July 10, 2013

Charles Oliver: Mock coffee prescription yanked

Charles Oliver

— The attorneys general of 22 states have written to Urban Outfitters asking the retail chain to pull a coffee mug with a mock prescription label for coffee. In a joint letter, they said the mugs undermine their efforts to fight prescription drug abuse. Urban Outfitters has reportedly pulled the mugs as well as an entire line of products with fake prescription labels. I expect prescription drug abuse will no longer be a problem by the end of the year thanks to this letter.

Jon Locke couldn’t believe what his security cameras had captured while he was away from home. Uniformed Garland, Texas, police officers walk up to his front door. When no one answers, an officer opens up some duffel bags in front of the house. Then they begin to search inside a pickup truck in the driveway. Finally, they notice the security cameras filming them and turn them away. When Locke complained to police he said an internal affairs investigator told him the officers did nothing wrong. Oh, and the investigator said one of the officers opened an unlocked door and looked inside the house. The officers had an arrest warrant for Locke’s brother, who does not live with him. But they did not have a search warrant for Locke’s house or his truck.

Australian officials wanted Internet service providers to block 1,200 sites they said had helped defraud Australians. But they ordered the ISPs to block their IP addresses, not their domain names. That meant they blocked every website on a server serving one of those websites. In all, they accidentally blocked about 250,000 websites.

Federal prosecutors in Phoenix, Ariz., asked judges to dismiss heroin-smuggling charges against two men just hours before a local newspaper ran a story raising concerns about a key informant in the case. In fact, questions about that informant have existed for more than a decade. He was deactivated as an informant in 2000 after being accused of perjury in at least 16 criminal cases and of not paying taxes on money paid to him by law enforcement. But the Drug Enforcement Administration quietly began using him again as a paid informant in 2008.

In December 2011, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security alerted the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of potential malware on their computer systems. NOAA quickly isolated the problem and cleared it up. The EDA spent some $2.7 million over a year trying to clean up its systems and physically destroyed $170,500 in equipment, including printers and keyboards. It only stopped when it ran out of money. According to the technology website Ars Technica, miscommunication between the EDA and its parent agency, the Department of Commerce, as well as technological misunderstandings led officials to a serious overreaction to what was in reality a minor and routine problem.

Elizabeth Daly, 20, and two friends had just finished shopping one night at a Charlottesville, Va., grocery store and were getting into her SUV when several men ran out of the darkness  shouting at them. At least one had a firearm out. Daly drove away from them and headed toward the nearest police station while one of her friends called 911. It turns out the men were plainclothes officers of Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control, and they had mistaken the bottled water the women had purchased for beer and were trying to bust them for underage purchase of alcohol. Daly apologized after they identified themselves. But officers charged her with two felony counts of assaulting a law enforcement officer (she grazed two of them with her vehicle driving away) and one felony count of eluding police. Two months later, when local and national media picked up the story, prosecutors dropped those charges.

Charles Oliver is a staff writer for The Daily Citizen.