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Archive for March 7th, 2017

Sen. McCaskill Wants Probe Into Why DEA Slowed Enforcement Efforts Against Pharmaceutical Companies

Sen. Claire McCaskill (photo from her website)

Sen. Claire McCaskill (photo from her website)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill wants to know why the DEA slowed enforcement efforts against pharmaceutical companies accused of violating laws designed to prevent pain pills from reaching the black market, the Washington Post reports.

McCaskill said she had “serious concerns” about reports of an enforcement slowdown as the opioid epidemic escalated nationwide, reports Scott Highham and Lenny Bernstein of the Washington Post.

“This a matter of life and death and I want to know whether or not we could have done more,” McCaskill said in a statement.

A DEA spokesman tells the Post the agency will review the senator’s request.

A press release issued  Monday by McCaskill’s office said:

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the top Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today requested that the Department of Justice conduct an internal investigation into the ability of the Drug Enforcement Agency to hold major drug distributors accountable for opioid diversion—as new data indicates that more Americans die annually from opioid abuse than gun violence.

In her letter to Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, McCaskill raised concerns that the fines recently levied against opioid distributors for major infractions were inadequate given the scale of the opioid problem within the United States and the severity of the infractions. McCaskill also questioned whether changes to DEA standards and pressure from senior officials have undermined enforcement efforts.

“Opioid deaths are a national epidemic in our country—people are more likely to die from an opioid related death than from gun violence,” McCaskill said. “We have situations where we’ve discovered that millions of opioid doses were being delivered by distributors in illegal and suspicious circumstances, and the government’s response was either too little or too late. This is a matter of life and death and I want to know whether or not we could have done more.”

Distributors purchase prescription medications and other medical products from manufacturers and then distribute them to pharmacies, hospitals, and other entities around the country.  Distributors have a legal obligation to prevent the diversion of prescription drugs, including opioids, for illegal purposes, and they can play an important role in monitoring the volume and nature of drug shipments to detect “pill mill” schemes.?

A Joke in Detroit’s Eastern Market That Some Might Not Find So Funny

article_landing_sign_25331

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — Ok. Sure it’s a joke.

A sign posted on a fence on Winder Street in Eastern Market near downtown Detroit bears the presidential seal with the words “Future Internment Camp.”

But in this era of executive orders banning travel from certain Muslim countries, and with talk of registering Muslims, the concept may not be so far fetched, particularly if the war on terror were to take a very bad turn.

The artist behind the sign apparently feels that way.

The sign is the creation of  Plastic Jesus, a Los Angeles-based artist known best for public works of social commentary, Violet Ikonomova of Metro Times reports. A resident on the block tells the paper the message appeared Friday.

At least one other such sign has been posted elsewhere in the country and Plastic Jesus tweeted an image of it Saturday along with the caption, “Coming to a city near you.” A total of ten signs are expected to go up around the U.S., according to a source who spoke with those who hung the one in Detroit.

FBI Investigating More than 300 Refugees for Potential Terrorist, AG Sessions Says

Attorney General Jeff Sessions (file photo)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions (file photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

To justify the latest travel ban involving Muslim countries, Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke Monday about the potential terror threat some refugees in the U.S. pose.

“[M]ore than 300 people who came here as refugees are under FBI investigation for potential terrorism-related activities,” Sessions said, according to CBS News.

He also said that those who are “seeking to support or commit terrorist attacks here will try to enter through our refugee program.”

Jeff Pegues of CBS noted in a website story that the officials will not say what countries these refugees came from,  when they came to the U.S. or if their legal status changed since arriving here.

Judge Refuses FBI Request to Force Potential Targets to Give Fingerprints to Unlock iPhones

fingerprint-smaller-version

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The battle over privacy and devices continues.

This time it’s taking place in Chicago.

A federal judge in Chicago has rejected a request by the FBI to force potential targets to provide fingerprints to unlock any iPhones or Apple devices in child pornography case, Jason Meisner and Steve Schmadeke of the Chicago Tribune report.

U.S. Magistrate Judge David Weisman decision came in response to a request for a warrant to search a residence where investigators suspect someone was using the internet to traffic images of child pornography, the Trib reports. 

The Trib reports:

The prosecution filing seeking the search warrant on the FBI’s behalf remains under seal, but the judge’s opinion said the government requested “the authority to compel any individual who is present at the subject premises at the time of the search” to provide a fingerprint or thumbprint needed to unlock an Apple device.

Weisman, a former federal prosecutor and FBI agent, wrote in his 14-page opinion last month that the government hadn’t presented enough facts in its application that would justify such sweeping “intrusions,” including any specific information about those who might be living at the residence or their connection to the child pornography investigation.