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Archive for April, 2020

TSA Workers Sew Masks to Help Others on Their Free Time

Susan Schultz, via TSA.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The coronavirus has ravaged TSA workers, infecting 378 of them and killing two.

Now some healthy TSA workers, while at home, are sewing masks for family, friends and first responders.

Supervisory TSA officer Susan Schultz, who works at General Mitchell International Airport (MKE) in Milwaukee, sometimes works until midnight, sewing hundreds of masks because her community needs them. She has developed a method to sew masks in about seven minutes.

More than most workers, TSA employees know the risks of the coronavirus.

Justine Waldron, a TSA officer who works at Barnstable Municipal Airport (HYA) on Cape Cod, has made more than 140 colorful masks, some of which have Native American and navigation themes. Others include comic book characters. She’s giving them to family, friends and TSA employees for when they’re off work.

“I really wanted to do my part,” Waldron says in a TSA news release. “People are scared and the masks will help,”

Waldron refuses to take others’ money to pay for the masks.

“Some people have tried to give me money, but that’s just not the right thing to do,” she said. “We all need to stay healthy and get past” the pandemic.

ATF Allows Gun Shops to Sell Firearms by Using Curbside Services

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The ATF is permitting gun retailers to continue selling guns and ammunition by offering curbside services, the agency said in an industry letter.

Homeland Security has already deemed gun sales an “essential service,” which allowed firearms businesses to stay open while “nonessential” businesses were forced to close under social-distancing measures.

Gun sales have skyrocketed earlier this year as the coronavirus began sweeping across the globe.

ATF’s letters says retailers with federal firearms licenses can accept payment and verify customer identity by using “a drive-up or a walk-up window or doorway.” According to the letter, gun retailers also can use a table or booth adjacent to the business as long as it’s in a “location where the licensee has the authority to permit ATF’s entry for inspection purposes.”

FBI Uncovers International Scheme to Dupe Union Out of 39M Masks for Health Care Workers

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI uncovered an international scam to sell a fake stockpile of 39 million masks to a California union representing health care workers.

FBI agents discovered there were no masks while trying to determine whether they could intercept the supplies for the Federal Emergency Management Agency under the Defense Production Act, The Los Angeles Times first reported.

U.S. Atty. Scott Brady of the Western District of Pennsylvania said the union, which he did not identify, was duped.

A Pittsburgh businessman had been trying to help the union secure millions of masks by connecting with a broker in Australia and a supplier in Kuwait, Brady said. Now the broker and supplier are the subject of a federal investigation.

“There are opportunists who are looking for any victim,” Brady said.

The union and businessman are not under investigation.

Weekend Series on Crime History: What Happened to the Chicago Mob?

More than 325 TSA Employees Tested Positive for Coronavirus, 2 Died

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The coronavirus has hammered TSA workers more than previously thought.

A total of 329 TSA employees have confirmed infections and two died, according to ABC News, citing an internal briefing led by TSA Administrator David Pekoske.

In the past week, 162 TSA workers tested positive for COVID-19.

The first TSA employee to die was Francis “Frank” Boccabella III, 39, who served as an explosive detection canine handler at Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey.

“Frank was dedicated to protecting the traveling public with his canine partner, Bullet, a 6-year-old German Short-haired Pointer and his previous canine partner, Zmay,” the TSA said in a statement. “Frank and his canine partners screened hundreds of thousands of passengers, keeping them and the transportation network safe.”

The second TSA employee to die was Alberto Camacho, a branch manager in the Acquisition Program Management office.

“For over 20 years Alberto dedicated his career to both transportation and aviation security, and his contributions to TSA and our mission will not be forgotten,” the agency said in a statement.

“We mourn their loss but we celebrate what they have been able to contribute over the course of their time in TSA,” Pekoske said in the briefing.

TSA employees, especially screeners, are especially vulnerable because they come in close contact with many travelers.

Barr Claims Russia Probe had No Basis, Was Intended to ‘Sabotage the Presidency’

AG William Barr in Detroit, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Attorney General William Barr claims that the Russia investigation in the first half of President Trump’s first term had no basis and was nothing short of an effort to “sabotage the presidency,” he told Fox News.

Without offering any evidence to support his claim, Barr described the investigation of Trump as “one of the greatest travesties in American history.”

“Without any basis, they started this investigation of his campaign, and even more concerning actually is what happened after the campaign — a whole pattern of events while he was president – to sabotage the presidency — or at least have the effect of sabotaging the presidency.”

Barr also delved into the coronavirus outbreak, defending Trump’s handling and suggesting that some of the states’ stay-at-home measures were “draconian.”

“When this period of time, at the end of April, expires, I think we have to allow people to adapt more than we have, and not just tell people to go home and hide under their bed, but allow them to use other ways — social distancing and other means — to protect themselves,” Barr said.

30+ ICE Detainees Have Tested Positive for Coronavirus; 11 Staffers Also Infected.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

More than 30 ICE detainees have tested positive for the coronavirus, and immigration advocates are worried it’s going to get a lot worse.

Detainees with confirmed infections “have been quarantined and are receiving care,” ICE said in a statement to The Washington Post, and people exposed to them “are being monitored for symptoms.”

Civil rights group and immigration advocates are urging ICE to release the detainees before the spread gets worse. Without the ability to socially distance, detainees are especially at risk, they say.

Eleven staffers at detention facilities also have tested positive in Colorado, Louisiana, New Jersey, Ohio and Texas.

FBI Arrests Texas Man Accused of Offering to Pay Someone to Spread the Coronavirus

SARS-CoV-2 is the cause of the coronavirus, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI arrested a 39-year-old Texas man who is accused of claiming on social media that he paid someone to intentionally spread the coronavirus at grocery stores.

Christopher Charles Perez, of San Antonio, has been charged with one count of false information and hoaxes related to weapons of mass destruction.

Federal prosecutors say Perez posted the threat on Facebook in hopes of deterring people from visiting grocery stories.

Authorities said the threat was false, and no one spread the highly contagious disease, according to a U.S. Justice Department news release.

The FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Squad and the Joint Terrorism Task Force are investigating this case.