Latest Entries »
$10G to watch grass grow: Coburn report details worst examples of gov’t waste
As American taxpayers worried about the terror threat from the Islamic State, the crisis at the border and the economy, the U.S. government spent their money to give rabbits massages, to teach sea monkeys to synchronize swim and to literally watch grass grow.
These and other examples of wasteful government spending were detailed by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn in his annual “Wastebook,” his final edition since he is retiring early next year.
“I have learned from these experiences that Washington will never change itself,” Coburn, R-Okla., said in a statement. “But even if the politicians won’t stop stupid spending, taxpayers always have the last word.”
The first example cited in the report is the millions spent on what one attorney called the government’s “dirty little secret”: paid administrative leave for troublesome employees. Workers who were placed on leave for disciplinary reasons, such as misconduct, security concerns or criminal issues, received $20 million while on leave this year.
These workers, according to Coburn, were essentially on a paid vacation that can last for months or years. The GAO also detailed this phenomenon in a report Monday. According to the GAO, during a three-year period more than 57,000 employees were placed on leave for 30 days or more, costing taxpayers $775 million in salary alone.
Another wasteful project with a big price tag is the Pentagon’s plan to destroy $16 billion in military-grade ammunition that it deems no longer useful. Sounds pricey, right? Well add in the fact that on top of that, the feds plan to spend $1 billion just to destroy the ammo.
“The amount of surplus ammunition is now so large that the cost of destroying it will equal the full years’ salary for over 54,000 Army privates,” the report notes.
Other examples vary from the serious, to the aggravating, to just plain bizarre. One that takes the cake is the $10,000 the government spent to watch grass grow — seriously.
That project is the brainchild of the Department of Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is paying for the growth of the smooth cordgrass to be observed on a Florida reserve. The money covers “the cost to monitor grasses, restore two acres as a demonstration and publish a guide on best practices for cultivating the cordgrass, known formally as Spartina alterniflora.”
Still more examples show that while some Americans are struggling to make ends meet in a rough economy, there is a group in the U.S. getting major perks: animals.
In one instance, the government shelled out $387,000 to provide rabbits with a relaxing daily massage. The critters were treated to a “mechanical device that simulates the long, flowing strokes used in Swedish massages” to study the effect of massages on exercise recovery, according to the report.
Another animal getting a fun extracurricular activity courtesy of the U.S. taxpayers are sea monkeys. The government dropped $50,000 on a project to study the swirl of sea monkeys’ collective movements. The researchers did so by choreographing a synchronized swimming routine for the tiny shrimp.
The government also spent $856,000 to throw mountain lions on a treadmill and $171,000 to watch monkeys gamble. They also spent $331,000 on a study that led to a mind-blowing discovery, that “hungry people get cranky and aggressive.”
“With no one watching over the vast bureaucracy, the problem is not just what Washington isn’t doing, but what it is doing.” Coburn said in the statement. “Only someone with too much of someone else’s money and not enough accountability for how it was being spent could come up some of these projects.”
Other notable examples include $90 million spent to promote U.S. culture around the world, $414,000 spent on a U.S. Army video game that some in the intelligence community have worried could inadvertently train terrorists and $4.6 million spent on “lavish” homes to house Border Patrol agents in areas temporarily.
Coburn, known as “Dr. No” for his strong stance against excess spending in Washington, announced in January he is retiring from the Senate early due to ongoing health issues. The Republican had already announced he would not seek reelection but decided to leave his term two years early, in January 2014.
A Coburn spokesperson told FoxNews.com that the senator has said that answers about if and how the “Wastebook” will continue will have to wait until next year. The spokesperson said Coburn hopes every lawmaker will make monitoring government waste a priority, but that one does not have to be a current lawmaker to do so.’
October 15, 2014
A feminist writer and critic of video games has canceled a scheduled talk at a Utah university after learning that the school would allow firearms where she was speaking despite receiving an anonymous mass shooting threat.
Anita Sarkeesian was scheduled to speak on the depiction of women in video games at Utah State University in Logan Wednesday morning. However, on Tuesday, the university received an anonymous e-mail from someone claiming to be a student at the university who threatened to carry out a mass shooting if the event was held.
University spokesman Tim Vitale says the FBI told school officials the threat was consistent with ones Sarkeesian receives when she gives speeches elsewhere.
The university consulted with federal and state law enforcement and had determined it was safe to go ahead with the presentation.
A university statement said that Sarkeesian asked if guns would be permitted at the venue where she was speaking and was informed that they would be, in compliance with the state’s open carry law passed in 2004.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Sarkeesian tweeted that she requested that the school install metal detectors or require officers to search people as they entered the venue. The paper reported that the school offered to increase security and ban backpacks from the venue, but would not ban guns. In response, Sarkeesian decided to cancel her scheduled appearance.
Never miss another election again with California’s new voter registration technologiesand permanent vote by-mail balloting! The power to win elections is in your hands.The general election on November 4 is less than a month away and California CANNOT afford to have any more anti-gun state legislators elected into office.
Print out a complete copy of all races go here:
Many Californians who believe in the right to keep and bear arms mistakenly believe that their vote won’t make a difference. They are wrong! Becoming a permanent vote by-mail voter helps increase voter turnout significantly enough to swing elections! If every single gun owner and believer in the right to keep and bear arms registered to vote and always voted by mail, we could turn back the onslaught of gun bans coming from state and local politicians in California.
If you are not a registered voter, please click here. After you register to vote, you can become a permanent vote by-mail voter at www.sos.ca.gov/elections/vote-by-mail/pdf/fill-in-vote-by-mail-app-instruct.pdf.
If you are already registered to vote and would like to use the convenience of voting by mail, please click here.
The last day to register to vote in the 2014 general election is October 20.
The last day to apply to vote by mail is October 28.
Register to vote now and help the Second Amendment in California! California is living proof of the truth of the slippery slope of ever-expanding gun bans. But if every gun owner and Second Amendment supporter voted in every election, the tide would be turned! Help make it happen – Register to Vote Today!
Don’t wait to the last day to exercise your important right to vote, because our right to vote is what is needed to save our right to keep and bear arms!
“Criminal” and “terrorism” concerns lead Home Office to change guidelines to support police knocking on lawful shooters’ doors
Police concern that members of the shooting community may be “vulnerable to criminal or terrorist groups” has prompted the Home Office to update its firearms guidance to support forces in England and Wales in their intention to start making unannounced home visits to legitimate gun owners.
The policy, which is effective from today, has been introduced ostensibly to ensure certificate holders are complying with firearms security measures — this is despite the fact that the Home Office’s own figures show that theft of guns is not a widespread concern. On average, in the past five years, annually just 0.025 per cent of the 1,837,243 legally held firearms and shotguns in England and Wales were stolen — an average of just 475 guns per year. The figures are not broken down to indicate whether a firearm was stolen from a home, military or commercial environment or whether it was stolen in transit. Despite such low figures and little evidence of a genuine problem, a dedicated Crimestoppers hotline has also been launched “to encourage members of the shooting community and the general public to report any concerns about legally held firearms”. BASC called the hotline “unnecessary and inappropriate”. The Countryside Alliance has launched an e-campaign for shooters to call on their MP to oppose the police campaign which, it says “encourages an untrusting and vindictive attitude from your friends and neighbours”.
Chief Constable Andy Marsh, the national policing lead for firearms and explosives licensing, called on the shooting community to lend its support to the new measures, saying: “The public and especially the shooting community can greatly assist the police in gathering intelligence and protecting our communities by being vigilant around firearms licensing. The shooting community is close, and will recognise sudden behavioural changes in fellow shooters that could cause concerns. However, they may not feel like they can act and the Crimestoppers hotline empowers people to voice concerns anonymously.”
He added: “If you are concerned that guns are being kept insecurely or notice signs that shooters may be vulnerable to criminal or terrorist groups or have shown sympathy towards extremist acts, please report it.”
The new Home Office guidance states: “Where it is judged necessary, based on specific intelligence in light of a particular threat, or risk of harm, the police may undertake an unannounced home visit to check the security of a certificate holder’s firearms and shotguns. It is not expected that the police will undertake an unannounced home visit at an unsocial hour unless there is a justified and specific requirement to do so on the grounds of crime prevention or public safety concerns, and the police judge that this action is both justified and proportionate.”
Importantly, shooters must understand that no new power of entry has been conferred on the police or police staff, and those undertaking a visit must provide “a clear and reasoned explanation” for doing so.
In launching the measure, Chief Constable Marsh stressed that the police’s intention is not to “catch out gun owners”. He said: “I know that the vast majority of gun owners understand their responsibility to secure firearms and in the main take this very seriously, which allows their continued lawful use for work or leisure purposes.”
BASC’s Richard Ali stated that the association backs the police in their efforts to help firearms certificate holders “maintain the excellent record of safety and security in England and Wales”. He added: “Where there is specific intelligence of threat, risk or harm then the police should act.”
The Countryside Alliance has called ACPO’s campaign to target the legitimate shooting community over security concerns “unjustified and ill-judged”. The CA’s director of campaigns, Tim Bonner, said: “This campaign is exactly the sort of knee-jerk reaction to an unrelated problem that the Government had promised to avoid. It is unjustified and ill-judged, and will serve only to waste police resources and alienate a large and law abiding section of the community.
“The public appeal for information about certificate holders through Crimestoppers will encourage malicious complaints and the link made with radicalisation and terrorism is insulting and ridiculous. We have not been made aware of a single recent incident in which a licence holder has misused a firearm in pursuit of an extremist agenda.”
This latest move follows on from the introduction last year of Operation Solitaire, a community engagement project which is, according to the police, “aimed at reducing the vulnerability of those with legitimate access to firearms, to using these weapons illegally.” The operation’s target audience includes people who have “regular interaction with holders of firearms and shotgun certificates”.
Police firearms enquiry officers and neighbourhood officers have visited shooting clubs and registered firearms dealers in recent months to highlight concerns surrounding the potential for terrorists or mass killers to exist within the shooting community.
One gun club member recently wrote in an online forum for armed services personnel that his personal experience of the Operation Solitaire initiative was: “the crappiest attempt by the plod at getting us to grass each other up as lone wolf killers”.
BASC’s advice on home visits:
The BASC is advising members to ensure their security arrangements are up to standard. The association is reminding shooters that the police are required to provide a clear and reasoned explanation to certificate holders at the time of an unannounced visit. Shooters should be left in no doubt as to why the visit is being made. The association has reiterated that the police DO NOT have an automatic statutory right of entry, but BASC recommends a sensible and co-operative approach to this type of situation.
BASC states: “It is possible that the reason for visiting may not be specifically about the certificate holder but may relate to other factors such as local rural or urban crime. There is an expectation of elementary co-operation from certificate holders following a reasonable request to check the security of your firearms.”
If shooters feel that any visit has not been undertaken properly, they should first draw this to the attention of the local force, clearly stating the reasons why they believe this to be the case. BASC has also stated that it will challenge robustly any police force which does not correctly follow the Home Office guidelines.
Oregon gov’s fiancee reportedly helped buy land to grow marijuana in 1997
First she admitted being part of a fraudulent green-card marriage — now, a new report says Cylvia Hayes, fiancee of Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, partnered to buy land intended for an illegal marijuana growing operation in 1997.
KOIN-TV reported late Monday that Hayes bought the $245,000 property in Washington state with another man using a $15,000 down payment in November of that year. The man who sold the couple the land told the station that they soon stopped making payments and records showed that Hayes gave up her interest in the property in April 1998. She moved to Oregon three months later.
Hayes issued a statement saying that she was “not proud of that brief period of time” and claimed that “I was involved in an abusive relationship with a dangerous man.” KION reports that the ex-boyfriend, whose name has not been released, has a history of domestic violence convictions.
Last week, Hayes admitted that she was paid to enter a fraudulent marriage to help an Ethiopian immigrant remain in the United States, also in 1997. She’s also under fire for earning money from organizations seeking to influence state policy.
The man who sold Hayes and her then-boyfriend the land, a real estate broker named Patrick Siemion, told KOIN, “There was somewhat of a leader-follower [dynamic] there, and she was leading and the gentleman was following.”
“She did all the talking, all the negotiating,” Siemion told The Oregonian. “I remember her saying, `Oh this is just the perfect place, we’re so happy to have it.'”
Hayes said she was never financially involved in the marijuana grow, and shortly after moving there “began to make plans to get away.
“I did not pay any part of the down payment or mortgage payments,” she said. “I had no money. The money I had received in July 1997 for entering a fraudulent marriage was used as I have previously stated — to purchase a laptop and pay school expenses.”
Siemion told The Oregonian that he found marijuana trimmings in an upstairs bedroom after the property went into foreclosure. He said he did not see marijuana plants but found fertilizer and irrigation tubing that he considered evidence of a grow.
Hayes got engaged over the summer to Kitzhaber, the Democratic governor who is seeking a fourth term in next month’s election.
Kitzhaber’s Republican rival, state Rep. Dennis Richardson, has tried to keep the focus on Hayes’ consulting work, arguing that Hayes’ outside work is part of a pattern of missteps that show Kitzhaber’s administration is “inept and unethical.”
Kitzhaber on Monday asked a state commission for a formal opinion on whether Hayes is subject to state ethics laws and, if so, whether she’s broken them.
Kitzhaber says his office has taken care to make sure that Hayes’ consulting work doesn’t pose a conflict of interest, including proactively reviewing her contracts before she agreed to work. But all three contracts made public by the governor’s office were reviewed only after they went into effect.
A decision by the Oregon Government Ethics Commission is unlikely to come before the election. The commission can take up to 120 days to respond, and there are no scheduled meetings before the Nov. 4 election.
Before Kitzhaber was elected governor, Hayes ran a consulting business, 3E Strategies, that worked on renewable energy issues. As first lady, she’s taken a public and active role, advising the governor on energy policy while advocating programs that reduce hunger and poverty. She’s uncompensated and has continued her outside consulting.
The governor’s office has released copies of three contracts from 2013 worth nearly $86,000, along with draft and final conflict disclosure forms. The drafts, dated in July 2013, suggest Hayes couldn’t use her first lady title in her consulting work or any state facilities, including Mahonia Hall, the governor’s official residence.
But the final versions of the documents include exceptions, allowing Hayes to call herself first lady in “a biographical profile” and use Mahonia Hall for meetings on contracts already obtained.
Rachel Wray, a spokeswoman for Kitzhaber’s office, said the documents were changed after Hayes “asked for clarification.”
Oct. 12, 2014
This significant golf outing took place at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The president has been criticized frequently for playing the game amid national and global crises.
On Sunday a second U.S. Ebola diagnosis was reported.
In August, Obama came under fire for golfing shortly after speaking about the beheading of an American journalist by the Islamic State.
In 2008 Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush told Politico the reason why he stopped playing golf five years earlier: “I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.”
But last year Bush said Obama should not be criticized for playing golf.
Not everyone is as charitable, however.
“The president’s 200th trip to an oasis of fairways comes at a particularly turbulent time,” veteran White House correspondent Keith Koffler wrote on his website White House Dossier.
“The usual problems – an uncertain economy that may or may not be gaining its footing, stagnant wages, low work force participation, Iran on the cusp of a nuclear weapon, and soaring U.S. debt – are all present,” Koffler continued. “But as he strolls about the course today, Obama now also finds himself waging war with merciless (Islamic) terrorists raging across Iraq and Syria like a wildfire, confronting the 21st century version of the Bubonic Plague, and facing the revived threat of a major terrorist attack.”
Even at this rate of golfing (which averages about 33 games a year), Obama won’t break any presidential records for the frequency of his outings.
President Dwight Eisenhower golfed 800 times over his eight years in office, while President Woodrow Wilson golfed 1,600 times in eight years, according to Don Van Natta Jr.’s book on presidential golfing, “First Off the Tee.”
A Wisconsin woman who fell for the “Microsoft scam” last month found a relatively happy ending to her story: the scammer hasn’t been identified or caught, but a police officer with good computer skills was able to undo most of the damage he caused.
The Microsoft scam is simply a brand-specific version of the “tech support scam,” which usually works like this: the scammers contact the victim over the phone, pretending to be tech-support personnel from Microsoft or any other tech company big enough to have a customer-support staff. (If they try using email to reach you, then technically they’re attempting a “phishing” scam rather than a “tech-support” scam. Regardless of the label, the scammers have the same basic goals, and you need to be wary of them all.)
The faux-Microsoft scammers will tell you they’ve discovered a security flaw in your computer’s Microsoft operating system, but they can fix it for you, right now, provided you give them remote access to your computer.
Of course, if you go along with their suggestion, it will end badly for you. The single most important rule to protect yourself from phishing, tech-support and similar scams, is “Don’t call me; I’ll call you.”
Calls from the blue
In other words: if you personally notice a problem with, say, your Microsoft system or Netflix account, and want to contact Microsoft or Netflix to complain about the problem, that’s fine. But if someone claiming to represent Microsoft, Netflix or any other company calls you, out of the blue, offering to fix some problem you never even knew you had — don’t believe it. That’s not a Microsoft staffer or Netflix security expert on the phone; that’s a scammer trying to ensnare you.
Sometimes the scammers are trying to plant various forms of malware on your computer — anything from spy software that monitors your personal computer activity, to zombie software that takes over your computer and uses it to send phishing spam or malware viruses to still more people, usually without you even realizing it.
But last month, an unnamed woman in Madison, Wisconsin fell for a Microsoft scammer who essentially tried holding some of her key files for ransom.
News source Channel3000.com reported this week that a man claiming to be from Microsoft called her and asked for remote access to her laptop. Once he got it, he deleted certain files and demanded she use her credit card to pay him $200 if she wanted them back.
She did not give him her credit card information, and did call Madison police; an officer was eventually able to restore her deleted files.
But the scammer is still out there, and probably still calling potential victims. If anyone claiming to be from Microsoft calls you about a supposed problem, hang up at once, the same way you’d hang up on any so-called tech-support person who expects you to ignore the anti-scam security rule “Don’t call me; I’ll call you.”
California’s governor vetoed a measure regulating homemade firearms but signed a trio of other anti-gun bills into law Tuesday, including one to implement an expanded series of gun seizure orders for those believed by friends or family to pose a danger to the community.
The three bills that were approved make California the first state to codify the practice of so-called “Gun Violence Restraining Orders,” add more marking requirements to airsoft guns, and place increased regulations on bringing firearms in from other states. However, many are taking as a “win” for gun rights Brown’s veto of one bill, SB808, that would have banned the transfer, and inheritance of home-built firearms as well as required serial numbers to be retroactively applied to these guns, referred to famously as “ghost guns” by state Sen. Kevin de Leon (D), the measure’s sponsor.
“I am returning Senate Bill 808 without my signature,” wrote Brown Tuesday in his short veto letter to the California State Senate. “SB808 would require individuals who build guns at home to first obtain a serial number and register the weapon with the Department of Justice. I appreciate the author’s concerns about gun violence, but I can’t see how adding a serial number to a homemade gun would significantly advance public safety.”
Gun rights groups saw reason to celebrate Tuesday. Brandon Combs, president of California Association of Federal Firearm Licensees (CAL-FFL), hailed the veto on the homemade gun bill as a “significant victory for common sense.”
“Governor Brown was absolutely right to veto SB808,” Combs said in an emailed statement to Guns.com. “Senator de León’s bill would have created a nightmare for law enforcement and law-abiding gun owners alike.”
The firearms industry, even though it largely did not have a dog in the fight on the controversial legislation, was pleased at its veto because many pre-1968 guns — which were not produced during a mandated period for serial numbers — would have been required to have one if the bill passed.
“We opposed SB 808 because even though it did not pertain to the firearms industry per se, it would have required gun owners to place serial numbers on antique firearms, destroying their value as collectible items,” Larry Keane National Shooting Sports Foundation senior vice president and general counsel told Guns.com Monday.
SB808 would have even placed regulations on 3D printed guns, which many in that industry felt were unneeded. Industry blog 3DPrint.com went so far as to say that, “Every year a staggering ‘0’ people are killed by 3D printed guns,” in their coverage of the bill.
Calling today’s actions by Brown “a bit of a mixed bag,” Combs noted that three other notable gun control measures were signed into law without comment from Brown and will change the state’s laws in a number of ways.
Assembly Bill 1014, the “Gun Restraining Order” bill introduced just days after the Isla Vista killings, will provide a framework for the temporary seizure of guns from an individual at the request of their family or friends. The legislation will allow the seizure for up to 21 days, from an otherwise legal gun owner who is believed to pose a “significant danger.” This initial order could be extended for as long as a year if the situation warrants. California is the first state to implement this sort of far-reaching measure.
Gun control groups championed the measure in the state legislature and were pleased with its passage into law.
“Today, Governor Brown helped to honor the life of my son, Christopher, and so many others killed by senseless gun violence by signing AB 1014 into law,” said Richard Martinez, father of Isla Vista shooting victim Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez and outreach associate for Everytown for Gun Safety, in a statement emailed to Guns.com. “Nothing we can do will bring back Christopher, but I’m confident this new law will help save lives and prevent other families from experiencing this same kind of tragedy. States around the country should be exploring this life-saving measure.”
However, gun rights groups feel the new law gives perhaps too much leeway and is open to abuse.
“AB 1014 trades our Constitutional right of due process for reactionary legislative sensationalism,” Combs explained. “While the restraining order bill that was signed today is a far cry from the insanity Assemblymember Skinner introduced in May, you can bet that we will be keeping a close eye on how the Gun Violence Restraining Order system is applied by the courts.”
Assembly Bill 1609, also signed by Brown Tuesday, will place restrictions on firearms coming into the state and, according to gun-rights groups, will criminalize common firearm transactions. Beginning in 2015, it would require all guns coming into the state to first be transferred to a Federal Firearms License holder who would perform required background checks and observe state-mandated waiting periods before the gun could then be transferred.
The third bill signed by Brown, Senate Bill 199, legislates increased marking requirements on airsoft guns in the state. Members of the milsim community as well as the National Rifle Association opposed the bill specifically in addition toits stand against the body of legislation as a whole as being a needless requirement in light of federal laws already in place.
De Leon’s office did not reply to emails from Guns.com for comment or statement on his legislation, SB808 and SB199.
Drivers enter the town of Waldo, Fla., where motorists can encounter many different speed limits in a roughly two-mile drive.
Within 15 minutes on Tuesday afternoon, Waldo Police Officer Tim Logan spotted three drivers moving well over the speed limit on U.S. 301.
Indeed, there is a speed problem in Waldo, but the city cannot afford its police department.
On Tuesday night, the Waldo City Council voted in favor of disbanding its department, effective at midnight.
“We’re all going to be unemployed,” Logan said as a silver Mercedes sedan whizzed by his black and white police sport utility vehicle. The equipment in the cruiser showed the luxury car was traveling at 60 mph in a 45-mph zone.
“I don’t like the idea of letting my wife know when I wake up in the morning that I will be out of a job,” Logan said.
The City Council voted 4-1 to disband the department and to allow Waldo’s officers to collect pay until Oct. 31 as city officials determine how to tie up loose ends. There are still plenty of cases — primarily traffic citations — awaiting court dates, and equipment that needs to be inventoried or sold.
Waldo has long carried the notoriety as a speed trap with black-and-white patrol cars working busy stretches of U.S. 301 and State Road 24, but that began to change last month when its last police chief, Mike Szabo, was suspended pending the results of a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation.
On Aug. 26, five Waldo officers revolted against Szabo and Cpl. Kenneth Smith with a presentation before the City Council that was rife with allegations that included an unlawful ticket quota, deceptive court appearances and unethical evidence storage.
Shortly after the presentation, Waldo City Manager Kim Worley also suspended Smith, with the launch of a second FDLE investigation. Both Szabo and Smith later resigned.
In the absence of a chief, Worley signed a month-long contract with Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell on Sept. 3 to receive the temporary services of her training lieutenant, Steve Maynard, who she temporarily promoted to captain for the assignment.
Last week, Darnell told Worley she would not extend the contract, which apparently left Waldo with little option but to close its police department.
During the Tuesday night meeting, Worley said an audit of the department conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement determined that the city would need to drastically update its storage facilities and computer systems to keep up with standards required for criminal investigations.
“The cost is just too high,” Worley said.
Waldo City Councilwoman Carolyn Wade was reluctant to vote in favor of the police department closure, but said she understood it was inevitable. Conversations with State Attorney Bill Cervone led her to believe it was the only decision to save the city from more bad publicity, she said. Wade said Cervone told her that if the city chose to keep the department open, he would bring a case before the Alachua County grand jury, and it would return with a humiliating presentment.
“Too much has gone too far and I don’t think we can recover,” Wade said.
Plenty of residents opposed disbanding the police department and many said they were confused and angry. Kim Andrews, owner of Andrews Knife and Muzzleloading, even offered to chip in a few hundred dollars.
“These guys keep us safe,” Andrews said. “People will die if this department goes away, and the blood will be on all of your hands.”
After the meeting, Waldo Police Officer Brandon Roberts — who led the Aug. 26 presentation that unveiled the unlawful ticket quota — unpinned his badge and smiled. He said he found it funny that the actions of Szabo and Smith led to the loss of his job, but he said what he and four officers did was in the fabric of the oath they swore to as officers.
“It’s what was right,” Roberts said. “A lot of people complain about cops not stepping across the blue line, and this is a prime example, because you have to worry about this kind of stuff.”
Roberts added that the resignations of Szabo and Smith were worth the loss of his own job.
“If I took down two bad ones, it was worth it,” Roberts said.
Police coverage for the City of Waldo now will fall under the supervision of the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office. Sgt. Becky Butscher, a sheriff’s spokeswoman, said her department is working to allocate more deputies to the area.
State Attorney Cervone said Waldo police are not out of the woods in regards to the two FDLE investigations. Both remain active, and Cervone plans to meet with agents later this week.
2014 – Ocala Star-Banner, Fla.
‘Real Housewives’ star Joe Giudice heading to prison
His wife, Teresa Giudice, who is often seen getting into wild screaming matches with her fellow Bravo stars on the series, is still awaiting sentencing in Newark, N.J, in federal court. It was suggested in court that the couple could possibly stagger their sentences in order to care for their four young daughters.
Joe Giudice must pay $414,000 in restitution.
He apologized in federal court in Newark Thursday, saying he disgraced many people.
The Giudices admitted that they hid assets from bankruptcy creditors and submitted phony loan applications to get some $5 million in mortgages and construction loans.
Both Giudices pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and three types of bankruptcy fraud. Joe Giudice, 43, also pleaded guilty to failing to file a tax return for 2004, and acknowledged he didn’t file taxes on income of approximately $1 million between 2004 and 2008.
On their reality show, the Giudices are shown living in a lavish home and frequently spending on extravagant vacations and items for their kids.
Bravo has yet to comment on their reality star’s sentencing.
A woman drowned when she fell into a wine barrel after becoming intoxicated by the fumes.
Spaniard Nerea Perez, 25, was found floating face down in the barrel after fellow vineyard workers wondered where she had gone, and started looking for her in the village of Salas de los Barrios in northern Spain’s Leon province.
Colleague Ginebra Peralta Colunga, 32, said: ‘Now is the time for harvesting grapes so a lot of villages around here have people working on stirring the wine in the barrels.
‘This is the first time this has happened though.’
Winemakers stir the wine while it is fermenting for extra contact with the ‘lees,’ or sediment, which is mostly made up of dead yeast and bits of grapes.
It is a time-consuming practice believed to give a richer, fuller body and more depth of flavours.
The young woman is believed to have been found by her uncle and well-known winemaker Raul Perez.
Emergency crews also had to help members of her family who were overcome by grief at hearing the news of her death.
Wine makers say accidents like this are more common than people think because of the gases given off by wine while it is being made.
Perez was a politic figure in the local town’s Young Socialists group, who paused their campaigning for a day as a mark of respect for the woman after her death was announced.
By Malia Zimmerman / October 1, 2014
HONOLULU — Hawaii Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom is warning fellow lawmakers he has serious concerns about the state’s economic future.
Slom, the only Republican in the 25-member Senate, cites the Council on Revenues’ recent downgraded economic forecast indicating Hawaii is in a much worse financial position than anticipated.
“Hawaii is set to go bust in 2016 unless the new governor and the state Legislature make some serious cuts,” Slom said.
The administration and Legislature will be challenged, Slom said, “in dealing with the mess resulting from kicking the can down the road for so many years.”
“The final option to deal with the problem by raising taxes is the least desirable and burdensome for the people because we are already one of the highest taxing states in the nation,” Slom said.
The state Council on Revenues, the appointed body that predicts economic trends in Hawaii from which lawmakers create their budget, lowered its projections for state general fund revenue on Sept. 4 for fiscal year 2014 from -0.4 percent to -1.8 percent, or a loss of $76 million in anticipated general fund revenue.
The Council also lowered its projections for fiscal year 2015 from 5.5 percent to 3.5 percent, or an additional $188 million in anticipated loss of general fund revenue.
This is the fifth consecutive time the council has lowered its projections, said Paul Harleman, the budget director for the Senate Minority Office.
Harleman said the state must absorb a loss of $264 million of anticipated general fund revenue during the state’s two-year budget cycle.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s administration has made some cuts, asking state department to restrict funds by 10 percent.
However, Slom said that will not be enough to of a halt “to stop the freefall” because the $14 million Abercrombie’s move adds up to is just a “drop in the bucket” in the state’s a $6 billion state budget.
“Because the state is not constitutionally permitted to borrow from outside sources for operating expenditures, it is likely the state will tap into the Emergency Budget Reserve Fund and Hurricane Relief Fund,” Slom said. “Those funds are not large, so that will be a small Band Aid for the problem and will not address the problem of overspending for long.”
Kalbert Young, director of the Hawaii’s Office of Budget and Finance, said he agrees the state is “headed into a situation where there is anticipated fiscal year imbalance” because spending is outpacing revenue.
The combination of the state ending balance and formal reserve balances in the Hurricane Relief Fund and the Emergency Budget Reserve Fund dropping below what he set as acceptable target levels, also concerns Young.
“I have been of the opinion that the state should target combination of reserve and ending balance to be no less than 10%, but also to be of an objective to build formal reserves to be equal to 10% of the general fund budget over time. Currently, formal reserve levels are projected to be 4.4% of FY15 general fund budget. The combination of strong ending balances helped to keep Hawaii’s reserve and ending balances at or above the 10% target. Now, with declining ending balances a possibility in the future and reserve levels at 4%, there is a risk that Hawaii would have inadequate reserve levels during the next economic down-cycle,” Young said.
Young said that unlike Slom, he remains “bullish on the state economy continuing to improve over the next two to three years, translating to increased tax revenue.”
“The challenge is to ensure that expenditure growth over that same period does not outpace revenue growth,” Young said.
Published October 01, 2014
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California will become the first state that allows family members to ask a judge to remove firearms from a relative who appears to pose a threat, under legislation Gov. Jerry Brown said Tuesday he had signed.
The bill was proposed by several Democrats and responds to a deadly rampage in May near the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Relatives of the victims and other supporters of the bill said the parents of 22-year-old Elliot Rodger were thwarted in their attempts to seek help for their troubled son before the rampage.
Supporters had said such a measure could have prevented the attacks, winning out over critics who said it would erode gun rights.
“If both of these laws had been in place on May 23, things could have been very different,” Rodger’s father, Peter Rodger, said in a statement Tuesday night. “California, today, is a safer state because of this legislation. Let’s hope other states follow.”
Law enforcement authorities in Connecticut, Indiana and Texas can seek a judge’s order allowing them to seize guns from people they deem to be a danger.
The new California law gives law enforcement the same option and extends it to family members.
It continues California’s efforts to lead the nation in preventing firearm injury and death, said Amanda Wilcox, an advocate for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, whose daughter was a victim of gun violence.
The greatest effect might be in preventing suicides or intervening where there is a history of domestic violence, she said.
“It’s hard to know how much it will be used or how much it will prevent,” Wilcox said. “It only takes avoiding one loss for this to be worth it.”
Lawmakers approved the bill by Democratic Assembly members Nancy Skinner of Berkeley and Das Williams of Santa Barbara amid pleas that they act after the May 23 attack in which six people were fatally stabbed or shot and 13 others wounded in the community of Isla Vista.
Weeks before that shooting, Elliot Rodger’s parents had his therapist contact Santa Barbara County mental health officials. Sheriff’s deputies talked to Elliot Rodger but never entered his apartment or checked to see if he owned guns.
They decided he was not a threat to himself or others and took no further action.
Elliot Rodger later wrote that had deputies searched his room, they might have found guns that police said he used to shoot three people after stabbing to death three others. Elliot Rodger killed himself while being pursued by police.
Under the California bill, whoever seeks the restraining order would have to sign an affidavit under oath. If they lie, they could be charged with a misdemeanor.
A court hearing would be held within 14 days after the restraining order is granted to give the gun owner a chance to argue there is no danger.
Republican lawmakers and some Democrats voted against the measure, known as AB1014.
In Elliot Rodger’s case, there is no evidence his parents or anyone treating him knew he had weapons. That prompted Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, to introduce a related bill that would require law enforcement to develop policies that encourage officers to search the state’s database of gun purchases as part of routine welfare checks. That bill, SB505, also was signed by the governor.
Brown’s signing of the bills “helped to honor the life of my son, Christopher, and so many others killed by senseless gun violence,” said Richard Martinez, father of Isla Vista shooting victim Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez and an advocate for the group Everytown for Gun Safety.
“Nothing we can do will bring back Christopher, but I’m confident this new law will help save lives and prevent other families from experiencing this same kind of tragedy. States around the country should be exploring this life-saving measure,” he said in a statement about the restraining order legislation.
Currently in California, authorities can seize legally purchased guns only from people convicted of a felony or a violent misdemeanor, people subject to a domestic violence restraining order or those who are determined to be mentally unstable.
The National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups opposed the restraining order legislation.
“Our concern is not so much what they intended to do; our concern is with the method they put in place to address people with mental or emotional issues,” said Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California. “We think this just misses the mark and may create a situation where law-abiding gun owners are put in jeopardy.”
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2014
TSA Week in Review – 48 Firearms Discovered This Week in Carry-On Bags (40 Were Loaded)
48 Firearms Discovered This Week – Of the 48 firearms, 26 were loaded and 11 had rounds chambered.
Artfully Concealed Prohibited Items – It’s important to examine your bags prior to traveling to ensure you are not carrying prohibited items. If a prohibited item is discovered in your bag or on your body, you could be cited and possibly arrested by local law enforcement. Here are a few examples from this week where prohibited items were found by our officers in strange places.
- When TSA officers at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) opened a checked bag for a routine inspection, they discovered many household items, like baby wipes, coffee, lemonade mix, and a box of cat litter. After a closer look, they found two disassembled .40 caliber handguns, 350 rounds of ammunition, and 58 bricks of marijuana (33 pounds) concealed in the products. The traveler was arrested on state charges by the Port Authority Police.
- A cane sword was discovered at New York Kennedy (JFK).
|Firearms, Ammunition, and 33 Pounds of Marijuana (JFK)|
Miscellaneous Prohibited Items – In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly, our officers also regularly find firearm components, realistic replica firearms, bb and pellet guns, airsoft guns, brass knuckles, ammunition, batons and many other prohibited items too numerous to note.
Stun Guns – 13 stun guns were discovered this week in carry-on bags. Two were discovered at Denver (DEN), and the remainder were found at Buffalo (BUF), Dallas Love (DAL), Gainesville (GNV), Knoxville (TYS), Las Vegas (LAS), Lewiston (LWS), Lubbock (LBB), Minneapolis (MSP), Oklahoma City (OKC), Raleigh-Durham (RDU), and Syracuse (SYR).
*In order to provide a timely weekly update, this data is compiled from a preliminary report. The year-end numbers will vary slightly from what is reported in the weekly updates. However, any monthly, midyear or end-of-year numbers TSA provides on this blog or elsewhere will be actual numbers and not estimates.
You can travel with your firearms in checked baggage, but they must first be declared to the airline. You can go here for more details on how to properly travel with your firearms. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure.
Unfortunately these sorts of occurrences are all too frequent which is why we talk about these finds. Sure, it’s great to share the things that our officers are finding, but at the same time, each time we find a dangerous item, the line is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested. The passenger can face a penalty as high as$7,500. This is a friendly reminder to please leave these items at home. Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions, that’s for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items.
Official: 70% of families from the immigration surge never showed up for follow-up appointments
WASHINGTON (AP) – Tens of thousands of young families caught crossing the border illegally earlier this year subsequently failed to meet with federal immigration agents, as they were instructed, the Homeland Security Department has acknowledged privately.
An official with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement revealed that about 70 percent of immigrant families the Obama administration had released into the U.S. never showed up weeks later for follow up appointments.
The ICE official made the disclosure in a confidential meeting at its Washington headquarters with immigration advocates participating in a federal working group on detention and enforcement policies. The Associated Press obtained an audio recording of Wednesday’s meeting and separately interviewed participants.
On the recording obtained by the AP, the government did not specify the total number of families released into the U.S. since October. Since only a few hundred families have already been returned to their home countries and limited U.S. detention facilities can house only about 1,200 family members, the 70 percent figure suggests the government released roughly 41,000 members of immigrant families who subsequently failed to appear at federal immigration offices.
The official, who was not identified by name on the recording obtained by the AP, also said final deportation had been ordered for at least 860 people traveling as families caught at the border since May but only 14 people had reported as ordered.
In a statement, ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen did not respond to questions from the AP about the newly disclosed figures. Instead, she said the agency was committed to increasing its capacity to detain and quickly deport families who crossed the border illegally.
The AP reported in June that the administration would not say publicly how many immigrant families from Central America caught crossing into the U.S. it had released in recent months or how many of those subsequently reported back to the government after 15 days as directed. The AP noted that senior U.S. officials directly familiar with the issue, including at the Homeland Security Department and White House, had dodged the answer on at least seven occasions over two weeks, alternately saying that they did not know the figure or didn’t have it immediately at hand.
The Homeland Security Department’s public affairs office during the same period did not answer roughly a dozen requests for the figures.
More than 66,000 immigrants traveling as families, mostly mothers and young children, have been apprehend at the border since the start of the budget year in October. Nearly 60,000 of those immigrants are from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala and cannot be immediately repatriated, so the government has been releasing them into the U.S. and telling them to report within 15 days to the nearest Immigrations and Customs Enforcement offices.
At the meeting, the ICE official acknowledged the no-show figures while explaining the administration’s decision in June to open a temporary detention center for families in Artesia, New Mexico. A second immigration jail in Texas was later converted for families and can house about 530 people. A third such detention center will open in Texas later this year. Before the new facility in Artesia, the government had room for fewer than 100 people at its only family detention center in Pennsylvania.
Immigration advocates have complained that the new detention centers were punishing immigrants who ultimately may win lawful asylum claims to remain in the U.S. In the meeting, they also questioned whether immigration officials had clearly and properly instructed immigrants to meet with federal agents within 15 days.
The ICE official said it was necessary to detain families to ensure they didn’t vanish into the U.S. He encouraged advocacy groups to help find ways to ensure that immigrants reported to federal agents as ordered so the government could begin processing their cases, including any requests to remain in the U.S. legally.