December 10, 2013

Charles Oliver: Too depressed for the United States?

Charles Oliver

— Ellen Richardson wants to know how U.S. customs officials knew she’d been hospitalized for depression last year. Richardson was supposed to fly from Toronto to New York to board a ship for a Caribbean cruise. But agents blocked her from entering the United States, citing her hospitalization.

Shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States, someone sent an email to the managing editor of threatening to hack the site and take it down. The editor reported the threat to the FBI, which did not respond to his report but did immediately begin spying on According to documents uncovered by The Guardian, a British newspaper, the FBI spied on the site and people who worked for it for six years.

Officials in Richmond, Calif., have banned any firms that do business with the city from inquiring about the criminal records of most job applicants.

Police in Northumbria, England, have arrested a man, who wasn’t named by media, for having a tattoo of a mosque with the word “boom” on it on his abdomen. He was charged with suspicion of stirring up racial hatred.

The New York Times reports that the state rarely fires health care workers who have been found to have abused or threatened disabled patients or co-workers. The paper found that just 23 percent of workers that have been recommended for job termination after a finding of abuse are actually fired. The paper says the reasons so few are ultimately fired are an arbitration process that favors employees, a permissive attitude by state officials and the fact that the workers’ unions aggressively defend them, even opposing a law that requires abuse reports to be made available to family members of abused patients.

An internal investigation by the DeSoto County, Fla., sheriff’s office found that a jailer repeatedly beat an inmate while other officers watched. Those officers did nothing to stop the beatings and did not report them. The investigation quotes one officer as saying he did not report the abuse because he is not a “snitch.” The FBI is reportedly investigating the case, and the inmate has filed paperwork to sue the sheriff’s office.

The city of Seattle has agreed to pay $38,500 to two brothers who claim they were targeted as bank robbery suspects by a police officer upset after he saw one of the brothers flirting with his ex-girlfriend. Under the settlement, the city made no admission of liability, and the officer was cleared of any wrongdoing by a police department internal investigation.