Archive for December 18th, 2008|Daily archive page

FBI agents stole $7.8 million from taxpayers

The logo of a very corrupt organization that's run for itself, not for you

The logo of a very corrupt organization that's run for itself, not for you

MSNBC reports that FBI agents posted to Iraq received $7.8 million in overtime and pay that they weren’t entitled to, an average of $45,000 per employee between 2003–2007.  They claimed the pay for, inter alia, doing watching movies, exercising, and attending parties.

One employee defended the fact that he claimed pay for the time he spent doing laundry, “When you’re in that environment, anything you do to survive is work for the FBI.”  It must be nice to work for that agency when you can do immoral things and get away with it.  Just about all the agents posted to Iraq claimed 8 hours of overtime per day, every day, for the three months they were there.  There’a a term for that sort of behavior: stealing.

Expert on avoiding kidnapping is kidnapped in Mexico

It may look peaceful from space, but mucho people are getting kidnapped down there

It may look peaceful from space, but mucho people are getting kidnapped down there

Mexico has a really bad problem with kidnappings.  It’s so bad, that even experts on how to avoid being kidnapped, like American Felix Batista, get kidnapped.  Batista works for Houston-based ASI Global, a security firm, and was recently kidnapped just after giving a seminar on how to avoid that fate.  It is thought that police, who were among the few who knew of his whereabouts, tipped off the criminals, who probably wanted to send a message with the kidnapping.

Law enforcement officers and officials frequently are implicated in kidnapping in our neighbor to the south.  Several were recently arrested for the kidnapping a murder of a 14-year-old Fernando Marti a few months ago.  Many Mexicans don’t even go to the police when they get ransom demands; they figure it’s far better to handle the matter themselves.  Kidnapping is a big business south of the border; it’s usually done by drug cartels for the ransom money, but occasionally, as in the case of Mr. Batista, is done to send a message as well.

Fully 5% of the country’s 106 million people report having been kidnapped or having known someone who was kidnapped.  And 45% of Mexicans who have a phone said they’ve been victims of telephone extortion, in which someone has called them, claimed they’ve abducted a family member, and demand ransom money.   These claims are often false, but abductions are so common there that they’re plausible and often result in ransoms being paid anyway.  In the cases of real kidnappings, the captors often mail back the victims body parts, like ears and fingers, if the money isn’t paid quickly enough.

The Flag of Mexico is a vertical tricolor with the National Coat of Arms, which is too small to make out any detail on

The Flag of Mexico is a vertical tricolor with the National Coat of Arms, which is too small and complex to make out any detail on

To counter these threats, wealthy Mexicans have taken to hiring armed security guards, living in what amount to fortified compounds, and riding around in armored vehicles (though doing so didn’t help Fernando Marti).  And now the LA Times is reporting that some are having tiny transmitters inserted under their skin that can transmit their location to orbiting satellites in the event that they’re captured.

According to official statistics, 65 people are kidnapped each month; but since most aren’t reported, the actual number is estimated to be about 500 per month by some observers. Earlier this year 100,000 people demonstrated in Mexico City for the government to do more to solve the problem.  Hopefully their demands will be met.

South Korean lawmakers get in fight, break out power tools

MSNBC reports that members of South Korea’s unicameral parliament have gotten into fisticuffs.  Again.

The chamber of the South Korean National Assembly looks like this when there is no fight going on

The chamber of the South Korean National Assembly looks like this when there is no fight going on

This time, the ruling party locked opposition members outside the committee room where the recently signed South Korea-U.S. trade pact will be introduced.  They feared that the opposition would try to oppose ratification of the pact.  Go figure.  Opposition members tried to batter down the door to the room, using a sledge hammer and eventually a power saw to break through—but to no avail, as the ruling party members had piled furniture up behind said door as an additional barricade.

The ruling Grand National Party controls 172 out of 299 seats in the National Assembly and so should be able to push the trade pact through.  The U.S. Congress has not yet approved the deal.

Fights are not at all uncommon among South Korean lawmakers—even on the floor of the National Assembly itself.  Sometimes they even throw chairs and microphones.  Here is a video of a fight that broke out last December: