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Archive for August, 2009

Chicago School Board Pres. Scott Gets Grand Jury Subpoena

School board president Michael Scott will get an education on how a federal grand jury works. Most people would prefer to learn about grand juries from tv or newspapers rather than appearing before one.

chicagomap

BY FRAN SPELMAN
Chicago Sun-Times
CHICAGO — Chicago Board of Education President Michael Scott disclosed Tuesday that he has been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury investigating how students are chosen for admission to some of the city’s most elite public schools.

Scott said he was surprised by the subpoena and flatly denied that he has ever flexed his political muscle — during two stints as board president — to clout any student into a “selective enrollment” school.

Chicago Board of Education President Michael Scott disclosed Tuesday that he’s been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury investigating how students are chosen for admission to some of the city’s most elite public schools.

“I followed all the procedures,” Scott said.

Asked whether he has ever made a call on behalf of someone else, Scott said, “Nope. Never.”

For Full Story

Homeland Security Predicts Major Flu Flare Up in Fall

fever?This is bound to be a scary flu season. Swine flu cases have been popping up this summer, but things should really pick up in the fall.

By Steve Sternberg
USA Today
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday that pandemic flu probably will flare up soon after schools open in the fall, before vaccine is available.

Napolitano also acknowledged that there would not be enough pandemic flu vaccine for everyone, at least in the early stages of the flu season. “There will be prioritization of vaccinations,” she told members of the USA TODAY editorial board.

The flu strain causing the pandemic, a new H1N1 virus also known as swine flu, is especially dangerous because it differs from every other known flu virus. As a result, most people are defenseless against it. That makes a vaccine the keystone of any effort to prevent illness and save lives. The first batches of the vaccine are due in mid-October.

Napolitano said this year’s flu season probably will be severe but not as severe as the 1918 pandemic, the world’s worst.

Federal Grand Jury Zeroes in on New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin

Mayor Nagin/city photo
Mayor Nagin/city photo

Needless to say, New Orleans doesn’t need another scandal, particularly involving a high profile politician.

By David Hammer
New Orleans Times-Picayune
NEW ORLEANS –In the clearest sign to date that a federal grand jury is zeroing in on Mayor Ray Nagin, the U.S. attorney’s office issued subpoenas recently asking for the mayor’s missing e-mail messages and for others involving key players in the city’s crime-camera contracts.

The Louisiana Technology Council, a firm hired by the Nagin administration to determine what happened to the e-mail messages, said Tuesday that its subcontractors, after receiving a pair of subpoenas, turned over to the federal government some of the data it retrieved.

The issuance of the subpoenas was first disclosed in a civil lawsuit filed Monday by the city, which fired LTC last month, claiming it breached a confidentiality agreement. In response to the lawsuit, LTC released the subpoenas.

Christopher Reade of Carrollton Technology Partners, an LTC subcontractor, received a subpoena July 22 commanding him to testify before the grand jury on July 24 and demanding that he turn over “any and all recovered e-mails involving C. Ray Nagin, Gregory Meffert, Anthony Jones, Mark St. Pierre and/or Harrison Boyd from May 2002 to the present.”

For Full Story

Montreal Paper Calls U.S. Homeland Security Policy “Sureal”

Canada continues to express skepticism about U.S. Homeland Security. Here’s the latest shot.

Janet Napolitano

Janet Napolitano

By the Montreal Gazette
In this sad “security trumps trade” era of United States border protection, we in this corner have more than once used the word “paranoid” about certain government policies of our friends to the south. But the latest news from the frontier makes us seek even stronger language: “surreal” perhaps.

The New York Times reported last week that at the striking new border post at Massena N.Y. – just across from Cornwall, Ont. – workmen were removing from the exterior of the building the glossy, bright yellow, 6.4-metre-high letters that spell out “United States.” This identification of the country you’re entering is apparently a security risk.

The Times quotes a spokesperson for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency: “There were security concerns. The sign could be a huge target and attract undue attention. Anything that would place our officers at risk we need to avoid.” Courageously, however, the post will continue to fly the U.S. flag.

Few Canadians will be surprised to learn that the border agency is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, whose leader, Secretary Janet Napolitano, thought the Sept. 11 terrorists had come through Canada. Now she seems determined to enroll her whole country in a witless protection program.

To Read More

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Ex-FBI Translator Tests Justice Dept. Again (Spy Talk)

Presidential Advisor David Axelrod Picks Up Secret Service Protection

David Axelrod/meet the press

David Axelrod/meet the press

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
CHICAGO –– David Axelrod, President Obama’s senior advisor, is now being protected by the U.S. Secret Service, ticklethewire.com has learned.

Sources familiar with the situation said Axelrod picked up the detail in recent weeks.

U.S. Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan declined to provide details, but said: “I can confirm that he is a protectee of the Secret Service.”

He declined to say why Axelrod, 54,  had picked up the detail or whether there had been any recent threats.

Last month, Axelrod was spotted with a Secret Service detail at Manny’s, his favorite Chicago deli  on South Jefferson.

The White House did not immediately respond and asked that questions be submitted via email. The White House had yet to respond to the written questions as of late afternoon Tuesday. Later on, the White House declined to comment.

The Secret Service provides protection for the President and Vice President and their families, his chief of staff and some other members of the cabinet.

But people like Axelrod don’t automatically get protection unless it’s authorized by the Department of Homeland Security and approved by the White House with an executive order.

DEA Task Force Busts Michael Douglas’ Son For Meth

This may not be the bust of the century, but when you’re the son of Michael Douglas, it’s a bust that won’t go unnoticed. Sometimes it just sucks to be famous — or related to someone who is.

By TOM LIDDY and LUKAS I. ALPERT
New York Post
Michael Douglas
Michael Douglas
NEW YORK— And the Oscar for biggest ne’er-do-well brat child of a legendary acting family goes to — Cameron Douglas.

The son of Academy Award winner Michael Douglas has been arrested once again — this time in the Big Apple for getting in the middle of a deal to sell an eye-popping pile of crystal meth, law-enforcement sources said yesterday.

The 30-year-old sometime-actor/sometime-DJ was busted on July 28 at the Gansevoort Hotel in the Meatpacking District by a DEA task force, the sources said.

For Full Story

U.S. Atty. Fitzgerald Says Reporters Need To Disclose Sources When Ordered

Patrick Fitzgerald says reporters must obey when ordered by a judge to reveal sources. I disagree. Some of the biggest corruption scandals would never have come to light without reporters’ willingness to protect sources and go to jail if necessary. Besides, the real point here is that Congress needs to pass a federal shield law to protect reporters and sources. That would end the argument about being above the law.

Patrick Fitzgerald/ticklethewire.com photo

Patrick Fitzgerald/ticklethewire photo

By James Podgers
ABA Journal
CHICAGO – Journalists should not put themselves above the law in their efforts to protect sources and confidential information, said Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, today at a program during the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Prosecutors and reporters share an interest in gathering information that can help expose corruption and uncover wrongdoing by government officials and those who wield power, Fitzgerald said, but those interests do not always match.

“No one is against the right to know,” said Fitzgerald at the program sponsored by the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, “but we both have strong views about the best way to get to the truth in a particular case.” He emphasized that his comments were not intended to reflect policy positions of the Obama administration.

For Full Story

ATF Concerned About Drug Cartels Using Hand Grenades in U.S.

The drug war in Mexico is deadly enough, and hand grenades have made it even deadlier. Will we start seeing drug traffickers use handgrenades in the U.S.?

Grenade

By JACQUES BILLEAUD
Associated Press Writer
PHOENIX — It was a scenario U.S. law enforcement had long feared: A fragmentation grenade from Mexico’s bloody drug war tossed into a public place.

Only the grenade thrower’s bumbling prevented bloodshed in a south Texas bar – he neglected to pull a second safety clasp. But the act was proof that one of the deadliest weapons in Mexico’s drug battle is a real threat to the U.S., and investigators are stepping up efforts to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

While Mexican drug violence has been spilling across the border in the form of kidnappings and killings, grenades are a particular worry because they can kill large numbers of people indiscriminately, and they are a weapon of choice among Mexican cartel members.

For Full Story