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Archive for September 8th, 2015

What Took D.C. So Long to Respond to the Problem of Synthetic Drugs?

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 9.39.04 AM

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Washington, like a lot of other major cities, has had to deal with the plague of synthetic drugs for years. But the city  has been slow to respond, writes Jeffrey Anderson in the D.C. City Paper. 

Anderson writes about authorities charging Nebiyu Jamal Fanta, who worked at the  Benning Market & Dollar Plus in a tough section of D.C.

Anderson writes:

Until this summer, Fanta’s was one of only five cases on file in D.C. Superior Court, even as MPD Chief Cathy Lanier and Mayor Muriel Bowser cite synthetic drugs as a contributing factor to a recent spike in D.C. homicides and tout some 70 synthetic drug-related arrests this year. Overdoses among homeless persons have further elevated the issue to what is being described as a public health crisis and a threat to public safety. D.C. officials said they initially suspected synthetic drugs were a factor in the stabbing death of 24-year-old American University graduate Kevin Sutherland aboard a Metro Red Line train on July 4, then began to question the suspect’s mental state. Lanier has cited the drugs as a factor in three other unidentified homicides, and in July, the Pretrial Services Agency says 20 percent of recent violent crime suspects had tested positive for synthetic drugs.

Now, after years of dithering, and in the midst of a summer crime wave, D.C. officials have leapt into action with a series of legislative, regulatory, and investigative efforts—both civil and criminal—aimed at preventing the drugs from overwhelming a city. But in spite of the newfound urgency, the question remains: What took them so long?

To read the full story click here. 

‘Black Mass,’ Movie about Whitey Bulger, Highly anticipated in Boston

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

In Boston, where Whitey Bulger was the most feared gangster, many residents are excited to see the new movie, “Black Mass,” which is set for Sept. 18.

The biopic depicts Bulger, who is played by Johnny Depp, as an infamous crime leader who rose from a childhood growing up in public housing, the Boston Globe reports. 

“I want to go see it,” said Karen Gleason, 65, a lifelong resident of the neighborhood often called Southie, where Bulger’s Irish-American Winter Hill Gang held power.

“I think the original South Boston people will go see it, but I don’t know about anyone else. There’s a lot of diversity here now,” Gleason said.

The streets of South Boston were predominately working class, but the influx of young professionals has changed the demographics.

FBI Investigates Ohio State University Professor Who Disappeared After NASA Work

Rongxing Li via NASA.

Rongxing Li via NASA.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Professor Rongxing Li gained international attention for his role in helping NASA explore Mars.

But after a decade of help at Ohio State University, Li quit and disappeared. The university made no mention of his departure and removed information about him from the website.

Now, the Columbus Dispatch reports, the FBI is investigating whether Li shared defense secrets with China.

Li, who was the director of the mapping and geographic information system laboratory, “had access to Department of Defense technical information that was prohibited from sharing with the Chinese,” the Dispatch wrote, citing search warrants filed in U.S. District Court in Columbus.

The FBI, OSU and NASA declined to comment.

Homeland Security Chair Warns about Dangers of Hosting Syrian Refugees

Syria mapBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Should the U.S. host refugees who are fleeing Syria?

U.S. House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul is cautioning against it, saying the refugees present a threat to national security, TownHall.com reports.

“We’re a compassionate nation and this is a tragic situation but I also have to be concerned as Chairman of Homeland Security about the safety of Americans in this country and the concern that I have and that the FBI testified to is that we don’t really have the proper databases on these individuals to vet them passed and to assure we’re not allowing terrorists to come into this country and until I have that assurance, I cannot support a program that could potentially bring jihadists into the United States,” Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Michael McCaul said in an interview with Fox News Monday. “We don’t know who these people are and I think that’s the bottom line here and until we know who they are, we cannot responsibly bring them into the United States.”

“Both the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have told me privately that they don’t support bringing in Syrian refugees because of the threat they pose to Americans,” McCaul added.

McCaul said he hasn’t heard how President Obama plans to address the issue.

Some European countries are offering to take refugees, but nations in the Middle East are not.

FBI Spied on Nobel Prize-Winning Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez for 24 Years

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

For 24 years, the FBI spied on Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Washington Post reports. 

The FBI began investigating the Columbian writer in 1961, just after he helped Cuba establish a news service, according to recently obtained records.

He later became “a close friend of (Cuban dictator) Fidel Castro” and was a well-known leftist.

His fame spread with the acclaimed novels, “Love in the Time of Cholera” and “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” and he be befriended international dignitaries.

The records don’t explain the motive behind the FBI’s spying, but the records indicate that the FBI was interested in his travels and friendships.

TSA Screener Accused of Swiping Passenger’s $7,500 Watch, Smashing It in Panic

Margo Lauree-Grant, via Border Patrol

Margo Lauree-Grant, via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A TSA screener is accused of swiping a passenger’s watch and then smashing in a panic, the New York Post reports. 

Margo Lauree-Grant, 41, was arrested last week on allegations of stealing the $7,500 Diamond Master watch from a Canadian man on Aug. 26.

The traveler realized he forgot the watch during the screening process.

When TSA officials began reviewing video, Lauree-Grant “smashed the watch into pieces. She destroyed it,” a law enforcement official said.

She was charged with grand larceny, possession of stolen property and official misconduct.

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