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FBI: Murders Surged in U.S. in 2015, While Violent Crime Rose Nearly 4%

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-7-18-08-am

Via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Murders surged 10% in 2015 over the previous year, while violent crime rose nearly 4% in the same time period, according to the FBI’s annual crime report.

The increase comes after two years of declines in violent crime in the U.S.

Still, violent crime rates remain much lower than two decades ago.

“The report shows that there was an overall increase in violent crime last year, making clear what each of us already knows: that we still have so much work to do,” Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said Monday in Little Rock, the Washington Post reports. “Violent crime endangers lives, destroys families and paralyzes neighborhoods … In some ways, violence affects all of us — and so all of us have a responsibility to end it.”

The largest increases in homicide came in Chicago, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

“But the report also reminds us of the progress that we are making,” Lynch said. “It shows that in many communities, crime has remained stable or even decreased from the historic lows reported in 2014. And it is important to remember that while crime did increase overall last year, 2015 still represented the third-lowest year for violent crime in the past two decades.”


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FBI Found More Than 1,600 Spent Shell Casings at Oregon Wildlife Refuge

Scene at the federal wildlife refuge.

Scene at the federal wildlife refuge.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI agents found more than 1,600 spent shell casings at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge boat launch in Oregon, where protesters occupied the area for 41 days earlier this year.

The findings were shared with jurors in a video that showed seven or eight men firing assault rifles, the Oregonian reports. 

Assistant U.S Attorney Ethan Knight said the video undermines defense attorneys’ claims that the armed standoff was a peaceful demonstration.

“It’s direct evidence of force,” Knight told the judge.

The Oregonian reports:

FBI agents, photographers and forensic accountants who were part of the agency’s Evidence Response Team spent the day testifying about what they recovered from the bird sanctuary in late February after the 41-day occupation. Bundy and six co-defendants are on trial, charged with conspiring to impede federal employees from the refuge through force, intimidation or threats.

The agents described dozens of boxes of ammunition found in multiple sites, rifle cases left in the refuge archaeologist’s office, a trench filled with trash bags near the RV park on the eastern edge of refuge headquarters, three cut padlocks located in a dumpster outside the bunkhouse, a “Tyranny” sign propped up at the refuge’s front gate and an improvised bunker dug out by the back gate of the refuge.

They also revealed handwritten notes they seized from the bunkhouse and elsewhere that described tactical training, formations and drills, guard duty schedules and individual assignments such as “rifleman” or “medic.”

FBI Special Agent Christopher Chew said he was the senior team leader, managing the search and seizure of evidence from Feb. 12 through Feb. 23. He said there were FBI evidence teams that helped Portland agents from Seattle, Salt Lake City, Denver and San Antonio.


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Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Urge DEA to Halt Banning Kratom

Kratom pill, via Wikipedia.

Kratom pill, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

House lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are urging the DEA to reconsider its decision to make kratom, an herbal supplement, a Schedule I drug because of its potential to help heroin addicts.

A letter from 45 representatives asked the acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg to delay the ban, which could take effect as early as this week, until authorities “engage consumers, researchers, and other stakeholders, in keeping with well-established protocol for such matters,” Huffington Post reports. 

“This significant regulatory action was done without any opportunity for public comment from researchers, consumers, and other stakeholders,” reads the letter, drafted by Reps. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., and Matt Salmon, R-Ariz. “This hasty decision could have serious effects on consumer access and choice of an internationally recognized herbal supplement.”

Lawmakers also appealed to the Office of Management and Budget to stop the DEA’s scheduling process so authorities could determine if kratom should be placed into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

Kratom users and some scientists said the DEA’s proposed ban is premature because of potential medical benefits to people dependent on prescription painkillers or heroin.


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Justice Department to Award More Than $20M for Body Cameras for Police

Body cams, via Wikipedia

Body cams, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

After the rash of police shootings of black men across country, the Justice Department plans to award more than $20 million to law enforcement agencies to use or enhance body cameras.   

Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Monday, saying the money will be awarded to 106 state, city, tribal and municipal law enforcement agencies, the Chicago Tribune reports. 

“Of course, even as we strive to support local leaders and our law enforcement partners in their work to protect their communities, we are mindful — we know, we see every day — that effective public safety requires more than arrests and prosecutions,” Lynch said. “Because It also requires winning, and keeping, the trust and the confidence of the citizens we serve.”

Lynch alluded to the police shootings to raise the importance of body cameras footage.

“There is no doubt that these are challenging times for law enforcement and communities alike,” Lynch said. “Where the relationship of trust has frayed and frankly broken, we see the mistrust within the community; we also see the underlying fear within many of our friends and neighbors that when they are threatened by violence, they will have no one to call.”


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Report: ‘The ATF Is Discriminating on the Basis of Race’ During Stings

atf badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The ATF singled out black people and Latinos while conducting controversial stings in Chicago, according to a report released by the Justice Department. 

The report found “strong, consistent and statistically significant evidence” of racial profiling.

Of the 94 people arrested during undercover stings in Chicago, 91% were black or hispanic.

The chances that agents didn’t racially profile was 0.1%, according to a Columbia Law School professor Jeffrey Fagan, who prepared the report.

The investigation concluded that “the ATF is discriminating on the basis of race.”

The ATF couldn’t be reached for comment this morning.

Other Stories of Interest


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CIA Director: I Was a Supporter of Communist Party in Mid-1970s

CIA Director John Brennan

CIA Director John Brennan

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

CIA Director John Brennan revealed that he was once a communist sympathizer in the mid-1970s because he was disgusted by Watergate and the political landscape that helped produce it.

Brennan was in college at the time and voted for Communist Party nominee Gus Hall, New York Magazine reports. 

By 1980, Brennan said he was no longer a Communist sympathizer and realized that capitalism was a far better system.

Brennan said he “froze” when he was taking a polygraph test when entering the CIA.

“This was back in 1980, and I thought back to a previous election where I voted, and I voted for the Communist Party candidate.”

Brennan added, “I said I was neither Democratic or Republican, but it was my way, as I was going to college, of signaling my unhappiness with the system, and the need for change. I said I’m not a member of the Communist Party, so the polygrapher looked at me and said, ‘OK,’ and when I was finished with the polygraph and I left and said, ‘Well, I’m screwed.’”

Despite his past, he received national security clearance.

Other Stories of Interest


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Thailand Asks FBI to Help Identify Dismembered Body Found in Freezer

thailand-map-2By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has been asked to help identify a dismembered body in Thailand found in a freezer last week.

The foreign male was discovered Friday while police were investigating a passport-forgery gang in Bangkok, Time reports. 

During the investigation, three foreign nationals were arrested, and two had U.S. passports. The other was identified as British.

It’s unclear whether the men are from the U.S., though, because they likely had fake identification.

The body was chopped into several pieces and stowed in a freezer for months, making it impossible to use fingerprints to identification.

The FBI has been asked to check dental records to identify the body.


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FBI’s Annual Report Expected to Show Increase in Violent Crime in Some Big Cities

crime sceneBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s annual crime report is expected to show an increase in violent crime in some big cities in 2015.

Those cities include Chicago, Washington D.C. and Baltimore.

Despite the increase, “the violent crime rate has remained far below peak levels of the early 1990s,” Reuters reports, citing experts.

The news comes on the day of the first presidential debate.

Republican Donald Trump has falsely claimed violent crime has reached dangerous new levels, but any increase could be used as political football. Trump has called for more aggressive policing tactics, such as “stop-and-frisk.”


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