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December 2006

December 31, 2006

US to double emergency equipment stored in Israel
"The American Congress gave Israel financial and security encouragement when the Senate and the House of Representatives gave their approval to double the emergency equipment the United States stores in Israeli stockpiles.
The emergency stockpiles are meant to store American military equipment in the Middle East in case of an emergency. However, in case of an emergency, Israel is allowed to use the stockpiles."

Military considers recruiting foreigners
"The armed forces, already struggling to meet recruiting goals, are considering expanding the number of noncitizens in the ranks - including disputed proposals to open recruiting stations overseas and putting more immigrants on a faster track to US citizenship if they volunteer - according to Pentagon officials."

U.S. Selective Service plans 'readiness' tests for military draft
"The Selective Service System, which has remained in existence despite the abandonment of conscription three decades ago, is making preparations to tests its draft machinery in case Congress and President George W. Bush need it, even though the White House says it does not want to bring back the draft.

The agency is planning a comprehensive test - not run since 1998 - of its military draft systems, a Selective Service official said. The test itself would not likely occur until 2009.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson prompted speculation about the draft Thursday when he told reporters in New York that 'society would benefit' if the U.S. were to bring back the draft. Later he issued a statement saying he does not support reinstituting a draft."

Justice Dept. Database Stirs Privacy Fears
"The Justice Department is building a massive database that allows state and local police officers around the country to search millions of case files from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal law enforcement agencies, according to Justice officials.

The system, known as 'OneDOJ,' already holds approximately 1 million case records and is projected to triple in size over the next three years, Justice officials said. The files include investigative reports, criminal-history information, details of offenses, and the names, addresses and other information of criminal suspects or targets, officials said.
Eventually, the department hopes, the database will be a central mechanism for sharing federal law enforcement information with local and state investigators, who now run checks individually, and often manually, with Justice's five main law enforcement agencies: the FBI, the DEA, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bureau of Prisons and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Within three years, officials said, about 750 law enforcement agencies nationwide will have access."

Tucson military recruiters ran cocaine
"Together, these dozen or so recruiters formed the nucleus of one of the FBI's biggest public corruption cases, the sting known as Operation Lively Green, which unfolded in Southern Arizona from 2002-2004 and was made public last year.
How much prison time they get - if any - also may be influenced by the allegations of misconduct that have surfaced in the Lively Green probe.

The complete extent of misconduct has never been publicly revealed, but according to witness testimony at the D-M court-martial in June, there was an incident in October 2002 in which informants posing as drug dealers hired hookers after a drug run to a Las Vegas hotel."
Well shit - let's just give everyone a medal and go on home - nothing to see here, folks!

Safety project focuses on Isle eyes
"The Galveston County Sheriff's Department is the first sheriff's department in Texas and the 47th nationwide to join the Children's Identification Database, or CHILD Project.

The addition of Galveston County is part of an effort to image the irises of 5 million children into a nationwide database over the next few years, said Robert Melley, vice president and CEO of Biometric Intelligence & Identification."

Records detail missing TSA badges, uniforms
"More than 3,700 identification badges and uniform items have been reported lost or stolen from Transportation Security Administration employees since 2003, according to documents obtained by a San Antonio television station."

Marijuana top US cash crop, analyst says
"U.S. growers produce nearly $35 billion worth of marijuana annually, making the illegal drug the country's largest cash crop, bigger than corn and wheat combined, an advocate of medical marijuana use said in a study released on Monday."
Sure is a lot of fuss over some old Wildwood Weed...?

How to beat the drug busts - by the best narcotics officer in America
"Barry Cooper, who is described by former colleagues as perhaps the best drug- enforcement officer in America, will next week begin marketing Never Get Busted Again, which will show viewers how to 'conceal their stash, avoid narcotics profiling and fool canines every time'.

Mr Cooper, who supports the legalisation of marijuana, made the video because he believes that the fight against drugs in America is a waste of money. The convictions of marijuana users fills prisons with non- violent offenders, he says.
Richard Sanders, an agent with the Tyler Drug Enforcement Administration, said that he planned to investigate whether it violated any laws.

'It outrages me personally, as I’m sure it does any officer that has sworn an oath to uphold the laws of this state and nation,' Mr Sanders said. 'It is clear that his whole deal is to make money and he has found some sort of scheme, but for him to go to the dark side and do this is infuriating.'

Deputy Constable Mark Waters, a narcotics officer in Texas, said that the video was insulting to police. 'This is a slap in the face to all that we do to uphold the laws and keep the public safe,' he said."

Court overrules church's use of pot as sacrament
"A federal judge has ruled against the founders of a Southeastern Arizona church that deifies marijuana and uses it as a sacrament, saying they don't have a 'sincere' religious belief.

In her refusal to dismiss charges against Dan and Mary Quaintance, U.S. District Judge Judith C. Herrera in Albuquerque wrote that evidence indicates the pair 'adopted their 'religious' belief in cannabis as a sacrament and deity in order to justify their lifestyle choice to use marijuana.'"

Lawmaker: Give Value Of Unused Gift Cards To State
A lawmaker said the value of gift cards that go unused should wind up in the state treasury, not back with the retailers who sold the cards in the first place.

Democratic Rep. Fred Kessler of Milwaukee said he would include a provision to that effect in a bill he plans to introduce in the Legislature.

'I'd rather have people spend the money and use the gift card, but if they aren't, I'd rather the state get the money,' Kessler told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel."

Vive la révolution: Protesters take stand against the march of time
"France is the land of protest but, these days, most French revolutions are of the conservative variety. The French mostly demonstrate against the new. A shadowy group based in the west of France hopes to push French immobilism to a novel level. The group, called Fonacon, is planning a demonstration against the New Year.
The name Fonacon comes from the group's title - Front d'opposition à la nouvelle année and Comité d'Organistion National (acronym 'con', which means daft). The organisers, who prefer to remain anonymous, say it is illogical that people should celebrate the passing of time. The ending of a year is another step towards the grave and therefore a tragedy, not a cause for joy."
Fonacon's Website (en français)

December 15, 2006

Pakistani province, feds at odds over bomb
"The dispute began Tuesday when police in the North West Frontier Province arrested a man for dropping an object into a bin outside the home of the province's chief minister in Karachi.

The man was identified as junior federal Intelligence Bureau official Mohammad Tufail, and arresting police said the object he dropped was labeled 'high explosive,' a BBC correspondent reported.

Soon after his arrest, a senior federal intelligence officer arrived and took Tufail and the object away, infuriating provincial politicians in the Islamic region, the BBC said."
The Washington Times blackholed this story pretty quickly - Google Cache still remembers it and the link used above is to the UPI source. Additional sources can be found with various Google News searches.

Oil producers shun dollar
"Oil producing countries have reduced their exposure to the dollar to the lowest level in two years and shifted oil income into euros, yen and sterling, according to new data from the Bank for International Settlements."

CIA Officials May Be Indicted   (IT)
"A judge will hear arguments next month on whether to indict 26 Americans and five Italian secret service officials in the 2003 alleged kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric in Milan - a case that continues to be an irritant to U.S.-Italian relations."

Census Counts 100,000 Contractors in Iraq
"There are about 100,000 government contractors operating in Iraq, not counting subcontractors, a total that is approaching the size of the U.S. military force there, according to the military's first census of the growing population of civilians operating in the battlefield."

Feds rate travelers for terrorism
"Without notifying the public, federal agents for the past four years have assigned millions of international travelers, including Americans, computer-generated scores rating the risk they pose of being terrorists or criminals.

The travelers are not allowed to see or directly challenge these risk assessments, which the government intends to keep on file for 40 years.
The government notice says ATS data may be shared with state, local and foreign governments for use in hiring decisions and in granting licenses, security clearances, contracts or other benefits. In some cases, the data may be shared with courts, Congress and even private contractors."

Say Hello to the Goodbye Weapon
"According to documents obtained for Wired News under federal sunshine laws, the Air Force's Active Denial System, or ADS, has been certified safe after lengthy tests by military scientists in the lab and in war games.
The beam produces what experimenters call the 'Goodbye effect,' or 'prompt and highly motivated escape behavior.' In human tests, most subjects reached their pain threshold within 3 seconds, and none of the subjects could endure more than 5 seconds.
'Key technologies to enable this capability from an airborne platform - such as a C-130 - are being developed at several Air Force Research Laboratory technology directorates,' says Diana Loree, program manager for the Airborne ADS."

FBI taps cell phone mic as eavesdropping tool
"The FBI appears to have begun using a novel form of electronic surveillance in criminal investigations: remotely activating a mobile phone's microphone and using it to eavesdrop on nearby conversations.

The technique is called a 'roving bug,' and was approved by top U.S. Department of Justice officials for use against members of a New York organized crime family who were wary of conventional surveillance techniques such as tailing a suspect or wiretapping him."

Employers May Get Access to Applicants’ Minor ‘Offenses’
"The FBI wants to start including 'non-serious offenses' on criminal-history reports to employers - a move some say could unduly taint people’s job prospects and spread misinformation.

If the proposal goes into effect, many employers using the FBI’s system could discover a job applicant had been convicted for drinking in public, or had been arrested for vagrancy as a teenager, among other offenses."

New Rules Make Firms Track E-Mails, IMs
"U.S. companies will need to keep track of all the e-mails, instant messages and other electronic documents generated by their employees thanks to new federal rules that go into effect Friday, legal experts say.

The rules, approved by the Supreme Court in April, require companies and other entities involved in federal litigation to produce 'electronically stored information' as part of the discovery process, when evidence is shared by both sides before a trial."

Stolen Boeing laptop held ID data on 382,000
"Boeing has confirmed that a laptop stolen from an employee's car contained sensitive information on 382,000 workers and retirees."

UCLA: Hacker May Have Accessed 800,000 Students' Personal Data
"The University of California, Los Angeles alerted about 800,000 current and former students, faculty and staff on Tuesday that their names and certain personal information were exposed after a hacker broke into a campus computer system."

Homeland Security chief defends Real ID plan
"U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on Thursday defended forthcoming national ID cards as vital for security and consistent with privacy rights.

Chertoff said one of his agency's top goals next year is to forge ahead with recommendations for the controversial documents established by a federal law called the Real ID Act in May 2005. By 2008, Americans may be required to present such federally approved cards--which must be electronically readable--to travel on an airplane, open a bank account or take advantage of myriad government services such as Social Security."

Bush 'Privacy Board' Just a Gag
"The first public meeting of a Bush administration 'civil liberties protection panel' had a surreal quality to it, as the five-member board refused to answer any questions from the press, and stonewalled privacy advocates and academics on key questions about domestic spying.

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which met Tuesday, was created by Congress in 2004 on the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, but is part of the White House, which handpicked all the members. Though mandated by law in late 2004, the board was not sworn in until March 2006, due to inaction on the part of the White House and Congress."

Police Decry Web Site on Informants
"Police and prosecutors are worried that a Web site claiming to identify more than 4,000 informants and undercover agents will cripple investigations and hang targets on witnesses."
And who the cap fit, let them wear it.

Federal case may redefine child porn
"In a federal indictment announced this week, the U.S. Department of Justice accused Pierson, 43, of being a child pornographer--even though even prosecutors acknowledge there's no evidence he has ever taken a single photograph of an unclothed minor.

Rather, they argue, his models struck poses that were illegally provocative. 'The images charged are not legitimate child modeling, but rather lascivious poses one would expect to see in an adult magazine,' Alice Martin, U.S. attorney for the northern district of Alabama, said in a statement."

Senator: Illegal images must be reported
"McCain's proposal, called the 'Stop the Online Exploitation of Our Children Act', requires that reports be submitted to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which in turn will forward them to the relevant police agency. (The organization received $32.6 million in tax dollars in 2005, according to its financial disclosure documents.)

Internet service providers already must follow those reporting requirements. But McCain's proposal is liable to be controversial because it levies the same regulatory scheme--and even stiffer penalties--on even individual bloggers who offer discussion areas on their Web sites.
According to the proposed legislation, these types of individuals or businesses would be required to file reports: any Web site with a message board; any chat room; any social-networking site; any e-mail service; any instant-messaging service; any Internet content hosting service; any domain name registration service; any Internet search service; any electronic communication service; and any image or video-sharing service."

GSA Chief Seeks to Cut Budget For Audits
"The new chief of the U.S. General Services Administration is trying to limit the ability of the agency's inspector general to audit contracts for fraud or waste and has said oversight efforts are intimidating the workforce, according to government documents and interviews.

GSA Administrator Lurita Alexis Doan, a Bush political appointee and former government contractor, has proposed cutting $5 million in spending on audits and shifting some responsibility for contract reviews to small, private audit contractors."

Dallas Student Linked to Taliban Probe
"Syed Maaz Shah, 19, a University of Texas at Dallas student, was charged this week with illegally possessing an assault weapon - believed to be an Armalite assault rifle. He is not accused of conspiring with the Taliban, and Shah's attorney denied that he was involved in anything illegal.

But authorities say Shah is a close associate of Kobie Diallo Williams, also known as Abdul Kabir, and Adnan Babar Mirza, and practiced shooting with them in January near Houston. Williams, 33, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring to help the Taliban, while Mirza faces a similar charge.
A Pakistani native, Shah is secretary of the school's Muslim Students' Association and a student government senator, according to the student newspaper, The UTD Mercury. If convicted, he could face 10 years in prison."

DHS official admits taking bribes to fake documents
"A federal immigration official pleaded guilty Thursday to receiving more than $600,000 in bribes for falsifying documents for illegal immigrants."

Shots likely hit door, then teen
"Law enforcement officers may have fired through a front door Friday night as sheriff's deputies and University of North Carolina Wilmington police officers attempted to serve an arrest warrant on Peyton Strickland in connection with the Nov. 17 robbery of two PlayStation 3 game stations from a UNCW student."

Grand Jury: Deputy's Indictment In Teen's Slaying A Mistake
"A day after authorities announced that a former New Hanover County deputy had been indicted in the shooting death of a Durham teen during a raid on a Wilmington home, members of the grand jury now say the indictment was a mistake.
Nine heavily armed deputies accompanied UNC-W police to Strickland's home to serve the warrants. Three deputies fired shots into the home, and sources close to the case said they believe several shots were fired before Strickland opened the door.

Long, 34, told investigators he mistook the sound of a battering ram officers were used to break open the front door to the house as gunfire.

Strickland, who was unarmed, died of a gunshot wound to the head."

Police admit planting evidence
"A Huntington Beach police officer's exoneration for planting a loaded gun in a suspect's car has led to the revelation that police routinely plant evidence in unsuspecting civilians' vehicles for training exercises.

Chief Kenneth Small said Friday that police plant contraband - including unloaded weapons, fake drugs and drug paraphernalia - in suspects' vehicles after they're arrested as a method of training new officers in searches."

E-Gold Gets Tough on Crime
"The founder of PayPal competitor e-gold has grown tired of the government characterizing his business as a haven for money launderers, terrorists, child pornographers and credit card thieves.

So a year after the Department of Justice raided his offices, Douglas Jackson, president of Gold and Silver Reserve, which operates e-gold, has been wading deep into his customer transaction logs to identify and fight back against people who misuse his system. In the last month, he's blocked about 2,000 accounts from his system, and he's voluntarily turned over detailed account and transaction histories to federal law enforcement."

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