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Putin Defends Trump, Dismisses Claims of Collusion As Propaganda

Russian leader Vladimir Putin

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Russian President Vladimir Putin praised President Trump, discounting allegations of links between the White House and Kremlin as “some sort of spy-mania,” Bloomberg reports.

“We see some quite serious achievements, even in this short period of time that he’s been working,” Putin said at his annual press conference in Moscow on Thursday. “Look at the markets, how they’ve risen. That shows investors’ confidence in the American economy, it shows they believe in what President Trump is doing in this area.”

Putin dismissed the allegations of links between Russia and Trump’s campaign as propaganda “invented by people who are in opposition to Trump in order to make his work look illegitimate.”

Putin is running for another six years as president of Russia.

ATF Under Fire for Controversial Stings Primarily Targeting African Americans

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

ATF stings have come under fire because they’re predominately targeting African Americans and prompting allegations of racial profiling and entrapment.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the ATF has “convinced hundreds of would-be robbers across the country that they were stealing large quantities of narcotics, only to find out the drugs were a figment of the government’s imagination.” 

Because of mandatory federal sentencing laws, suspects caught up in the controversial stings are spending decades or even life behind bars, even though the drugs never existed.

The Tribune wrote:

Now the legal battle is coming to a head in an unprecedented hearing at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in Chicago before a panel of nine district judges overseeing a dozen separate cases involving more than 40 defendants.

The hearing, which has been four years in the making, will take place over two days in the courthouse’s large ceremonial courtroom. As many as 30 defendants, their relatives and individual attorneys are expected to attend, and an overflow courtroom has been set up to handle the anticipated crowd.

“In my 46 years of practicing law, I’ve never seen anything like this before,” attorney Richard Kling, who represents one of the defendants, told the Chicago Tribune this week.

The testimony will focus on dueling experts who reached starkly different conclusions about the racial breakdown of targets in the stash house cases.

A nationally renowned expert hired by the Federal Criminal Justice Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School — which is spearheading the effort to have the cases dismissed — concluded that disparity between minority and white defendants in the stings was so large that there was “a zero percent likelihood” it happened by chance.

Other Stories of Interest

Putin Insists FBI Is Drugging Former Head of Russia’s Anti-Doping Lab

Russian President Vladimir Putin

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed – with no evidence – that the FBI is drugging the former head of Russia’s anti-doping lab so he’ll blow the whistle on a massive state-run doping program.

Putin said the former head of the lab, Grigory Rodchenkov, who is now in a witness-protection program in the U.S., is under the influence of some kind of drug to get him to cooperate with the investigation, Bloomberg reports.

The whistleblower led to Russia being barred from the 2018 Winter Olympics.

“He’s working under the control of the American special services, what kind of substances are they giving him so he says what they need?” Putin said at his annual press conference on Thursday in Moscow.

Despite Putin’s claims, Rodchenkov has the backing of the International Olympic Committee, which said the whistleblowers’s accusations that Russia was doping its athletes are credible.

According to the World Anti-Doping Agency, Russia conspired to provide banned substances to about 1,000 athletes from 2011-15.

Trump’s Deputy AG: No Good Reason to Fire Mueller

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifying before a House committee Wednesday.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

In a powerful rebuke to Donald Trump and Republicans, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testified Wednesday that he saw no good reason to fire special counsel Robert Mueller from his investigation into possible collusion between the president’s campaign and Russia.

Republicans grilled Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, following recent revelations that two FBI officials on Mueller’s team were mocking the president in text messages.

Rosenstein defended Mueller, saying he is properly overseeing the investigation and has taken action when confronted with allegations of bias on the special counsel team.

“I know what he is doing,” Rosenstein told the House Judiciary Committee. “I am not aware of any impropriety.”

Rosenstein added that he would not comply with Trump if the president ordered him to fire Mueller, unless there was “good cause” for his removal.

“As I’ve explained previously, I would follow the regulation: If there was good cause, I would act,” Rosenstein said. “If there were no good cause, I would not.”

FBI Officials in Russia Probe Mocked Trump in Series of Revealing Texts

Photo via FBI

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Two senior FBI officials involved in the special counsel’s investigation into possible collision between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia mocked the Republican candidate and expressed their extreme dislike for him.

The remarks were made in text messages between a top counterintelligence agent, Peter Strzok, and Lisa Page, a senior FBI lawyer, several media outlets report

The pair, who also criticized Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration, described the prospect of a Trump presidency as “terrifying.”

The text messages, which were sent to lawmakers Tuesday night as part of an ethics investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general, included insults aimed at Trump, calling him him an “idiot,” “awful” and a “loathsome human.”

Strzok has been removed from the special counsel’s team after the text messages surfaced.

Republicans are using the text messages to attack the credibility of the investigation led by Robert Mueller.

Trump’s Lawyers Call for Second Special Counsel to Probe DOJ, FBI Officials

Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s lawyers are calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a second special counsel to investigate possible conflicts of interest and other issues in the Justice Department and on the special counsel team probing the Trump campaign.

“The conflicts of interest here and the impropriety is a very serious concern,” Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s personal lawyers, said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “You have to look at all of 2016 and what was going on in the Department of Justice.”

One of the concerns involves Bruce G. Ohr., a senior DOJ official who met privately with a private research firm involved in the salacious, but unconfirmed, dossier. Ohr’s wife worked for the firm, Fusion GPS.

Trump’s lawyers also cite anti-Trump text messages between two senior FBI officials who were involved in the special counsel investigation .

Dallas Morning News: Why We Can’t Trust the FBI to Protect Us from Criminals

The FBI’s current headquarters in Washington D.C., named after J. Edgar Hoover.

By Editorial Board
Dallas Morning News

Will the nation have to suffer through another criminal tragedy before agencies get on the ball and start reporting  information to the FBI in a timely manner? The latest snafu occurred right here in Texas when Gregory McQueen received approval to be a foster parent for abused and neglected children. While he initially appeared to be a good candidate, it turns out he had no business caring for children in the foster community.

McQueen, who served in the Army, pleaded guilty to more than a dozen military charges for attempting to run a prostitution ring in Fort Hood. His actions resulted in a demotion, two years in prison and naturally, a dishonorable discharge.

The state says the record should have kept him out of the foster-care program, according to reporting by The Dallas Morning News’ Terri Langford.

Why was McQueen not flagged? Because the Army never submitted the information to the FBI so it could update the database states rely on for criminal background checks.

If this sound familiar, it should.

 To read more click here.

CBP Hires Private Company to Help Hire 5,000 Border Patrol Agents

File photo of a Border Patrol agent.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Customs and Border Protection is paying a private company $297 million to help hire 5,000 new Border Patrol agents.

The move is part of President Trump’s push to put more agents on the ground to protect against illegal immigration.

Since Border Patrol is struggling to meet the hiring mandate, it’s turning to a division of Accenture, an international professional services corporation, for a five-year contract, the San Diego Union Tribune reports

The Union-Tribune wrote:

The scope of work in the contract requires the company to manage “the full life cycle of the hiring process” from job posting to processing new hires. The company, the agency said in email response to questions, will augment the agency’s existing internal hiring programs.

It also calls for a “hard-hitting, targeted recruitment campaign consisting of promoting the CBP law enforcement careers and opportunities” and a public education campaign about CBP and Border Patrol jobs.

Accenture wil be paid to assist hiring 5,000 Border Patrol agents, as well as 2,000 customs officers and 500 agents for the Office of Air and Marine Operations. The award was made on Nov. 17, with Accenture being selected above four other bidders, federal contract records show.

To skeptics of the hiring push, the Accenture contract makes little sense. “They’re spending almost $40,000 per hire,” said Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute, a Libertarian think tank in Washington, D.C. “Just off the bat that seems like a pretty desperate move.”

Other Stories of Interest