Saturday, June 03, 2006

Coastal Empire
Security guard shot by two other guards

Two security guards are in jail after they fired seven shots at a third unarmed security guard outside an east Savannah apartment complex, police said. They fired seven shots, striking Herman Riley four times. Police are still investigating if the guards were licensed to carry firearms, but said they had enough evidence to arrest them. Foglia said the suspects' vehicle that pulled behind Herman Riley's truck was unmarked and that neither of the suspect guards were in uniform. Foglia described Herman Riley as a "relatively new" employee.

He was so new that Security Experts hadn't received his background check back yet and were unaware of the 20-plus arrests on his record. Chatham County jail records show Herman Riley has been arrested for charges ranging from aggravated assault and armed robbery to solicitation of sodomy and cocaine possession. Herman Riley Sr., the wounded guard's father, said he didn't have much information on his son, other than that he was born in Berlin, Germany.

Eight vehicles were damaged during the incident, including four that were pierced with bullets, the report says.

(Welcome to Savannah, y'all.)

Friday, June 02, 2006

Couric predicted that the "pretentious era" of the evening-news anchor is going to be a thing of the past.

Couric, who was speaking during a Q&A session with "60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl, added that she "resents" being asked how difficult it will be to make the transition from the "lightness" of morning news to the more "sober" evening news.

"Anyone who watches 'Today' knows that I've done more hard-hitting interviews than any evening news anchor," she said.

"There's an awful lot of work to do," McManus said. Viewers will see some changes when Couric joins -- including a new set, graphics and music -- but any changes "may not be revolutionary" and the broadcast will "evolve over time."

"Dramatic differences might impress a lot of critics, but they also will alienate the core group of viewers who still watch every night,"

(OK, I give up. Who the hell is this person and what is this news thing at 6 PM she rants of? She's reportedly getting 15 million dollars each year to present 1/2 hour of news 5 nights each week plus a couple of those "hard-hitting" interviews she's famous for. That'll sure be less pretentious I guess. Most people I know making less than 15 million are less pretentious than those who make more. I know one person who watches news at 6 PM. That's my dad and he wouldn't watch a woman deliver it if you set his feet on fire otherwise. It's a matter of gravitas you see, women won't ever have gravitas. I can't imagine anyone with a computer and a fast connection that watches any TV news whatever today. Dad has WebTV and dial up for it. By time the news is delivered as 6 PM it's old, stale, rehashed. At 6:15 if you're reporting an event that happened at 6:10 you may be timely, other than that, it ain't news, it's entertainment. I don't care about new graphics, a flashy new set and I really don't care about her interpetation of the news...her's or anyone elses. I want the facts, I'll make up my own mind from that point, thanks. I have more live news feeds than she does, right here at my fingers. Honest to God, I know she's a personality of some sort, I just don't know why. And I'll promise you this...I'm better informed, more aware, more up-to-date than anyone who turns on the box in their living room for anything other than SpongeBob SquarePants! They call it "The Boob Tube" because that's was it is. Jerry Springer anyone?
What kind of file do you use to make a small hole bigger? A pedophile.

Official Apologizes For Saying Bush Should Be Shot Between Eyes

State Comptroller Alan Hevesi publicly apologized Thursday for a "beyond dumb" remark about a fellow Democrat putting "a bullet between the president's eyes."

According to a videotape of the speech, Hevesi said: "The man who, how do I phrase this diplomatically, who will put a bullet between the president's eyes if he could get away with it. The toughest senator, the best representative. A great, great member of the Congress of the United States."

"Comptroller Hevesi was trying to make a point," Heller said. "He went way too far, and it was inappropriate and wrong. He has apologized to both the senator and the president, and we believe that ends the matter."

(Let's try something. Sometime today, you stand up in a public forum and make a similar statement. Leave me a note as to how well that works out for you. That'll be after the Secret Service finishes with you and your family, of course.)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Why do doctors slap babies' butts right after they're born? To knock the penises off the smart ones.

What is that insensitive bit at the base of the penis called? The man.

Why is psychoanalysis quicker for men than for women? When it's time to go back to childhood, he's already there.

What do you call a handcuffed man? Trustworthy.

What do a clitoris, an anniversary, and a toilet have in common? Men always miss them.

Why are men like commercials? You can't believe a word they say.

Why are men like popcorn? They satisfy you, but only for a little while.

Why are men like blenders? You need one, but you're not quite sure why.

Why do so many women fake orgasm? Because so many men fake foreplay.

Why do so many women fake orgasm? Because they think men care.

Why are women so bad at mathematics? Because men keep telling them that this (make gap with thumb and forefinger) is 9 inches.

What's the difference between a bar and a clitoris? Most men have no trouble finding a bar.

What's a man's definition of a romantic evening? Sex.

What is the only time a man thinks about a candlelight dinner? When the power goes off.

What do men and women have in common? They both distrust men.

How can you tell the difference between men's real gifts and their guilt gifts? Guilt gifts are nicer.

What do you instantly know about a well-dressed man? His wife is good at picking out clothes.

How is a man like the weather? Nothing can be done to change either one of them.

What is the difference between a man and childbirth? One can be terribly painful and sometimes almost unbearable while the other is just having a baby.

What is the difference between a single 40-year-old woman and a single 40-year-old man? The 40-year-old woman thinks often of having children and the 40-year-old man thinks often about dating them.

Women dream of world peace, a safe environment, and eliminating hunger. What do men dream of? Being stuck in an elevator with the Doublemint twins.

What do you call a man who expects to have sex on the second date? Slow.

What is the one thing that all men at singles bars have in common? They're married.

What do most men think Mutual Orgasm is? An insurance company.

Why don't men often show their true feelings? Because they don't have any.

Why do men have a hole in their penis? So oxygen can get to their brains.

What's easier to make: a snowman or a snowwoman? A snowwoman is easier to make, 'cause with a snowman you have to hollow out the head and use all that extra snow to make its testicles.

What do you call a man with 99% of his brain missing? Castrated.

What's the difference between government bonds and men? Bonds mature.

What's the difference between a man and E.T.? E.T. phoned home.

Why are all dumb blonde jokes one-liners? So men can remember them.

Guy walks into a bar, sits down, and asks, "Bartender, got any specials today?" Bartender answers, "Yes, as a matter of fact we have a new drink invented by a gynecologist patron of ours. It's a mix of Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer and Smirnoff Vodka." The guy asks, "Good grief, what do you call that?" The bartender replied, "It's a "Pabst Smir."
Three men die in a car accident Christmas Eve. St. Peter is there at the pearly gates waiting patiently for them. He informs them that as it is Christmas, they each must produce an item that represents the spirit of the season before they can be let in. The first man searches his suit and finds some leaves, apparently from the accident and tells St. Peter, "These leaves represent holly and mistletoe." and he's allowed in. The second man produces a key ring and informs St. Peter, "Shaking these keys represents the sound of bells and the joyous music of the season." and he is also allowed in. The third man pulls out a pair of worn thong panties. Confused at this last gesture, St. Peter asks, "How do these represent Christmas?" The third guy replies, "They're Carol's."

Richard Pryor was the funniest comedian ever. Hands down.

Honest Leadership
Open Government

Reid Says He Won't Accept Free Tickets

Reid said he believed it was appropriate to accept the free tickets because the gifts were from his home state and that McCain, R-Ariz., had to reimburse because he was from out of state. Senate ethics rules generally allow senators to take gifts from any state, not just their home state.

But they specifically warn against taking normally permissible gifts if the giver may be trying to influence official action."It was therefore entirely permissible for Senator Reid - a senator from Nevada - to have attended a major Nevada sporting event as a guest of Nevada officials," Manley said.

Several ethics experts disagreed, criticizing Reid's rationale that he felt obligated to take the tickets to ensure boxing was being conducted properly in his home state."He is no more obligated to go to boxing matches than he is to a Celine Dion concert in Vegas," said Melanie Sloan, a former Justice Department prosecutor and head of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Jefferson claims innocence in bribe probe

A Democratic congressman facing a bribery probe after FBI agents found $90,000 in his freezer denied wrongdoing on Monday and said he would not step down from his congressional seat.

FBI investigators raided Jefferson's office over the weekend and disclosed they had videotaped the New Orleans lawmaker accepting $100,000 cash intended as a bribe for a Nigerian official.

The FBI also said in a court affidavit that it found $90,000 of that money hidden in a freezer in his house.Former associates have said Jefferson accepted more than $400,000 in bribes to help them sell telecommunications technology to Nigeria and other West African countries.

Two of those associates, former congressional aide Brett Pfeffer and Kentucky businessman Vernon Jackson, have pleaded guilty to bribery charges and are cooperating in the investigation.

May 31, 2006

Police: Man accidentally shot and killed himself after crash

SALEM, Ore. - Police say a Salem man accidentally shot and killed himself Tuesday morning while he and his family were trying to climb out of a ravine after a car accident.

According to police, 38-year-old Vladimir Gorkavchenko was driving near Detroit early in the morning when he lost control of his minivan.

The car rolled multiple times, before coming to a rest at the bottom of a rocky embankment.

Gorkavchenko, his wife, and their daughter were uninjured in the crash.

Police say Gorkavchenko then removed a rifle from his van to take it with him as the three started climbing out of the ravine.

According to police, Gorkavchenko was using the rifle as a brace as he climbed and apparently slipped, causing the gun to fire a round that hit him in his thumb and his head.

It appears he died as a result of his injuries.

Detectives are continuing to investigate.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

All The News Thats Fit To Print!

Woman's Toes Licked By Man Hiding Under Car...Police in Tulsa, Okla., are searching for a man who hid under a woman's car at a Wal-Mart parking lot and then licked her toes as she loaded groceries into the vehicle, according to a report. The woman said she was at the Tulsa Wal-Mart located near 81st Street and Lewis when she felt her toes being licked.She assumed it was a dog but when she looked down, she saw it was a man lying under her vehicle."I felt something lick my foot," the woman said. "I looked at him and I said, 'What in the hell are you doing?' And that's exactly what I said, 'What are you doing?'"

Police: Couple Offered Hit Man $100 To Kill Grandkids...Two grandparents in Lake County, Fla., were arrested for allegedly offering a hit man $100 to kill their three grandchildren, daughter-in-law and the family's pet dog, according to Local 6 News. After an investigation, authorities said the couple's son, Jason Jackson, 31, concocted the alleged murder-for-hire plan from jail and asked his parents to seal the deal, Bolden said.The 31-year-old is awaiting trial in a sexual molestation case, and his wife and children were scheduled to testify against him. The daughter-in-law, Karen Jackson, was shocked to hear about the plan to kill her, her children and pet dog, according to Local 6 News."I never saw this coming," Jackson said. "I loved (him) with all my heart. (He) was good to me and good to the kids. (He) was a nice guy, everybody's friend.

Police: Man Killed Over Spilled Beer...Detectives said Jamie Addair accidentally spilled beer on the alleged shooter inside the pub, which was at catalyst for the shooting, Local 6 reporter Jessica Sanchez said.

Deputy Fired For Using Squad Car Camera To Tape Bikini-Clad Girls Wants Job Back...An investigation revealed that Munsey used his dashboard-mounted video camera to zoom in on and record bikini-clad girls, including one showering at a public beach.
Iraq veteran sues Moore over 9/11 film
Associated Press

A veteran who lost both arms in the war in Iraq is suing filmmaker Michael Moore for $85 million, alleging that Moore used snippets of a television interview without his permission to falsely portray him as anti-war in "Fahrenheit 9/11."

Sgt. Peter Damon, a National Guardsman from Middleborough, is asking for damages because of "loss of reputation, emotional distress, embarrassment, and personal humiliation," according to the lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court last week.

Damon, 33, claims that Moore never asked for his consent to use a clip from an interview Damon did with NBC's "Nightly News."

He lost his arms when a tire on a Black Hawk helicopter exploded while he and another reservist were servicing the aircraft on the ground. Another reservist was killed in the explosion.

In his interview with NBC, Damon was asked about a new painkiller the military was using on wounded veterans. He claims in his lawsuit that the way Moore used the film clip in "Fahrenheit 9/11" - Moore's scathing 2004 documentary criticizing the Bush administration and the war in Iraq - makes him appear to "voice a complaint about the war effort" when he was actually complaining about "the excruciating type of pain" that comes with the injury he suffered.

In the movie, Damon is shown lying on a gurney, with his wounds bandaged. He says he feels likes he's "being crushed in a vise."

"But they (the painkillers) do a lot to help it," he says. "And they take a lot of the edge off of it."

Damon is shown shortly after U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., is speaking about the Bush administration and says, "You know, they say they're not leaving any veterans behind, but they're leaving all kinds of veterans behind."

Damon contends that Moore's positioning of the clip just after the congressman's comments makes him appear as if he feels like he was "left behind" by the Bush administration and the military.

In his lawsuit, Damon says he "agrees with and supports the President and the United States' war effort, and he was not left behind."

He said that, while at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center recovering from his wounds, he had surgery and physical therapy, learned to use prosthetics and live independently. He also said that Homes For Our Troops, a not-for-profit group, built him a house with handicapped accessibility.

"The work creates a substantially fictionalized and falsified implication as a wounded serviceman who was left behind when Plaintiff was not left behind but supported, financially and emotionally, by the active assistance of the President, the United States and his family, friends, acquaintances and community," Damon says in his lawsuit.

Moore did not immediately return calls seeking comment Wednesday. A message was left for Moore at a personal number in New York and with HarperCollins, publisher of Moore's 2002 book, "Stupid White Men...And Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation!"

A spokesman for Miramax Film Corp., also named as a defendant, did not immediately return a call.

Damon did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.

"It's upsetting to him because he's lived his life supportive of his government, he's been a patriot, he's been a soldier, and he's now being portrayed in a movie that is the antithesis of all of that," Damon's lawyer, Dennis Lynch, said.

Damon is seeking $75 million in damages for emotional distress and loss of reputation. His wife is suing for an additional $10 million in damages because of the mental distress caused to her husband, Lynch said.

A husband and wife were having a fine dining experience at their exclusive country club when this stunning young woman comes over to their table, gives the husband a big kiss, says she'll see him later and walks away. His wife glares at him and says, "Who was that?!" "Oh," replies the husband, "she's my mistress." "Well that's the last straw," says the wife. "I've had enough, I want a divorce. I am going to hire the most aggressive, meanest divorce lawyer I can find and make your life miserable." "I can understand that." replies her husband, "But remember, if we get a divorce it will mean no more wintering in Key West, or the Caribbean, no more summers in Tuscany, no more Cadillac STS in the garage, no more country club and we'll have to sell the 26-room house and move to two smaller homes. But the decision is yours." Just then, a mutual friend enters the restaurant with a gorgeous young woman on his arm. "Who's that with Jim?" asks the wife. "That's his mistress." says her husband. The wife replies, "Ours is prettier."

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A woman walks into a supermarket and buys:

1 bar of soap
1 toothbrush
1 tube of toothpaste
1 loaf of bread
1 pint of milk
1 single serving of cereal
1 single serving frozen dinner
1 can of Soup For One
1 16 oz can of Miller Lite

The guy at the checkout looks at her and says, "Single, are you?" The woman smiles sweetly and replies, "How did you guess?" He replies, "Because you're really ugly."
A little known fact about Quasimodo is that he didn't have arms but used to whack his head against the bells to ring them. One day he was up his bell tower and whacked his head as usual but overbalanced and fell to his death. Anyway a crowd gathered. First peasant, "Who's this guy?" Second peasant, "I'm not sure who he is, but his face rings a bell." So then Quasimodo's brother runs to the top of the bell tower pulls the bell rope and hangs on when he should have let go. He flew out of the bell tower and landed in a bloody heap beside Quasimodo. First peasant, "So who the heck is this guy?" Second peasant, "I don't know his name but he's a dead ringer for his brother."

(Two months after she smacked a cop with her fist, the grand jury hasn't been heard from. You try that sometime and let me know how it works out for you. From your cell. If they're going to no-bill her, fine...let's get it over with. If they're going to charge her, which every right thinking bone in my body screams they should do, let's move forward with the race-baiting politics. Not doing anything is the worst action of all.)

We Got Headline News, Southren Style

Woman Hit By Lightning While Praying...DAPHNE, Ala. -- Worried about the safety of her family during a stormy Memorial Day trip to the beach, Clara Jean Brown stood in her kitchen and prayed for their safe return as a strong thunderstorm rumbled through Baldwin County, Alabama. She said 'Amen' and the room was engulfed in a huge ball of fire.

Wife Of Teenaged Groom Pleads Guilty...DOUGLAS COUNTY -- Lisa Clark’s two older sons were in court today to hear their mother sentenced to more time in jail. Thirty-seven-year-old Lisa Clark pleaded guilty on charges she helped her teenage husband -- the father of her child -- escape from state custody. Clark’s attorney, Alison Frutoz, insists Clark is not guilty of any of the things of which she was accused saying, “She is a simple, normal person.” Clark admitted to a sexual relationship with, a then, 14-year-old boy, whom she married after becoming pregnant with the teen’s son.

Man Arrested On 3,600 Child Porn Charges...HALL COUNTY -- A Hall County man is in jail on 3,600 child pornography charges.
This is a demonstration of resuscitation techniques as devised by the French. They may not care much for Americans but their medical procedures seem to bring back life where there was none before.

This is NSFW nor for the faint of heart. Don't clickie the linkie if you aren't grown up.

(I've done some work recently with VAVS and The VHP. Some of that has involved putting together slideshows and others visual presentations for various events. I think I'll post some of my favorite images as I go along.)
A Jew, a Hindu and a lawyer all arrived at their hotel to find that there had been a mix-up with the reservations and there was only one room left for them to share. The manager explained that this room only had two beds, but that there was a barn at a neighbouring farm which the farmer, an old friend of his, would let one of them sleep in free of charge. They complained a bit, but since there was nowhere else to go, the Jew graciously said he'd sleep in the barn. The Hindu and the lawyer were just settling down to sleep in their room, when there was a knock on the door. It was the Jew. "I'm sorry," he said, "but there's a pig in that barn and as I'm Jewish I feel uncomfortable about sharing the barn with it. "No problem," said the Hindu. "I'll sleep out there instead." So off he went to the barn, leaving the lawyer and the Jew to share the room. They were just settling down to sleep, when there was a knock on the door. It was the Hindu. "I'm sorry," he said, "but there's a cow in that barn and because I'm a Hindu I'm uncomfortable sharing the barn with it." The lawyer grudgingly agreed to give up his bed and stomped off to the barn, leaving the Jew and the Hindu to share the room. The Jew and the Hindu were just settling down to sleep, when here was a knock on the door. It was the cow and the pig.
A very large fellow walks into a bar with an alligator under his arm. He puts the alligator up on the bar and turns to the astonished patrons. "I'll make you all a bet. I'm gonna open this alligator's mouth and place my pecker inside. The gator will then close his mouth for one minute. He'll then open his mouth and I'll remove my package unharmed. In return for witnessing this spectacle, you'll each buy me a drink." Everyone voiced their approval. The man stood up on the bar, dropped his pants, and placed his package in the alligator's open mouth. The animal then clamped down hard. After a minute, the man balled up his fist and hit the alligator hard on the top of its head. The dazed gator opened its mouth and the man removed his unit. The crowd cheered and the first of his free drinks was delivered. The man stood up again and asked the crowd, "Anyone else want to try that?" A hand went up in the back of the bar. A dapper little man spoke up, "I'd like to try, but I don't want you to hit me as hard as you hit that gator!"

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Pedophiles plan political party

Michael Jackson on shopping spree
Veterans Official Steps
Down After Theft

The Associated Press
Tuesday, May 30, 2006; 7:24 PM

WASHINGTON -- A Veterans Affairs deputy assistant secretary who didn't immediately notify top officials about a theft of 26.5 million veterans' personal information is stepping down, citing missteps that led to the security breach.

Michael H. McLendon, deputy assistant secretary for policy who supervised the VA data analyst who lost the data, said he would relinquish his high-level post on Friday.

The data analyst also will be dismissed while the acting head of the division in which he worked, Dennis Duffy, has been placed on administrative leave, VA Secretary Jim Nicholson said Tuesday.

McLendon is the first official to depart after Nicholson pledged to hold officials accountable following the May 3 burglary, in which a laptop computer and disks were stolen from an agency analyst's home in Maryland.

"Words are inadequate to describe how I feel about these recent events and the impact on the band of brothers and sisters of service members and veterans that we are supposed to serve," McLendon wrote in a letter obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.

"Given that this very serious and tragic event occurred on my watch and in my organization, I feel it necessary that I tender my resignation," stated the letter, which was submitted to the VA late Friday. "I would be modeling the wrong behavior to my staff and others in VA if I took no action to be responsible."

The resignation comes as the VA is under attack for a three-week delay in publicizing the burglary in what has become one of the nation's largest security breaches. During hearings last week, Nicholson said he was "mad as hell" that employees did not notify him of the May 3 burglary until May 16; the public was told on May 22.

On Tuesday, Nicholson announced that he had named Paul Hutter, the current assistant general counsel for management and operations, as interim head of VA's Office of Policy and Planning, filling Duffy's spot.

Hutter will lead the department "in light of recent, unacceptable events within VA's Office of Policy and Planning" while the Senate considers the recent nomination of Patrick W. Dunne to the post, Nicholson said.

According to congressional testimony, the VA data analyst immediately informed his supervisors _ including McLendon _ after the theft of a laptop and disks that contained veterans' birthdates, Social Security numbers and disability ratings at the data analyst's home in Aspen Hill, Md.

At the time, the data analyst took responsibility and acknowledged he had violated agency procedures by taking the information home, according to a VA briefing paper given to Congress.

McLendon informed other officials, who then told Deputy Secretary Gordon Mansfield, the agency's No. 2 official, on May 10. But no formal action was taken until the VA inspector general's office heard about the theft through office gossip on May 10 and began a separate investigation.

On Tuesday, some veterans' groups said it was appropriate that McLendon stepped down. But they expressed concern that he and the midlevel data analyst _ who has been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation _ would be made scapegoats, citing a complete communications breakdown in the agency.

"We can't be blaming this whole thing on some data analyst and his boss," said Bob Wallace, executive director of Veterans of Foreign Wars. "There are many more individuals in this chain of command that I hope would be held accountable."

The breach is second only to a hacking incident last June at CardSystems Solutions in which the accounts of 40 million credit card holders were compromised.

Join them for some real "classic" fun.
A long-haired youth was hitchhiking through the deep South. He got a ride from a mean-looking trucker. After riding about 30 miles in silence, the youth finally said, "Well, aren't you going to ask me?" "Ask you what?" replied the trucker. "If I'm a boy or a girl," answered the youth. "It don't really matter," replied the trucker. "I'm gonna fuck ya anyway."
Two Mexican detectives were investigating the murder of Juan Gonzalez. "How was he killed?" asked one detective. "With a golf gun," the other detective replied. "A golf gun?! What's a golf gun?" "I don't know. But it sure made a hole in Juan."
Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his cellphone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says, "Calm down, I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There's a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says, "OK, now what?"
A guy calls up his ex-wife and, disguising his voice, asks to speak to himself. "Sorry, he doesn't live here anymore, we're divorced!" Next day, the guy does the same thing with the same results. He does this everyday for a week, and finally his ex-wife realizes who it is that keeps calling. "Look, asshole! We're divorced! Finito! End of story! When are you going to get that through your thick head?" He replies, "Oh, I know we're divorced! I just can't hear it often enough!"

Government does veterans a great disservice

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 11:22 AM EDT

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

There's a reason a segment of the American population doesn't want the government rooting through phone records and otherwise vacuuming up sensitive personal information about their lives in the name of fighting terrorism.

Along comes the Department of Veterans Affairs to make us wonder what other departments operate so cavalierly, then stick us with the bill for good measure.

Veterans Affairs officials waited two weeks to notify the FBI of the theft of personal data, including names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and disability ratings of veterans discharged since 1975.

In one of the nation's largest security breaches, this lack of notification delayed warning 26.5 million veterans.

A government laptop computer and an external hard drive with the veterans' information were stolen from a Montgomery, Md., home on May 3.

The analyst placed on leave was not only not authorized to take the data home, it turns out this has been occurring since 2003!

Veterans Affairs now promises to restrict sensitive data to those who need it and to conduct background checks on those who do.

In other words, better close the barn door now that the horses have galloped away.

Perhaps a common clueless criminal won't have any idea how to realize the value of the purloined data and drain veterans back accounts, but once such information is compromised, fraud could occur next month or beyond.

To add insult to injury, it will cost at least $10 million merely to inform veterans that their personal information may be in the hands of criminals.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson warned Congress on Thursday that the ultimate price tag of the government's response might be tens of millions more.

He tossed out the figure of $100 million taxpayers will be expected to absorb.

Nicholson assured lawmakers he's “mad as hell” at the employee, so the scolding he got for systemic problems perhaps surprised him.

The agency's inspector general, George Opfer, has been reporting identified weaknesses in the VA information technology system and lax security for years, but like so many sectors of the federal bureaucracy sinking under the weight of its own information, warnings once again fell on deaf ears.

“You seem to be saying it's just one employee,” noted Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to Nicholson. “But it's not just one employee. You have a high-risk, vulnerable system.”

“In the last five years, a host of agencies have reported that the VA has had many problems with information security. How did the VA react? With indifference,” Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., said at a House hearing.

It might be news to him, since nobody bothered mentioning the theft to Nicholson until May 16.

The agency's inspector general relied on office gossip to get in the loop.

Nicholson alerted the FBI May 17. A public announcement finally came on May 22.

“I can't explain the lapses of judgment on the behalf of my people,” Nicholson said, sounding about as convincing as an Enron executive.

May 25 Veterans Affairs and the FBI announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the stolen data.

(This is generating fewer and fewer reports by the hour. Last Thursday, there were headlines, Friday many took the day off anticipating a holiday weekend. After the BBQs and sunburns and time/space disorientation of a 3 day weekend, there is no new news. Hashed over stories in small town papers are all that's left. The rrant employee is sitting around his apratment, waiting for the grievance board to meet to decide his fate. This will be a process of weeks or months and in the end, he'll have a minor blot in his Permanant Record and back to work as usual. Nothing at VA will change, Nicholson will be gone in a year or two, onto the lucrative consultancy that awaits federal chieftains, Veterans will wonder where their benefits are and the beat goes on.)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Regarding your article "Veterans assess info theft risk", please let your Boulder Vet Center office manager Brent Offermann know that his was one of the more insulting although fairly typical responses I've seen since this occurred.

The blizzard of press across the nation has been full of a lot of misinformation but his quote, "It's the same chances of winning the lottery...There's some bright people in Washington, D.C., that will take care of the issue.", will likely win some sort of prize.

I'm reading this in Georgia where we've had our own unique blend of wackos and nut-cases hooting and hollering but it appears you in Colorado have us soundly beat. Congratulations!

Brent seems to be totally disconnected from the fact that it was those "bright people" in Washington that violated the law (for 3 years running), took home a laptop full of data, managed to get it stolen, didn't report it for weeks, mismanaged the reporting process when they did finally report it and have fumbled the process since then. The IG & FBI is fuming mad, local police are furious, the VA Director has been angrily hauled in front of congress, President Bush is involved, millions of Veterans have no idea what their risk may be and Brent says, "Don't worry, be happy!"

I'll take my chances with the lottery Brent, whatever that means.

And then, resident expert Peggy Foster tells us that identity theft is "very common" and ""It happened to me before". Peggy is an esteemed VA Services assistant and she says, ""I don't fault the employees...they are all understaffed and overwhelmed. It's unfortunate."

That's great Peggy, really great. Yes indeed, it is unfortunate, isn't it? When a federal employee is in clear violation of the law and causes millions of Veterans throughout the United States at the least high anxiety and most unforeseen problems for years to come, to say nothing of the cost to taxpayers of the millions of dollars of revenue already wasted in ongoing criminal investigations, we should never ever hold those employees accountable for their unlawful actions.

Peggy typifies everything wrong with VA today. "Don't blame me" she says. "We're overworked. If I knowingly break the law, it's because you made me do it. Nothing is my fault. I cut corners, provide poor service, have a terrible attitude, and I'm rude to you on the telephone because of you. I am never ever responsible for my failures."

Yes, I'm a Veteran too. I'm a VAVS volunteer, I give hundreds and hundreds of hours every year to make VA Hospitals better places for Vets who need them and overall, VA health is the best in the nation. The VA benefits centers, those places where Brent and Peggy work along with the laptop guy...they all need to be fired, the slate should be wiped clean and it should be rebuilt from the ground up, Brent and Peggy and the guy with the laptop have to go right now or we will see this happen again and again and again. They just don't get it.

It's unfortunate, it really is.

(I wrote the reporter , the author of the article below that response you see above. I posted it to her in care of her editor, she didn't seem to have an email address. As today has worn on, I've come back and reread the comments that Brent and Peggy each made to the press and I hope that each time I read it I'll find I was wrong about my feelings earlier. I'm not. Those two are so typical, so far removed from reality, it's stunning. This is your VA services today.

Two years ago, I was to have a "Personal Hearing" at my VARO near Atlanta, Georgia. I shared the date with my wife so she could plan to drive me there. She quickly pointed out that the date that VA had scheduled was a Federal Holiday, Martin Luther King's birthday. Now, if this were Des Moines or Fargo, maybe we could forgive the error. This is scheduled in Decatur, Atlanta...the epicenter, ground zero for everything that is MLK. I called VA and got nothing. Typical. I called DAV, my chosen representative and was assured it was on the calendar, scheduled and I needed to be there. I argued that was wrong...I was warned I would surely lose by default if i didn't show. So, we were there at the appointed time. Alone. At a locked and shuttered building on a federal holiday. There has never been an explanation, no apology. A 4 hour drive each way, a days pay for my wife lost. No mileage paid as it was a hearing at my request.

Two years later, the hearing hasn't been rescheduled. Every now and then I get a form letter that VA is sorry for the delay, they're working on my file and will do their best to move things along, they really do want to assist me as quickly as they can.)

From The Colorado Daily dot com

Veterans assess info theft risk

Saturday, May 27, 2006 11:35 PM MDT

A security breach of veterans' records has caused needed debate about prevention as well as detection of identity theft and has spurred full-scale investigations by both the FBI and the Veterans Affairs Inspector General's office.

The records were stolen during a burglary of the home of a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) data analyst on May 3. The data analyst violated departmental policy by bringing home a laptop containing a database of sensitive information. It is likely the largest ever reported security breach of social security numbers, affecting 26.5 million veterans discharged since 1975 and their spouses.

Boulder County officials say there are more than 20 thousand veterans in the area, but less than half of them were discharged since 1975.

“It's the same chances of winning the lottery,” said Boulder Vet Center office manager and veteran Brent Offermann. “There's some bright people in Washington, D.C., that will take care of the issue.”

This is not an isolated incident.

“It's very common,” said University of Colorado-Boulder VA Services assistant and veteran Peggy Foster of identity theft. “It happened to me before and everything was stolen. Now I'm very cautious about giving my information out.”

The information stolen from the VA data analyst included social security numbers, names, birthdates and disability rating information that tells each person's level of disability, but didn't include financial and health record information. Veteran department officials waited two weeks to notify those affected and the FBI, but there is no evidence that the information has been misused yet.

“I don't fault the employees,” Foster said. “They are all understaffed and overwhelmed. It's unfortunate.”

(I thought this was one of the better quotes from VA officials I'd seen in the last few days. I'm going to spend some time trying to figure out exactly what he means when Brent says, "It's the same chances of winning the lottery..." in reference to the theft of Veteran's personal data. There must be some gold in there somewhere and I'll find it if I just ponder it long enough. Then Peggy tells us that, "It's very common..." as she explains away data identity theft with a quick pooh poohing. After all, it's happened to her, it happens to everyone nowadays, right? No big deal. It's like being mugged or carjacked or raped, it happens to almost everyone and not much can be done so suck it up why don't you? And we all agree; "I don't fault the employees...They are all understaffed and overwhelmed. It's unfortunate." No, we should never ever fault any employees if they're understaffed and overwhelmed. In the last 30 or 40 years this country has learned a few things about not blaming anyone for a piss poor performance and the VA epitomizes that philosophy. If you're understaffed and overwhelmed and accidents happen, well can't be helped, right? Ask any doctor or nurse or fireman. Brent would be forgiving if his mom didn't get her 9 PM medications in the ICU and had a stroke...I know he would, you know that nursing shortage is tough, right Brent? So somebody's mom is going to come up short, this time it was yours and we all feel bad but...understaffing and overwhelming, gosh, you know. Brent and Peggy are the perfect spokespersons for the VA system as it exists today. "Don't blame us!" is the motto. "We knew it was illegal, immoral and reprehensible to do this but that's how it's been done forever and we didn't think anyone would notice." is their operating call to get the job half done. "It's 4 PM and I'm going home." is how they handle the mound of work that piles up over the years. Is there a single person who believes the mystery employee who had the laptop stolen was taking it home to work on it? Class? Anyone? Class?)
If we were to combine the last two postings? Could issues at VA be improved?