Thursday, July 31, 2008

Something to get ticked off about

I know I'd be ticked off.

I get all itchy just thinking about it.

Complaint as Italian ferry cabin infested with ticks
News about: ITALY

ROME, July 29, 2008 (AFP) - An Italian woman is suing a ferry company after waking up in a first-class cabin "covered in ticks from head to toe", newspapers reported Tuesday. Cristina Sassudelli, 41, was making a night crossing at the weekend from the northern city of Genoa to the port of Olbia on the southern Italian island of Sardinia. "At six thirty in the morning I was wakened by the itching on one arm and I realised I was covered with ticks from head to toe," she said, according to accounts in several Italian dailies. "I have always had dogs and I saw immediately that these weren't any kind of insect. There were hundreds of them," she added.

Staff on the ferry, run by a company called La Tirrenia, took her infested clothes and gave her new ones that were far too big, she said. Once they had arrived at Olbia a member of the crew accompanied her to a shop where she was able to buy new clothes. But the company did not reimburse her for her first-class ticket, she said.

La Tirrenia told La Stampa newspaper: "This episode happened at a period of heavy traffic and hot, humid conditions. It is the first time, after many years of navigation, that it has happened." It added that the contaminated zone had been sealed off and was being disinfected. Sassudelli said she was taking action against the company to make sure no one else had to go through the same "nightmare." In recent years, there have been several cases of infections from ticks or fleas on Italian transport, particularly on trains.

Big Brother watching you eat

Two sentences which ought to scare the bejeezus outta any right thinking 'Mercan.

"We're from the Government."

"We're here to help you."

Okay then.

LA blocks new fast-food outlets from poor areas


LOS ANGELES (AP) - City officials are putting South Los Angeles on a diet.
The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to place a moratorium on new fast food restaurants in an impoverished swath of the city with a proliferation of such eateries and above average rates of obesity.

The yearlong moratorium is intended to give the city time to attract restaurants that serve healthier food. The action, which the mayor must still sign into law, is believed to be the first of its kind by a major city to protect public health.
"Our communities have an extreme shortage of quality foods," City Councilman Bernard Parks said.

Representatives of fast-food chains said they support the goal of better diets but believe they are being unfairly targeted. They say they already offer healthier food items on their menus.
"It's not where you eat, it's what you eat," said Andrew Puzder, president and chief executive of CKE Restaurants, parent company of Carl's Jr. "We were willing to work with the city on that, but they obviously weren't interested."

The California Restaurant Association and its members will consider a legal challenge to the ordinance, spokesman Andrew Casana said.

Thirty percent of adults in South Los Angeles area are obese, compared to 19.1 percent for the metropolitan area and 14.1 percent for the affluent Westside, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Research has shown that people will change eating habits when different foods are offered, but cost is a key factor in poor communities, said Kelly D. Brownell, director of Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.

"Cheap, unhealthy food and lack of access to healthy food is a recipe for obesity," Brownell said.

"Diets improve when healthy food establishments enter these neighborhoods."

A report by the Community Health Councils found 73 percent of South Los Angeles restaurants were fast food, compared to 42 percent in West Los Angeles.

South Los Angeles resident Curtis English acknowledged that fast food is loaded with calories and cholesterol. But since he's unemployed and does not have a car, it serves as a cheap, convenient staple for him.

On Monday, he ate breakfast and lunch - a sausage burrito and double cheeseburger, respectively - at a McDonald's a few blocks from home for just $2.39.
"I don't think there's too many fast food places," he said. "People like it."

Others welcomed an opportunity to get different kinds of food into their neighborhood.
"They should open more healthy places," Dorothy Meighan said outside a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet. "There's too much fried stuff."

Councilwoman Jan Perry said that view repeatedly surfaced at the five community meetings she held during the past two years. Residents are tired of fast food, and many don't have cars to drive to places with other choices, she said.

Los Angeles' ban comes at a time when governments of all levels are increasingly viewing menus as a matter of public health. On Friday, California became the first state in the nation to bar trans fats, which lower levels of good cholesterol and increase bad cholesterol.

The moratorium, which can be extended up to a year, only affects standalone restaurants, not

eateries located in malls or strip shopping centers. It defines fast-food restaurants as those that do not offer table service and provide a limited menu of pre-prepared or quickly heated food in disposable wrapping.

The definition exempts "fast-food casual" restaurants such as El Pollo Loco, Subway and Pastagina, which do not have drive-through windows or heat lamps and prepare fresh food to order.

The ordinance also makes it harder for existing fast-food restaurants to expand or remodel.
Rebeca Torres, a South Los Angeles mother of four, said she would welcome more dining choices, even if she had to pay a little more.

"They should have better things for children," she said. "This fast food really fattens them up."

Thou shalt not.......

McCain is breaking the 11th commandment.

Thou shalt not say anything bad about the Obama.

Obama, McCain duel over celebrity ad, attacks
By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent

SPRINGFIELD, Missouri (Reuters) - Democrat Barack Obama accused White House rival John McCain of trying on Wednesday to scare voters with attacks on his character, as McCain launched a new ad labeling Obama more of a celebrity than a leader.

"What they're going to do is make you scared -- of me," Obama told voters in Springfield, Missouri, as he pushed his message of middle-class economic relief in a Republican part of a key battleground state in November's presidential election.

Obama, launching a four-day tour of swing states to promote his economic policies, mocked the arguments he said McCain, a Republican Arizona senator, and his supporters make.
"'He's not patriotic enough. He's got a funny name. He doesn't look like all the presidents on the dollar bills,'" said Obama, who would be the first black U.S. president.

"That's their argument. 'We don't have much to offer, but he's risky,'" he said. "We are in a time right now where it is too risky not to change. It is risky to keep doing what we are doing."
McCain launched a new ad linking the Illinois senator to celebrities like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, calling him "the biggest celebrity in the world" but questioning whether he could deliver on his talk.

The ad included images of Obama's speech last week in Berlin on his tour of the Middle East and Europe and asked if Obama was ready to lead.
"Senator Obama doesn't have the strength to speak openly and directly about how he will address the serious challenges that confront America," McCain said. "How will he be strong enough to really change Washington?"

McCain campaign manager Rick Davis told reporters Obama's overseas swing was "much more something you would expect from someone releasing a new movie than running for president."
He said the Obama strategy was to develop a fan base "that allows him to get a lot of media attention and avoids him having to address the important issues of our time."

Obama noted McCain had stepped up his attacks against him and questioned his approach.
"I don't pay attention to John McCain's ads, although I do notice he doesn't seem to have anything very positive to say about himself," Obama told reporters after visiting a diner in Lebanon, Missouri.

"He seems to only be talking about me," Obama said. "You need to ask John McCain what he's for, not just what he's against."
Obama has pivoted to economic themes this week after returning from his trip to the Middle East and Europe, painting McCain as a follower of President George W. Bush's "reckless" economic policies.

In Springfield, he criticized McCain's support for extending Bush's tax cuts as a gift to the wealthy, and he challenged McCain's support for lifting the ban on offshore drilling and said it would not help U.S. consumers for years.

"If I thought that by drilling offshore we could solve our problem, I'd do it," he said. "This is not real. I know it's tempting, The polls say the majority of Americans think it's one way we'll resolve our problems, but it's not real."

The McCain campaign said Obama's comments were "typically superfluous."

"Like most celebrities, he reacts to fair criticism with a mix of fussiness and hysteria," spokesman Tucker Bounds said. "In the face of an energy crisis, Barack Obama's plans to raise taxes on energy and opposition to offshore drilling show that he fundamentally lacks judgment and experience, and is not ready to lead."

A new CNN poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation gave Obama a seven-point national lead, 51 percent to 44 percent, in the race for the White House, up from five points last month. It had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Obama was accompanied on a bus tour through Missouri on Wednesday by Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, who pointedly attacked some of the prevailing questions about Obama's faith, patriotism and attitude.

"They say that he is arrogant, that he's unpatriotic, blah, blah, blah, blah," McCaskill, a strong Obama supporter during the Democratic nomination process, told the enthusiastic Springfield crowd.
"Let me tell you, I know this man. He is humble, he is devoutly Christian, he loves his family more than anything else in the world, he reveres our men and women in uniform, and he is as red, white and blue as you can possibly get," she said.

Don't count me out


The smell of political shenanigans south of I-10.

South Texas politics as usual?

Webb sheriff files appeal for a new election
Lynn Brezosky - Express-News

BROWNSVILLE — Webb County Sheriff Rick Flores has decided he's not giving up the fight for his office after all.

Less than two weeks after issuing a somewhat conciliatory statement that seemed to put an end to the prolonged bout of runoff, recount, and recount of recount, Flores says he still thinks rival Martin Cuellar lost.

Wednesday, Flores filed a notice of appeal to the state's 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio regarding a judge's denial of a new election.
Cuellar spokesman Colin Strother said Cuellar has been declared the winner three times and would prevail a fourth.

“The only time Rick Flores was deemed a winner was when he and or his supporters cheated and pencil-whipped the numbers,” he said.
In a cell phone call to explain his appeal, Flores said he was egged on by constituents convinced something was amiss.

He said he and others felt state District Judge David Peeples did not consider all the evidence and testimony before denying a request for a new election.

“This has been something that I've seriously considered, and I finally filed,” he said. “I've been getting a lot of phone calls from a lot of people in the community. ... We just feel that it is in the people's best interest that we follow through and seek legal recourse.”

Peeples on July 17 refused to call a new election based on Flores' contention of illegal voting and computer problems in the April 8 runoff.

Flores, 46, finished first and Cuellar, 50, second in what had been a five-man race.

Cuellar won the runoff by 37 votes, but Flores came out ahead by 133 votes in a May 1 recount. Cuellar sued for a second recount, which put him back ahead, this time by 42 votes.
That's when Peeples was called in to hear testimony on whether there had been irregularities sufficient for a new election. He decided there weren't.

“We're deeply disappointed with the outcome,” Flores said after the judge's denial. “We strongly feel that we furnished the court with sufficient evidence of voter irregularities. ... I hope and pray that my successor continues the fine tradition that this organization has provided in the last four years.”

Cuellar, a longtime state police official, is brother to U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, who has sparred with Flores over national border security issues.

“The residents of Webb County are ready to move on,” Strother said. “The only person that hasn't gotten the message loud and clear is Rick.”

Happy verteran's day?

This is pretty heinous.

No, I am not saying it is as bad as a sexual assault of a child.

Its just heinous and callous. Stealing flowers from the graves of veterans?

Honor them like this boy is doing. Bring them flowers like he is doing.

Steal flowers from them?


Flower thieves hit Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery
Karen Grace - KENS 5 Eyewitness News

They died protecting our country, but who is protecting them?

Thieves are stealing from graves at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, and they're doing it in broad daylight.

One Vietnam veteran says it is the ultimate disgrace to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

"There are people laying out in that cemetery that gave their lives for this country," Col. Tom Gaither said. "What you have is people going on federal property, and stealing at the very least."
Gaither is appalled and peeved that thieves have been combing the graves of veterans to steal flowers and metal containers.

"They smelter them down. I'm sure that they're either bronze or copper. Same reason we have problems with people going around cutting copper tubing off of air conditions," he said.

What upsets him more is he feels the law is neglecting to patrol the property.
"Neither gate guards nor military police have jurisdiction," Gaither said.

When Alamo Heights Councilwoman Jill Souter witnessed a woman helping herself to flowers, she took down the suspect's license plate number. She asked a guard to do something about it but was told, "He had no jurisdiction as a private employee."

A director told her that the cemetery was the San Antonio Police Department's jurisdiction.
"Basically what the lady said was that the dead people don't really need these flowers and I've got a use for them," Gaither said.

What could that be?

"I'd be happy to tell you what I think is going on," Gaither said. "They're picking up the flowers and taking them home and rewrapping them, and repackaging them and selling them back to you on the side of street."

SAPD has the case. Cemetery management would not comment on the thefts.

Sexual assault of a child

I know what his defense will be.

He will say he thought it was his wife.

They say that as their defense more times than I care to remember.

Man charged with sexual assault of girl

A 40-year-old man was charged Tuesday with the aggravated sexual assault of a child after his wife allegedly found him assaulting a 5-year-old girl in their Southwest Bexar County home, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

According to the affidavit, Berlando Lopez was performing oral sex a sex act on the girl when movement in the bed awakened his wife about 5 a.m. Monday. The three had been sleeping in the same bed, the affidavit said, when the alleged assault took place.

The Express-News generally does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.

Lopez turned himself in to authorities Tuesday and remained jailed on $75,000 bond, officials said.

According to the affidavit, the woman awoke to find Lopez on top of the girl, with his face between her legs. When confronted, Lopez denied any wrongdoing, according to the document.

The woman then ordered Lopez to leave the home but instead he went outside, pulled out a gun and “threatened that police would not take him alive,” the document said. He then left.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Gas station robbery

Anyone knows anything please contact the NBPD Criminal Investigation Division.


You can probably stay anonymous.

Police investigate midnight robbery
By Chris Cobb: The Herald-Zeitung

New Braunfels Police were trying to identify suspects Tuesday after a man forced his way into a gas station office and stole an unknown amount of cash and checks.

The owner of the Fast Way Food Mart said a black male covered in a sweater or a towel barged into the location at 1412 E. Common Street just after midnight during a shift change. He ordered clerks to open the door to the office and stole money and cash lying on the counter. No one was injured.

Store owner Robert Grudle said the entire incident took about 40 seconds.

Grudle said threats made by the perpetrator indicated he was armed, but police said no weapons were reported as being used or shown. Three store clerks were on duty at the time. NBPD Sgt. Mike Penshorn said the suspect is described as a black male, approximately 6 feet tall, with a large build.

The Fast Way was the target of another robbery a year ago, according to Grudle, and the suspect was caught and sent to jail.

Tuesday’s marks the second robbery in New Braunfels in just over a week, although police say they don’t have any evidence linking it with the July 22 incident at the Travel Centers of America Truck Stop on Interstate 35.

“Nothing would lead us to believe it was connected to any previous robberies in the past several months,” Penshorn said.


A personal nightmare of mine.

The home invasion.

Arrests made in home invasion, assault

NEW BRAUNFELS — Two people were arrested and officers were searching for a third in connection with a stabbing Sunday night, the Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Department announced Tuesday.

Investigators were unsure of the motive for the home invasion and assault in which four people kicked in the front door of a home in the 300 block of Riverbend, on the outskirts of New Braunfels, at about 11:10 p.m. Sunday night.

As a woman watched the front door, two men beat and stabbed Robert Ewing, 38, who was in the bedroom with his fiancee. Another intruder held a third occupant of the house at gunpoint, authorities said.

Ewing, with broken ribs, a collapsed lung and five stab wounds in the back and side, was in stable condition at University Hospital.

Deputies arrested Anton Rice, 17, of New Braunfels and a 16-year-old boy, also from New Braunfels. Both are charged with burglary of a habitation with intent to commit aggravated assault.

A female suspect was questioned and released, but charges are pending, said Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Kevin Jordan.

A warrant has been issued for Ryan Martin, 18, of New Braunfels, but he has not been found.

Gang Injunction

Doing something against gangs.

Way to go Guys!

keep it up.

Gang clampdown
Brian Chasnoff - Express-News

Authorities have made it illegal for some suspected members of a violent street gang to congregate within a 1-square- mile area on the East Side where in recent months the gang has been involved in at least three drive-by shootings, two of them fatal, according to law enforcement officials.

District Attorney Susan Reed filed a petition Tuesday seeking a temporary restraining order against 19 documented members of the gang, and 73rd District Judge Andy Mireles of the 73rd district signed the order creating a so-called East Side Safety Zone.

Within the zone’s boundaries, the suspected gang members are restricted from congregating or engaging in certain activities, including using a cell phone for illegal purposes and possessing alcohol. Violating a provision could result in a misdemeanor charge that could land a defendant in jail for up to one year.

“This is trying to break up the gang, break up the enterprise,” Reed said. “It’s a tool we give law enforcement to deal with the situation, to deal with the gang members.”

Police Chief William McManus said those targeted have been arrested on charges ranging from marijuana possession to murder and that 10 of them already were incarcerated Tuesday. Some of those arrests occurred as officers were investigating the gang’s activities for the proposed injunction.

A court hearing set for Aug. 11 could allow a more permanent injunction against the men, who range in age from 18 to 41 and whom? One police officer called the “most notorious” of the gang’s 249 members documented by local law enforcement.

Such injunctions typically last about two years. Two others ordered in 2006 that covered roughly the same area expired this year.

Do unto others....

Church lawsuits.

You gotta love them.

Okay you don't have to love them but they are interesting.

Summit Christian, pastor face 2nd defamation suit
Abe Levy - Express-News

The former chief financial officer of Summit Christian Center is suing the church and Pastor Rick Godwin, claiming Godwin defamed him from the pulpit last year in an attempt to shift the blame for financial misdeeds that the CFO says he helped uncover.

It is the second defamation lawsuit in recent months against Godwin and the church, formerly Eagle’s Nest Christian Fellowship, which closed its U.S. Highway 281 site in May to move to a more spacious, $36 million facility on the far North Side at Marshall Road.

Jim Yostrum’s suit follows a similar one by Larry Nail, a former 11-year church member from Boerne. The two men are among a group that left the church after objecting to Godwin’s spending and raising concerns about the lack of oversight at the church, an independent congregation that reportedly draws about 2,500 people to its services.

Both lawsuits reference a November weekend of services in which Godwin reprimanded the two men before thousands for working against the church’s interests in the aftermath of San Antonio Express-News reports questioning Godwin’s spending of a church fund designated for missions and outreach.

Many of Godwin’s expenses were made at the same time he was raising money for the new facility. In the tens of thousands of dollars, they ranged from chartering jet planes to buying expensive gifts for family, elders and church associates to stays at luxury hotels, among other items.

Godwin has said he paid back personal expenses but hasn’t been specific. Last year he also announced that a law firm was reviewing church policies, and recently a set of policies including financial accountability and governance as well as a one-page budget report were posted on the church’s Web site.

Godwin and church leaders have not responded to repeated requests for comment, including calls to the church Tuesday.

The church has argued in Nail’s lawsuit that the courts are barred from deciding matters of church discipline protected by the Constitution, said Jerry Gibson, the church’s attorney in that litigation. He was unaware of the Yostrum lawsuit, filed Friday in district court, and said he could not comment on it. A hearing in Nail’s case is set for Sept. 2.

Yostrum believes Godwin’s remarks defamed him because the pastor described him as failing his duties as CFO, violating tax laws and not reporting financial problems to church staff and elders.

According to Yostrum, who is now vice president of finance and corporate controller at San Antonio-based Lancer Corp., he did raise the subject with two elders, Clayton Mabry and Guillermo Rocha. He also says he discussed the financial problems with bookkeeper Rose Roque and longtime staff member Kameron Lombard. Roque provided more documentation of questionable spending and Lombard said, “You don’t question Rick’s expenses,” according to the suit.

Yostrum details his experience coming to the church in July 2007 from Pennsylvania to scale back his busy lifestyle as an accountant for large companies. During interviews for the San Antonio job, he says in his lawsuit, he thought it was odd that Godwin told him he “never wants the IRS to have his money.”

Yostrum also says in the suit that he was startled to learn Godwin earned more than six figures and that his wife, Cindy, the executive pastor, made nearly six figures. His surprise grew when he learned the church also pays a six-figure amount annually to Godwin’s retirement fund despite having told the staff he didn’t support retirement funds.

Godwin’s spending habits caused Yostrum the most concern, he says in the suit, especially after a 2005 audit warned of IRS violations that went unheeded the next two years. Generally, civil courts have avoided deciding internal church disputes, said John Witte Jr., director of Emory Law School’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion in Atlanta.

At issue is whether Godwin’s actions are “religious worship” and part of the church’s “internal governance” protected by the Constitution, and thus likely to lead to dismissal of the lawsuit, he said. Or, the judge could determine that Godwin’s remarks constituted private acts by a man who happens to be a pastor, which could lead to a trial and possibly a conclusion that the remarks were defamatory.

“That characterization is going to be what’s really up for dispute,” Witte said. “Deference is the norm. Courts when invited to weigh in on these disputes generally defer to the internal religious authority’s judgment.”

Summit Christian is an independent church without affiliation to a denomination. Elders, who include the pastor, run the church, but certain powers are granted to the pastor, according to the most recent bylaws posted on the church’s Web site.

“These were secular and defamatory statements that hurt Mr. Yostrum in his profession,” said Cindy Olson Bourland of Austin, who with Gary Richardson of Tulsa, Okla., is representing Yostrum and Nail in their lawsuits. “Religion has nothing to do with it.”

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Get the Lizard!

Hard numbers to back up what I already thought.

I believe in Bexar County the number is more like 35-40% uninsured at any given point in time.

No hard data, just my experience when *whisper* I had an insurance defense practice.

Uninsured drivers on road in big numbers
By Clay Robison - Houston Chronicle

AUSTIN — One in four drivers stopped by state troopers in Austin and Travis County for traffic violations this summer has been uninsured, and the percentage may be even higher in other parts of the state, an insurance industry spokesman said Monday.

“The numbers show that Texas has an even larger number of uninsured drivers than we had realized,” said Mark Hanna, spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas, which has been monitoring Texas' new auto insurance verification program.

“Troopers tell us that some areas of the state may have more than half of their drivers uninsured, and that's scary news for everyone else on our roadways,” he added.

Texas law requires every driver to carry liability insurance, and the minimum amount required was increased this spring for the first time in 22 years. Hanna said he didn't think the higher requirement was a factor in the lack of coverage because the effect on premiums was “minimal.”

But 25.5 percent of 5,012 drivers stopped by Texas Department of Public Safety officers in Travis County and small portions of nearby Williamson and Hays counties since June 2 have lacked insurance, he said.

DPS spokeswoman Tela Mange said the number of insured drivers has “always been a moving target.”
“We always thought it was somewhere between 20 and 25 percent,” she said, based on information provided by drivers in accidents. But this is the first verification program of its kind in Texas.

Travis County was selected for a 60-day pilot project testing the new TexasSure program, which allows police via computer to verify coverage status when they stop a motorist.

A $7 million contract with HDI Solutions Inc., an Alabama company that developed the database of insurance customers and driver's license records, is funded by a portion of the vehicle registration fee.

All uninsured drivers stopped by troopers during this testing phase, which will end in a few more days, were ticketed. Drivers who said they were insured but weren't carrying proof of insurance weren't issued citations if troopers, using the new technology, validated their insurance coverage.

“The program has worked the way it was supposed to,” DPS Lt. Louis Sanchez said.

After the pilot project has been completed, DPS will issue an evaluation report. Eventually, the program is designed to be available for use by police statewide, although it won't be mandatory.
The new minimum requirements for auto liability insurance in Texas are $25,000 of coverage for each injured person, up to a total of $50,000 per accident and $25,000 for property damage.

The previous minimum requirements were $20,000/$40,000/$15,000.

The new requirements were expected to increase the cost of liability coverage by 4 percent to 6 percent, although liability insurance is only part of the auto coverage for many drivers. Someone driving without liability insurance can be fined as much as $350 for a first offense and as much as $1,000 for subsequent offenses.

Don't think pink

Tents aren't the answer.

Neither is pink underwear

Swifter justice is.

No support for Kerr jail using tents — or issuing embarrassing skivvies
Zeke MacCormack - Express-News

KERRVILLE — Ruling out pink underwear as a punitive measure and tents to reduce inmate crowding, county leaders said Monday that expediting the court processing of detainees is the best strategy to avoid a costly expansion of the Kerr County Jail.

Adan Munoz Jr., executive director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, called the erection of tents to house inmates — as some have suggested — a short-term solution that's likely to generate litigation but little in the way of long-term savings.

Inmates “gripe about everything,” he told Kerr County commissioners Monday. “Unfortunately, if you don't treat them a certain way, they have a right to sue you.”

Kerr County Judge Pat Tinley asked Munoz to address local taxpayer gripes that inmates are pampered, and calls for the county to emulate the tactics of Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., sometimes called “America's Toughest Sheriff” for his punitive handling of detainees.

“We get blasted with both barrels of that, very frequently,” Tinley told Munoz.

Munoz said Texas laws are more restrictive than those governing Arpaio, whose get-tough approach has included keeping inmates in tents, issuing them pink underwear, prohibiting adult magazines in the jail and restricting jail television to educational programs.

Munoz suggested that the county hire a consultant to study whether court clerks, judges and prosecutors could help shorten the time that suspects spend behind bars before being acquitted or convicted and sent to prison.

Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer agreed, saying that moving inmates through the system more quickly was far preferable to spending upwards of $60,000 per bed to expand the 192-bed jail.
Hierholzer noted that the average daily jail population climbed to 163 this year from 150 last year, while total arrests in the county grew slightly in the same period, to 3,361 from 3,343.

“That means they're spending a lot more time in jail, because the number of arrests has not gone up but by 18,” he said. “The other issue is that I have people in this jail who have sat here 500 days or more waiting to go to trial. Our court system has got to find a way to get them into court sooner.”

If jail tents were erected, Munoz said, they could be used only for three years, and they would have to meet the same standards as brick-and-mortar jails on issues such as lighting and temperature control.

And if the county jail were expanded beyond 200 beds, Munoz said, an in-house infirmary would have to be opened for the inmates.

Although he said the county could issue inmates pink underwear, Hierholzer responded, “We don't issue underwear. They bring it themselves.”

What we've got here is a failure to communicate

His failure unfortunately cost us greatly.

Governor's security chief failed to seek help
Gary Scharrer - Express-News

The head of the governor's security force didn't ask for extra help to protect the Governor's Mansion because he thought he wouldn't get any additional officers, and he did not report security equipment failures to his bosses, according to an internal DPS report released Monday.
The internal Department of Public Safety investigation does not contain major developments not previously reported in the aftermath of the June 8 fire at the Governor's Mansion. The fire, started by an arsonist, caused considerable damage to the 152-year-old national historic site.

Only 13 of the mansion's 20 security cameras were working at the time.

Dale Avant, captain of the governor's protection detail, said he knew cameras were not working, according to the report. His superiors said they didn't know the extent of the equipment failures because Avant did not tell them, according to the report.

The report identified Trooper John Esposito as the sole officer on duty when an unknown arsonist scaled the mansion walls and hurled an object on to the mansion porch, which triggered a fast-spreading fire.

Although a $50,000 reward has been offered for information resulting in the arrest of the arsonist, investigators say they are still looking for a break in the case.

Department of Public Safety Commission Chairman Allan Polunsky, of San Antonio, requested the report and urged the department to make it public. He would not comment about the contents of the report.

“The investigation and its release to the public is a very positive step forward on the part of the department, and I'm pleased to see this action taken,” he said.

The report also revealed that troopers did not have good directions to handle foreseeable events at the Governor's Mansion during a $10 million renovation project, which started last fall. Gov. Rick Perry and his wife, Anita Perry, moved out of the mansion when the renovation project started.

Trooper Mike Harris drafted a proposed set of written orders to cover security during the construction project, but Avant “never approved these post orders,” according to the report.

Justice Speaks will Texas listen?

I've met the Judge that Texans love to hate.

Judge Justice, go get them. Perhaps fixing this will aid in slowing or stopping the massive drop out rate in Texas and bring hope to these students.

Judge rips bilingual program
Gary Scharrer - SAEN

AUSTIN — A federal judge's ruling that Texas is not living up to its obligation to properly educate students who struggle with the English language gives hope to many of those children with dismal academic achievement, a civil rights lawyer said Monday.

The state of Texas is not complying with the federal Equal Education Opportunity Act in that public schools are failing their obligation to overcome language barriers, Senior U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice said in a 95-page ruling on Friday.

“The failure of secondary (limited English proficient) students under every metric clearly and convincingly demonstrates student failure, and accordingly, the failure of the (English as a Second Language) secondary program in Texas,” Justice wrote in the opinion, which reversed his July 30, 2007 ruling in the case.

Justice's ruling disappointed TEA officials.

“We're continuing to study this latest ruling, but it is likely that we will ask the attorney general to appeal it,” agency spokeswoman Debbie Ratcliffe said.

Attorneys for Attorney General Greg Abbott also are studying the ruling, “and we are weighing the prospects of an appeal,” said Abbott spokesman Tom Kelley.

More than 145,000 Texas students in grades seven through 12 are considered deficient in English. Students in those secondary grades have a dropout rate at least twice that of their peers. Their performance on the TAKS tests falls far behind other students.

For example, Justice noted the eighth-grade achievement gap for reading never got better than 48 percentage points between limited English proficient students and all students from 2003 to 2006. The 10th-grade achievement gap for mathematics never got better than 31 percentage points during that same time period. And the 11th-grade achievement gap for science never got better than 30 percentage points.

Justice's ruling noted the testimony from former State Board of Education member Joe Bernal, of San Antonio, who called the test scores “horribly bad” and also from former Education Commissioner Shirley Neely who said, “There's not anybody in their right mind that would say these are good scores.”

The court ruling is significant because “140,000-plus English language learners at the secondary level will not be forgotten, and they will not be pushed aside by the state as a matter of convenience,” said David Hinojosa, San Antonio-based staff attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which helped develop the case on behalf of the League of United Latin American Citizens and the American GI Forum.

“The opportunities and the expectations for those students will not be forgotten if the state lives up to its responsibilities,” Hinojosa said.

The number of children with limited English proficiency grows by at least 30,000 a year and reached 775,432 in the school year that just ended. Of those, 711,281 were Spanish-speaking students, according to the Texas Education Agency.

The state can either “own up to the facts and fix what needs to be fixed,” Hinojosa said, or “accept the facts as they are but ignore the needs of those students and try and file an appeal and bog it down in the legal process.”

The choice is clear, Hinojosa said.

“If we want a more prosperous state, let's have a much better education for these students. If we want a less prosperous state and more burdens on our state, then let's just go ahead and continue to ignore these students,” he said.

The court has kept jurisdiction over Texas' bilingual education program since 1981.
“After a quarter century of sputtering implementation, (the state has) failed to achieve result. ... Failed implementation cannot prolong the existence of a failed program in perpetuity,” Justice wrote.

Monday, July 28, 2008

OMG! Brains are not them.

More from Wierd News.

Be Afraid.

Be very Afraid.

Government in Action!

In May, the school board in Barrie, Ontario, notified Children's Aid Society to intervene with mother Colleen Leduc and her daughter Victoria, 11, because of suspected sexual abuse, angering the conscientious Leduc, who until that point had taken extraordinary measures to protect the girl, who is autistic. Upon investigation, it was revealed that the suspicion came from a teaching assistant who said her psychic had told her that a girl with a "V" in her name was being abused by a man aged 23 to 26. Leduc now refuses to trust Victoria to public schools because "they might want to take out a Ouija board or hold a seance." [National Post (Toronto), 6-19-08]

The June transfer of a prisoner from lockup to Britain's Northampton Crown Court, just across the street, required summoning the closest prison van (57 miles away) to come give him a ride. The prisoner (accused thief Mark Bailey) could not simply be walked across the street because officials feared that public, custodial exposure (a "perp walk") would embarrass him, in violation of his "human rights." [Daily Telegraph (London), 6-6-08]

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has a longstanding policy of not co-operating with the federal government's enforcement of immigration laws, but in June that stance abruptly backfired, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report. Illegal immigrants who are minors and who committed felonies such as drug-trafficking in San Francisco have not been bound over for federal deportation but have either been quietly flown home, with an escort, at city expense, or placed in California group homes. In June, when San Bernardino County officials realized that one of its youth group homes contained drug dealers, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom halted the program and promised the city would improve its relationship with immigration officials. [San Francisco Chronicle, 6-29-08; Los Angeles Times, 7-2-08]

Police Blotter

Police, including SWAT officers, were called to an apartment in Mesa, Ariz., in June after neighbors reported a fight between a man and woman that included yelling and breaking things inside. When they arrived, they found only a 21-year-old man, conducting the fight by himself, alternating a high-pitched voice with a low-pitched one. He was referred for a medical exam. [Arizona Republic, 7-1-08]

Need for Speed: Ontario's recent law against street-racing snared two noteworthy drivers in April: a 26-year-old man who was cited when he passed a marked police car while doing 178 km/hr (106 mph) and the driver of a garbage truck, racing at 112 km/hr (double the posted speed limit). [Canwest News Service (Toronto), 4-24-08]

A 3-year-old girl was seriously injured in Huntsville, Ala., in May in a collision caused, said witnesses, by a speeding contest between two men, both employees of Comcast Corp., driving company vans. [WAFF-TV (Huntsville), 5-13-08]

Questionable Judgments

In March, a jury acquitted the former parking manager for Fresno, Calif., Bob Madewell, of all misuse-of-funds charges, including one count for reducing the minor league baseball Grizzlies' parking fees in exchange for tickets for his brother and himself, and another count in which he paid a female worker $300 in city funds to let him touch her breasts. Juror Trish Riederer, in an interview with the Fresno Bee, said she and her fellow jurors believe that Madewell did everything that prosecutors say he did but that the city did not have clear procedures in place about Madewell's scope of authority. [Fresno Bee, 3-14-08]

Teachers Out of Control: Fifth-grade teacher Susan Romanyszyn, 45, was arrested in Bucks County, Pa., in January and charged with 17 counts of threatening bombings and gun violence after she was assigned to teach fourth grade, instead. [Bucks County Courier Times, 1-31-08]

Sixth-grade teacher Roshondra Sipp of Jackson, Miss., aroused parents' ire in May for forcing the class to vote on who among them would be most likely to die young or get pregnant while still in school or get HIV or go to jail. Then, Sipp posted the results, enraging parents whose little charmers made the lists. [Clarion-Ledger (Jackson), 5-15-08]

We are the Borg!

At first I thought this is unbelievable, then I remembered its the TSA!

Then it was believable.

Homeland Security Meets The Sopranos
Annie Jacobsen

The Transportation Security Administration seems to have taken a page from the mob.“Revenge is a delicacy best served cold,” the mafia saying goes.

Recent events involving the Department of Homeland Security — a CNN reporter watch-listed and a former federal air marshal being threatened with obstruction of justice — are enough to make one ask: has the TSA been watching too much mob TV?

Last spring, shortly after airing a news report that embarrassed the TSA and the Federal Air Marshal Service, CNN’s investigative reporter Drew Griffin was suddenly placed on the TSA’s terrorist watch list. Last week, CNN ran a follow-up piece. Anderson Cooper interviewed Griffin — a reporter who had suddenly moved from telling an important story to being part of it.

The day after the Cooper-Griffin exchange, Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee (D-Texas) formally called for a probe into the TSA’s seemingly vengeful act. Jackson Lee asked DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff the following: “My question is why would Drew Griffin’s name come on the watch list, post-his investigation of TSA?” Jackson Lee said. “What is the basis of this sudden recognition that Drew Griffin is a terrorist? Are we targeting people because of their critique or criticism?”Chertoff hedged, saying it was not his “understanding the reporter was put on [the list]” but that Griffin may share a name with someone put on the list.

Which is almost impossible to believe. Unless you are willing to accept that someone else coincidentally named Drew Griffin was discovered to be a terrorist almost seven years after 9/11 but within a week or two of CNN’s March 2008 air date.To anyone who isn’t trying to finger-plug the sieve in the aviation security wall called TSA, the answer to Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee’s question is quite clearly “yes.” The TSA does target people who critique or criticize the TSA.

A look at the story behind the Drew Griffin story — that would be the original story Griffin reported on — makes this painfully clear.

Last March, in a report ironically called “Keeping Them Honest,” Drew Griffin revealed that of the 28,000 daily commercial flights, fewer than 1% are guarded by federal air marshals. Further, Griffin interviewed rank and file who revealed that morale was so low that colleagues were leaving the service in disgust. Thinner than ever on numbers, the TSA was now fast-tracking airport screeners to carry weapons on planes. Many of these screeners lacked any law enforcement experience, military training, or college degrees.

Drew Griffin’s report embarrassed the TSA. So instead of merely addressing the problem on which he reported, TSA put its resources into trying to find out who spoke to Drew Griffin.The TSA started by opening an investigation into a former federal air marshal named Jeffrey Denning. The TSA had somehow gotten hold of a personal email Denning had received from another air marshal, one who was looking for colleagues who were willing to talk to Drew Griffin at CNN. Denning did not talk to CNN — he was fighting with the Army Reserves in Iraq when the original story went down. But from Iraq, Denning forwarded the email on. That is the source of the TSA’s investigation. They want Denning to say who sent him the email.

Jeffrey Denning is a decorated former Dallas police SWAT team member, a prize-winning former federal air marshal, and a father of four. In an interview with me last week, Denning conceded that he was scared. Why is TSA inexplicably targeting him, he wants to know. Lots of people received the original email (which CNN posts here). Last week, CNN put the email’s true author, in black face, on TV. But the TSA wants the name of the email author from Denning. And the subtext is a rather mob-like “or else.”Denning explains this to me: “The fact that [TSA] would launch an official investigation of me is reason to be alarmed. Could I be charged with obstruction of justice? Is something going to happen to me if I don’t tell them who forwarded this email to me? Lots of people know who [wrote] the email, including CNN. So why are they specifically targeting me?”

It’s a good question. I asked Denning if the answer could lie in an interview he gave last year, one which embarrassed high-ranking officials not just at TSA, but DHS as a whole. He said he had not ruled that possibility out.

In “Ticket to American University or Ticket to Paradise?” this reporter chronicled Jeffrey Denning’s run-in with a watch-listed Saudi male named Anwar Al-XXXXX which occurred on October 16, 2006, at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. Al-XXXXX had entered the country on falsified documents and slipped past U.S. Customs illegally. At the time, Denning didn’t know any of this. He only knew the man was acting suspiciously — he’d left a bag in the middle of a busy concourse. So in his capacity as an air marshal, Denning questioned the man who claimed he was a University of Arkansas student but that he did not speak English.

Denning requested a field interview. Headquarters granted the interview and determined the name Anwar Al-XXXXX matched a name on the terrorist watch list. Denning and an airport police officer guarded Al-XXXXX for the next few hours while DHS agents worked behind the scenes to figure out what to do next. The Federal Air Marshal Service notified the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) about what was going on. JTTF is made up of homeland security agents, FBI agents, and local police officers, all of whom work together to deter and detect terror-related crimes. The theory behind JTTF is that by using the talents of multiple agencies — each coming at the threat with expertise in different arenas — the greatest results can be achieved. JTTF tried getting an Arabic speaker to the scene but, according to Denning, “no fluent [Arabic] speaker was around.” JTTF tried getting the bomb-sniffing dogs over to the scene to examine Al-XXXXX’s bag but, according to Denning, the dogs were “tied up with something else.” So Denning and the airport police officer searched the bag.

In interviewing federal agents for this story last year, I learned that JTTF was working to get an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent to the scene. That’s because The 9/11 Commission Report determined that examining a terror suspect’s travel documents in a situation such as this one is critical. ICE agents are the only agents trained to examine such documents; air marshals are not.

Surely, now that alarm bells have been sounded inside the uppermost echelons of six U.S. federal agencies — DHS, TSA, FAMS, ICE, JTTF, FBI — and with a match hit on a terrorist watch list, Anwar Al-XXXXX would be under intense scrutiny and taken in for further questioning. At least in theory he would be.Unfortunately, that proved to be only theory.

Denning explained what happened next: “They [i.e., DHS/JTTF and the airport police] couldn’t get an ICE agent to the scene so I was asked to examine [Al-XXXXX’s] travel documents. This struck me as odd because I have no training in examining travel documents. None of the Federal Air Marshals have received training that I’m aware of. Finally word came back from the MOC [Mission Operations Control]. They said, ‘we’ve been waiting on the FBI. We can’t get them to verify. Let him go.’”

Denning followed orders.

Watching Anwar Al-XXXXX pick up his bag and disappear into the throngs of travelers at Reagan National Airport, Denning told me that he thought to himself, “I seriously hope this guy doesn’t show up on the evening news.”Anwar Al-XXXXX did not show up on the evening news. But Jeffrey Denning did. Last week, CNN aired a three-part piece in print, on TV, and on its blog that focuses on Denning’s witch-hunt-like plight.Jeffrey Denning was originally praised by the Federal Air Marshal Service for his work. He conducted surveillance on a man in an airport who turned out to be on the terrorist watch list. Denning was given an award. “I left FAM Service on good terms,” Denning explained, “but the reason I left was because the agency was grossly mismanaged at the expense of the traveling public. I felt I could better serve elsewhere.”After leaving the Federal Air Marshal Service, Denning spoke out. Now, more than a year later, he’s the target of a federal investigation. Could the mob be right? Is revenge really best served cold?

When Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee asked DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff last week, “Are we targeting people because of their critique or criticism?” she should have also asked Secretary Chertoff if he was aware that his underlings appear to be running their federal agencies on principles that include revenge.

Two Wrongs don't make it right

Okay, how stupid is this?

Despite being told his proposed law is most likely unconstitutional he will go ahead and sponsor it.

Is he going to cover the costs of the inevitable lawsuit filed by the ACLU?

Nah, of course not. That will be paid for by the taxpayers. Hey! Here's a better idea.

Charge him with official oppression.
BTW no shooting dogs in the back of their head with lasers is allowed, despite what the sign says.

Moore lawmaker sets sights on gang members
Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY - A state lawmaker from Moore wants to make being in a gang illegal.
State Rep. Paul Wesselhoft says he wants to outlaw gangs by passing a law to enable gang members to be charged with a misdemeanor.

The Moore Republican says he realizes such a law might not pass constitutional muster, but says he plans to pursue it anyway.

An Oklahoma City police detective who heads the Oklahoma Gang Investigators Association says he endorses the proposal. Tim Hock estimates there are as many as 5,000 gang members in Oklahoma City, 2,500 in Tulsa and 1,500 in Lawton.

But Oklahoma City University law professor Andrew Spiropoulus says the U.S. Constitution forbids prosecuting a person simply for being a member of a group.

Only the Dumb need apply

What is this?

The Few, the Proud, the Stupid?

Jeeze Louise.

Ideas & Trends; Help Wanted Invoking the Not-Too-High-IQ Test

WANTED: a few not-so-bright cops.

That is the official hiring policy in this former whaling village, where Police Department officials refused to grant Robert J. Jordan a job interview because they considered him to be too smart, then waged a three-year court fight to protect their right to favor mediocre applicants.
And won.

The City of New London contends that applicants who score too high on a pre-employment test are likely to become bored in patrol jobs, and leave the force soon after the city has paid to train them. Similar cutoffs, it turns out, are frequently used by employers when they are looking for workers who must follow rigid procedures, including bank tellers, customer service representatives and security guards.

In 1996 Mr. Jordan scored 33 out of 50 on the exam, which is used by 40,000 employers across the country, including National Football League teams for potential draft choices. That was 6 points too high to qualify for an interview with the New London police.

When Mr. Jordan heard about other people being hired even though he hadn't been called, he went to the Police Department to protest that he felt sure he must have passed. He says he was curtly informed that he did not ''fit the profile,'' which litigation revealed was a score of 20 to 27.
''Bob Jordan is exactly the type of guy we would want to screen out,'' said William C. Gavitt, the deputy police chief, who interviews candidates. ''Police work is kind of mundane. We don't deal in gunfights every night. There's a personality that can take that.''

This month, a Federal judge in New Haven has ruled that the practice was constitutional since the city treats all smart would-be officers the same, and thus did not discriminate against Mr. Jordan. ''Plaintiff may have been disqualified unwisely but he was not denied equal protection,'' Judge Peter C. Dorsey of the United States District Court wrote.

Mr. Jordan, 48, is a life-insurance salesman who had dreamed of a second career protecting and serving, with an eye on the pension. He said he was astounded that he could be shut out on the basis of brain power, but not gender, sexual orientation or race.

''Being reasonably intelligent does not make you part of a protected class,'' he said, chuckling at his new command of legalese. For a certified wise man, Mr. Jordan is remarkably modest about his academic achievements, volunteering that it took him 26 years to get a bachelor's degree in literature from Charter Oak State College in New Britain, Conn. ''I'm eminently trainable,'' he said. ''I'm not up there with Mozart.''

At first the decision was greeted as a great punch line in New London, a city of 27,000. But as the news sunk in, many people said the rule was insulting to their police force, and nonsensical at a time when law-enforcement officers must deal with complicated social problems.

''Your average dunderhead is not the person you want to try to solve a fight between a man and his wife at 2 A.M.,'' said Nick Checker, 35, a local playwright. ''I'd rather have them hire the right man or woman for the job and keep replacing them than have the same moron for 20 years.'' Millie McLaughlin, 82, the lunch lady at Harbor Elementary School, worries that pupils will think that ''if they study too hard, they won't get a job.''

And Gilbert G. Gallegos, the national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said that besides reinforcing keystone Kop stereotypes, the city's stance was self-defeating. ''The better the caliber of the police officer, the fewer problems you have in the community.''

Mr. Jordan had run afoul of turnover rates, which have been the subject of decades of study by management theorists. The publisher of the test, Wonderlic Inc. of Libertyville, Ill., has a section in its ''User's Manual'' warning clients about the cost of replacing workers who quit because they become dissatisfied with repetitive work. ''Simply hiring the highest scoring employee can be self-defeating,'' the manual says.

Wonderlic's president, Charles F. Wonderlic Jr., said variations of the 12-minute test used in New London have been given to 125 million people since his grandfather founded the company in 1937. Mr. Wonderlic said hundreds of employers have used his suggested maximum scores to exclude overly qualified applicants for positions where creativity could be a detriment. ''You can't decide not to read someone their Miranda rights because you felt it would be more efficient, or you thought they knew them already,'' Mr. Wonderlic said.

On the other hand, an expert witness for Mr. Jordan was paid $350 an hour for his conclusion that patrol work is ''cognitively complex and intellectually demanding.'' The expert, Frank J. Landy, a psychologist in Walnut Creek, Calif., pointed to the demands of such modern practices as community-oriented policing as an indication of ''the range and challenge of tasks performed by a typical patrol officer.''

Mr. Jordan said he would appeal the ruling if his lawyers are willing to continue the case now that he has used up his savings. In the meantime, he is supplementing his insurance business by working for $26,000 a year -- $15,000 less than he would make as a New London patrolman -- as a state prison guard. ''In those dormitories, there's 110 inmates and one of you,'' he said. ''Your mouth better be connected to your brain.''

While those with badges and guns are called New York's finest, they will continue to be New London's fair to middling: New London officials say they plan to keep using the test to fend off smarty-pants.

Big brother is suing

Wow, this seems to be the prelude to the "Big Chill".

Write about me and I will sue you to get to the names of those who write about me?

Seems he's made their point the easy way.

Police director sues for critical bloggers' names
Site popular with citizens, officers
By Amos Maki (Contact), Memphis Commercial Appeal

Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin and the city of Memphis have filed a lawsuit to learn who operates a blog harshly critical of Godwin and his department.

The lawsuit asks AOL to produce all information related to the identity of an e-mail address linked to MPD Enforcer 2.0, a blog popular with police officers that has been extremely critical of police leadership at 201 Poplar.

"In what could be a landmark case of privacy and the 1st Amendment," the anonymous bloggers write on the site, "Godwin has illegally used his position and the City of Memphis as a ram to ruin the Constitution of the United States.

Some members of the Enforcer 2.0 have contacted their attorneys and we are in the process of filing a lawsuit against Larry and the City of Memphis. What's wrong Larry? The truth hurt?"

It wasn't clear if the lawsuit is aimed at shutting down the site or if it's part of an effort to stop leaks that might affect investigations.

Many of the documents in the case, filed in Chancery Court on July 10, have been sealed by Chancellor Kenny Armstrong. Police officials would not discuss the action, citing pending litigation.
Whatever the reason, Internet and free-speech advocates said they had serious problems with the city's actions.

"You can complain about the government, and you should be able to do that without fear of retaliation or threatening actions on the part of the people in these positions," said Lillie Coney, associate director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington-based watchdog group. "I guess they've kind of annoyed them at some level, but you really don't want to see law enforcement or government resources spent in this way."

AOL has been ordered to turn over similar records in the past.

In 2001, Japanese company Nam Tai filed a complaint in California state court against unknown Web posters claiming they committed libel and violated the state's unfair business practices statute.

Nam Tai was able to obtain the e-mail address of one of the posters and then obtained a subpoena from a Virginia state court to AOL seeking the name behind the e-mail address.
AOL filed a motion to have the order quashed, but lost that bid in trial court and the Supreme Court of Virginia.

Officials with the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee said they will be watching the case closely and that anonymous speech is essential to the free flow of ideas in a democracy.
"We are quite interested in preserving the anonymity of the bloggers," said Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee. "Anonymous speech has long been protected speech under the First Amendment."

The bloggers, who operate under the name of Dirk Diggler -- the name of the porn star in "Boogie Nights" -- say their site provides an important service to officers and citizens.
"This is another attempt at disrupting an outlet for officers to gather and complain about the administration," they said on the site.
"Further, this allows us unrestricted communication with the citizens of Memphis. The citizens should be made aware of the scandals that rock the administration and shudder the rocky foundation in which they operate today."

The bloggers also said city attorneys earlier this year wrote a threatening letter on city letterhead to a company that produced T-shirts for the bloggers.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Electrifying news!

Hey! Even with the pay cut I'd still take a position as a board member.

Not bad pay for part-time "work".

Electric co-op board members cut own pay
Roger Croteau - Express-News

Board members at the Pedernales Electric Cooperative voted to cut their compensation package by more than 40 percent at their Monday meeting.

The move came after the board’s compensation committee presented a report recommending a 22 percent cut.

Board members will get a monthly fee of $1,500, plus $750 for attending regular meetings and $500 per committee meeting. The original recommendation from the committee was for a $2,000 monthly pay and meeting fees of $750.

“It is beholden on us to make a statement to our membership,” said Director Patrick Cox. “Every business I know, every family I know, is making belt-tightening decisions. We need to make a substantive reduction.”

The board also eliminated PEC’s payment of all health, dental and life insurance benefits for board members and their dependents.

As a result, the average board member’s compensation is expected to drop from $49,800 last year to about $29,000. By comparison, the average board compensation for the largest electric cooperatives in Texas is about $31,000 a year, and for the group of the largest electrical cooperatives in the nation, it is about $65,000 a year.

The move comes after a spring board election that put four new members on the board.
PEC has 223,000 members in an area that covers 8,100 square miles, and includes portions of Comal, Blanco and Hays counties.

PEC, the nation’s largest electric cooperative, was embroiled in controversy over pay and benefits for directors and management last year.

A lawsuit by members was settled in March, calling for PEC to begin paying capital credits to members and have an independent audit conducted. The cooperative also reformed its board election process and its longtime general manager resigned.

Perception can become "reality"

What a mess.

Justice should be blind and appearences of impropriety can raise questions concerning the system.

Not commenting on what is going on there as I do not know the facts just stating what should be the obvious.

Racial issue raised in Atlantic City prosecution
By WAYNE PARRY Associated Press Writer

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) -- As one notorious Atlantic City corruption case nears its end, another is heating up.

Former mayor Robert Levy was scheduled to be sentenced Friday in Camden for lying about his Vietnam War service to obtain additional veterans benefits. Meanwhile, an alleged blackmail scheme involving city councilmen was roiling along the Jersey shore.

In the latest scandal, some claim that a white councilman is being treated more leniently than his black co-defendants in a case of attempted blackmail involving a videotaped sex romp.

Councilman John Schultz is one of several current and former city officials charged in the November 2006 attempted blackmail of Councilman Eugene Robinson, who was lured to a motel room and secretly videotaped having sex with a prostitute.

The aim of the alleged plot was to force Robinson to resign, prosecutors say. He contacted authorities instead.

Schultz is accused of referring former Council President Craig Callaway - who was awaiting sentencing for unrelated federal corruption charges at the time - to someone who could help him edit the videotape. Two of Callaway's brothers, as well as a close friend, are also charged in the case. Schultz is white; the others are black.

Prosecutors offered to let Craig Callaway plead guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit invasion of privacy, and to be sentenced to up to four years in prison - a deal he rejected. He is already serving three years and four months in federal prison for taking bribes while in office.
Schultz has applied to enter the state's pretrial intervention program, which allows nonviolent first-offenders to complete a period of supervision and avoid a criminal conviction.

If accepted into the program, Schultz would not be required to forfeit his council seat.
That has infuriated not only his black co-defendants, but also many in the predominantly black city.

"Everyone else in the case of African-American descent is being treated differently," said Steve Young, an official with the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "It shouldn't matter how much you pay your lawyer or what color you are: Right is right, and wrong is wrong. This is selective prosecution of African-Americans in our community, and it's a slap in our face."

During several court appearances, David and Ronald Callaway protested having to stand in the courtroom and be photographed by the media while Schultz was not required to be present.
Schultz did not return a call left at his City Hall office. His lawyer, Edwin Jacobs, would not discuss specifics of the case.

Robinson's lawyer, Joseph Levin, wrote to state and federal prosecutors, objecting to the way Schultz's case is being handled. He cited the cases of a former Atlantic City school board president and a city public works official who were required to step down after pleading guilty or being convicted of crimes.

"What is the difference between those defendants and Councilman Schultz's present situation?" Levin wrote. "Sadly, the only perceivable difference is that the above defendants are African-American, whereas Councilman Schultz is white. That is the perception. ... Such perception is a crushing blow to those of us who still believe that justice is blind."

The Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office said in an e-mail Thursday to The Associated Press that it has not decided whether to accept Schultz into the pretrial intervention program. It denied that race had anything to do with how the case is being handled.

Stop drinking and driving folks! Please?

Thank God no one was killed.

Please stop drinking and driving out there.

New Braunfels woman charged after wreck
By Mitzie Stelte

A New Braunfels woman was arrested for intoxication assault Wednesday evening after a vehicle wreck on Farm-to Market 725 left a 3-year-old in critical condition. Constanza Yoder, 51, was driving a 2006 Dodge Stratus southbound near the 2200 block of FM 725 when she drove into the northbound lane and collided head-on with a 1992 Ford Taurus, according to New Braunfels police.

The Taurus’ driver was a 27-year-old female from New Braunfels with her three daughters, ages 3, 4 and 9. New Braunfels police responded at 6:23 p.m., and officials said Yoder was found to be under the influence of alcohol.

The driver and two of the children were transported to University Hospital by New Braunfels EMS, according to the NBPD. At about 9:15 p.m. Wednesday night, University Hospital listed the 9-year-old female in stable condition and the 3 year-old female in critical condition; the mother received minor injuries.

New Braunfels police declined to release the victim’s names or further information about their conditions.

According to Sgt. Mike Penshorn, Yoder, who was being held at the Guadalupe County jail Thursday, was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in June. Intoxication Assault is a third degree felony punishable by between two and 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Shall we play Thermonuclear war?

Getting a mite bit complacent with them codes, aren't we?

Jeeze Louise!

Air Force Missile Launch Crew Falls Asleep on the Job

WASHINGTON — Three ballistic missile crew members fell asleep while holding classified missile launch codes two weeks ago in North Dakota, the Air Force said Thursday.
The error triggered a military investigation, which found the codes were not compromised.
But the July 12 incident comes on the heels of a series of missteps by the Air Force that already had put the service under intense scrutiny.

In this case, officials said the crew members reported themselves for the violation of procedure. The crew members apparently were leaving the control center at the end of their shift and took a set of old codes, which are typically replaced after every shift, to a rest area in the facility. Rather than proceeding back to Minot Air Force Base to dispose of the codes, they fell asleep.
Air Force officials said the deactivated codes were not at risk of being lost or stolen and that they were always contained at a secure facility.

But the Air Force did not initially make the incident public, and on Thursday the Project on Government Oversight issued a report saying the Air Force base was on "security lockdown" after discovering a "nuclear weapon launch code" missing.

The Air Force denies the base ever was locked down.
"This was just a procedural violation that we investigated," said Air Force Col. Dewey Ford, a spokesman at Patterson Air Force Base in Colorado. "We determined that there was no compromise."

The incident was serious enough, however, to prompt an investigation by the 91st Missile Wing, in conjunction with codes experts at the 20th Air Force, U.S. Strategic Command and the National Security Agency.

Ford and other Air Force officials said the Minot Air Force-based crew had code devices that were no longer usable, since new codes had been installed in the missiles.
The three crew members, who are in the 91st Missile Wing, were in the missile alert facility about 70 miles from Minot. That facility includes crew rest areas and sits above the underground control center where the actual keys can be turned to launch the ballistic missiles.There are no nuclear weapons on site.

Officials said the three officers were behind locked doors and had with them the old code components, which are large classified devices that allow the crew to communicate with the missiles. Launch codes are part of the component.
"They were awaiting to get back to base and they fell asleep," Ford said.
It delivers another blow to the beleaguered Air Force.

Missouri Rep. Ike Skelton, the Democratic chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, released a statement Thursday saying the report was "very troubling."
"There are many reasons why procedures are in place to govern strict control of our nuclear arsenal. The new Air Force leadership, when confirmed, must take decisive and urgent steps to restore the culture of respect that our strategic weapons deserve and our national security demands. This trend is unacceptable," he said.

Last month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced a sweeping shake-up of the Air Force leadership, blaming them for failing to fully address a series of nuclear-related mishaps.
At the time, Gates said his decisions to sack the Air Force secretary and chief of staff were based mainly on the blistering conclusions of an internal report on the mistaken shipment to Taiwan of four Air Force fusing devices for ballistic missile nuclear warheads.

He also said leadership failure ultimately was behind an August incident in which a B-52 bomber was mistakenly armed with six nuclear warheads and flown from Minot Air Force Base to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

No one has yet to be punished in this latest Minot incident. A continuing review by Minot commanders will determine what, if any, actions will be taken against the crew members.
The investigation concluded that the codes had remained secured in their containers, which have combination locks that can only be opened by the crew. The containers remained with the crew at all times.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bad vibes

I feel badly for this couple.

I hope they discover what's causing the vibrations and noise.

Mystery vibrations have Green Bay couple spinning
By Paul Srubas • •

Bob and Leona Ehrfurth are very sensitive to the possibility that people might think they're crazy.
For the record, they're not — but they are being driven that way.

For two years now, the Ehrfurths have been enduring an annoying, persistent noise in their home — a low, motor-like rumble accompanied by a vibration. They can't figure out what's causing it, and it's been a challenge getting others to believe them because the problem starts and stops.

They've lived in the house at 2048 Mary Queen Road for 42 years, and it's only been the last two years that it's been a problem.
"It's like there's a semi parked right outside with the engine running, but when you look out, there isn't one," said Leona Ehrfurth, 76.

And it quits at the most inconvenient times. Like when they bring city officials, acoustic experts or news reporters into their house to experience the problem.

City officials spent $1,000 to hire a company to do some testing this spring; the tester heard no noise, and his equipment failed to measure vibration of any significance.

Nicholson hoped the equipment could be used inside one of the factories in the general neighborhood, but Municipal Judge Jerry Hanson wouldn't sign the inspection warrant that would allow that.

"There has to be some reasonable suspicion of some type of violation you could point to," Hanson said. "Nobody's been able to come up with anything that would point to anything specific."
"Now they KNOW we're crazy," Bob Ehrfurth, 75, grumbled after explaining how a technical expert installed vibration-monitoring equipment in their house and failed to measure anything of significance.

"Imagine putting your pillow on the hood of a running car — you can't sleep through that," Leona Ehrfurth said. "You get this pressure in your ear. Sometimes I have to get out of the house, because I can't take it anymore."

Bob Ehrfurth can sleep through it, but he doesn't like it.
"It doesn't matter if the windows are open or closed — you still hear it," he said. "It's worse in the winter."

Although the two aren't in the best of health, the problem is not with them because when they leave, they don't hear the noise, Bob Ehrfurth said.

The Ehrfurths' immediate neighbors haven't complained about the noise, but the Ehrfurths have had a few people admit hearing the noise. An engineering teacher told the city's Protection & Welfare Committee he tried to help the Ehrfurths investigate the matter, and said he experienced a throbbing sensation in his ears while in the neighborhood and in their house. A resident from about a mile away made similar complaints.

"Yeah, I've experienced it," said Alderman Andy Nicholson, who has been trying to help the Ehrfurths. "It's like an engine thing, a low-frequency vibration. I think it would be an annoyance."

But the source remains a mystery.

The Ehrfurths said they started hearing the noise shortly after St. Bernard's Parish, directly across the street from them, redid its roofing, chimney and ductwork on the wing of its school building. But parish staff members proved to the Ehrfurths that their building wasn't the source when they shut off all of their equipment and the noise continued.

The frustration as well as the annoyance of the noise itself has driven Leona Ehrfurth to tears. She broke down at two public meetings as she tried to explain it.

"He's 75 and I'm 76, and we're both failing fast," she said. "I can't take it. I try to stay in bed, but I get such a bad headache, I can't take it. I have to hang out in the basement or try sleeping in the sunroom (where the noise is less bothersome).

"We could move, but why should we have to? We didn't cause it."

Now who can you trust?

I guess this is one way a bank can manage to survive the credit crisis.

Hand out fake money.

Bank Gave Counterfeit Bills, Couple Says
Different Customer Given Refund After Fake Money Claim, Report Says

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A couple has contacted the Secret Service claiming a Central Florida bank gave them 10 counterfeit bills during a transaction.

IMAGES: Fake $100 Bills Surface

Ulises Garcia said he was withdrawing cash from a Wachovia Bank and depositing it into a Bank of America so he could pay his bills online.

However, the Bank of America teller noticed something funny about 10 of the 36 $100 bills Garcia said he received from Wachovia Bank -- they were counterfeit, Local 6's Tony Pipitone reported.

However, the bank has not given Garcia or his fiancé, Joann Rodriguez, any money.
"We have big plans," Rodriguez said. "We were planning to get married in about two or three months."
"And this money's pretty important?" Pipitone asked.
"Very important," Rodrguez said. "It's a big part of our wedding."
"It is really frustrating for us," Garcia said. "The bank is not doing anything about it. (It's) just not giving us any solutions at all."

A Wachovia representative said it will not refund any money because it can't verify the $1,000 in counterfeit notes were the same bills Garcia was handed by their teller.

But weeks later, Wachovia did refund $40 to another customer with a similar story, Local 6 has learned.

Garcia said Wachovia is ripping him off and has alerted the sheriff's office, the Secret Service and the media.

"Ten (bills) in one transaction to come from one bank, that is definitely unusual," U.S. Secret Service representative Jim Glendinning said.
"But is it possible?" Pipitone asked.
"Remotely, yes it is," Glendinning said.

Glendinning said he was not surprised the Bank of America caught the counterfeits but wondered how a Wachovia could pass the bills unless a bank employee was in on it, Pipitone reported.

The United States Secret Service Web site shows people how to detect counterfeit money.