosecution and jail time.



Jailing the innocent:  Every day, many Americans commit crimes of which they are unaware.  Many of the crimes with which Americans are charged are absurd.

Report:  Overextending the Criminal Law

President Bush's secret service buffoons:  [The Secret Service recently] investigated renowned editorial cartoonist Michael Ramirez… because Ramirez drew a provocative cartoon that was clearly intended to defend the president.

Silencing Student Speech — And Even Artwork — in the Post-Columbine Era:  The relevant supreme court cases, and how they have been misapplied.

Judge kills death sentence because jurors read the Bible.  Although Robert Harlan was convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering a 25-year-old woman and shooting another woman passer-by who tried to help, leaving her paralyzed, a Colorado judge overturned his death sentence because some jurors had read the Bible during their deliberations.

Why the Fourth Amendment is Right and Bush and Ashcroft are Wrong:  Various news stories in recent years document the fact that police have on numerous occasions battered down doors, entered the wrong houses and even killed innocent people.  These no-knock raids illustrate very clearly just how little protection Americans have against being subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures of their persons and property.

Shrink-Wrapping Our Rights:  Laws relating to computers, software, and the Internet are being proposed and passed at such a breathless rate that even those of us trying to follow them are having trouble keeping up.  Unfortunately, some bad laws, such as the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA), are likely to encourage other bad laws, such as proposals to increase surveillance of the Internet.

Everyone is checked for guns — except known terrorists!  Database used on law-abiding Americans while al-Qaida and other enemies get a free ride.  Even the names of suspected al-Qaida cell members in the U.S. would not show up in a background check by a gun store.

Did You Hear the One About the Armed Robber Who…  A pro-Second Amendment group says the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has "lost its marbles," after throwing out the conviction of an armed robber who didn't mean to show his loaded gun to a bank teller.

Call A Cop, Go To Jail.  There seems to be a law against holding cash.  Robert R. Reiner had $350,000 of his father's money that he wished to deposit in the bank.  He asked the police to help provide security.  They called the feds and the feds took the money — presumably on the principle of guilty until proven innocent.

Upload a File, Go to Prison.  Two congressmen introduce a bill to criminalize the uploading of copyright works to peer-to-peer networks.  The penalty:  five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.  Critics say the law goes too far.

DigitalConsumer.org  Have you ever made a tape of your favorite songs to enjoy in your car stereo?  Have you ever bought a CD and ripped it to your portable MP3 player?  If so, you should know that recent changes to copyright law have been used to take away your personal use rights to the media you legally acquire.  That means that activities like making mixes or copying music to a portable player are quickly being restricted or prevented.

Shift-Key Case Rouses DMCA Foes.  Critics say it's the absurdity of the unforeseen consequences of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that necessitates a change in the law.  The DMCA goes too far and sends a chilling effect through the academic community, they say.

Everyone a criminal:  Today, Americans draw prison sentences for unknowingly violating vague regulations, the meanings of which are interpreted by the regulatory police who enforce the regulations.

The U.S. police state:  Attorney Russ Stein details his arrest for "idling."  You have to read it to believe it.

Detroit's voter rolls in question:  Despite having died eight years ago, Kathe Beddow still retains one mortal privilege:  The right to vote.  The city Elections Department in July sent Beddow a voter registration card, even though she hasn't voted in more than a decade.

Arrested for catching a mouse?  A California law requires a trapping license in order to kill mice.  The Animal Protection Institute of Sacramento pushed the bill, which mandates anyone who takes furbearing mammals or non-game animals must purchase a trapping license by passing a complex test and paying a fee of $78.50, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The crime of distributed computing:  Misapplication of Georgia's anti-hacking laws puts an honest technician in hot water.

This ties in nicely with the Draconian Punishment of the Month:  In the 7th century B.C., an Athenian named Draco established a code of laws which, rather than promoting stability and equality as expected, became known for their terrible severity.  Even 2600 years later, we use the word Draconian [for cases like the ones on this page.]

Illinois Home Schoolers Told to Resist Demands of Area Superintendent:  The Home School Legal Defense Association is urging home-schooling families in northeastern Illinois to ignore demands that they attend a pre-trial hearing to prove they are in compliance with the law.

Senate Asked to Probe FBI Case.  According to congressional sources, the two prominent senators have written to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, asking for hearings on the growing crisis of espionage failures at the FBI.

The confederacy of dunces:  FBI orders the wrong man arrested at airport; he was held for three weeks.

Air Force radio frequency jams garage door openers.  A secretive Air Force facility in Colorado Springs tested a radio frequency this past week that it would use to communicate with first responders in the event of a homeland security threat.  But the frequency also controls an estimated 50 million garage door openers, and hundreds of residents in the area found that theirs had suddenly stopped working.

[Of all the wide-open frequencies in the radio spectrum, the Air Force just had to have this frequency that is being used by 50 million devices?  We're supposed to assume the interference is justified, because after all, it's for "homeland security", which has become the government's new trump card.]

First Responders:  Historically, police departments, fire departments and EMTs have all had their own independent communications equipment, so when there's a disaster that involves them all, they can't communicate with each other.  A 1996 government report said this about the *first* World Trade Center bombing in 1993:  "Rescuing victims of the World Trade Center bombing, who were caught between floors, was hindered when police officers could not communicate with firefighters on the very next floor."

Property Rights In Radio Communication:  The FCC has been unable to keep up with the pace of change in radio communication since the end of World War II.  It took the FCC nearly 10 years to finalize allocation and assignment criteria for television.  For four of those years, it had to impose a "freeze" on the licensing of stations.  It was almost 30 years before the FCC was able to change those specifications with the Low Power TV proposal.  It took the FCC three years to settle a dispute between FM radio and VHF television over the same frequencies, and it took 10 years to reallocate some frequencies from UHF television to mobile radio.  Access to channels is thus constricted by a bureaucracy which frequently needs 10 years to make a major decision, and the result is a backlog of applicants that can only be described as chaotic.

EPA Seeks Faith-Based Grants For Green Causes:  The director of an Environmental Protection Agency energy program told a meeting of environmentalists Thursday [12/19/2002] that the White House's faith-based initiative should include federal grants for religious groups that advocate green causes.

Blacks and Guns:  Unfortunately, the way police crack down on crime — by cracking down on all kinds of minor infractions, looking for excuses to search people, being suspicious of everyone who looks suspicious — is a great irritant to the law-abiding citizens.

Persnickety police prompt panic in Pasadena:  Woman gets the run-around while threatened on the freeway by an armed man... who eventually got away.

Feds decline private assistance - again!  Rick Stanley, the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate, was characteristically blunt.  "Two years ago, when the fire started at Mesa Verde National Park, local volunteers showed up with bulldozers and water trucks.  They could have put the fire out in a matter of hours.  But the National Park Service was unwilling to accept private assistance.  Twenty-four-thousand acres of beautiful forest land was incinerated before that fire burned itself out."

Forest Service ignores offers of Russian help:  The Associated Press reported that then-District IX FEMA director Buddy Young went to the [Los Alamos] fire and publicly announced, "You will not bring the Russian planes in here:  We're not having any Russians coming here and fighting our fires."

FBI Looking Into Los Alamos Breach.  The FBI has conducted two interviews and may schedule a third with the woman who walked out carrying classified documents from what's supposed to be one of the most secure facilities in the world, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, CBS News has learned.  The incident has exposed continuing security weaknesses at Los Alamos, which has been the focus of security and management scandals for seven years.

The forest service smokescreen:  Last summer, four young firefighters died at the Thirtymile Fire in Washington state's Okanogan National Forest... because of the Forest Service's gross incompetence.  And not a single person has been held publicly accountable for the fatal failures.

Disputed Air ID Law May Not Exist:  A recent lawsuit filed by Electronic Frontier Foundation founder John Gilmore against U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, United Airlines and several others challenges the requirement that airline flyers present government-issued identification in order to travel within the United States.  The suit claims unpublished federal regulations have created an "internal passport" for Americans in violation of the U.S. Constitution.  As it turns out, there may be no such law on the books.

Parents of 2-year-old 'streaker' taken to court:  Court claims 4th Amendment doesn't apply to social workers.  Because a 2-year-old, acting in typical toddler fashion, ran out of the house naked chasing a cat, a social worker demanded entry into the North Carolina child's home to interview all children in the household, ultimately landing the parents in court.

Tommy Thompson's Reign Of Terror:  The government claims a crisis of unpaid child support.  Leading scholars have declared these claims to be everything from a "myth" to a "hoax."  Yet some in the Bush administration seem determined to continue the failed policies of the Clinton years.  Health & Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson recently announced mass arrests of parents he says have disobeyed government orders.

Radiation Levels at the Capitol are 65 Times EPA Standards for that Facility Vice President Dick Cheney just announced that nuclear power should be part of our national energy strategy.  But a little-noticed 11th-hour regulatory action by the Clinton administration may block the way.  (Thanks a lot, Bill.)

Man Imprisoned 30 Years for Crime FBI Knew He Didn't CommitRepresentatives on the House Government Reform Committee showed a rare display of emotion on Thursday [5/3/2001], as they heard the story of a man who spent 30 years in prison for a crime the FBI knew he did not commit.

FBI and Anthrax:  Another TWA 800 in the Making?  In the fruitless attempt to locate the perpetrators of the anthrax attacks that took place in the U.S. after the Sept. 11 hijackings, the FBI is once again ignoring evidence that conflicts with its predetermined and wrongheaded theory of who was behind this biowarfare.




The Steven Hatfill Subsection

Who Carried Out the Anthrax Attacks?  Calling it a "Cold Case," the report noted that after five years, 53,000 leads, and 6,000 subpoenas, the FBI still has no arrests.  [Jim] Stewart asked, "So who did it?  Former Attorney General John Ashcroft once singled out Dr. Steven Hatfill, a bioweapons specialist, as a 'person of interest.'  But there have been no charges."  That statement shortchanges the facts surrounding the government's wrongful pursuit of Hatfill and its destruction of his life and career.  In fact, Hatfill has sued the government for invasion of privacy, and he has sued the media, including the New York Times, for defamation.

The Crucifixion of Steven Hatfill:  Almost oblivious of the fact that they are in effect charging Dr. Hatfill with wantonly murdering five innocent fellow Americans, the media have swarmed around him like angry bees, dredging up incidents in his distant past to justify their continuing attacks.

Ashcroft May Target Hatfill With RFK Tactics:  In an attempt to justify the harassment of Dr. Steven Hatfill, the Department of Justice may resort to tactics used by Robert Kennedy against the Mafia, Hatfill's friend and spokesman Pat Clawson told NewsMax.com.

UPI Exclusive:  FBI is tracking Hatfill:  Fifteen months after a series of anthrax-laced letters killed five Americans, the FBI again intensified its acknowledged interest in bio-war expert Stephen Hatfill, conducting a search of a Maryland state park and openly tracking him around Washington streets, despite emerging concern over their methods.

Another Richard Jewell?  A lawyer has said that if Steven Hatfill is guilty in the anthrax attacks, he must be the dumbest criminal going.

Rogue Elephant:  Ask Dr. Steven Hatfill if he thinks this is a new and improved FBI.  Spurred on by a university research professor and a New York Times columnist, the FBI has turned Hatfill's life inside out.

A person of interest:  Is a vote for a Republican a vote for a police state?  Those who saw Dr. Steven Hatfill's Fox News press conference on Sunday, Aug. 25, must be asking themselves this question.  Once again, the FBI and Department of Justice (so-called) are displaying what former Scripps Howard News Service editor Dan Thomasson calls "a callous disregard for a citizen's rights."

Judge dismisses anthrax libel case.  A federal judge on Friday dismissed a libel lawsuit filed against The New York Times by a former Army scientist once identified as a person of interest in the 2001 anthrax attacks.  U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton in Alexandria dismissed the case a week after lawyers for the Times argued that Steven Hatfill should be considered a public figure under libel law, which makes it much more difficult for a public figure to win a judgment than a private citizen.

Silence = Danger:  A judge orders journalists to name their confidential sources.  The order arises in a civil suit filed by Steven Hatfill, the bioterrorism expert whom federal investigators suspected was behind the 2001 anthrax mailings.  A former federal employee, Hatfill claims that the Justice Department and the FBI, by leaking to the press information about their suspicions of him, violated his rights under the federal Privacy Act.

The News Media Vs. the Innocent.  Years ago, Ray Donovan, Ronald Reagan's Labor Secretary, was prosecuted for corruption, only to be acquitted.  After the verdict, Donovan asked plaintively, "Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?"  Steven Hatfill knows where to go to get his reputation back.  But upon arriving there, he finds the door blocked by someone who says her privileges are more important than his good name.  That someone, of course, is a journalist.  And, not surprisingly, she enjoys the broad support of other journalists, who have proved to be slow learners about the obligations they share with their fellow citizens.

$5.8 million for scientist in anthrax lawsuit.  The Justice Department has agreed to pay $5.8 million to settle a lawsuit with former Army scientist Steven Hatfill, who was named as a person of interest in the 2001 anthrax attacks.  Hatfill claimed the Justice Department violated his privacy rights by speaking with reporters about the case.  Settlement documents were filed in federal court Friday [6/27/2008].

How the FBI Botched the Anthrax Case:  The anthrax investigation, almost from the beginning, was hampered by top-heavy leadership from high ranking, but inexperienced FBI officials, which led to a close-minded focus on just one suspect and amateurish investigative techniques that robbed agents in the field the ability operate successfully.

The Anthrax Fiasco:  Throughout one of the largest investigations in law-enforcement history, agents were fixated on a "lone wolf" theory that Director Robert Mueller's FBI, for all intents and purposes, now admits was wrong.  Helped along by a sympathetic press corps, the obsession with a domestic perpetrator has ended up in a dead end. … The FBI's mad scientist theory also fit the agenda of the political left, which didn't want the trail of evidence to prove state-sponsorship of terror — particularly by Iraq.

Steven Hatfill Vs. The Media:  If the left wants an example of the Bush Administration's incompetence in the war on terror, they've got it in the case of former government scientist Dr. Steven Hatfill, who was falsely accused of the anthrax murders.  The U.S. Government "has determined that settlement is in the best interests of the United States and has agreed to pay Dr. Hatfill and his attorneys $2.825 million dollars and purchase for Dr. Hatfill an annual annuity of $150,000," the Department of Justice said in a statement released on Friday, June 27.  But there was no apology for ruining an innocent person's life and career.

Update:
NY Times Wins in Libel Suit Brought By Former Anthrax Suspect.  A federal appeals court is handing a legal victory to the New York Times by upholding a lower court's ruling tossing out a former Army scientist's claim that he was libeled by the newspaper in columns which linked him to the deadly anthrax attacks in 2001.  The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Richmond, Va., ruled that the scientist, Stephen Hatfill, was a public figure in the national debate over bioterrorism preparedness.

Apparent suicide in anthrax case.  Bruce E. Ivins, a scientist who helped the FBI investigate the 2001 mail attacks, was about to face charges. … Ivins died Tuesday [7/29/2008] at Frederick Memorial Hospital after ingesting a massive dose of prescription Tylenol mixed with codeine, said a friend and colleague, who declined to be identified out of concern that he would be harassed by the FBI.

The anthrax case and the suicide.  There still have been no media mea culpas in the public lynching of Steven Hatfill.  There is still no resolution on the anthrax attacks — resolution the public deserves to have and the victims' families needs to know.

After Suicide, Feds Consider Closing Anthrax Case.  The chief suspect in the anthrax attacks now dead, the Justice Department is expected to decide within days whether to close what had been one of its most high-profile unsolved cases.  Five people died and 17 others were sickened when anthrax-laced letters began showing up at congressional offices, newsrooms and post offices soon after Sept. 11, 2001.

FBI used aggressive tactics in anthrax probe.  Before killing himself last week, Army scientist Bruce Ivins told friends that government agents had stalked him and his family for months, offered his son $2.5 million to rat him out and tried to turn his hospitalized daughter against him with photographs of dead anthrax victims.

Bruce Ivins Wasn't the Anthrax Culprit.  Despite the seemingly powerful narrative that Ivins committed suicide because investigators were closing in, this is still far from a shut case.  The FBI needs to explain why it zeroed in on Ivins, how he could have made the anthrax mailed to lawmakers and the media, and how he (or anyone else) could have pulled off the attacks, acting alone.  I believe this is another mistake in the investigation.

Bad 'News'.  This may mark the end of the anthrax story but the reckless destruction of people's reputations and the disrupting and blighting of their lives in the media is continuing on.  There is much to be said for the British practice of limiting what can be reported in the media about someone on trial until after that trial is over.  Once a charge has been made and publicized from coast to coast — if not internationally — later exoneration will never get the same publicity, so the damage cannot be undone.

The Anthrax Truth Movement:  On Wednesday [8/7/2008], the FBI released a raft of documents to buttress its case against Bruce Ivins, whom the government says bears "sole responsibility" for the 2001 anthrax attacks. … The FBI's cartload of paper is unlikely to settle the case.  Like 9/11 and the Kennedy assassination, the anthrax attack bears the hallmarks of a tragedy destined to spawn innumerable alternative theories.

Prosecutors Clear Hatfill in Anthrax Case.  Federal prosecutors yesterday [8/8/2008] officially "excluded" scientist Steven J. Hatfill from involvement in the deadly 2001 anthrax mailings, formally closing the door on a costly episode that sidetracked the FBI's search for the real culprit for nearly five years.

U.S. settles with anthrax mailings subject Steven Hatfill for $5.82 million.  The former Army scientist who was the prime suspect in the deadly 2001 anthrax mailings agreed Friday [8/8/2008] to take $5.82 million from the government to settle his claim that the Justice Department and the FBI invaded his privacy and ruined his career.

What If the FBI Is Right About Bruce Ivins?  One of the most frequent questions asked [about bioterrorism] is, "If the Unabomber had been a biologist instead of a mathematician, could he have produced a sophisticated bioweapon?"  The answer has always been "No:  That would require a team of individuals."  However, if the FBI is right about Ivins, such a lone individual can produce such a weapon.

The Anthrax Attacks Remain Unsolved.  The FBI's six-year investigation was the largest inquest in its history, involving 9,000 interviews, 6,000 subpoenas, and the examination of tens of thousands of photocopiers, typewriters, computers and mailboxes.  Yet it failed to find a shred of evidence that identified the anthrax killer — or even a witness to the mailings.

FBI and Media Corruption in Anthrax Case.  The FBI has officially "closed" the case and conveniently blames a dead man, who committed suicide under FBI pressure, for the anthrax murders.  The FBI blames "the late Dr. Bruce Ivins" and claims that he "acted alone in planning and executing these attacks."  But the "evidence" is unconvincing and the case should still be considered unsolved.

Who Was the Real Anthrax Mailer?  There's a gaping hole in the FBI's argument that U.S. Government scientist Bruce Ivins was the anthrax mailer.  In addition to the 100 scientists with access to virulent anthrax from Ivins's flask whom the FBI claims to have ruled out, one unauthorized individual had a special kind of access — the kind you get when you steal something.

Obama Obstructs Oversight of FBI in Anthrax Case.  Despite bipartisan congressional support for examining the FBI's gross mishandling of the post-9/11 anthrax attacks, President Barack Obama is telling Congress that he doesn't want the agency to be scrutinized and held accountable.

The Wrong Man.  In the fall of 2001, a nation reeling from the horror of 9/11 was rocked by a series of deadly anthrax attacks.  As the pressure to find a culprit mounted, the FBI, abetted by the media, found one.  The wrong one.  This is the story of how federal authorities blew the biggest anti-terror investigation of the past decade — and nearly destroyed an innocent man.



Nobody went more overboard in preparation for Y2K than the FBI.
The FBI and the mad bombers.  (Posted on December 9, 1999.)  The FBI is warning us, through its Project Megiddo report, that right-wing Christians are dangerous terrorists prone to incite violence in the weeks ahead.

Death by the FDA:  Is the FDA out to deliberately kill Americans? No, but the end result is the same.

Culture Problems at Justice:  A 76-year-old disabled man was evicted because his caretaker brought cocaine into the apartment.  In another case, an elderly woman was evicted because her mentally disabled daughter, who lived with her, was found in possession of cocaine in a location blocks away from the apartment.  These extraordinary injustices are tallied as victories in the war on crime.

Whatever Happened to Equal Protection?  Prosecutorial abuse has reached new heights in Idaho.  A white husband is being prosecuted for committing a hate crime for coming to the aid of his wife, who was assaulted by a black man.

Honest and hard-working need not apply:  I have been struck by the stark differences between how the U.S. government postures itself toward an ever-growing number of citizens who insist that agencies be tolerant, friendly, honest, fair and generous to the population versus the manner in which so many federal agencies treat their own employees, which is very bad.

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Updated October 9, 2017.

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