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Tech Companies Urge Congress to Shed More Light on Secret Information Requests

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

More than two dozen companies and numerous trade groups are endorsing bills that would open more light on the government’s secret information requests, the Verge.com reports.

The businesses and trade groups are showing their support for bills that would allow them to reveal when they receive requests for national security-related data.

Among those who signed the letter to Congressional members are Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

Those same companies have been forced to turn over information without the ability to disclose it.

The argument is that barring the disclosure of information to users violates free speech rights.

Federal Government Can’t Cut Most Homeland Security Employees

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A vast majority of Homeland Security employees cannot be forced off the job because of a government shutdown, the Washington Post reports.

About 86% of the department’s 231,000 employees are considered “essential,” which means they must remain on the job for the “safety of human life or protection of property,” regardless of budget conditions.

One of the most protected components of DHS is the Transportation Security Administration, where 93% of employees are considered essential.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano Takes Over as UC President

Janet Napolitano

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano took over as the president of the University of California on Monday, but she’s already facing challenges.

A group of student activists are asking for a “no-confidence” vote to express disapproval over her hiring, the Associated Press reports.

The activists said Napolitano is a bad choice because she’ll be overseeing a campus where protests and residents living in the U.S. illegally are going school, the AP wrote.

“There are a lot of students with some very large concerns centered around her past history in Homeland Security,” University of California Student Association President Kareem Aref said. “Students are concerned that her presidency may be accompanied by a militarization of the UC.”

Judge Drops Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Against Former FBI Agent

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

A former FBI agent who filed a $2.2 million federal lawsuit against the FBI claiming retaliation and racial discrimination lost her case, WFMJ-NBC reports.

U.S. District Judge Benita Pearson dismissed the case, saying the former agent, Sheila Lawson, never made herself available for depositions.

Lawson, who worked for the FBI between 2002 and 2006, has been largely inaccessible during the case, the WFMJ reported.

Lawson was acting as her own attorney.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Parker: Counterfeiting in the 21st Century and the Response by Michigan State University

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office. He is the author of the book “Carving Out the Rule of Law: The History of the United States Attorney’s Office in Eastern Michigan 1815–2008″.
By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Counterfeiting brings to the public mind a rare fake $20 bill, knockoff handbags (spelled “Gucchi”), and a bootleg Tom Cruise DVD. The typical consumer attitude about product counterfeiting ranges from tolerance to apathy, nothing threatening or particularly sinister.

But the reality today is more sobering. Not only does counterfeiting and product fraud mean global big bucks, but it directly affects all of our everyday lives in areas we do care about—food safety, organized crime, pharmaceutical drug fraud, whole industries at risk, and health and safety in the Third World.

Dr. Jeremy Wilson, the Director of Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection Program (hereafter A-CAPPP) at Michigan State University, estimates the annual global trade in counterfeit goods to exceed $600 billion, about 5-7% of world trade. The FBI figure is roughly the same. Not only does the practice wreak havoc on the economies of industries and governments, it threatens the health and safety of individuals worldwide.

Take food, for example. A-CAPPP estimates that inferior products make their way to almost every American’s dinner plate. Examples are endless, from watered down milk, vodka laced with methanol, diluted olive oil, tomato sauce, candy bars, virtually every kind of food we eat.

The counterfeit product list goes on to other categories involving public safety. Shoddy auto parts, weakened medicine and pharmaceuticals, unsafe propane tanks, even a fake nuclear reactor component (in Michigan no less). Over half of the drugs used in Third World countries are counterfeit. Dr. Wilson estimates that counterfeit goods are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths and injuries around the world every year.

I would guess that despite the salutary efforts of several federal law enforcement agencies (FBI, FDA, DHS, ICE to name a few), out of the law enforcement dollar less than a penny is spent on counterfeiting and product safety investigations and prosecutions. In a world that wakes up each day to a new mass murder or terrorist plot, product safety rarely grabs a headline. And stretched-thin federal law enforcement budgets are focused on other crimes which the public considers more important.

Read more »

Former Head of Boston’s FBI Office to Plead Guilty to Ethics Charge

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The former head of the FBI’s Boston office won’t serve any time in jail under a proposed deal with prosecutors that would require him to plead guilty, the Associated Press reports.

Kenneth Kaiser is expected to pleaded guilty to an ethics charge in return for a maximum punishment of a $15,000 fine.

The 57-year-old is accused of violating a federal ethics law by meeting with former FBI colleagues about his company that was under investigation, the AP wrote.

Kaiser served as special agent in charge of the office from 2003 to 2006 before leaving to become an assistant director at FBI headquarters.

FBI Says It’s Out As Leader of 1982 Tylenol Killings Investigation

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The long-unsolved Tylenol killings will no longer be led by the FBI, a disappointment for those holding out for a justice, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The news comes near the 31st anniversary of the seven deaths of Chicago residents who ingested cyanide-laced Tylenol capsules in 1982.

The discovery of cyanide sent a shock wave across the country, leading to reforms in packaging for over-the-counter drugs.

The investigation is now under the leadership of the Arlington Heights Police Department.

“We’re still working the case,”  Cmdr. Mike Hernandez told the Tribune.

 

Longtime Border Patrol Agent Known for His Skill at ‘the Game’ Dies

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

During the three decades that he spent with Border Patrol, Ab Taylor became somewhat of a legend.

The plain-spoken Texan was known for his incredible man-tracking ability.

On Sept. 9, Taylor died at the age 88, The Washington Post reports. The cause was Alzheimer’s disease.

Taylor made a name for himself by developing an expertise for spotting evidence to hunt down people –  a pattern of dust, out-of-place rocks, a broken twig.

He referred to the daily hunt as “the Game.”

At one point, Taylor expressed compassion for the people he was hunting down.

“I can have the greatest empathy for the individual Mexican coming in and understand him and know about him,” Mr. Taylor told the Los Angeles Times in 1972. “Still, I don’t have reservations about doing my job because I know that this country cannot possibly absorb all the poverty of Mexico.”