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Archive for December 9th, 2015

‘Largely Despised’ FBI Headquarters Offers Golden Opportunity to Redevelop Site

FBI's headquarters is called the J. Edgar Hoover Building.

FBI’s headquarters is called the J. Edgar Hoover Building.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Supporters of reviving Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Washington  can’t wait for the FBI to relocate the J. Edgar Hoover Building to a new suburban campus so redevelopment can begin, Business Journal reports.

Calling the building a “Brutalist and largely despised FBI home,” the Business Journal wrote that supporters want to replace headquarters with something that is mixed-use and open to the public.

The 2.8-million-square-foot Hoover Building, which was dedicated in 1975, “casts an ugly shadow over its surroundings,” the reporter wrote.

A 108-page guide, the Pennsylvania Avenue Plan, was written in 1974 and encouraged retail in the building, which never happened.

In December, the National Capital Planning Commission on unanimously supported new language in the plan that would “accommodate high-density” commercial, residential and cultural uses.

“We want to see an increase in daily active uses around all four sides of this property and we want to also see an increase in commerce and public use as well as national and local events,” Elizabeth Miller, the NCPC’s director of physical planning, told the panel.

Homeland Security Chief Expresses Disappointment with Low Moral in Agency

homeland2department-of-homeland-security-logo-300x300By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

No matter what Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson does to boost morale, his agency continues to rank last in this year’s Best Places to Work in the Federal Government survey.

For the fourth year in a row, employees of Homeland Security were collectively unhappier than employees at the 19 largest federal agencies.

The Washington Post reports that Johnson has tried to improve employee training fairness in hiring and promotions, but that hasn’t been enough.

Less than a third of Homeland Security employees expressed confidence in leadership in this year’s survey, and 43.1% consider DHS a good place to work.

Johnson wrote an email to his 240,000 employees, expressing his frustrations with the rankings.

“I’m disappointed,” he wrote. “We know improving employee satisfaction takes time, and we will not give up. We have an aggressive plan to do this.”

Ex-ATF Agent: Let’s Stop Pretending Lawmakers Are Regulating Lethal Firearms

gunsBy Former ATF Jay Wachtel
for Washington Post

When it comes to regulating firearms, we only pretend to legislate. And even when we do legislate, we only pretend to make them safer. Think that I’m exaggerating? Read on.

In 1994, the federal assault weapons ban outlawed a host of firearms by make and model, including the popular Colt AR-15 and several “AK” style rifles. More broadly, the law also prohibited the manufacture and sale of any semi-automatic rifle that could accept a detachable ammunition magazine (for quicker reloading), and had two or more external features such as a folding stock (to make a gun more compact), pistol grips and barrel shrouds (to help steady one’s aim) and a flash suppressor (to hide a shooter’s position). Caliber wasn’t affected but magazine capacities were limited to ten rounds. Existing weapons and magazines could continue to be possessed and transferred.

How did the gun industry respond? With cosmetic fixes. Colt renamed the AR-15 the “Sporter,” stripped off its flash suppressor and bayonet lug and modified the magazine. Other manufacturers and importers took similar measures, renaming guns and making minor tweaks.

Everyone was pleased. For liberals, the law’s passage was a victory. What got lost in the orgy of self-congratulation, though, was the purpose of the ban.

One assumes that assault rifles were picked on because they are particularly lethal. Key attributes that make them so include accuracy at range, rapid-fire capability and, most importantly, fearsome ballistics. In their most common calibers – 7.62 and .223 – these weapons discharge bullets whose extreme energy and velocity readily pierce protective garments commonly worn by police, opening cavities in flesh many times the diameter of the projectile and causing devastating wounds.

None of these real threats were addressed by the ban. Yet when the statute expired ten years later, Democrats in Congress voiced outrage and promised to secure its renewal.

Last week, a young Southern California couple armed with two pistols and two .223 caliber assault rifles viciously murdered 14 people and wounded 21, some critically. All four guns were purchased from licensed gun retailers in California, the state whose assault weapons law has been touted as the nation’s most restrictive. But as the officers who responded to the massacre in patrol cars and armored vehicles can attest, their state’s vaunted measures (its supposedly stiff provisions require, for example, that magazines be fixed in place, yet provide an easy workaround) proved hopelessly ineffective.

California, the state which gun enthusiasts love to hate, seems no more anxious to take real action against highly lethal firearms than the reticent Feds.

What makes this so? For a clue we can turn to District of Columbia v. Heller,the landmark 2008 Supreme Court case that slapped down a law prohibiting the possession of handguns. In its ruling, the Court held that the Second Amendment grants individuals the right to have firearms for “traditionally lawful purposes” such as self-protection. Going beyond handguns, the majority also endorsed the concept that the Second Amendment protects the right to possess firearms “in common use.”

What’s missing from Heller is a comparison of guns at the time the Second Amendment was written and now. Had the Framers time-traveled to a contemporary gun store, they probably would have been astonished at just how lethal firearms would become. They might have even graced the Second Amendment with an additional clause that placed limits on the madness.

But they didn’t. Neither did the Heller justices, who completely ignored the stark contrast between then and now. One wishes that a law clerk looked up Section 921(a)(16) of the Gun Control Act of 1968, which exempts weapons with antique ignition systems or that do not use fixed ammunition – in other words, the guns of the Framer’s era – from the definition of “firearm.”

To read more click here. 

Feds Investigate How San Bernardino Couple Received $28,500 Loan

The San Bernardino couple who opened fire at a holiday party.

The San Bernardino couple who opened fire at a holiday party.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Federal investigators are trying to determine how the California couple that opened fire at a holiday party obtained a $28,500 that may have financed their massacre, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Syed Rizwan Farook earned about $50,000 a year as a health inspector for San Bernardino County, and his wife was a stay-at-h0me home.

Just weeks before the massacre, they received a $28,500 loan from an online lender, Prosper Marketplace, which acts “as a middleman matching borrowers and investors who fund their loans,” the Los Angeles Times wrote.

A terror group would “be competing with all these funds to get that loan, and they’d have no certainty of who the borrower was,” said Bryce Mason, who has invested in Prosper loans and is chief investment officer of Direct Lending Investments, a La Cañada Flintridge hedge fund.

Former Deputy U.S. Marshal Gets 15 Months for Lying to Cops After Fatally Shooting a Man

u.s. marshal patch

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A former deputy U.S. marshal was sentenced Monday in Los Angeles to 15 months in prison for obstruction of justice – a charge stemming from lies he told to police after he fatally shot a man while off duty, the Justice Department said.

Matthew Itkowitz, 47, who lives in Suffern, N.Y., was  found guilty in July  of obstruction of justice by a federal jury in July. Authorities charged that Itkowitz shot the man who intervened in a fight between him and his wife. He claimed it was self defense.

A Justice Department press release said the conviction was based on false statements Itkowitz made to Los Angeles police homicide detectives following his fatal shooting of a man in West Hollywood in March of 2008. Itkowitz falsely characterized an altercation that led to the shooting, and his version of events was contradicted by a video made by a security camera in the alley where the shooting took place.

Additionally,  Itkowitz was charged with violating the victim’s constitutional rights to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a law enforcement officer.