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Archive for September, 2016

Creepy Clown Hysteria Prompts Sheriff to Ask for Help from FBI, Homeland Security

Creepy clown, via Wikipedia

Creepy clown, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A clown hysteria has swept across social media and is now prompting law enforcement to take some drastic – and potentially unconstitutional – measures.

The panic appeared to start in August in Greenville, S.C., where clowns were reportedly luring children into the woods.

“From there, it ballooned into reports of people in clown costumes lurking in parks, assaulting people, chasing people and even threatening to kill people,” reports Network World, which chronicled law enforcement actions in light of the hysteria. 

A sheriff in Kentucky has asked the FBI and Homeland Security to help investigate a “creepy clown” threat. The sheriff in Gallatin County even warned that “clown threats” may face charges of “inducing panic and terroristic threatening.”

This week, Gallatin County Kentucky Schools said it received a “vague threat of violence” from two “clowns” who threaten to shoot high school students. As a result, school attendance plummeted 48%.

Network World wrote that most of the clown reports are rumors or pranks.

Gallatin County Sheriff Josh Neale told people to forward threatening messages from clowns to the police, who were “aggressively looking into each and every message.” Neale said he was consulting with the FBI and Homeland Security over the clown threats. He added, “The person or people making the ‘clown threats’ could face local charges of inducing panic and terroristic threatening.”

Other police have also addressed the clown threat after it was going viral in social media. Wearing a “full clown costume” in public got one man arrested in Kentucky. He was charged with “wearing a mask in a public place and disorderly conduct.” He’s notthe only “clown” who has been arrested.

Kentucky’s Barbourville Police warned that dressing like a clown “can create a dangerous situation.” While “approaching people in a threatening manner” is illegal, so too is “assaulting, shooting, attacking or otherwise injuring someone simple because they are wearing a costume.”

Ex-CIA Official to Lead New National Background Investigations Bureau

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The new National Background Investigations Bureau will be led by the CIA’s former security director.

Charles Phalen Jr., who was working in the private sector after 30 years as a government employee, will start next week as the new bureau’s first director.

The NBIB was established last year to handle the massive government data breach at the Office of Personnel Management, the Associated Press reports. 

Phalen brings a lot of experience. He worked at the FBI and CIA.

The AP wrote:

The break-in at the OPM exposed security clearances, background checks and fingerprint records of more than 21 million current, former and prospective federal employees. That intrusion was widely blamed on China and led to the resignation of the OPM director and drew outrage over changing explanations about the severity of the hack.

The bureau will be part of OPM, but the Defense Department will design and operate the computer system that houses and processes people’s personal information.

Beth Cobert, acting director of OPM, told reporters that the bureau also is working to reduce the time it takes to investigate and issue or deny security clearances. Currently, it takes an average of 170 days to investigate a top-security clearance request, far exceeding the goal of 80 days, she said.

Other Stories of Interest

Donald Trump Speculates – with No Proof – That FBI Granted Clinton Immunity

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump on Thursday suggested that Hillary Clinton was given immunity, along with five of her staffers, during the yearlong FBI investigation into her use of a private email server.

But the Republican presidential candidate, who has a history of lying and misleading voters, couldn’t substantiate his claims that the FBI gave Clinton immunity.

“They gave so much immunity there was nobody left to talk to. There was nobody left, except Hillary,” he said, Politico reports. “They probably gave her immunity, too. Do you think Hillary got immunity? Yeah, she had the immunity. She had something.”

The FBI has denied Clinton was promised immunity.

What is clear is that five Clinton staffers, whom Trump dubbed the “FBI Immunity Five,” were granted immunity in exchange for information about the email server.

“You saw what happened about taking the Fifth Amendment, and her ring leaders getting immunity deals,” Trump said during a rally in Bedford, New Hampshire. “We’ll call them really the FBI Immunity Five.”

More Than 20,000 Guns Purchased by People Deemed Unfit to Own Firearms

gunBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

More than 20,000 guns were purchased by people the FBI deemed unfit to own firearms in the past 15 years because of a disagreement between the bureau and ATF.

A new report from the Office of Inspector General reveals a loophole that allowed people to buy guns, even though they were deemed unfit, the Christian Science Monitor reports. 

The responsibility for running background checks on prospective gun owners belongs to the FBI.

But the ATF and FBI disagree on who qualifies as a “fugitive of justice,” a label that is supposed to prevent prospective buyers from purchasing guns.

The FBI believes anyone with an outstanding warrant should not be allowed to purchase a gun. But the ATF disagrees, saying people who with warrants should be allowed to buy guns in the state where the warrant was issued, but not in other states.

“We recommend that the OLC issue an opinion as soon as possible to clarify the correct definition of the ‘fugitive from justice’ category of the persons prohibited from purchasing a firearm,” the review concluded. “Only then can ATF and the FBI be certain the law is being applied appropriately and as intended.”

FBI Believes Russia Is Behind Attempted Hacks of Voting Registration Sites

hacker-istock-photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI believes Russia is behind attempted hacks of voter registration sites in more than a dozen states.

FBI Director James Comey relayed his concerns to a House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, CNN reports. 

“There have been a variety of scanning activities which is a preamble for potential intrusion activities as well as some attempted intrusions at voter database registrations beyond those we knew about in July and August. We are urging the states just to make sure that their deadbolts are thrown and their locks are on and to get the best information they can from DHS just to make sure their systems are secure,” he said.

Comey is warning states that would-be hackers are “poking around” voter registration systems.

Comey said the hacking attempts weren’t successful and didn’t compromise voting systems, at least not yet.

“We are urging the states just to make sure that their deadbolts are thrown and their locks are on and to get the best information they can from (the Department of Homeland Security) just to make sure their systems are secure,” Comey said. “Because there’s no doubt that some bad actors have been poking around.”

New York Times: Be Careful to Read Too Much into FBI Crime Report

police lightsBy Editorial Board
New York Times

Over the last several decades, whenever there has been a reported increase in violent crime numbers, there have been people eager to seize on the statistics and argue, as the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has, that crime is “out of control.”

The opportunity arose again on Monday, when the F.B.I. released its annual snapshot of crime nationwide in 2015, showing that there was a 10.8 percent increase in the number of murders and nonnegligent manslaughter cases over 2014. The number of violent crimes — which the report defines as murder, nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery and assault — was up almost 4 percent, while the number of property crimes, such as burglary and larceny, was down 2.6 percent.

These are troubling figures, and they demand a level-headed, targeted response. But any single data point must be considered against the broader trend of declining crime rates: In fact, 2015 was the thirdsafest year in more than four decades. And the number of violent crimes was 16.5 percent below the 2006 level.

The surge in killings was fueled by street violence in a handful of major cities. While murder rates rose significantly in 25 of the 100 largest cities in 2015, an analysis by The Timesfound that half of the increase in killings in big cities came from just seven — Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Milwaukee, Nashville and Washington — where most of the victims were young African-American males. Guns were used in nearly three-quarters of the 15,696 homicides in 2015.

Unfortunately, the debate over how best to fight crime is always a combustible one, so even relatively small changes in crime rates can lead to big and often destructive changes in law and policy, like mandatory-minimum prison sentences or stop-and-frisk policing. In the name of greater public safety, policies like these have done immense damage to minority communities around the country, and particularly to the young black and Latino men who have borne their brunt, even as evidence shows that they do little if anything to reduce crime.

To read more click here. 

NRA’s Influence Over Congress Leaves ATF Understaffed

atf-gunsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Even if the government decided to take away people’s guns, the ATF is so understaffed that it would be unable to follow through.

“Look, we don’t have the people,” Corey Ray, an ATF spokesman told Mother Jones. “Even if we were like, ‘Yeah, we’re coming to take your guns,’ 30 years from now you might get a knock on your door.”

The ATF said the lack of manpower is the result of the NRA’s powerful influence over Congress.

“Look, we don’t have the people,” Corey Ray, an ATF spokesman told Mother Jones.  “Even if we were like, ‘Yeah, we’re coming to take your guns,’ 30 years from now you might get a knock on your door.”

The ATF estimates that there are more guns than people in the U.S., and an additional 10 million new guns are manufactured every year.

To put that into perspective, the ATF has 2,600 special agents. 

Detroit Man Charged After Allegedly Threatening to Kill Police at Cop’s Funeral

Deshawn Maurice Lanton

Deshawn Maurice Lanton

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — A 21-year-old Detroit man threatened to kill police while they gathered at a funeral last week for a Detroit police sergeant who had been fatally shot, according to a criminal complaint.

Deshawn Maurice Lanton was charged in federal court with charges that he used the internet to transmit a threat, the Detroit News reports. 

The complaint alleges that Lanton said on a live video on Facebook, ““Maybe I should drop a bomb on that building and get rid of the rest of y’all.”

The post was made about 90 minutes after the funeral began in suburban St. Clair Shores.

An FBI review of Lanton’s Facebook page found that Lanton rejoiced about other police officers getting injured, saying “how pleased he was to see officers being injured,” according to the criminal complaint.

“This case is different from some other generalized threats on social media against police officers and other groups because this statement threatens specific harm to a particular group of people at a precise location,” U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a statement.

Other Stories of Interest