9/11 Hysteria: Feds And Kansas City Missouri Police Go All Out When Clown Walks Into Federal Building And Asks If He’s On Terrorist Watch List – Streets Closed, Daycare Evacuated, Flights Restricted, Bomb And Arson Squads Called In

September 15, 2012

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – Authorities spent Friday afternoon looking for explosives inside the vehicle of a man who walked into the Kansas City federal building and asked if he was on a terrorist watch list.

The man entered the Richard Bolling Federal Building on 600 E. 12th Street around noon, according to the FBI.

While the suspect never made any threats, authorities detained him and searched his vehicle. He was released early Friday evening.

Read more: Man at center of scare speaks out http://bit.ly/RSWa3L

The Kansas City Police Department’s bomb and arson squads were dispatched to his vehicle, located in the Fletcher Daniels State Office Building parking lot on 615 E. 13th Street. A bomb-sniffing dog then detected the presence of explosives, prompting evacuations at the state office building.

Just before 5 p.m., authorities confirmed that no explosives were found in the vehicle. A temporary flight restriction issued for downtown Kansas City was lifted shortly after. Police reopened the streets, which were closed for most of the day, just after 5 p.m.

State office employees were cleared to leave for the day. The federal building was also closed for the day for precautionary reasons, according to authorities. Earlier, children in the day care center at the federal building were evacuated to a pre-approved, off-site location.

Employees said Friday’s evacuation was unlike any they’d been through previously.

“This one may be real…I’ve been through routine, but nothing like this,” said George Kelley.

The incident in Kansas City came shortly after the all-clear was given at the University of Texas-Austin and North Dakota State University after bomb scares that evacuated their campuses.

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Victims With Obama-Mentality Think President Is Going To Pay Their Utilities, Phone Service, And Loans – Just Another Identity Theft Scam/Hoax Targeting Those With Tiny IQ’s

July 11, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – A myth that President Obama is giving people money to pay their bills has prompted thousands of people across the country to try to pay for utilities, phone service and loans using bogus bank routing numbers.

United Way of Cleveland’s 2-1-1 changed its answering machine Monday to say rumors of the Obama program were false after fielding dozens of calls.

Later that day, a United Way employee was on an RTA bus when a rider stood up and announced to fellow passengers that Obama was paying people’s bills. The rider told people they could use the red numbers on the backs of their Social Security cards to tap into the government money. Steve Wertheim of United Way said the woman claimed she had successfully paid her electric bill using the technique.

Such unprompted testimonials are spreading the hoax through entire communities, putting consumers, at minimum, at risk of late payment penalties and service disruptions.

In some iterations, the bogus “Obama program” appears to be an identity theft scam. According to news reports, uniformed con men with clipboards went door to door in a handful of states, signing people up by collecting Social Security numbers and then giving them phony bank routing numbers to use to pay their bills.

But here, it seems less scam than hoax.

People aren’t asking for anyone’s Social Security numbers. They’re passing along bogus routing numbers, apparently in the belief they’re real.
What victims should do

The bill-paying myth poses several distinct dangers for consumers:

• If they’re using bogus routing numbers, their payments will eventually bounce, leaving them with late payment or other penalty fees.

• People who were already behind on payments could face serious consequences, including insurance lapses, repossessions or service terminations.

• If they gave their Social Security number to someone purporting to sign them up either in person or by phone, they run the risk of identity theft.

Consumers who fell for the hoax should contact the companies they paid with bogus numbers to arrange for genuine payments as soon as possible.

Those who need utilities or other assistance should contact United Way at 2-1-1 or 216-436-2100 to be connected to legitimate nonprofits who can help.

Anyone who gave a scammer a Social Security number should contact the Federal Trade Commission for ID theft information at 1-877-438-4338.

Jeanette Lee, who works in billing for a Cleveland hospital, said she heard about the program over the weekend from friends and relatives who swore it worked. “They were calling me to tell me to do it,” she said.

An aunt, Lee said, insisted that she paid her insurance and cell phone bills with one of the routing numbers she received through the grapevine.

A nephew used the system to make a car payment.

“The president didn’t announce that when he was in town,” Lee told them, but family members would not be dissuaded that citizens could tap into government funds to pay up to $1,000 in household bills.

“I guess because everybody needs some type of help,” Lee said. “It’s really bad out there.”

One version of the hoax involves using the series of red numbers on the back of a Social Security cards as a bank routing number.

The red numbers actually are a security feature added to cards in 1996 to prevent counterfeiting, a Social Security spokesman said.

FirstEnergy spokesman Todd Meyers said the utility, which operates across 12 states, spotted the trend in May when its payment systems began jettisoning large numbers of phony routing numbers. The company issued a warning that the government program wasn’t real, and the Better Business Bureau followed suit.

But tall tales have spread.

A Florida electric company posted an alert to its customers last week after as many as 2,000 customers tried to use bogus routing numbers to pay bills in a 24-hour-period.

Feeding the hoax — and the testimonials — is that some bill payment systems may give consumers may confirmation numbers when they pay by phone. The confirmation doesn’t always mean the payment was successful – it may only confirm the bank information was logged into the call center, said Lou Tekavcic, a trade specialist for the Better Business Bureau.

“Anybody can call and give you a bogus routing number,” Tekavcic said. “It doesn’t mean it will go through.”

When the bogus numbers weren’t immediately rejected, some victims apparently believed the program was real and spread the word.

One caller told the BBB her friends were trying to make mortgage payments through the bogus program, Tekavcic said.

As Meyers of FirstEnergy points out, consumers struggling to pay bills are particularly at risk. They may believe the government covered their payment; but when that payment is ultimately rejected, their utilities could be shut off or they could be dropped from heating assistance programs that require them to keep up with payments.

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Miami Florida Police Didn’t Consider House Might Have A Back Door – Neighborhood Evacuated As SWAT Team Spends 5 Hours Forcing An Empty Home Into Submission

July 8, 2012

MIAMI, FLORIDA – A suspect remained on the loose Saturday when a SWAT team responding to a what they thought was a barricade situation found the man had left the home.

Miami-Dade officers went in the home on the 10000 block of Southwest 69th Terrace Friday afternoon after learning there might be an armed man inside refusing to leave his home.

Police said the incident began as a domestic dispute between the man, Carlos Guerrero, 36, and his brother. When the rescue squad arrived, they saw Guerrero run toward the house. When police couldn’t make contact with Guerrero, they were concerned he might be barricaded inside and a danger to himself or the community.

“We learned that he is a veteran and there were firearms inside the house,” said Miami-Dade Police Det. Alvaro Zabaleta. “So now, of course, when you add to the formula an individual who has firearms inside the house, refuses to come out, who’s already had a physical confrontation with somebody, then of course that escalates things a little bit.”

Police taped off several blocks surrounding the home and kept dozens of neighbors out of their homes for more than five hours. Other neighbors who were inside before the SWAT team arrived were told to remain inside.

Melissa Morejon was outside the police tape while her mother and son were inside.

“He tried going out earlier but they wouldn’t let her out of her house. They told her to go right back in,” she said.

Morejon spent much of the evening on the phone with her mom who kept her updated on the situation.

“She heard the police trying to negotiate,” Morejon said.

Police are searching for Guerrero to find out what happened. Although neighbors were displaced for hours, police said they had to take every precaution to keep people safe.

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Dumbass Davenport Iowa Officals Send Notice To Wrong Address, Sends City Workers To Remove Couple’s Religious Items From Private Property, And Now City Has To Pay To Replace Items

June 27, 2012

DAVENPORT, IOWA – Mack Covey and his wife Merla were surprised one morning to find strangers in their backyard, taking things without notice, with not even a knock on the front door.

“Bottom line my freedom of religion was violated big time,” Covey says, “The door to the teepee was taken and the buffalo robe.”

“That was my teepee, which was an actual church,” he says of the items’ importance, “We’ve had ceremony here in it.”

Other non-religious items like umbrellas and cleaning poles were also taken, in total about $2300 worth of things Covey wants back.

“I just want what’s fair,” Covey says, “The monetary means to replace the items they blatantly stole. We weren’t notified, bottom line.”

TV6 spoke with Alderman Bill Boom today who says a notice was sent, but to the wrong address. He tell us the city was notified when a neighbor complained, citing items in the backyard, both religious and non-religious, as an environmental hazard. The city sent workers in to clean up what they call ‘debris,’ but Covey disagrees.

“It’d be like me going into one of the churches here in town and taking a cross,” he says, “That’s how much significance it has to me.”

The couple and their supporters have contacted public works and city aldermen, who have come to sort out the issue at the couple’s home. Officials say they’re working on a resolution.

“The workers I’m sure did not know what they took,” Covey says, “This is as important as life and death itself.”

An attorney for the city tells us the yard is in violation of an environmental ordinance that says residents have to keep your lawns clean and clear of debris. City officials say they’ve apologized to the couple and they’re in the process of paying them back so they can replace the items gone.

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New York Police Flood Rapid Transit Buses And Trains With Cops To Catch Fare-Beaters – Most Of Which Turn Out To Be Children That Grew Over 44 Inch Limit But Still Ride For Free – Police Want Riders To Waste Their Time Reporting Fare-Dogers, Even Though They’ll Be Long Gone Before They Arrive

June 26, 2012

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – The NYPD has begun flooding city buses with undercover and uniformed cops to nab serial fare-beaters, a problem that’s costing the agency $100 million a year, officials said yesterday.

The operation has led to 1,228 fare-beating arrests from Jan. 1 through June 24 — a 102 percent increase from the 609 arrests in the same period last year, according to NYPD statistics released yesterday.

Much of the crackdown took place in The Bronx, where 992 people were caught ripping off the system. Last year, 412 people were arrested in The Bronx for fare-beating on buses.

Staten Island, which officials say is regularly among the worst locations in the city for bus fare-beating, came in second place, with 60 arrests this year — up from three last year.

The NYPD has also ramped up random inspections, sending uniformed cops on board buses more than 900 times in the past month.
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Edinburgh Indiana Police Officer Christopher McAllister Suspended After Arrest For Drunken Attack On Officers At Indanapolis Motor Speedway The Day Before Indy 500 Race

June 23, 2012

EDINBURGH, INDIANA – An Edinburgh police officer accused of attacking officers at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last month has been put on unpaid leave as a criminal investigation continues.

24-Hour News 8 news partner the Daily Journal reports the Edinburgh Town Council, which serves as town’s police merit commission, voted to place Officer Christopher McAllister, 44, on unpaid leave until the case is resolved in Marion County.

Because the town does not have a policy regarding what to do when an officer is charged with a crime, the newspaper said, Police Chief Pat Pankey allowed him to continue working and deferred the decision on what should be done to the Town Council.

Police said McAllister and his wife were creating a disturbance May 26 at IMS the day before the Indianapolis 500. When officers confronted them, McAllister attacked officers. He faces charges of battery, resisting law enforcement and public intoxication.

His wife, Shawntel, also resisted officers and even tried to jump on one of them. She was charged with resisting law enforcement and public intoxication.

Dustin Huddleston, the town’s attorney, told the newspaper the council would reconsider McAllister’s status once the criminal case was resolved.

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Nigerian Style e-Mail Scams Earned $9.3 BILLION Worldwide In 2009, And Gross Increases By 5 Percent A Year As More Morons Are Getting Internet Connections

June 23, 2012

WORLD – You open your inbox, and a familiar message pops up:

DEAR SIR, I am Prince Kufour Otumfuo the elder son of the late King Otumfuo Opoku ware II whose demise occur following a brief illness. Before the death of my father, King Otumfuo Opoku ware II, I was authorised and officially known as the next successor and beneficiary of my father’s property according to African Traditional rite. …

“Seriously?,” you mutter. Since you are not (presumably!) a total idiot, you immediately recognize this for what it is — an Internet scam. Someone’s claiming to have untold riches and they just need you to wire them some money so that they can airlift said riches your way. It’s the most crudely obvious Internet hustle in the history of Internet hustles.

So why don’t Internet scammers try to change up their tactics? Everyone knows about the Nigerian prince. It’s tired and cliched. Why don’t more scammers try to dupe us with the fake inheritances of a Kazakh prince instead, or with Greek bonds or fancy credit default swaps or something clever like that? Something we haven’t seen before?

A fascinating new paper (pdf) from Microsoft researcher Cormac Herley actually tries to answer this question. He notes that 51 percent of all e-mail scams still originate from Nigeria, even though this is the most obvious scam known to mankind. And Corley argues (with math and graphs) that it’s not because scammers are stupid. Most of them are actually quite clever. Rather, they’re explicitly trying to weed out everyone but the most gullible respondents:

Our analysis suggests that is an advantage to the attacker, not a disadvantage. Since his attack has a low density of victims the Nigerian scammer has an over-riding need to reduce false positives. By sending an email that repels all but the most gullible the scammer gets the most promising marks to self-select, and tilts the true to false positive ratio in his favor.

Scamming people, after all, costs time and money. Herley notes that everyone who responds to a scamming ploy “requires a large amount of interaction.” The worst thing that can happen, from the scammer’s point of view, is that a savvy person starts responding and toying with the scammer. (Teddy Wayne, a writer for The Awl, recently conducted an amusing three-month Facebook correspondence with a man from Malaysia pretending to be a beautiful woman — this is a nightmare for scammers!) Better to keep the e-mails predictable and tired. That way only the most unsuspecting suckers respond.

At any rate, the scammers must be doing something right. In 2009, these “advanced-fee fraud” efforts managed to pry $9.3 billion out of unwitting victims around the world. And the business is growing at a 5 percent rate each year — especially as more people in developing countries get connected to the Internet.

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St. Mary Parish Lousiana Built $3 Million Convention And Visitors Bureau On A Swamp – Knew It Was On A Swamp – And It Sunk

June 16, 2012

MORGAN CITY, LOUISIANA – St. Mary Parish put up more than $3 million for a Convention and Visitor’s bureau. It went up with high hopes, but what happened Thursday, sank those very hopes.

“We had a catastrophic failure,” said Carrie Stansbury, executive director of Cajun Coast Visitor’s & Convention Bureau.

It’s what St. Mary parish officials had been wanting even before Katrina in 2005. Stansbury said they decided on the building to help boost the economy in Morgan City in hopes of keeping visitors in town.

“By slowing them down, we could get them to get another tank of gas. We can get them to stay overnight. We can get them to eat in our restaurants, and get them to create economic development in our community,” said Stansbury.

It was less than six weeks from completion when suddenly, “A painter was in there today (Thursday), and he noticed a crack in the sheet rock.”

That painter contacted an Aegis representative, who was on site.

“The guy came in. He said something doesn’t look right. (Told everyone) get out of here, and then it sank,” said Stansbury.

When looking at the building, there is a dip in the middle and a crack in the chimney. Stansbury said the Convention and Visitor’s bureau sank about five feet. She said the building was engineered according to soil samples taken at the site, but at the end of the day, they built on a swamp. Stansbury said they were very much aware they were building on a swamp.

“It’s very devastating. It’s like a death in the family,” said Stansbury. “This is an anomaly. They have no idea what could have happened.”

Engineers and architects are investigating, but no clear answer as to what went wrong. Stansbury said the project was bonded and insured.

Aegis representatives told WAFB, they had “no comment.”

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Tiny Minds Collide In Georgia: Clayton County Sheriff Kem Kimbrough And County Police Chief Greg Porter Involved In Hiring And Firing Pissing Contest

June 14, 2012

CLAYTON COUNTY, GEORGIA – Clayton County Sheriff Kem Kimbrough is firing back after the county police chief wrote a scathing letter criticizing his hiring of officers the chief has fired.

Greg Porter wrote the letter to Clayton County Chairman Eldrin Bell.

In it, the chief says “in his 26 years as a peace officer he has never witnessed such irresponsible acts by a law enforcement official.”

Porter goes on to refer to Kimbrough’s “questionable judgment and borderline unethical tactics.”

Channel 2’s Tom Jones showed the letter to Kimbrough who said he hadn’t seen it prior to that.

“I mean I’m shocked. I’m shocked to read this letter,” Kimbrough said. “You know that’s his choice of words. Out of respect, that’s not something that I would ever say about Chief Porter.”

Kimbrough recently hired three officers Porter fired. In the letter, Porter said the officers violated a citizen’s civil rights and violated other departmental policies. Porter said Kimbrough never came by the department to check the officer’s files.

The sheriff said that’s not true.

“I did read the file. I did examine all of the evidence.” Kimbrough said.

Kimbrough told Jones he has a right to hire and fire whomever he chooses.

“I felt like based on the investment Clayton County has made in these officers that putting them in a different job and a different assignment with some additional training was a sound investment,” Kimbrough said.

“An officer that doesn’t work out at the police department doesn’t necessarily, isn’t necessarily disqualified from working here at the Sheriff’s Office,” Kimbrough said.

Porter said in the letter hiring fired officers creates liability issues for the county. He also complained that Kimbrough keeps luring his officers by offering them guaranteed overtime.

Kimbrough said it’s like the pot calling the kettle black because Porter has hired deputies he’s fired.

Porter asked Chairman Eldrin Bell to look into creating an ordinance that would stop Kimbrough from hiring his fired officers.

Bell said a county attorney is looking into the issue. When reached by phone Porter said he had no comment.

Kimbrough says it’s important that he and Porter work together to deal with the issues confronting the community.

He said it would have been nice if Porter had addressed these issues with him privately. “I would have appreciated a phone call,” Kimbrough said.

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Middleborough Massachusetts Passes Swearing In Public Law That Police Won’t Be Able To Enforce

June 12, 2012

MIDDLEBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – Residents in a town outside Boston voted Monday night to make the foul-mouthed pay fines for swearing in public.

At a town meeting, residents voted 183-50 to approve a proposal from the police chief to impose a $20 fine on public profanity.

Officials insist the proposal was not intended to censor casual or private conversations, but instead to crack down on loud, profanity-laden language used by teens and other young people in the downtown area and public parks.

“I’m really happy about it,” Mimi Duphily, a store owner and former town selectwoman, said after the vote. “I’m sure there’s going to be some fallout, but I think what we did was necessary.”

Duphily, who runs an auto parts store, is among the downtown merchants who wanted to take a stand against the kind of swearing that can make customers uncomfortable.

“They’ll sit on the bench and yell back and forth to each other with the foulest language. It’s just so inappropriate,” she said.

The measure could raise questions about constitutional free speech rights, but state law does allow towns to enforce local laws that give police the power to arrest anyone who “addresses another person with profane or obscene language” in a public place.

Matthew Segal, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, said the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the government cannot prohibit public speech just because it contains profanity.

The ordinance gives police discretion over whether to ticket someone if they believe the cursing ban has been violated.

Middleborough, a town of about 20,000 residents perhaps best known for its rich cranberry bogs, has had a bylaw against public profanity since 1968. But because that bylaw essentially makes cursing a crime, it has rarely if ever been enforced, officials said, because it simply would not merit the time and expense to pursue a case through the courts.

The ordinance would decriminalize public profanity, allowing police to write tickets as they would for a traffic violation. It would also decriminalize certain types of disorderly conduct, public drinking and marijuana use, and dumping snow on a roadway.

Segal praised Middleborough for reconsidering its bylaw against public profanity, but said fining people for it isn’t much better.

“Police officers who never enforced the bylaw might be tempted to issue these fines, and people might end up getting fined for constitutionally protected speech,” he said.

Another local merchant, Robert Saquet, described himself as “ambivalent” about the no-swearing proposal.

“In view of words commonly used in movies and cable TV, it’s kind of hard to define exactly what is obscene,” said Paquet, who owns a downtown furniture store.

But Duphily said, “I don’t care what you do in private. It’s in public what bothers me.”

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New Jersey Lawmakers Place Value Of A Dog 100 Times Higher Than A Human Child

June 4, 2012

NEW JERSEY – If I took my dog, and placed him unrestrained in the backseat of my car, this is what would happen: He’d stand at the window and whimper until I opened it. I’d open it a crack or all the way, he wouldn’t care. He’d stick his nose out or his head out, depending on how much window I gave him. I could drive from here to California and that would be that.

Is this safe for the dog? Well, probably not the safest thing. Having him securely fastened would be the safest thing. Also the best thing for me too, as it would automatically dismiss the notion he might try and jump into the front seat.

The state of New Jersey agrees with me on the “not the safest thing” front and under a 1996 state law against animal cruelty, I could be in for some hefty fines if ol’ Sparky is unrestrained. Minimum of $250, up to $1,000, and the possibility of being charged with a disorderly persons offense, which would just jack up the cost even more. The law, as written, states someone cannot “carry a living animal or creature in or upon a vehicle or otherwise, in a cruel or inhumane manner.”

And now the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission and the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals(NJSPCA) is using this law to stick it to pet owners who let their pets roam free in the car. They had a press conference and everything the other day.

“We’re trying to educate people about distracted driving,” said Mairin Bellack, a public information officer with the Motor Vehicle Commission. “You can’t have your dog sitting on your lap, or sticking its head out the window.”

It’s part safety for the dog, part making sure drivers aren’t distracted, she said. Bellack also wanted to point out if your dog is calmly sitting in the backseat, you’re not getting pulled over. Police and the NJSPCA are just looking for distractions and safety issues. And if you get caught? As stated, the hefty fines of $250 to $1,000. Plus a disorderly persons offense.

Now.

If I took my three-year-old son, and placed him unrestrained in the backseat of my car, this is what would happen: He’d be jumping all over the place. He’d definitely try and climb into the front seat. He’d probably attempt to take the wheel. He’d end up on my lap. He’d punch me in my nose. We’d probably crash and die and maybe take a few people with us.

Clearly, this is not safe for the child, for myself, or for anyone else on the road. Thankfully, the state legislature back in 1983 saw fit to enact a law to make sure any child under the age of 8 is legally forced to be properly restrained in a car or booster seat.

Now that’s smart, good government there. Got to keep those kiddos safe and got to make sure the driver isn’t distracted.
And if a police officer — the NJSPCA would have no jurisdiction here — but if a police officer pulled me over to find my child unrestrained and loose in my car, I’d be in big, big trouble to the tune of $10.

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Funeral Home Finds Bullet Hole Near Heart In Body Of Man That Detroit Michigan Police And EMS Workers Claimed Died Of Naturnal Causes

May 25, 2012

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – Detroit police and EMS workers said Leslie Brooks died of natural causes during the weekend. But when his body arrived at a funeral home, the mortician saw it differently.

As she prepared to embalm the 59-year-old Brooks on Saturday morning, mortician Gail Washington peered at a small burned area on his skin, right above his heart. Her assistants had pointed it out, and Washington now agreed: This was no natural death.

Brooks had a small-caliber gunshot wound in his chest. And now Detroit police are scrambling to figure out what happened.

That may be tough, since their initial determination ruined a possible crime scene in the east-side basement where Brooks was found. Police technicians did not scour the room or take photos until later. There was no immediate preservation of possible clues. Visitors tracked in and out. His family took Brooks’ cell phone. And, unless this was a suicide, a killer had precious hours to elude capture.

Even the clothes Brooks wore had been stripped off and discarded, as is customary when a funeral home picks up a body. The clothing was retrieved, but also is now most likely tainted as evidence.

“I am pissed off,” Shakira Bonds, 20, one of Brooks’ daughters, told the Free Press on Tuesday. “I don’t know who to go to.”

Police spokeswoman Sgt. Eren Stephens said Tuesday the case will be investigated by internal affairs, and Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. would not yet comment. Detroit Fire Department officials, who oversee EMS workers, did not respond to requests for their version of events. Al Samuels, the chief investigator for the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office, said his office followed proper procedure.

Based on information gathered from the police, the family, witnesses, the mortician and the morgue, here’s what happened:

Brooks was found dead about 12:17 a.m. Saturday in a basement room that he rented from friends in the 18700 block of Dean near 7 Mile and Ryan.

A friend, Alberta Rice, 64, said in an interview Tuesday that she did not see Brooks all day Friday, and when his cell phone rang in the basement, Rice sent her boyfriend down to check on him. The boyfriend found Brooks facedown on a rolled-up carpet, his arms stretched out in front, “like he laid down there and went to sleep.” Yet Brooks was stiff and obviously dead when the boyfriend shook him.

Someone in the house called police and Yvonne Arrington, Brooks’ sister. Arrington told the Free Press she arrived at the home to find EMS workers already gone after declaring Brooks dead of natural causes. Two uniformed police officers arrived. Homicide was contacted and so was the Medical Examiner’s Office. Arrington said she asked one of the cops, “How do you know he died of natural causes? He said, ‘We don’t see … trauma.’ “

Arrington wondered, because her brother had confided in her recently that he owed two men money. He was scared, she said, but she thought he might just be paranoid.

She didn’t mention the threats to police that night because officers told her EMS believed he died naturally, Arrington said. In a way, she was relieved he didn’t die violently, she said.

“I said, ‘Thank you, Jesus.’ … He just died of cardiac arrest,” she said.

Police that night put Arrington in touch with the medical examiner’s office, where an investigator told her to call a funeral home, that there was no need for an autopsy based on the opinion of officials at the scene.

She still wondered if she shouldn’t push for the more thorough examination.

“I said, ‘That’s like me talking on the phone to you and you diagnosing me with cancer,’ ” she recalled telling the morgue investigator.

But she called the Cole funeral home, which sent a crew. Arrington went home.

At mid-morning, Washington prepared to embalm Brooks’ body at the Cole funeral home on Schaefer at Puritan and made her discovery. She retrieved Brooks’ clothes, saw holes and a small amount of blood and examined the wound.

“They probably missed it,” she said, because “he had a black T-shirt on with a black shirt on top.” She said the gun most likely was small caliber, leaving a smaller hole than the larger-caliber weapons common today, and most of the bleeding must have been internal.

She has seen such mistakes before. A mortician for 38 years, Washington said this is the fourth time she has discovered a fatal bullet wound on someone initially ruled a natural death.

Samuels, the morgue investigator, said his office checked with Brooks’ doctor the night he was found dead and learned he had a history of cancer, high blood pressure and heart trouble. The decision not to autopsy Brooks was based on that opinion and the natural death ruling by EMS workers, Samuels said.

Rice told the newspaper she never heard a gunshot from her basement. She and Arrington both said they saw no gun at all that night.

Only a dead man with a mystery.

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Savage Black Beasts Put Baby In Landromat Washing Machine – Camden County New Jersey DOESN’T Charge Suspects – VIDEO

May 23, 2012

CAMDEN COUNTY, NEW JERSEY – Putting a 1-year-old inside a washing machine isn’t smart, but it’s also not criminal.

That was the decision of a Camden County prosecutor’s office in at least one New Jersey case, after determining that a baby sitter and her acquaintance were not criminally liable for their decision at a Camden laundry on May 11.

“This was not an intelligent choice to put the baby in the washing machine, but it was not a crime,” said prosecutor’s office spokesman Jason Laughlin.

The incident was captured on the store’s security camera and has since gone viral.

It shows a man placing the child inside the machine and shutting the door, which apparently locked. The washer began its cycle with the baby inside.

The two people then appeared to panic and tugged at the door, unable to open it until an employee unplugged the machine.

“He was scared,” said employee Kong Enh. “I’m upset about what happened but I’m extremely gratified that the child is doing well.”

The baby suffered minor injuries, Laughlin said.

“By looking at the video it is clear there was no attempt to harm the child,” he said.

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Seven School Buses Crash On Interstate 20 In Georgia On Way To Six Flags

May 19, 2012

NEWTON COUNTY, GEORGIA – A crash involving multiple school buses on I-20 has injured a bus driver and 43 students, Newton County emergency officials said.

One bus driver has been transported to the hospital, CBS Affiliate WGCL reports.

Lt. Tyrone Oliver, Newton County Sheriff spokesman, said the driver had non-life threatening injuries. No child was seriously hurt.

The students were from Burke County Middle School in Waynesboro. The group was reportedly on its way to Six Flags theme park.

The cause of the accident was not clear.

An official at Newton County Medical Center said the injuries are minor, mostly bumps and bruises (referred to as “ambulatory treatments”) and that the students will be released to their parents.

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Buffalo Police “Find” Suspect In Cold Case, Who They Would Have Found In 1994 Had They Conducted A Real Investigation – Man Says Someone Dumped Victim’s Bodyparts In His Backyard, And He Just Happened To Prior Conviction For Killing Another Woman, And Was Convicted A Year After 94 Murder For Attempted Rape

May 17, 2012

BUFFALO, NEW YORK – James Fountain seemed terrified when he called 911 to report a grisly discovery 18 years ago: Stuffed inside a wooden nightstand left in the backyard of his Montana Avenue home, he told the operator, he had found the chopped-up body parts of a woman.

Fountain, who had come off as meek and soft-spoken, cooperated with the investigation into the murder of Cynthia Epps, a 29-year-old mother of two young daughters, according to police who probed the horrific 1994 murder.

But last week, Buffalo’s Cold Case Squad detectives watched as the man who had seemed so shocked by the mutilated remains was arraigned in State Supreme Court on a charge of second-degree murder, accused of killing Epps and dismembering her body. He pleaded not guilty.

Recently uncovered evidence led investigators to Fountain.

More than a year ago, Cold Case Detective Charles Aronica was sifting through unsolved cases involving the slayings of women in the early to mid-1990s. He was hoping that recent innovations in DNA technology might reveal new leads.

The Epps case, from 1994, jumped out at Aronica. It had occurred during the city’s worst year for homicides in modern times — 92 killings. In contrast, there were 36 homicides reported in the city last year.

“Her murder was horrific, and I knew if we got evidence, that this might be the last cold case I reopened before retiring next year,” Aronica said.

Aronica, along with fellow Detective Lissa Redmond, began poring over the old evidence.

They went over crime scene photographs to identify where they might still find DNA evidence that would lead them to the killer, and they gave Erie County Central Police Services Forensic Crime Lab official Paul Mazur a long list of items to be tested. Mazur put forensic biologist Michelle Lillie on the case.

Months passed as Lillie conducted “meticulous testing” on the many pieces of evidence that were nearly two decades old.

Finally, they got a break.

DNA different from Epps’ was isolated. But whose was it?

The cold case detectives already were suspicious that Fountain was the man they were looking for.

Back in 1994, he had been ruled out after interviews determined he had not known Epps.

“Detectives had no reason to suspect Fountain had anything to do with it because he had no connection to her,” Redmond explained.

Investigators were left to assume Epps’ body parts, wrapped in a green blanket and placed in a wooden nightstand, had been randomly dumped in Fountain’s backyard on the 100 block of Montana.

But Aronica and Redmond learned that four months after the June 1994 slaying of Epps, a resident of Goodyear Avenue who lived only a couple of blocks away from Montana Avenue, Fountain was arrested for attempting to rape a woman.

In that case, Fountain had placed the woman inside a box and locked her inside a bathroom at her home.

“Fortunately, she managed to escape,” Redmond said.

Aronica and Redmond busied themselves digging further into Fountain’s past and discovered he had been convicted in 1977 of killing a woman in New York City.

“We would not have known about the manslaughter conviction at the time of the Epps murder because the records weren’t as easily available back then,” Redmond said.

A check of the New York State Sex Offender Registry revealed that he was convicted in 1984 for sexual attacks involving 7- and 8-year-old girls in the New York City area.

Sometime later, Fountain moved from New York City to Buffalo because he had relatives here, Redmond said.

The detectives didn’t have a hard time finding Fountain.

He was at Central New York Psychiatric Center in Marcy, where he had been placed in indefinite civil confinement after he had completed his lengthy prison sentence on the attempted rape from 1994 and other charges.

A judge agreed with the state’s claim that he had a “mental abnormality” and, if released, would pose a threat to society.

Obtaining a sample of his DNA to compare to the one found at the Epps crime scene was the next step.

That also proved easy for the detectives. After Fountain’s 1995 conviction on the felony attempted rape, a sample of his DNA was taken for a statewide criminal data base.

The results came back in October 2011. Lillie determined that the unidentified DNA taken from the Epps slaying matched Fountain’s.

“Given what we now know about the Epps homicide, I believe this is proof that civil confinement works,” Redmond said. “Who knows what could have happened if he had been released?”

Police are not saying much about Fountain’s motive for allegedly killing Epps, but Aronica did say, “It may have been an argument between the two of them.”

Two months ago, Redmond and Aronica interviewed Fountain at Marcy. And though the detectives declined to release the results of the interview, they said it went well.

What surprised them was the manner in which Fountain conducted himself. A small man who presents himself as unassuming, Fountain was extremely polite, they said.

The unexpected solving of the cold case has left the Epps family grateful that their daughter, sister and mother was not forgotten.

“This won’t bring my sister back, and I will not be held hostage or victim for what he did to my sister, but I am very grateful to both detectives,” said Epps’ sister, Roxanne McKinney Cumberlander.

Cumberlander added that when she saw Fountain in court last week, she realized he was a sick man.

“I forgive him and pray that he gets help and that God will save him,” she said.

Redmond said, “The family’s gratitude is overwhelming and makes our job meaningful.”

Fountain is now being held in the Erie County Holding Center, awaiting his next appearance before State Supreme Court Justice Penny Wolfgang.

Fountain’s court appearance was on the same day Aronica, a city officer for 40 years, celebrated his 60th birthday.

“This turned out to be a great birthday present, helping the Epps family get some closure,” Aronica said.

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Brookline Massachusetts To Ditch Its New Million Dollar Plus High-Tech Parking Meter System

April 22, 2012

BROOKLINE, MASSACHUSETTS – An outcry against the multispace parking meters that replaced hundreds of single-space meters in Brookline last year has convinced Town Administrator Mel Kleckner that it’s time for the town to reverse course.

Kleckner is proposing a plan to remove almost all of the multispace meters that were installed along Brookline streets at the beginning of 2011 at a cost of more than $1 million. Hired by the town in the fall of 2010, Kleckner said he’s been dealing with complaints about the multispace meter system through most of his tenure.

“I just don’t think it’s convenient enough, and for whatever reason it has really created a problem,” said Kleckner. “It’s a big problem. I think it makes the town look bad.”

Residents have complained that the meters are confusing, slow, and are particularly burdensome for older drivers, who must walk from their parked car to the multispace meter, print a parking receipt, and return to the vehicle to put the slip in the window, even in inclement weather.

Brookline’s Special Town Meeting voted last fall in favor of a resolution asking the town to address all of the problems with the multispace meters, or get rid of them.

Fred Lebow, a member of the town’s Advisory Committee who proposed the resolution, had asked that the meters be replaced, and that officials admit they had made a mistake.

“People were just crazy,” Lebow said of the frustration motorists felt from using the parking meters.

The first step to replace the meters will involve a trial run this spring testing 100 new single-space meters that will replace a few multispace devices in Brookline’s busiest areas,such as Coolidge Corner and Brookline Village, Kleckner said.

The new meters will accept coins and credit cards, and are being provided for free by their manufacturer,San Diego-based IPS Group Inc., during the trial run, he said.

If the single-space units work out, Kleckner said, he will recommend they replace almost all of the multispace meters in town.

He said the town would continue to use multispace meters in municipal parking lots and along the median strip of Beacon Street near the St. Mary’s MBTA stop, where they enable the town to adjust the parking fees to $22 for Red Sox fans attending games at Fenway Park. Red Sox fans park for games at Fenway. The special rates for Red Sox games has raised $38,000 for the town, according to the deputy town administrator, Sean Cronin.

Brookline purchased about 90 multispace meters to replace more than 900 single-space meters last year. The town sold the old meters, and will attempt to sell most of the multispace meters it removes from service. Kleckner said a few will be retained to supplement the multispace meters that will be retained in municipal parking lots.

In his proposed budget for next fiscal year that will go before Town Meeting in May, the town administrator has included $100,000 to pay for the move back to single-space meters.

Kleckner briefed Brookline’s transportation board about the plan earlier this month, and said he has found nothing that would suggest town officials didn’t use their best analysis before deciding to purchase and deploy the multispace meters. He did say, however, that if the town had tested the meters along streets instead of solely in parking lots, officials perhaps could have anticipated some of the problems.

In a telephone interview with the Globe, Kleckner said he doesn’t know why the multispace meters haven’t worked in Brookline when they have been used successfully in neighboring communities, including Boston and Cambridge.

He speculated that one of the reasons could be that parking along Brookline streets tends to be used by residents, as opposed to people visiting from out of town.

The multispace meters have had some benefit to the town, he said. Revenue from overnight parking in town parking lots increased when people weren’t being required to travel to the Public Safety Building to buy an overnight pass, he said.

ButKleckner said the town also saw a significant drop in revenue from parking tickets, in part because the multispace meters make it more difficult for enforcement officers to do their jobs.

The old single-space meters displayed a red panel when the parking time had expired, and meter violations could be quickly spotted by enforcement officers. With the multispace meters, Kleckner said, enforcement officers have to read the parking slip in each vehicle. The new meters will flash red when time is expired and green when time remains on the meter, said Brookline’s transportation director, Todd Kirrane.

While Brookline will keep multispace meters in parking lots, Kleckner said, the town will eliminate the need for motorists to print out a slip and return to their vehicle to put it in the window. Instead, Kleckner said, motorists will park in a numbered spot, and then pay for the corresponding numbered space at the meter.

Lebow said he thinks the changes the town is planning are the best way to fix the parking problems. “Is there a meter system that is absolutely perfect? No,” he said.

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Comptroller In Dixon Illinois Syphoned $30 Million In Town Funds Over 6 Years To Finance Her Lavish Lifestyle – Released By Federal Judge On $4,500 Bond

April 19, 2012

DIXON, ILLINOIS – Allegations that a finance officer for a small northern Illinois city was able to steal a staggering $30 million from government coffers to run a nationally renowned horse breeding business inspired calls Wednesday for more rigorous oversight in small communities that typically face less scrutiny.

Dixon’s mayor pledged new measures to protect the city’s finances a day after FBI agents arrested longtime comptroller Rita Crundwell. She is accused of using the money to fund one of the nation’s leading horse breeding operations and feed a lavish lifestyle that kept her outfitted with cars and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry.

According to a criminal complaint, the siphoning of city funds went undetected for years until another staffer filling in as vacation relief became suspicious and discovered a secret bank account. How an enormous sum – it dwarfed the city’s current annual budget of $20 million – could be stolen and escape the notice of a yearly audit left many puzzled.

A Chicago-based corruption watchdog, the Better Government Association, called it a wakeup call for state and local officials to put in place better safeguards, especially in smaller towns that lack rigorous oversight.

“Tens of billions of our tax dollars flow through 7,000 plus units of government in Illinois every year. And we can only watch a few of them,” said the association’s president, Andy Shaw. “Most of them don’t have inspector generals. Most of them don’t have auditor generals. Most of them don’t have watchdog groups looking closely. … It’s ripe for rip-offs.”

Dixon, a city of about 16,000 people west of Chicago where Ronald Reagan grew up, was especially vulnerable because Crundwell, who has been comptroller since the early 1980s, had control over all of the city’s finances, a common arrangement in smaller cities and towns.

Federal prosecutors say she stole $3.2 million since last fall alone and misappropriated more than $30 million since 2006.

Crundwell is free on a $4,500 recognizance bond. A federal judge barred her Wednesday from selling any property while the wire fraud case proceeds and limited her travel to northern Illinois and to Wisconsin, where she has horse ranches.

Agents searching her home, office and farms in Dixon and Beloit, Wis., seized seven trucks and trailers, three pickup trucks, a $2.1 million motor home and a Ford Thunderbird convertible – all allegedly bought with illegal proceeds. Authorities also seized the contents of two bank accounts she controlled.

Between January 2007 and March of this year, she is accused of racking up more than $2.5 million on her personal American Express card – including $339,000 on jewelry – and using Dixon funds to pay back the charges.

Prosecutors say she used $450,000 in stolen funds for operations at her Meri-J Ranch, where she keeps about 150 horses.

Crundwell is one of the top horse breeders in the nation. Her ranch produced 52 world champions, according to the American Quarter Horse Association in Amarillo, Texas, the world’s largest equine breed registry and membership organization.

“Rita has owned more world champions than anyone else in our industry,” said Jim Bret Campbell, the association’s spokesman.

He said she mainly showed her horses in halter classes, competitions where the animals are led by hand rather than ridden and are judged on their beauty. A November photo from the association’s 2011 world championship in Oklahoma City shows a smiling Crundwell posing in a white cowboy hat and spotless white shirt beside a horse named Pizzazzy Lady.

She is so widely known that the association announced her arrest on its website and promised those inquiring more information when it was available.

“People are shocked,” Campbell said of the reaction from the industry.

Dixon placed Crundwell on administrative leave without pay and named a new interim comptroller.

Trying to explain how that much money could disappear unnoticed, Mayor James Burke said Dixon has struggled financially with big infrastructure expenditures, reduced revenues and cash flow problems made worse because the state is far behind on income tax disbursements. That provided plausible reasons to think the extra hole in the budget was related to those financial problems, he said.

How Crundwell could sustain such an extravagant lifestyle on an $80,000 salary was mostly attributed to her success in the horse industry, Burke said.

“She definitely was a trusted employee, although I’ve had some suspicion for quite a while just because of her lifestyle she lived,” Burke said in an interview. “But there wasn’t anything that was brought to my attention or that I could see that would give cause to think that there was something going on.”

He said the city has appointed an independent panel that includes a certified public accountant, a banker and an attorney to recommend internal financial controls.

Marianne Shank, director of the Illinois Government Finance Officers Association, said more training is needed for officials in setting up such controls, including requiring dual signatures in issuing checks, monthly cash flow reports to document budget shortfalls and comprehensive annual financial reports.

“The concern I hear most often is that there are not enough staff to have checks and balances,” she said.

Auditors also talk of the need to divide up financial duties among different staff members, each one acting as a potential check on the other, said Steve Carter, city manager for Champaign, Ill.

“It’s a good lesson for all cities that these things happen and can be very dramatic if you’re not careful and really stress the importance of having those checks and balances in place,” he said.

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Feds Pissed Away $205,075+ In Taxpayer Dollars Moving One Bush In San Francisco – New Ones Cost Only $15 To $20…

April 13, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – The government spent at least $205,075 in 2010 to “translocate” a single bush in San Francisco that stood in the path of a $1.045-billion highway-renovation project that was partially funded by the economic stimulus legislation President Barack Obama signed in 2009.

“In October 2009, an ecologist identified a plant growing in a concrete-bound median strip along Doyle Drive in the Presidio as Arctostaphylos franciscana,” the U.S. Department of Interior reported in the Aug. 10, 2010 edition of the Federal Register. “The plant’s location was directly in the footprint of a roadway improvement project designed to upgrade the seismic and structural integrity of the south access to the Golden Gate Bridge.

“The translocation of the Arctostaphylos franciscana plant to an active native plant management area of the Presidio was accomplished, apparently successfully and according to plan, on January 23, 2010,” the Interior Department reported.

The bush—a Franciscan manzanita—was a specimen of a commercially cultivated species of shrub that can be purchased from nurseries for as little as $15.98 per plant. The particular plant in question, however, was discovered in the midst of the City of San Francisco, in the median strip of a highway, and was deemed to be the last example of the species in the “wild.”

Prior to the discovery of this “wild” Franciscan manzanita, the plant had been considered extinct for as long as 62 years–extinct, that is, outside of people’s yards and botanical gardens.

Before that, the bush had grown in the “wild” in two cemeteries in San Francisco’s Richmond District as well as on Mount Davidson, a peak in the middle of San Francisco. The Department of Interior said that there had also been “unconfirmed sightings” of the shrub in the city’s Haight-Ashbury District—an area that became famous in the late 1960s as the epicenter of the psychedelic hippie movement.
Pelosi

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

The Haight-Ashbury population of the plant, the Interior Department said in the Federal Register, was believed to have been “lost to urbanization.”

On Oct. 16, 2009, Dr. Daniel Gluesenkamp, a botanist who was then the director of Habitat Protection and Restoration for Audubon Canyon Ranch, noticed the manzanita when he was driving along Doyle Drive (the highway leading to the Golden Gate Bride that is now under renovation). The manzanita had been previously hidden by other vegetation but was uncovered as the area was being cleared in preparation for road construction.

With help from a biologist from the Presidio Trust (which oversees the Presidio) and an ecologist from the National Park Service, Gluesenkamp’s discovery was determined to be a Franciscan manzanita.

Shortly thereafter, the Presidio Trust, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the California Department of Fish and Game developed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for saving this one bush from the highway project, for which ground had been broken in December 2009.

The agreement of Dec. 21, 2009 – Memorandum of Agreement Regarding Planning, Development, and Implementation of the Conservation Plan for Franciscan Manzanita – explains how, why, and when the bush would be moved and which agencies would be responsible for which aspects of the move. (MOA – Fran Man – 2009.pdf)

While the MOA did not detail all the costs for moving the bush, it did state that in addition to funding removal and transportation of the Franciscan manzanita, Caltrans agreed to transfer $79,470 to the Presidio Trust “to fund the establishment, nurturing, and monitoring of the Mother Plant in its new location for a period not to exceed ten (10) years following relocation and two (2) years for salvaged rooted layers and cuttings according to the activities outlined in the Conservation Plan.”

Furthermore, Presidio Parkway Project spokesperson Molly Graham told CNSNews.com that the “hard removal”—n.b. actually digging up the plant, putting it on a truck, driving it somewhere else and replanting it–cost $100,000.

The MOA also stated that Caltrans agreed to “Transfer $25,605.00 to the Trust to fund the costs of reporting requirements of the initial 10-year period as outlined in the Conservation Plan.”
President Barack Obama and stimulus

President Barack Obama signed an economic stimulus law, now determined by the CBO to cost $821 billion, at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science on Feb. 17, 2009. (AP photo)

The $100,000 to pay for the “hard removal,” the $79,470 to pay for the “establishment, nurturing and monitoring” of the plant for a decade after its “hard removal,” and the $25,605 to cover the “reporting requirements” for the decade after the “hard removal,” equaled a total cost of $205,075 for “translocating” this manzanita bush.

But those were not the only costs incurred by taxpayers on behalf of the bush. According to the MOA, other costs included:

–“Contract for and provide funding not to exceed $7,025.00 for initial genetic or chromosomal testing of the Mother Plant by a qualified expert to be selected at Caltrans’ sole discretion.” (MOA – Fran Man – 2009.pdf)

–“Contract for and fund the input, guidance, and advice of a qualified Manzanita expert on an as-needed basis to support the tending of the Mother Plant for a period not to exceed five (5) years, provided that said expert selection, retention and replacement at any point after hiring rests in the sole discretion of Caltrans.”

“Provide funding not to exceed $5,000.00 to each of 3 botanical gardens (Strybing, UC, and Tilden) to nurture salvaged rooted layers and to monitor and report findings as outlined in the Conservation Plan.”

–“Provide funding not to exceed $1,500.00 for the long-term seed storage of 300 seeds collected around the Mother Plant in November 2009 as outlined in the Conservation Plan.”

The plant is now protected by a fence and its location is kept secret, in part because the Presidio Trust and the National Park Service fear that nature-lovers seeking to see the rare wild Manzanita might trample it to death.
golden gate

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Calif. (AP Photo)

“[A] single trampling event could result in damage or the death of the wild plant,” the Interior Department noted in the Federal Register for Sept. 8, 2011. “As noted …, the Presidio Trust and NPS have made continuous efforts not to reveal the location of Arctostaphylos franciscana. They are concerned that public knowledge of the A. franciscana location would attract large numbers of plant enthusiasts who may damage the A. franciscana and compact the soil.”

The project to replace the Doyle Drive approach to the Golden Gate Bridge with a new road called the Presidio Parkway has an estimated total cost of $1.045 billion. The project has received a number of federal grants, including two under President Barack Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. These included $83.28 million in stimulus funds awarded to the project on Dec. 24, 2009 (about a month before the manzanita bush was “translocated”) and $46 million awarded on Dec. 30, 2010.

In a Feb. 17, 2010 statement about stimulus money going to the project, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described herself as “a long-time supporter of the Presidio Parkway project.”

“This badly deteriorated structure is designated a Post Disaster Recovery Route and is the only route between the San Francisco peninsula and northern California counties,” Pelosi’s statement said of project. “Unfortunately, the current roadway is reaching the end of its useful life. The Federal Highway Administration ranks Doyle Drive as the fifth worst bridge in the nation and the worst in California for structural sufficiency.

Construction on the new Presidio Parkway began in late 2009 and is scheduled to be completed in 2013.”

In September 2011, the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed naming the Franciscan manzanita an endangered species.

Had the plant been moved to a botanical garden it would have remained “extinct in the wild.” According to the MOA “Such translocation would essentially render the plant extinct in the wild (once again); it would be unlikely that the plant could be moved a second time once reintroduced populations are established; the seed from the mother plant would not be usable due to likely genetic contamination from other garden species of manzanitas.”

The plant is still considered wild according to the 2011 Federal Register entry because it has been moved to an undeveloped area of the Presidio and “is not receiving the level of protection, water, and nutrients that plants in a botanical garden may receive.”

One California nursery currently allows customer to purchase Franciscan manzanitas online for $15.98 per bush. Another sells them for $18.00 per bush.

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Toms River New Jersey Judge Steven F. Nemeth Allows Tenant Lawsuit Against Landlord Over Haunted Rental Home

April 13, 2012

NEW JERSEY -A New Jersey couple is suing the landlord of their three-bedroom ranch house in Toms River, claiming it’s haunted, the Asbury Park Press reports.

Josue Chinchilla, 37, and Michele Callan, 36, fled the house in March after staying only one week and want their $2,250 security deposit back.

They claim they had to endure a series of “paranormal activity” at the house, including lights that switch on and off by themselves, clothes and towels mysteriously ejected from closets, unintelligible whispering, footsteps in the kitchen, and a mysterious force tugging bedsheets during the night.

A hearing before Judge Steven F. Nemeth is expected at the end of April, Press reporter Erik Larsen writes.

Backing up their claim is Marianne Brigando, co-founder of NJ Paranormal Investigators of Old Bridge, who tells the newspaper that their investigation show that the house is the site of an active or intelligent haunting, one level above a residual (!) haunting.

A pastor, Terence Sullivan of the Element Church in North Brunswick, who has counseled the family through the ordeal and even blessed the house, has concluded that the house has been subjected to a “demonic possession,” the Press reports.

In response, orthodonist Dr. Richard Lopez, who owns the house, has filed a countersuit charging that the couple is using the specter of paranormal activity as a cover for personal financial troubles. In short, he claims they can’t afford the place and want their money back.

Moreover, his attorney says no one has every claimed before that the house is spooked.

Callan counters by saying she would not have plunked down $4,000 for the deposit and rent just to pick up and leave seven days later unless something serious was going on.

“I would not have hired a moving truck, packed and unpacked, had my mother take off time from work to watch the kids,” she tells the newspaper. “The whole idea was to get a nice, big home for the kids … But there’s no way I’m going back there.”

The couple claim their lives would be in mortal danger if they attempted to move back into the house. The ordeal also has taken a toll on Chinchilla’s health, they say. He was briefly hospitalized for panic attacks associated with his experiences inside the home, the newspaper reports.

In 1976, George and Kathy Lutz stirred up similar skepticism over their motives when they claimed that supernatural forces drove them from their new home in Amityville, N.Y. after 28 days.

A book about their experiences entitled, The Amityville Horror, was later turned into a 1979 movie starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder.

Where was that movie filmed? In Toms River, N.J.

Coincidence?

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Botched Police Raid In Greenland New Hampsire Ends With Three Dead, Including Police Chief, And Four Other Officers Shot

April 13, 2012

GREENLAND, NEW HAMPSHIRE – The body of a man suspected of killing a New Hampshire police chief and wounding four other officers during a drug raid Thursday has been found in a house along with that of an unidentified woman, the Attorney General said.

At a news conference, Attorney General Michael Delaney said a police robot placed in the house around 2 a.m. Friday detected the bodies of suspect Cullen Mutrie and a woman. He said both died of gunshot wounds.

The two had been holed up in the house since the shootings took place Thursday evening.

Officials said Greenland Police Chief Michael Maloney was killed and four other officers were injured when Muthrie opened fire on them. Two officers were shot in the chest and were in intensive care early Friday. Two others were treated and released. The four injured officers were from area departments and were working as part of a drug task force.

The shootings Thursday evening devastated Greenland, a town of 3,500 near the seacoast that had just seven police officers including Maloney, 48, who was due to retire in less than two weeks.

“In those final days, he sacrificed his life in public service as a law enforcement officer in New Hampshire,” Delaney said.

Maloney had 26 years of experience in law enforcement, the last 12 as chief of the Greenland department.

Jacqueline DeFreze, who lives a half-mile down the road, said she was crushed by reports that the chief had been shot. She’d planned to attend a surprise party for his retirement.

“I’m a wreck. He was just the greatest guy,” said DeFreze, a fourth-grade teacher in nearby Rye. “He’s kind-hearted, always visible in the community.”

John Penacho, chairman of the town’s Board of Selectman, said Maloney was married with children.

“It’s a blow to all of us. You’re stunned. It’s New Hampshire, it’s a small town,” he said. “We’re stunned. I mean all of us. It’s an unbelievable situation.”

Asked what the town will do to help residents cope with the tragedy, Penacho said “We’ll do whatever we need to do.”

Lee Miller, who lives next door to where the shootings took place, said she heard at least six shots on Thursday. Fearing for her 12-year-old grandson who was visiting her, she said she went to the window and saw someone on the ground. Moments later, police knocked on her door, telling them to run outside and take cover behind a police cruiser.

Police later escorted Miller and her grandson to a nearby school.

State police and officers from many departments responded after the initial call around 6 p.m. Thursday.

Gov. John Lynch was at Portsmouth Regional Hospital, where the officers were taken. He asked residents to pray for the injured officers and Maloney’s family.

“My thoughts and prayers and those of my wife, Susan, are with the family of Chief Michael Maloney. Chief Maloney’s unwavering courage and commitment to protecting others serves as an example to us all,” he said.

The tree-lined street, closed off by police, features single-family homes and duplexes. The shootings took place at 517 Post Road, a 2-bedroom, 1½ -story structure that’s listed as owned by the Beverly Mutrie Revocable Trust, according to tax assessor records.

The Portsmouth Herald reported in February 2011 that Cullen Mutrie, 29, was a resident of the home on 517 Post Road and had been arrested and charged with possession of anabolic steroids.

The newspaper reported that the steroids were found in the home when officers went to confiscate guns after Mutrie was arrested on domestic assault charges. According to a police affidavit, the steroids were found in Mutrie’s living room on July 24, 2010, but were not verified by the state crime lab until Jan. 18.

Miller told The Associated Press that she had complained to police repeatedly about suspected drug activity at the house and had been told it was under investigation.

She said late-night fights at the house were so frequent that she moved her bed around so that it was no longer near a window facing the driveway.

The other officers shot were: Detective Gregory Turner, 32, a six-year veteran of the Dover police department, who was treated for a gunshot wound to the shoulder and released; Detective Eric Kulberg, 31, a seven-year veteran of the University of New Hampshire police department, who was treated for a gunshot wound to the arm and released; Detective Scott Kukesh, 33, a 10-year veteran of the Newmarket police department, who was in intensive care awaiting surgery for a gunshot wound to the chest; and Detective Jeremiah Murphy, 34, a seven-year veteran of the Rochester police department, who was in intensive care after surgery for a gunshot wound to the chest.

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Shelby County Tennessee Court May Jail Woman At Taxpayer Expense For Baptizing Her 2 Children

March 31, 2012

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE — A Shelby County mother is facing contempt-of-court charges and possible jail time for baptizing her two children without the knowledge or consent of her ex-husband.

This week the Tennessee Court of Appeals said Lauren Jarrell must face a criminal contempt hearing for violating a court order that said major decisions regarding the religious upbringing of her two children should be made jointly with her-ex-husband.

The mother and her ex-husband, Blake Jarrell, are both Christian — he’s a Methodist and she’s a Presbyterian.

Court records say the father thought the children should be baptized once they are older. He has asked that his ex-wife be found in criminal contempt for baptizing the children without his knowledge or permission.

If convicted, she could face 20 days in jail and a $100 fine.

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Chanting “USA” In The USA Is Now “Racist”

March 7, 2012

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS – A local school district is apologizing after an apparent incident of racism at a boys high school basketball game this past weekend.

When the final whistle blew Saturday, Alamo Heights celebrated a convincing victory over San Antonio Edison.

Alamo Heights Head Coach Andrew Brewer said he was proud of his team.

“Tremendously proud,” Brewer said. “Tremendously. It’s the best group of kids.”

But it was just after the trophy presentation when the coach was not proud of the chant coming from Alamo Heights fans.

“USA, USA, USA,” they chanted.

San Antonio Independent School District officials took the chant as a racial insult to a school with all minority players from a school with mostly white ones.

On the KSAT 12 Defenders Facebook page, Santos Villarreal’s post reads “this has to stop.”

SAISD Spokeswoman Leslie Price heard about the incident after it had happened.

“This is very disrespectful to our students,” Price said.

She said the district is glad the coach put a stop to the chant immediately and hopes Alamo Heights addresses it quickly.

“It is surprising and it’s disappointing to hear that anyone would be out there making those kind of remarks,” Price said.

Edison students who attended Saturday’s game were shocked when they heard the chant. Some thought the fans of the victors should have been better behaved.

Ruby Arredondo and Forest Lebaron are seniors at Edison and Julian Castellano is a junior.

“I was very surprised,” Castellano said. “Very appalled.”

“They didn’t really have any class,” Arredondo said.

“It just rubbed us the wrong way,” Lebaron said.

Alamo Heights Superintendent Dr. Kevin Brown also apologized for the chant.

“We just hope that people know that that’s not who we are and we’re not going to let it happen again,” Brown said.

Alamo Heights has apologized to SAISD and the students identified will also have to apologize and have been banned from the state title games.

“We think that you have to earn a right to be there and that’s not a reflection of our school district,” Brown said.

Both districts are now just trying to move past this disturbing incident.

Another SAISD school, Lanier High, faced a similar incident within the last year from students in the Cedar Park school district.

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Chicago Illinois Police Piss Away Taxpayer Dollars Investigating Upcoming City Vehicle Sticker For “Gang Signs”

February 8, 2012

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Chicago’s city clerk on Tuesday said she would mull over what to do about the upcoming vehicle sticker design that purportedly contains symbolism tied to the Maniac Latin Disciples.

“My office is investigating the facts and will look further into the allegations before I determine what action to take regarding the 2012 – 2013 city sticker design,” said Susana Mendoza.

More than 18,000 people voted for the 2012-2013 design, which pays homage to police officers, paramedics and firefighters, and features the Chicago skyline, the city flag and a series of outstretched hands.

But within those outstretched hands are gestures that police sources and police blogs say resemble the hand signs often flashed by Maniac Latin Disciples, along with other iconography, including a heart and pitchforks.

“I am concerned about the recent developments regarding the city vehicle sticker design,” Mendoza said in a written statement. “… the artwork on Chicago’s city stickers should not be controversial. In a design that is meant to honor the city’s first responders, I am very sensitive to this issue. I grew up in a neighborhood filled with crime and gang violence and I come from a law enforcement family.”

The Chicago Police Department late Tuesday evening said the “matter has been brought to our attention” and is being investigated.
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The upcoming design is the first sticker approved by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration.

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10 Dead And Many Injuries In Crashes After Dumbass Florida State Police Troopers Reopened Smoke Covered Interstate

February 4, 2012

FLORIDA – Florida authorities had reopened a section of Interstate 75 barely half an hour before a pileup on the smoke-shrouded highway that killed 10 people over the weekend, a state Highway Patrol spokesman said Monday.

The interstate was closed for about three hours early Sunday, after a pair of late-Saturday crashes on I-75 and nearby U.S. 441, just south of Gainesville, Lt. Patrick Riordan told reporters Monday afternoon. Troopers, state Department of Transportation officials and local sheriff’s deputies reopened the road after determining that conditions were improving, he said.

Riordan said the interstate reopened at 3:26 a.m. Thirty-three minutes later, callers began to report chain-reaction crashes in both the north and southbound lanes of I-75.

“I can’t see anything. It’s so dense — the fog is so dense — and we just hit a guardrail, and I think there was another accident behind us,” the first caller told an Alachua County sheriff’s dispatcher.

The bangs of several subsequent crashes could be heard in the background of nearly 13 minutes of 911 recordings released Monday. The voices on the calls reflected the fear and confusion of the predawn scene.

“Here comes another one. He’s coming too fast. Here comes another one. Oh, yep — see, there he goes … that one was a bad one,” one woman told dispatchers.

In the end, at least 12 passenger cars and seven semis were involved in the crashes. Subsequent fires burned three of the 10 dead “to a point where positive ID has been a hurdle for us,” Riordan said. He said state troopers “did their due diligence” before reopening the road, but, “Sometime after the roadway was reopened, the conditions changed quickly.”

In the wake of the crashes, he said the Highway Patrol would “review this situation and determine if our process needs to be changed.”

“Certainly, we’re open to that,” he said. But he added, “All drivers need to be prepared to change their driving based on the roadway conditions.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he has asked the state Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the circumstances behind the crash, promising to make “any and all resources” available for the investigation.

“We will also fully cooperate with any federal investigation which may occur,” Scott said in a written statement. “During this tragic time, our thoughts and prayers should be with the victims and their families.”

Steven Camps, one of the survivors, told CNN that all he could hear after the crashes stopped was the sound of crying. The air, heavy with smoke, shone red from vehicle fires.

“It was just so crazy,” he said. “We were just sitting in the car, and all of this came out of nowhere.”

Camps said he was returning to Gainesville from Micanopy, about 12 miles away, with a friend early Sunday when traffic came to a stop on the interstate in what looked like heavy fog. He was a passenger in the car, and said they were talking to a man in a stopped car in the next lane about the low visibility when they began hearing crashes from behind them.

The car next to them “literally almost went under (a) semi-truck,” he said. “We saw that guy die after talking to him before we could even react.”

He said the car he was riding in was then struck twice. He was not hurt badly, but his friend could “barely even move,” he said. Camps pulled his friend from their car, which wound up wedged between two tractor-trailers, to the median, where they prayed that another car would not leave the roadway and hit them.

“As it was happening on the northbound side, it was happening on the southbound side as well,” he said. “There was nowhere to go. It was just cars hitting cars and cars.”

The Miami-to-Michigan interstate was open again Monday, but the National Weather Services said patches of smoke were likely to hang over the area into Tuesday.

The smoke is from a brush fire at the nearby Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. The blaze, called the Boardwalk Fire, was 100% contained but was not considered controlled, Ludie Bond, wildfire mitigation specialist for the Gainesville area, said Monday.

While fire lines were in place, active smoke could linger for weeks to months, she said.

Camps said he received stitches in his leg and was released from a hospital. He said his friend was still hospitalized but may be released soon. He said he was “blessed” — “If you saw the car, you’d be like, ‘How did you live?’ “

Shands Hospital at the University of Florida received a total of 18 patients, six with serious injuries, said Dr. Timothy Flynn, the hospital’s chief medical officer. Eight of the remaining 12 were treated and released, he said.

The Florida Highway Patrol said Monday that a total of 21 people were taken to hospitals.

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FBI Labels Fans Of Music Group “Insane Clown Posse” A “Gang”

November 2, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Fans of notorious US hip-hop group Insane Clown Posse have been officially classified as a gang. A new FBI document has categorised the Juggalos as a “loosely-organised hybrid gang,” citing the group’s violence, criminal activity and “gang-like behaviour”.

Fans of the Insane Clown Posse have called themselves Juggalos for more than two decades, developing a reputation for face-paint, Faygo soda, and a scepticism toward magnets. Although based in the United States – the ICP are from Michigan – it has become a worldwide movement; a UK Facebook group has more than 600 members.

Unfortunately for harmless fans of horrorcore rap, Juggalos are now officially “of concern to law enforcement,” according to the FBI’s 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment report. Juggalos have been tied to a string of recent crimes, including a shooting in January and the assault of a homeless man last year. “Open source reporting suggests that a small number of Juggalos are forming more organised subsets and engaging in more gang-like criminal activity,” the report alleges. “Transient, criminal Juggalo groups pose a threat to communities due to the potential for violence, drug use/sales, and their general destructive and violent nature.”

Download the FBI report as pdf.

While the FBI report only mentions the Insane Clown Posse in a footnote, ICP are not just a soundtrack for the subculture. The group is named after an ICP song, The Juggla, and the Detroit-based rappers organise the annual Gathering of the Juggalos, which attracts more than 20,000 fans. Despite their scary reputation, the Posse has even been described as a Christian group. After a fan called Jacob D Robida shot his girlfriend in 2006, ICP’s manager spoke out against such violence: “Anyone that knows anything at all about Juggalos knows that in no way, shape, or form would we ever approve of this type of bullshit behaviour,” he wrote.

Although the FBI’s gang designation is unlikely to have an immediate effect on ICP, its fans, or friends such as Jack White, many Juggalos are upset. In just a few days, more than 200 people have signed a petition asking the FBI to revise their decision. “Juggalos are a family that have each other’s backs,” explained a supporter based in Tennessee. “They’re people who would die for somebody they haven’t even met.”

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Crazed Louisiana Lawmakers Ban Cash When Buying Other People’s Trash

October 19, 2011

LOUISIANA – Cold hard cash. It’s good everywhere you go, right? You can use it to pay for anything.

But that’s not the case here in Louisiana now. It’s a law that was passed during this year’s busy legislative session.

House bill 195 basically says those who buy and sell second hand goods cannot use cash to make those transactions, and it flew so far under the radar most businesses don’t even know about it.

“We’re gonna lose a lot of business,” says Danny Guidry, who owns the Pioneer Trading Post in Lafayette. He deals in buying and selling unique second hand items.

“We don’t want this cash transaction to be taken away from us. It’s an everyday transaction,” Guidry explains.

Guidry says, “I think everyone in this business once they find out about it. They’re will definitely be a lot of uproar.”

The law states those who buy or sell second hand goods are prohibited from using cash. State representative Rickey Hardy co-authored the bill.

Hardy says, “they give a check or a cashiers money order, or electronic one of those three mechanisms is used.”

Hardy says the bill is targeted at criminals who steal anything from copper to televisions, and sell them for a quick buck. Having a paper trail will make it easier for law enforcement.

“It’s a mechanism to be used so the police department has something to go on and have a lead,” explains Hardy.

Guidry feels his store shouldn’t have to change it’s ways of doing business, because he may possibly buy or sell stolen goods. Something he says has happened once in his eight years.

“We are being targeted for something we shouldn’t be.”

Besides non-profit resellers like Goodwill, and garage sales, the language of the bill encompasses stores like the Pioneer Trading Post and flea markets.

Lawyer Thad Ackel Jr. feels the passage of this bill begins a slippery slope for economic freedom in the state.

“The government is placing a significant restriction on individuals transacting in their own private property,” says Ackel.

Pawn shops have been forced to keep records of their clients for years. However under this bill they are still allowed to deal in cash.

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Los Angeles California Police Lose Twenty-One 600 Round Per Minute Machine Guns And Twelve Colt 45 Pistols From A “Secure” Building

October 18, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – Two separate investigations are underway Monday after multiple submachine guns and pistols used for SWAT training by the LAPD were found missing.

KNX 1070′s Pete Demetriou reports the weapons were stolen from a building owned and used specifically for training by the LAPD.

The 21 MP-5 submachine guns and a dozen Colt 45 automatic pistols were taken from a locked container inside the Kennedy Building on San Pedro Street, police officials said.

The location — which formerly housed clothing firms before it was donated to the LAPD several years ago — is considered a secure site, Deputy Chief Michael Downing told the Associated Press.

While the weapons had been modified to fire training ammunition, the concern is that they could easily be converted back to fire live rounds.

“These guns can’t be used with regular ammunition unless they’re significantly modified back,” said LAPD Commander Andy Smith.

With the proper fittings, the MP-5 can fire live ammo at 600 rounds minute — potentially putting heavy firepower into criminal hands.

A second administrative investigation is also underway as to why the weapons were stored in a location with no alarms or security cameras.

“We always do an internal investigation whenever anything like this occurs, and we’ll have our investigators look at it from top to bottom,” said Smith.

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Documents Show Our Tax Dollars Funded ATF’s “Fast And Furious” Operation – Which Provided 2,000+ Guns To Mexican Drug Cartel

September 26, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Not only did U.S. officials approve, allow and assist in the sale of more than 2,000 guns to the Sinaloa cartel — the federal government used taxpayer money to buy semi-automatic weapons, sold them to criminals and then watched as the guns disappeared.

This disclosure, revealed in documents obtained by Fox News, could undermine the Department of Justice’s previous defense that Operation Fast and Furious was a “botched” operation where agents simply “lost track” of weapons as they were transferred from one illegal buyer to another. Instead, it heightens the culpability of the federal government as Mexico, according to sources, has opened two criminal investigations into the operation that flooded their country with illegal weapons.

Operation Fast and Furious began in October 2009. In it, federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives encouraged gun stores to sell weapons to an arms smuggling gang, then watched as the guns crossed the border and were used in crimes. Each month, the agency allowed hundreds of guns to go South, despite opposition from some agents.

All told, the gang spent more than $1.25 million for the illegal guns.

In June 2010, however, the ATF dramatically upped the ante, making the U.S. government the actual “seller” of guns.

According to documents obtained by Fox News, Agent John Dodson was ordered to buy six semi-automatic Draco pistols — two of those were purchased at the Lone Wolf gun store in Peoria, Ariz. An unusual sale, Dodson was sent to the store with a letter of approval from David Voth, an ATF group supervisor.

Dodson then sold the weapons to known illegal buyers, while fellow agents watched from their cars nearby.

This was not a “buy-bust” or a sting operation, where police sell to a buyer and then arrest them immediately afterward. In this case, agents were “ordered” to let the sale go through and follow the weapons to a stash house.

According to sources directly involved in the case, Dodson felt strongly that the weapons should not be abandoned and the stash house should remain under 24-hour surveillance. However, Voth disagreed and ordered the surveillance team to return to the office. Dodson refused, and for six days in the desert heat kept the house under watch, defying direct orders from Voth.

A week later, a second vehicle showed up to transfer the weapons. Dodson called for an interdiction team to move in, make the arrest and seize the weapons. Voth refused and the guns disappeared with no surveillance.

According to a story posted Sunday on a website dedicated to covering Fast and Furious, Voth gave Dodson the assignment to “dirty him up,” since Dodson had become the most vocal critic of the operation.

“I think Dodson demanded the letter from Voth to cover both himself and the FFL (Federal Firearm Licensee). He didn’t want to be hung out to dry by Voth,” a source told the website “Sipsey Street Irregulars.”

Subsequent to this undercover operation, sources told Sipsey, “Dodson just about came apart all over them (his supervisors). In a ‘screaming match’ that was heard throughout the Phoenix office by many employees, Dodson yelled at Voth and Assistant Special Agent in Charge George Gillett, ‘Why not just go direct and empty out the (ATF) arms room?” (to the cartels), or words to that effect.’

After the confrontation, ATF managers transferred Dodson to a more menial job. Months later, after the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, Dodson blew the whistle and went public about the federal government’s gunrunning operation.

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Keystone Kops: San Francisco California Police Shoot, Miss Target, Hit Two Innocent Bystanders

September 17, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – According to KCBS and Bay City News Service, two bystanders were hit by gunfire after an officer-involved shooting in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood early this morning.

According to police, at 2:06 a.m., officers located a wanted person in the 400 block of Broadway. The suspect ran away from police and produced a weapon, they said.

Officers then fired at the suspect, who was not hit. However, two bystanders were hit by the gunfire. They were taken to a hospital to be treated for their injuries that are not believed to be life-threatening, according to police.

The suspect, who was not wounded, was taken into custody. The suspect’s weapon was recovered, police said.

Police did not have information available about how many officers were involved in the shooting or how many rounds were fired.

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9/11 Hysteria: So-Called “Homeland Security” Officials And Police Go Way Overboard With Fighter Jets And Bomb Squads After Couple Makes Out In Airliner Bathroom

September 12, 2011

DENVER, COLORADO – Two people “making out” in a restroom on a Frontier flight from Denver to Detroit caused authorities to scramble fighter jets, bomb squads and alert FBI and police on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, ABC News reported.

On Sunday afternoon, the Transportation Security Administration was notified of “passengers allegedly behaving suspiciously onboard Frontier Airlines Flight 623,” Denver FBI spokesman Dave Joly said in a statement.

“Out of an abundance of caution,” the North American Aerospace Defense Command scrambled F-16 at 3:30 p.m. EDT to shadow the flight until it landed safely at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Joly said.

Law enforcement met the flight, which was brought to a remote area of the airport, Joly said. The plane was swept, nothing hazardous was found and the aircraft was cleared at 5:15 p.m.

The “suspicious behavior” turned out to be two people “making out” in the bathroom mid-flight, law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Three passengers were taken into custody for questioning, Frontier Airlines spokesman Peter Kowalchuck said in a statement, but no arrests were made.

In another incident Sunday, a pair of fighter jets were scrambled to escort an American Airlines jet into New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport after the pilot became spooked by passengers’ frequent trips to and from the restroom, ABC News reported.

The precaution turned out to be unnecessary as federal air marshals aboard American Flight 34 from Los Angeles to JFK were able to resolve the situation when the passengers complied with their instructions, police officials told ABC. The pilot then radioed that the situation was under control and the plane landed safely. Three male passengers were questioned upon arrival, but no charges were filed against them, authorities said.

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Out Of Control US Homeland Security Agency Refuses To Allow Canadians With History Of “Mental Illness” To Vist – 9.6 Million Canadian Records Now Available To US Law Enforcement

September 10, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – More than a dozen Canadians have told the Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office in Toronto within the past year that they were blocked from entering the United States after their records of mental illness were shared with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Lois Kamenitz, 65, of Toronto contacted the office last fall, after U.S. customs officials at Pearson International Airport prevented her from boarding a flight to Los Angeles on the basis of her suicide attempt four years earlier.

Kamenitz says she was stopped at customs after showing her passport and asked to go to a secondary screening. There, a Customs and Border Protection officer told Kamenitz that he had information that police had attended her home in 2006.

“I was really perturbed,” Kamenitz says. “I couldn’t figure out what he meant. And then it dawned on me that he was referring to the 911 call my partner made when I attempted suicide.”

Kamenitz says she asked the officer how he had obtained her medical records.
A document completed by a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officer says that at a secondary inspection at Pearson airport in Toronto, it was ascertained that Lois Kamenitz had ‘attempted suicide in 2006,’ and a medical clearance would be required for a further attempt to enter the United States.A document completed by a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officer says that at a secondary inspection at Pearson airport in Toronto, it was ascertained that Lois Kamenitz had ‘attempted suicide in 2006,’ and a medical clearance would be required for a further attempt to enter the United States. Sarah Bridge/CBC

“That was the only thing I could think of,” she says. “But he said, no, he didn’t have my medical records but he did have a contact note from the police that [they] had attended my home.”

Stanley Stylianos, program manager at the Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office, says his organization has heard more than a dozen stories similar to Kamenitz’s.

The office has also received phone calls from numerous Canadians who have not yet had encounters with U.S. customs officers, but are worried that their own mental health histories may cause security delays while travelling south of the border for business or family trips.
‘This is an issue’

“We get calls from people who have concerns about being stopped because they know this is an issue,” Stylianos says.
P.O.V.:

Have you faced mental health discrimination? Take our survey.

So far, the RCMP hasn’t provided the office with clear answers about how or why police records of non-violent mental health incidents are passed across the border.

Brad Benson from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security says medical records aren’t shared between countries. However, “if you have an arrest record, Canada would share that with us,” he says.

If a police encounter includes information about mental health, Benson says front-line officers can use it.

“Mental illness is actually under our law as a reason that you may not get admitted,” he says. “The issue is always going to be: could someone be a danger to someone [else]?”

According to diplomatic cables released earlier this year by WikiLeaks, any information entered into the national Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database is accessible to American authorities.

Local police officers take notes whenever they apprehend an individual or respond to a 911 call, and some of this information is then entered into the CPIC database, says Stylianos. He says that occasionally this can include non-violent mental health incidents in which police are involved.

In Kamenitz’s case, this could explain how U.S. officials had a record of the police response to the 911 call her partner made in 2006, after Kamenitz took an overdose of pills.

RCMP Insp. Denis St. Pierre says information on CPIC not only contains a person’s criminal record, but also outstanding warrants, missing persons reports and information about stolen property, along with information regarding persons of interest in ongoing cases. It also can contain individuals’ history of mental illness, including suicide attempts.

The database contains anything that could alert authorities to a potential threat to public safety and security, and all CPIC information is available to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, St. Pierre says. There are a few exceptions, including information regarding young offenders, which is not available to American authorities.

“If a person is a danger to themselves and the police are dealing with that person in another jurisdiction … it’s valuable information, knowing that perhaps this person may harm themselves,” St. Pierre says.
9.6 million records

According to an RCMP website, the CPIC database stores 9.6 million records in its investigative databanks.

The RCMP and U.S. law enforcement agencies provide reciprocal direct access to each other’s criminal databases in order to stem the flow of narcotics and criminal dealings into North America, according to the WikiLeaks cable.

When asked about the sharing of police information for security purposes, Kamenitz says the government is “obviously not considering what the impact of that can be and how much that can alter a person’s life.”
Stanley Stylianos, program manager for the Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office, says Canadians should be outraged that people’s mental health information is shared across the border.Stanley Stylianos, program manager for the Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office, says Canadians should be outraged that people’s mental health information is shared across the border. Sarah Bridge/CBC

“Police may have attended my home,” says Kamenitz, “but it was not for a criminal matter; it was a medical emergency.”

Kamenitz notes that suicide isn’t a criminal offence in either country.

“It speaks to the myth we still hold,” Kamenitz says, “that people with a mental illness are violent criminals.”

At less than five feet tall, with a debilitating form of arthritis that makes it impossible for her to complete daily tasks like cooking and dressing without assistance, Kamenitz says she is hardly a threat to U.S. Homeland Security.
‘I am not a criminal’

“I’ve been battling not only anxiety and depression but also chronic pain since my teen years,” Kamenitz explains. “I am not a criminal.”

Kamenitz was eventually allowed to board a plane to Los Angeles, four days after missing her initial flight. But in order to do so, she had to submit her medical records to the U.S. and get clearance from a Homeland Security-approved doctor in Toronto, who charged her $250 for the service.

Benson says the response from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers in Kamenitz’s case was fairly typical. “Now that the note from her doctor is on her records,” he says, “I wouldn’t expect her to have any more problems.”

Included in the Homeland Security forms Kamenitz was required to fill out were questions about whether she had a history of substance abuse and whether she had diseases, such as AIDS or tuberculosis.

“These are private and personal medical records that I’m now handing over to a foreign government,” she says.

After years of private therapy and help from doctors at St. Michael’s Hospital and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Kamenitz says the border incident felt unjust.

“It was discrediting all the efforts that [I had] made to recover.”

Stylianos says Canadians should be outraged that people’s mental health information is shared across the border.

“It is an intensely private matter for many individuals,” he says.
‘You can’t control it’

Stylianos says his organization is lobbying for this information not to be included in the CPIC database or shared with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as part of a routine border screening process.

“Once that information gets into the American system, you can’t control it,” he says.

According to the same diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, which included data from 2004 and 2005, Americans believed that despite the open database sharing, “Canada’s strict privacy laws” have limited the timely exchange of information between the two nations.

In the 10 years since the Sept. 11 attacks, the two countries have struggled to come to an agreement on how best to police the border.

The administrations of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama are in talks over a perimeter security deal that would include further cross-border intelligence-sharing as part of a joint border security strategy.

In an Aug. 29 news conference in Toronto, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told reporters that the privacy rights of Canadians remain top-of-mind during discussions about cross-border law enforcement programs.

“Our sovereignty cannot and will not be compromised,” he said.

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Los Angeles California Police Waste Tax Dollars Investigating Painting Of A Bank

August 30, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – Standing before an easel on a Van Nuys sidewalk, Alex Schaefer dabbed paint onto a canvas.

“There you have it,” he said. “Inflammatory art.”

The 22-by-28-inch en plein air oil painting is certainly hot enough to inflame Los Angeles police.

Twice they’ve come to investigate why the 41-year-old Eagle Rock artist is painting an image of a bank building going up in flames.

Schaefer had barely added the orange-and-yellow depiction of fire shooting from the roof of a Chase Bank branch when police rolled up to the corner of Van Nuys Boulevard and Sylvan Street on July 30.

“They told me that somebody had called and said they felt threatened by my painting,” Schaefer said.

“They said they had to find out my intention. They asked if I was a terrorist and was I going to follow through and do what I was painting.”

No, Schaefer said. He explained that the artwork was intended to be a visual metaphor for the havoc that banking practices have caused to the economy.

A terrorist certainly would not spend hours on a public sidewalk creating an oil painting of his intended target, he told the officers.

The police took down his name, address and telephone number on a form — Schaefer declined to provide his Social Security number — and departed.

“They were friendly. They weren’t intimidating,” he said. “I figured that when they left, they probably decided the episode was stupid and they’d just wad up the form and throw it away.”

Wrong. On Tuesday, two more officers showed up at Schaefer’s home. This time they were plainclothes detectives.

“One of them asked me, ‘Do you hate banks? Do you plan to do that to the bank?’ ” Schaefer again explained what his painting symbolizes.

He is actually doing a series of paintings depicting banks ablaze, he said. His first one two months ago featured a Burbank Chase branch, and he has a Bank of America painting in progress, he said. He will feature other large banks’ branches as well; he does his own banking at a small community bank, Schaefer said.

“The flames symbolize bringing the system down,” he said. “Some might say that the banks are the terrorists.”

Although police elsewhere have occasionally challenged photographers taking pictures of things like refineries and governmental buildings in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, questioning an artist slowly creating an oil painting “is a horribly Orwellian act,” said Andrew McGregor, a photographer who sometimes displays his work alongside Schaefer’s.

A graduate of Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design, Schaefer usually paints portraits, cityscapes and lush landscapes. He acknowledges that the bank series has overt political overtones.

The finished paintings will be displayed in a show called “Disaster Capitalism,” scheduled for February at Inglewood’s Beacon Arts Building, he said.

As Schaefer put the finishing touches on his Van Nuys bank painting, passersby stopped to admire his work.

“I like it. It is social justice,” said Travis Stobbe, a Van Nuys apartment building owner.

Albert Acevedo, a salesman from Oxnard, snapped a photo of the painting with his cellphone. “This is great. I’m going in and withdrawing all my money out now,” he joked.

Gary Kishner, a spokesman for Chase Bank, said his institution isn’t sure what to make of Schaefer’s work.

“It’s a situation we don’t take lightly. Hopefully, this is not what his actions are. It’s kind of scary — you don’t know what other people are thinking. We have to look out for the safety of our customers and employees,” he said.

Schaefer said he has been surprised by the hubbub his burning bank has caused.

“I’ve only had two experiences with the police in my life, and these were both of them,” he said. “I have this feeling I’ll get different treatment at airports from now on.”

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Department Of Justice In “Panic Mode” As Hearing Nears On Failed Anti-Gun Trafficking Program That Flooded Mexico With Assault Rifles

June 10, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Officials at the Department of Justice are in “panic mode,” according to multiple sources, as word spreads that congressional testimony next week will paint a bleak and humiliating picture of Operation Fast and Furious, the botched undercover operation that left a trail of blood from Mexico to Washington, D.C.

The operation was supposed to stem the flow of weapons from the U.S. to Mexico by allowing so-called straw buyers to purchase guns legally in the U.S. and later sell them in Mexico, usually to drug cartels.

Instead, ATF documents show that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms knowingly and deliberately flooded Mexico with assault rifles. Their intent was to expose the entire smuggling organization, from top to bottom, but the operation spun out of control and supervisors refused pleas from field agents to stop it.

Only after Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry died did ATF Agent John Dodson blow the whistle and expose the scandal.

“What people don’t understand is how long we will be dealing with this,” Dodson told Fox News back in March. “Those guns are gone. You can’t just give the order and get them back. There is no telling how many crimes will be committed before we retrieve them.”

But now the casualties are coming in.

Mexican officials estimate 150 of their people have been shot by Fast and Furious guns. Police have recovered roughly 700 guns at crime scenes, 250 in the U.S. and the rest in Mexico, including five AK-47s found at a cartel warehouse in Juarez last month.

A high-powered sniper rifle was used to shoot down a Mexican military helicopter. Two other Romanian-made AK-47s were found in a shoot-out that left 11 dead in the state of Jalisco three weeks ago.

The guns were traced to the Lone Wolf Gun Store in Glendale, Ariz., and were sold only after the store employees were told to do so by the ATF.

It is illegal to buy a gun for anyone but yourself. However, ATF’s own documents show it allowed just 15 men to buy 1,725 guns, and 1,318 of those were after the purchasers officially became targets of investigation.

Arizona gun store owners say they were explicitly told by the ATF to sell the guns, sometimes 20, 30, even up to 40 in a single day to single person.

And those orders, from at least one ATF case agent, are on audio recording.

“We would say, ‘Do you (the ATF) want us to stop selling, is there something we should do here?'” Brad DeSayes, owner of J&G Gun Sales in Prescott, said. “And they would say, ‘No, no, no, keep selling – just tell us after the fact.'”

Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, holds a hearing Wednesday into Operation Fast and Furious.

The hearing is billed as “Reckless Decisions, Tragic Outcomes,” and the following are among the details expected in testimony:

– The ATF allowed and encouraged five Arizona gun store owners to sell some 1,800 weapons to buyers known to them as gun smugglers.

– It installed cameras inside the gun stores to record purchases made by those smugglers.

– It hid GPS trackers inside gun stocks and watched the weapons go south on computer screens.

– It obtained surveillance video from parking lots and helicopters showing straw buyers transferring their guns from one car to another.

– It learned guns sold in Phoenix were recovered only when Mexico police requested “trace data,” which is obtained from their serial number.

The first witness in Wednesday’s hearing is Sen. Charles Grassley, who will describe what his investigative team learned from four months of interviews and thousands of documents. He will be followed by three members of Brian Terry’s family, three ATF agents and Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich, who only months ago insisted the agency did not let guns go south to Mexico, a claim contradicted by field agents in Group 7, the actual agents who ran the operation in Phoenix.

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Crazed Orlando Florida Police Arrest 3 People For Feeding The Homeless

June 5, 2011

ORLANDO, FLORIDA – Members of Orlando Food Not Bombs were arrested Wednesday when police said they violated a city ordinance by feeding the homeless in Lake Eola Park.

Jessica Cross, 24, Benjamin Markeson, 49, and Jonathan “Keith” McHenry, 54, were arrested at 6:10 p.m. on a charge of violating the ordinance restricting group feedings in public parks. McHenry is a co-founder of the international Food Not Bombs movement, which began in the early 1980s.

The group lost a court battle in April, clearing the way for the city to enforce the ordinance. It requires groups to obtain a permit and limits each group to two permits per year for each park within a 2-mile radius of City Hall.

Arrest papers state that Cross, Markeson and McHenry helped feed 40 people Wednesday night. The ordinance applies to feedings of more than 25 people.

“They intentionally violated the statute,” said Lt. Barbara Jones, an Orlando police spokeswoman.

Police waited until everyone was served to make the arrests, said Douglas Coleman, speaking for Orlando Food Not Bombs.

“They basically carted them off to jail for feeding hungry people,” said Coleman, who was not present. “For them to regulate a time and place for free speech and to share food, that is unacceptable.”

Orlando Food Not Bombs has been feeding the homeless breakfast on Mondays for several years and dinner on Wednesdays for five years.

Police had not enforced the ordinance while the court battle continued. The U.S. District Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta ruled that city rules regulating how often large groups of people can be fed in a park do not violate the Constitution.

The penalty for violating Orlando’s ordinance is 60 days in jail, a $500 fine or both.

Arrest documents state that Orlando Food Not Bombs received permits and fed more than 25 homeless people at Lake Eola Park on May 18 and 23. Coleman said the group rejected the permits.

On May 25, Orlando Food Not Bombs illegally fed a large group of homeless people, the police report states. The group on its website called for members to show up that day and defy the city ordinance, according to the report.

Officers said they found a press release on Markeson when they arrested him stating that group members planned to defy the ordinance Wednesday.

Bail was set at $250 for each person arrested. Cross and Markeson were released from jail early

Thursday. McHenry wants to stay in jail and let the legal process take its course, Coleman said.

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Crazed U.S. State Department Officials Propose Requirement For List Every Job And Every Residence With Passport Application – Mistakes To Be Used As Evidence To Prosecute Applying Citizens

April 25, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of State has proposed a new questionnaire that would make it almost impossible for some people to get a passport.

The new document (PDF) would require that certain applicants submit a list of every residence and every job they’ve ever had since birth.

In February, the department published a request in the Federal Register allowing 60 days for comment before the new rules go into effect.

“The Biographical Questionnaire for a U.S. Passport, form DS-5513, is used to supplement an application for a U.S. passport when the applicant submits citizenship or identity evidence that is insufficient or of questionable authenticity,” according to a supporting statement (PDF) issued along with the request for comment.

“This form is used prior to passport issuance and solicits information relating to the respondent’s family, birth circumstances, residences, schooling, and employment,” the statement added.

“In addition to this primary use of the data, the DS-5513 may also be used as evidence in the prosecution of any individual who makes a false statement on the application and for other uses as set forth in the Prefatory Statement and the Passport System of Records Notice (State-26).”

The document also requires some applicants to submit information about the mother’s pre-natal and post-natal care, the mother’s residence one year before and after the birth, the persons in attendance at the birth and religious or institutional recordings of the birth.

“The State Department estimated that the average respondent would be able to compile all this information in just 45 minutes, which is obviously absurd given the amount of research that is likely to be required to even attempt to complete the form,” Consumer Traveler’s Edward Hasbrouck noted.

The Consumer Travel Alliance opposes the new form as “exceeding the statutory authority of the DOS, unconstitutional, and in violation of U.S. obligations pursuant to international human rights treaties to which the U.S. is a party,” according to draft comments (PDF) prepared by the group.

“[C]hoosing to require an applicant for a passport to complete the proposed Form DS-5513, which few if any applicants could complete, would amount to a de facto decision to deny that applicant a passport. And that decision would be standardless, arbitrary, and illegal,” they added.

The State Department had not returned a call asking for comment at the time of publication.

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Federal Lawsuit Charges Florida Toll Collectors With Illegally Detaining Motorists Who Pay Toll With Anything Larger Than A $10 Bill

April 15, 2011

BARTOW, FLORIDA – Driving on the Polk Parkway, Lakeland resident Joel Chandler began to notice toll collectors stopping him when he paid with $20 bills.

They wouldn’t just make change and let him leave. He waited as they filled out a form with the make, model and tag number of his car.

“I had a car full of groceries and wanted to get home,” he said. “Every time, I would pull out after one of these detentions, I would think there’s something not right about that. But I was in a hurry.”

While traveling to a fishing tournament in Fort Lauderdale, Chandler and his brother, Robert, noticed the same procedure when they attempted to use a $100 bill.

After months of requesting public records and asking questions, Joel and Robert Chandler say they’ve uncovered a policy in place to help investigate instances of counterfeit currency but that violated constitutional rights.
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US Citizen: 4 Year Old Girl Will Try To Return To US After Being Refused Entry By U.S. Immigration Authorities

March 29, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – A 4-year-old U.S. citizen who was unable to enter into the country this month because of a possible communications mix-up will attempt the journey again on Tuesday.

“It’s a grave injustice that she has been separated from her parents for so long and we’re here to rectify that situation,” said lawyer David Sperling, in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on Monday. “Tomorrow, she’s going to New York.”

Emily Ruiz, the daughter of Guatemalan immigrants living in New York without documentation, had spent five months recuperating from asthma while visiting with her grandparents in Guatemala, Sperling said. When her grandfather accompanied her on a flight back to the United States on March 11, he was stopped by a customs official at Dulles International Airport in suburban Virginia for an immigration violation dating back some 20 years, the lawyer said.

He was denied entry into the United States, and that placed Emily in the middle of an immigration quagmire. According to her family, immigration officials gave her parents two options: Emily could be sent to Guatemala with her grandfather, or she could be turned over to state custody. She returned to Central America.

“She was basically deported to Guatemala, not in the legal sense, but effectively this is what happened,” Sperling said. “We’re not here to criticize the government; really, we do not know who is responsible for this.”

A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday night.

Officials say they gave Emily’s father the opportunity to pick her up, because she is a U.S. citizen. The father, who speaks limited English, said he did not understand if that was indeed offered.

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Los Angeles California Pissed Away Stimulus Funds Creating Jobs – Each Position Cost U.S. Taxpayers Between 1 To 2 Million Dollars Each

September 17, 2010

The Los Angeles City Controller said on Thursday the city’s use of
its share of the $800 billion federal stimulus fund has been
disappointing.

The city received $111 million in stimulus under American Recovery
and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) approved by the Congress more than year ago.

“I’m disappointed that we’ve only created or retained 55 jobs after
receiving $111 million,” says Wendy Greuel, the city’s controller, while
releasing an audit report.

“With our local unemployment rate over 12% we need to do a better job
cutting red tape and putting Angelenos back to work,” she added.

According to the report, the Los Angeles Department of Public Works
generated only 45.46 jobs (the fraction of a job created or retained
correlates to the number of actual hours works) after receiving $70.65
million, while the target was 238 jobs.

Similarly, the city’s department of transportation, armed with a
$40.8 million fund, created only 9 jobs in place of an expected 26 jobs.

The audit says the numbers were disappointing due to bureaucratic red
tape, absence of competitive bidding for projects in private sectors,
inappropriate tracking of stimulus money and a laxity in bringing out
timely job reports.

“While it doesn’t appear that any of the ARRA funds were misspent,
the City needs to do a better job expediting the process and creating
jobs,” she said.

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Stimulus Spending Cost US Taxpayers Over $800,000 For Third World Hellhole Penis Washing Study

September 14, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), spent $823,200 of economic stimulus funds in 2009 on a study by a UCLA research team to teach uncircumcised African men how to wash their genitals after having sex.

The genitalia-washing program is part of a larger $12-million UCLA study examining how to better encourage Africans to undergo voluntary HIV testing and counseling – however, only the penis-washing study received money from the 2009 economic stimulus law. The washing portion of the study is set to end in 2011.

“NIH Announces the Availability of Recovery Act Funds for Competitive Revision Applications,” the grant abstract states. “We propose to evaluate the feasibility of a post-coital genital hygiene study among men unwilling to be circumcised in Orange Farm, South Africa.”

Because AIDS researchers have been unsuccessful in convincing most adult African men to undergo circumcision, the UCLA study proposes to determine whether researchers can develop an after-sex genitalia-washing regimen that they can then convince uncircumcised African men to follow.

“The aim of the proposed feasibility study is to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of a post-coital male genital hygiene procedure, which participants will be asked to practice immediately post-coitus or at least 12 hours after,” reads the abstract.

Entitled “Community-Based HIV VCT: South Africa,” the name of the broader umbrella project, the program plans to test how well received the penis-washing regimen is among South African men.

If most of the men in the study wash their genitals after sex, are willing to do so after the study ends, and report that their partners accept the regimen, the researchers will develop another study to see if the “penile cleansing procedure” actually works to prevent HIV infections.

“If we find that men are able to practice consistent washing practices after sex, we will plan to test whether this might protect men from becoming HIV infected in a later study,” the grant says.

The study’s lead investigator Dr. Thomas J. Coates was the fourth highest-funded researcher in the country in 2002 and is currently conducting HIV research on three continents.

CNSNews.com asked both Coates and NIMH the following question: “The Census Bureau says the median household income in the United States is $52,000. How would you explain to the average American mom and dad — who make $52,000 per year — that taxing them to pay for this grant was justified?”

Coates, who was unavailable for comment, directed CNSNews.com to ask grant-related questions of his assistant, Darya Freedman, who did not respond.

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Two Week Investigation And Late Night Raid By Canadian RCMP Agents Found Backyard Full Of Tomato Plants And Flowers

September 14, 2010

COURTENAY, CANADA — A Courtenay man is furious after police came to his house looking for marijuana, only to discover garden tomatoes and dahlias.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the man said the incident has left him “sick to his stomach” and calling for more civilian oversight of the RCMP.

On Aug. 29 (Sunday) at about 10:30 p.m., the man was sleeping upstairs in his room. His wife, who was preparing to head to bed, saw several police cars pull up in front of the house.

He was presented with a search warrant for marijuana plants and told that he and his wife would be taken into custody to the police station.

He said he turned on the garden floodlight to allow the police officers more light for their search.

The police search had yielded only dahlias and garden tomatoes — plants that had mistakenly been identified by police as marijuana over a two-week investigation that included aerial surveillance of the couple’s back yard.

They hand delivered a letter outlining their concerns on Wednesday to the RCMP.

Last week, Inspector Tom Gray, the officer in charge of the Courtenay detachment, personally delivered a letter of apology to the couple.

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Countless Tax Dollars Pissed Away As Dozens Of Police Officers And Bomb Are Employed To Close Neighborhood And Destory Childs Stuffed Toy Pony

September 7, 2010

ORLANDO, FLORIDA – A child’s toy sparked a bomb scare late Tuesday morning. The Orange County Bomb Squad was on scene investigating a suspicious package, which was a toy pony, on Whisper Glen Court in Orlando. Just before noon it was blown up. Officers told WFTV that a concerned citizen called it in.

TOY PONY BLOWN UP: Raw Video | See Images

No one knows where the toy pony came from, but it was found in a cul-de-sac near Waterbridge Elementary School.

It’s not something you see every day, a child’s toy treated like a terrorist’s weapon. But investigators said they could take no chances with a toy pony equipped with wires and batteries.

“We’re just not taking any chances at all. We’re just making sure everything is fine,” an officer said.

“Then my mind started racing with all the terror threats and all the crazy people in the world, how crazy it potentially could have gotten,” eyewitness Scott Kilwine said.

Waterbridge Elementary school was less than 100 yards away from the strangely-placed toy. The scene took on an almost comical tone as a real bomb robot faced off against what turned out to be a Hasbro toy robot called Butterscotch that sells for about $350.

“It was crazy! When I first saw it my wife was like, ‘I think there’s like some wild animal in the cul-du-sac,'” Kilwine said.

When it was all over, all that was left was a charred area of the cul-du-sac, small pieces of the toy, plastic, wire and fur.

But the incident made for excitement in the neighborhood.

“The guy said, ‘Fire in the hole, fire in the hole!’ And then boom!” Kilwine said.

The sheriff’s office says it doesn’t keep track of how much an incident like that costs taxpayers.

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Money Hungry Red Light Camera Company ATS Sues, Claiming Allowing Baytown Texas Voters To Vote Against Cameras Violates Voter’s Rights

September 6, 2010

BAYTOWN, TEXAS – American Traffic Solutions, the company that owns and operates the cameras and sensor systems used to enforce red light compliance at several Baytown intersections, filed a lawsuit against the city Thursday seeking to overturn the city’s decision to call an election on an amendment to the red light camera ordinance.

In addition to repeating previous claims the amendment to the ordinance constitutes a repeal of the ordinance and violates state code, the lawsuit also claims the city is violating the federal Voting Rights Act.

City Attorney Ignacio Ramirez defended the city in a hearing Thursday in which ATS sought a temporary restraining order against the city, according to Patti Jett, public affairs coordinator for the City of Baytown. The temporary restraining order to stop the election was not granted, she said. Another hearing has been scheduled on the matter.

In its suit, American Traffic Solutions presents several claims to justify stopping the election, including:

• A claim the amendment to the city’s red light ordinance constitutes a repeal of the ordinance. Under the city charter, there are tight time limits on how soon a petition can be presented calling for a referendum to repeal an ordinance, but not limits on when a petition can be presented to amend an ordinance. An earlier attempt to repeal the red light camera ordinance was rejected by the city on that basis.

• A claim the proposed ordinance includes a definition of “law enforcement officer” that would not allow Baytown police to enforce the law.

• A claim the proposed ordinance seeks to override state law in restricting the use of photo-enforcement equipment.

• A claim the election violates the Voting Rights Act.

The claim of violation of the Voting Rights Act is also being used in a contest to a pending election in the City of Houston regarding its red light camera program. Unlike the Baytown case, the Houston lawsuit is in federal court and was filed by a political action committee supporting red light cameras, rather than by American Traffic Solutions.

The Baytown lawsuit says the Voting Right Act violation comes from the city allowing a referendum petition outside of the 20-day window allowed by law. The suit says “no approval [from the Department of Justice] was sought (or received) to bypass the previously-approved twenty-day limitation on referendum petitions.”

Further, the suit maintains, “By permitting an unauthorized ballot proposition to be placed before the voters, the City has created a scenario whereby voters who oppose the Safety Camera Program — a group that historically tends to vote in a conservative manner — will vote in greater numbers than would otherwise have turned out for a November 2, 2010 election. This change in voting practices and procedures results in the potential for minority voting strength to be diluted through the inclusion of an unauthorized ballot measure.”

In response to a written question asking if the company had previously used the Voting Rights Act as a legal strategy to block elections, ATS Vice President for Governmental Relations and General Counsel George Hittner said, “ATS’ complaint is not based on the premise advanced in your question. ATS’ claims in this lawsuit are based on the calling of a costly and voidable election.”

In response to a written question asking if the company had any studies or other evidence supporting its contention regarding the political leanings of potential voters, Hittner provided the identical answer, “ATS’ complaint is not based on the premise advanced in your question. ATS’ claims in this lawsuit are based on the calling of a costly and voidable election.”

When asked how many of its clients the company has sued, Hittner replied, “None. However, we are required by law to file this challenge before the election occurs for the simple reason that an election contest is not available as a possible remedy after the election occurs.”

Speaking for the city, Jett said the election is still on as of this time.

She was unable to say whether the city had the legal authority to cancel the election at this time even if it chose to do so, as the state deadline for calling November elections has passed.

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