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July 2006

July 19, 2006

FBI plans new Net-tapping push

Gonzales: Bush Blocked Eavesdropping Probe
"Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Tuesday that President Bush personally blocked Justice Department lawyers from pursuing an internal probe of the warrantless eavesdropping program that monitors Americans' international calls and e-mails when terrorism is suspected."

FBI informers' hotel orgy led U.S. prosecutor to shelve cases
"Seventy-one U.S. military personnel, prison guards and law enforcement workers have been convicted in the sting known as Operation Lively Green, which involved undercover operatives and agents posing as Mexican narcotics traffickers. The government employees were bribed to haul cocaine from southern Arizona to Phoenix and Las Vegas, sometimes wearing uniforms and using military vehicles.
Charlton's letter to Thornton spells out the Nevada events of Oct. 16, 2002, in detail: Eleven suspects had just delivered 132 pounds of cocaine from southern Arizona to Las Vegas. FBI agents rented the presidential suite at the MGM Grand Hotel for three informers who invited a half-dozen targets to join them. That night, five prostitutes were hired to participate in an orgy with the men."

Big Brother database to record the lives of all children   (UK)
"The home life of every child in the country is to be recorded on a national database in the ultimate intrusion of the nanny state, it has emerged.

Computer records holding details of school performance, diet and even whether their parents provide a 'positive role model' for 12 million children will be held by the Government.

Police, social workers, teachers and doctors will have access to the database and have powers to flag up 'concerns' where children are not meeting criteria laid down by the state."

Western Union blocks Arab cash deliveries
"Dubai-based representatives from Western Union Financial Services, an American company based in Colorado, and Minnesota-based MoneyGram International said their clerks are simply following U.S. Treasury Department guidelines that scrutinize cash flows for terrorist links. Most of the flagged transactions are delayed a few hours. Some are blocked entirely.

In many cases, would-be customers like Maruthayil simply find another way to send the funds - often through informal exchanges with less stringent monitoring.

Critics say the screening is far too broad. The number of people inconvenienced in the Emirates alone, which closely cooperates with U.S. counterterror operations, is thought to be in the tens of thousands. One Western Union clerk said about 300 money transfers from a single Dubai franchise were blocked or delayed each day - none of which has turned up a terrorist link."

Engineering Bio-Terror Agents
"A private researcher investigating the history of the U.S. biological weapons program at the National Archives recently came up empty.

'She asked for the files for Fort Detrick from 1946 to 1956, and was brought 16 cartons,' recounted Milton Leitenberg of the University of Maryland. 'However, every single file in every one of the 16 cartons had been removed, and replaced with a page dated post-2002, saying that the item had been withdrawn.'

The Fort Detrick records were removed from public access 'after the Bush administration ordered agencies to withhold anything that might aid terrorists,' reported Scott Shane, then of the Baltimore Sun, in an August 1, 2004 Sun story on Fort Detrick's Special Operations Division."

New York Panel OKs Pistol-Packing Judges
Wonder if they'll recuse themselves from firearms cases - conflict of interest and all - y'know? Meanwhile - elsewhere in Mordor...

Vermont judge rejects U.S. Supreme Court search ruling
"A Vermont District Court judge has rejected a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the power of police to search a private home, concluding that the state offers greater protections in such cases.

Judge Robert Bent said that under the state Constitution police must knock and announce themselves before conducting a search, even if they have a warrant, or face the prospect that any evidence they find could be thrown out."

CEO of Online Gambling Site Arrested
"Federal officials have charged 11 people, including the CEO of a big gambling Web site, alleging they committed conspiracy, racketeering and fraud in taking sports bets from U.S. residents.

The Justice Department said Monday it is seeking the forfeiture of $4.5 billion, cars and computers from the defendants, including BetOnSports PLC and three other companies."

Iris Scans: Keeping an Eye on Sex Offenders
"For SORIS to succeed, of course, counties nationwide will have to sign up. Though the technology was unveiled only a few weeks ago, many have already expressed interest, says BI2 CEO Sean Mullin. Pendergraph plans to photograph the irises of every sex offender in the county, either visiting them at home or calling them into the station (he says they can't refuse). And once his deputies get soon-to-be-offered PDA devices that connect to the system, they plan to scan the irises of people they pull over and suspect of having committed a crime."

FTC seizes control of Austin realtors website
"The Federal Trade Commission today said that a popular real estate website was de facto public property, and that Commission lawyers could suppress the First Amendment rights of the siteís owners and dictate future content. Under a proposed order against the Austin Board of Realtors (ABOR), the groupís website will be subject to FTC controls for at least ten years."

Judge hears 11 hours of testimony in case of Va. teen fighting to treat his cancer his way
"Abraham, as he's usually called, and his family were in juvenile court in Accomack County to determine whether he can make his own medical decisions and whether he can keep living with his parents and four siblings on Chincoteague, an island off Virginia's Eastern Shore.

Abraham has Hodgin's disease, a cancer of the lymph nodes. Three months of chemotherapy last year made him extremely weak. So when he learned in February that his cancer was active again, he turned - against doctor's advice - to a sugar-free organic diet, herbs and visits to a clinic in Mexico.

A social worker asked a judge to require the teen to continue conventional treatment."

'Police... open up, we know you've made a mess in there'
"In Arlington, just across the Potomac River from Washington DC, the local task force has investigated 34 hoarding cases in the past year, almost all of them after tip-offs from members of the public.

Capt Tom Polera, an assistant fire marshal and member of the task force, said that reports of hoarding soared after a case in nearby Fairfax County last July in which an 82-year-old woman was found to have 488 cats, 222 of them dead, in her home. In January, Marie Rose, 62, was found dead in Washington state after her husband reported her missing. She had suffocated under piles of clothes, apparently while looking for the telephone.

'There is a difference between a property which is messy and one that can't be used for the purpose for which it was built,' said Capt Polera. 'We're talking about a room in which you would not be able to find the TV or the couch. It becomes a collateral problem for adjacent neighbours.'"

Pot church takes a hit
S. Arizona couple face prison for what they say is religious use of marijuana.
Just puttin' it on with the Holy Toast!

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