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Report: Engineer of Commuter Train That Crashed in New Jersey Had Medical Condition

New Jersey Transit train, via Wikipedia

New Jersey Transit train, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The engineer of the commuter train that crashed into a New Jersey rail station, killing a woman, suffered from a form of sleep apnea, according to a report by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Thomas Gallagher, 48, said he has no memory of the crash at the Hoboken station on Sept. 29 as the train was traveling twice the 10 mph speed limit, The New York Daily News reports.

Gallagher wasn’t diagnosed with sleep apnea until later the crash.

The crashed injured 108 on the train and platform.

“My client was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea just recently, during an examination by an expert that I arranged after the accident,” Gallagher’s attorney, Jack Arseneault, told WCBS-TV in a statement. “Those results were forwarded to the NTSB on Oct. 31.

ATF, FBI Investigating Suspicious Package with Actual Bomb Components Outside School

ATF LogoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Federal investigators responding to a report of a suspicious package outside of an elementary school in Alabama found a device with wires and a timer.

The ATF, FBI and local police responded to a bomb threat at Magnolia Elementary School and were surprised by what they found, AL.com reports. 

According to a caller, a Latino man placed the package in front of the school.

The device, which was found on a pickup truck in the school parking lot, contained actual bomb components.

“We did find a small amount of what we believe to be an actual explosive,”  said Dave Hyche, ATF’s assistant special agent in charge in Alabama.

Authorities detonated the device in nearby woods.

Federal officials said the investigation could be lengthy.

Other Stories of Interest

Dan Kennedy to Head Administrative Branch for FBI LA Office

fbi logo large

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Danny Kennedy, who most recently served as section chief of the Intelligence Branch for the International Operations Division at FBI headquarters, has been named special agent in charge of the Administrative Branch for the Los Angeles Field Office.

Kennedy joined the FBI in 1997 and began his career in the Memphis Division, Nashville Resident Agency, where he investigated organized crime, drug and criminal enterprises, and counterterrorism matters, a press release said.

During the course of his career, Kennedy has held leadership positions in the Dallas Division, the Directorate of Intelligence, the Counterterrorism Division and the Los Angeles Field Office.

He’ll assume his new role in mid-December.

Parker: The Effect of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court Picks on Criminal Law Cases

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.

supreme_court_us_2010

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

One out of five voters said that the Supreme Court was the most important issue of the Presidential campaign. They voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. The President-elect has published two lists of about 20 possibilities for his Supreme Court appointees.

“Appointees” plural since there is one vacancy and three of the eight Justices are over or near 80 years old. Two are considered in the “liberal” wing (Ginsburg, Breyer) and one is a swing vote who sometimes votes with that group (Kennedy).

Since the pool of Trump picks are characterized as “conservative” or “libertarian,” the speculation by the pundits is that the effect of the appointments will be immediate and a strong re-direction to the right. Not that many of us put much faith in the predictions of the pundits and pollsters after the election. But in this case they are probably right. At least as to the hot-button issues like abortion, immigration, climate change, LGBTQ, gun rights, and affirmative action.

But what about cases involving criminal and law enforcement issues? This requires an assessment of how the current 8 Justices on these cases have voted.

In the 2015-2016 term, the Court handed down opinions in 28 cases involving these issues out of 81total cases. Categorizing each Justice’s vote as Pro-Government or Pro-Defendant results in the following order, from highest percentage of Pro-Government votes to the lowest:

Alito————79%

Thomas——–61%

Kennedy——-61%

Breyer———-57%

Roberts——–57%

Kagan———-54%

Ginsburg——50%

Sotomayor—-36%

Another interesting survey counted the percentage of time that each Justice voted with the majority in criminal cases, as opposed to voting with the dissent, or filing a concurrence with an entirely different rationale than the majority. That list from highest adherence to the majority to the lowest was as follows:

Kennedy——-96%

Roberts——–93%

Kagan———-89%

Ginsburg——86%

Breyer———86%

Alito———–71%

Sotomayor—71%

Thomas——-54%

Before the analyses, the caveats. These 28 cases were from a single term, not the entire history of a Justice’s votes. Some involved just following the Justice’s interpretation of precedent, as opposed to how he or she would have voted if not bound by precedent. Some of the cases were very complex, and there was some subjectivity in a few cases in deciding which box to put each of the votes in. But there is something to be learned from the exercise even with these limitations.

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

Looking at the Pro-Government listing, the two Justices at the top (Alito and Thomas) are considered to be the most “conservative” on the bench. The two on the bottom are considered to be in the “liberal” wing. But the four in the middle do not follow these labels. The list proceeds: swing vote (Kennedy), liberal (Breyer), conservative (Roberts), liberal (Kagan). Thus in criminal cases at least, the label does not determine the voting pattern for most Justices.

This conclusion is made even more apparent by a look at individual criminal cases even at the top and bottom of this ranking. For example Justice Thomas, rightly considered the dissenter on the bench, either dissented or concurred in the defendant’s favor in six cases, about a quarter of the criminal docket. This may well be because of his libertarian views on cases like those involving Second Amendment right to bear arms or the federal Hobbs Act, which he may perceive to invade states rights. On the other end of the list, Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg each dissented in favor of the Government in two cases.

On a great many cases, it was difficult to predict how a Justice would vote on criminal cases. Voting groups on each side sometimes involved surprising voting buddies. On the great majority of cases, reading the opinions left the conclusion that the Justices more often voted their views on the applicable law rather than a particular ideology.

Read more »

Judge Orders FBI, CIA, NSA to Disclose Spying on Occupy Protesters

fbigunbadgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A federal judge has ordered the FBI, CIA and NSA to disclose any evidence that they spied on Occupy Philly protesters.

U.S. District Judge Berle Schiller gave the agencies 60 days to comply with the order, Al Jazeera reports. 

Civil rights activists want to know whether the agencies spied on protesters who camped outside Philadelphia City Hall for seven weeks in 2011.

“The government should not be investigating its citizens simply because they’ve raised their voices in dissent, whether it’s against government or corporate policy,” civil rights lawyer Paul Hetznecker said Tuesday.

The right-to-know case follows the revelation that the FBI was monitoring Occupy Wall Street rallies in New York and other cities.

Buffalo News: FBI Director James Comey ‘Needs to go, Now’

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Editorial Board
The Buffalo News

James B. Comey needs to go, now. With the FBI director’s carelessness regarding the matter of Hillary Clinton’s emails and his pointless late-campaign intrusion into the election, Comey has rendered himself toxic to the cause of justice. He has been undone by his own bad judgment and should step aside in favor of new leadership.

The problem isn’t that the FBI, under Comey’s leadership, investigated Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. It was an appropriate, even necessary, undertaking. But if he wasn’t intending to influence the course of this month’s presidential election, his hamfisted handling of the investigation gave it that appearance. That is an ominous possibility given the authority of the nation’s top law enforcement agency.

With that, Comey is used up. Even if his missteps were honest or inadvertent, he has lost the credibility necessary for administering a law enforcement agency that must, at all costs, be apolitical. It’s not J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI anymore.

Among Comey’s most grievous violations were the way he cleared Clinton of wrongdoing in the email case in July and his decision to go public with a renewed investigation only days before the election. Both violated long-established standards.

Typically, law enforcement agencies never acknowledge the existence of a preliminary investigation, let alone its conclusion. This one was a legitimate exception to that rule and, for that reason, Comey appropriately revealed that it had ended and that Clinton would not be charged with any crime.

But he went beyond that, making inflammatory observations about her that, while welcomed by Clinton’s adversaries, were inappropriate to a law enforcement agency. What was needed was his conclusion, without the personal observations about her use of a private email server. That was political.

To read more click here. http://buffalonews.com/2016/11/15/editorial-fbi-director-exercised-terrible-judgment-intervening-presidential-campaign/

Quick-Acting Border Patrol Agent Helps Save Life of 77-Year-Old Neighbor

border patrolBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A quick-acting Border Patrol agent and his daughter helped save the life of a 77-year-old woman who had a heart attack.

The woman collapsed on a sidewalk outside of the home of Agent Robert Hughes, of the Douglas Border Patrol Station, Tucson News Now reports. 

Hughes performed CPR on the woman, and soon after, his daughter, Sydney Sandoval assisted her father. She is a certified EMT.

The elderly woman, who had been walking her dog when she collapsed, survived because of the agent’s and his daughter’s actions, according to the Sierra Vista Police Department.

“This act of heroism is an example of the kindness and compassion that Border Patrol agents embody within our communities,” said Tucson Sector’s Chief Border Patrol Agent Paul Beeson.

Judge: Conditions at Border Patrol Detention Centers Violate Civil Rights

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A federal judge plans to order Border Patrol to improve sleeping conditions at detention centers in Arizona, saying the detainees’ civil rights are being violated.

U.S. District Court Judge David C. Buru, who is presiding over a lawsuit filed on behalf of three former detainees, said the conditions must be improved, Tucson.com reports.

“I think the deprivation of sleep, at the very least, in this case is a violation of the civil rights of a civil detainee and that needs to be fixed,” Bury said at a hearing in Tucson on Tuesday.

Bury’s plan to grant preliminary relief is not a formal order, but he said he plans to work with both sides to work out a solution.

While acknowledging “the Border Patrol has a really tough job,” Bury said it’s still no excuse for inhumane conditions.

“The complexity of government operations cannot trump civil rights, neither can budgetary constraints,” the judge said.

An attorney for the detainees said they are constantly interrupted while trying to sleep because agents are constantly processing new detainees.