Iowa department for elderly decides not to be D.O.A.

A plan to rename Iowa’s department for the elderly will not result in its tag becoming the same as hospital code for “dead on arrival,” the agency’s chief said.

State lawmakers raised eyebrows when they voted earlier on Wednesday to change the name of the Department of Elder Affairs to the Department on Aging, or DOA.

Director John McCalley said he would use the shorthand DA instead.

You can’t have an acronym like this when you’re referring to elderly people,” said Representative Dave Heaton, 68, when the legislature approved the change.


Line-item veto bill back in Congress

A bill that would permit a presidential line-item veto has been re-introduced in the U.S. Congress.

“This bill is about the need to stop wasteful earmarks especially in this time of economic crisis,” Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., said during a news conference. “And if Congress won’t restrain itself, the president should be able to try…”

This bill would allow the president to propose that some earmarks be rescinded and sent back to Congress to be voted on as separate measures, which Feingold said should help the bill pass constitutional muster, unlike a previous line-item veto that was overturned by the courts.

“Now, the critical thing is, in our legislation, they can’t just put the bill that the president’s proposed in committee,” Feingold said. “There is a requirement that it has to be voted on and within a set time frame.”

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, long an opponent of earmarks, said he anticipated the bill would be difficult to pass.

“But I believe that the American people voted for change last November,” McCain said. “They want not only change in the executive branch, but they want a change in the legislative branch in the way that we do business. ”

Let’s see if Congress is as willing to institute change on their own. Don’t hold your breath too long.

NYC Police are victims of identity theft

Letters have been sent to thousands of officers of the New York Police Department warning them they may be victims of identity theft.

A civilian employee of the department’s pension fund is accused of stealing eight tapes containing the Social Security numbers and direct-deposit information for 80,000 current and retired cops.

Anthony Bonelli, 46, who served as the pension fund’s director of communications, has been charged with computer trespass, burglary and grand larceny.

He is accused of removing the tapes from a backup data warehouse on Staten Island after disabling security cameras.

I’ll bet that’s going to leave a bruise.

Those who helped child rape victim – will be excommunicated

Brazilian archbishop says all those who helped a child rape victim secure an abortion are to be excommunicated from the Catholic Church.

The girl, aged nine, who lives in the north-eastern state of Pernambuco, became pregnant with twins. It is alleged that she had been sexually assaulted over a number of years by her stepfather.

The excommunication applies to the child’s mother and the doctors involved in the procedure. The pregnancy was terminated on Wednesday.

Police believe that the girl at the centre of the case had been sexually abused by her step-father since she was six years old. Her stepfather was arrested last week, allegedly as he tried to escape to another region of the country…

A Church spokesman says all those involved, including the child’s mother and the doctors, are to be excommunicated. The Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, told Brazil’s TV Globo that the law of God was above any human law.

They should have the Archbishop share a cell with the girl’s stepfather. They deserve each other.

Obama names D.C. tech chief as CIO – UPDATED

President Obama today announced that Vivek Kundra, chief technology officer for the District, will be the federal chief information officer.

It’s a job that did not exist in previous administrations; Obama, who leveraged social networks, text messages and other Internet tools on the campaign trail, promised to create a technology czar with the aim of helping the government operate more efficiently.

Kundra, 34, is expected to oversee how government agencies purchase and use information technology and will be in charge of all federal technology spending. He also will be responsible for making sure agencies’ networks and systems work together and share information while maintaining security and privacy standards.

Obama also plans to appoint a chief technology officer who will work closely with Kundra, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcements are not yet official. The exact job description for that position has not yet been announced, but the chief technology officer might focus more on overall technology policy while the chief information officer will handle day-to-day spending and operations within agency projects…

As the District’s chief technology officer, Kundra oversaw technology projects and budgets for 86 agencies. He previously served as Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine’s assistant secretary of commerce and trade, and later as assistant secretary of technology. His experience in those public sector roles, as well as his stint running technology start-ups, make him well suited for the federal position.

He’s bound to be an improvement over recent supervisors of our government’s “Tubes”.

OK, ignore my smartass remark about the late, unlamented thug in the White House, Kundra seems to be more than competent. Phew! I don’t know if I can stand more intelligent, capable people running our government?

UPDATE: Here is the conference call Kundra led immediately after the announcement of his appointment. Pretty impressive stuff to me.

John Chambers: Broadband speeds our economy

Daylife/AP Photo by Paul Sakuma

Now that President Obama has signed the $787 billion economic stimulus package into law, the real hard work begins: using that money to create jobs. If spent wisely, this package has a chance at fundamentally reforming the U.S. health-care system, making our economy energy efficient and providing Americans with the training and skills required to succeed in a 21st century global marketplace.

But the country can’t accomplish these goals unless it has the infrastructure to support them. That’s why the funding for broadband was so vital. Broadband is the ticket for entry to participate in the world economy. It is a fundamental technology upon which other things are built. It enables collaboration, innovation and operational excellence, and positions the U.S. to compete on a global basis.

The impact of broadband has been similar to that of the national highway system in the 1950s. Until then, our nation’s roads were slow and the quality was unpredictable, which hindered commerce and travel. The modern highway system made our country accessible and in the process, created new industries — transforming our economy and by extension, our society…

Increasing our broadband speeds to 100 Mbps from the current U.S. median of 2.3 Mbps will have a transformative effect on our economy and our society. High-speed networking enables new human collaboration at a profound level, and such collaboration will radically change the way we think.

The inevitable comparison with South Korea is made. They’re averaging access at home of 49mbps.

The chuckle for me is that Korea’s broadband development was kicked off by an American consultant hired by their government almost a decade ago. Alvin Toffler [.pdf].

Thanks to Om

Foreign tax havens targeted

Daylife/AP Photo

Offshore tax havens used by rich Americans in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands and other nations are targeted for shutdown by bills offered by Democrats in both chambers of Congress.

The Senate bill expands on one co-sponsored last year by then-Senator Barack Obama and Senator Carl Levin, who has sought a broad crackdown on tax dodgers estimated to deprive the U.S. government of more than $100 billion a year. A thriving business in tax evasion developed in recent years on Wall Street among consulting firms, hedge funds and other elite financial players. Some purveyors even sought patent protection for their off-the-shelf schemes…

Similar legislation was introduced in the House by Texas Democrat Lloyd Doggett and more than 40 co-sponsors…

Mark Branson, chief financial officer of UBS Global Wealth Management and Swiss Bank, appeared Wednesday before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which is chaired by Levin.

Branson appeared last July before the same panel at a hearing on the same topic. At that time, Branson apologized and announced the bank would stop offering cross-border private banking through its unregulated units to U.S.-domiciled customers. He also said then that UBS was working with the U.S. government to identify U.S. clients who may have engaged in tax fraud…

Branson maintained UBS’ stone wall: “the U.S. is attempting to resolve this diplomatic dispute in a courtroom, which is neither productive nor proper.”

“Productive and proper” according to Swiss law is why UBS is chartered there, of course. That’s what being a hideout for tax dodgers is all about.

Phony lord and sex shop owner convicted of attempted bank theft

A self-styled lord and a Soho sex shop owner have been found guilty of helping to organise an attempt to hack into City bank accounts and steal £229m. “Lord” Hugh Rodley, 61, and David Nash, 47, were convicted at Snaresbrook crown court for their part in a sophisticated electronic fraud and money laundering operation.

The gang targeted the City offices of the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation. If successful, it would have been the largest bank raid ever carried out in the United Kingdom.

The gang were defeated, however, by relatively elementary errors in filling out electronic forms on the Swift international transfer payment system. They had acquired account details and matching passwords by installing key-logging software on the bank’s computers…

Both Rodley and Nash were remanded in custody. They will be sentenced tomorrow along with three other members of the gang who have already pleaded guilty: the bank insider and security supervisor Kevin O’Donoghue, 34, of Birmingham; a Belgian computer expert, Jan Van Osselaer, 32; and Van Osselaer’s recruiter, Gilles Poelvoorde, 35. All admitted conspiracy to steal.

This illustrates how even the least competent crooks can acquire over-the-counter technology for illicit purposes. What if one of them had been a half-decent script kiddie or gamer, eh?

“Don’t be a tosser” indeed.. especially at the scene of a crime!

Four alleged Clayton County gang members are in jail, charged with breaking into dozens of businesses throughout the metro [Atlanta] area and stealing more than 200 flat-screen televisions….

Police announced the arrests Wednesday of four members of the gang, who called themselves the “Hit Squad,” after linking them to burglaries that stretched from Atlanta to Kennesaw to Jonesboro to Conyers.

More than 50 investigators from 17 police agencies joined forces last year after noticing a spike in burglaries and flat-screen TV thefts. In all of the burglaries, police noticed the same car fleeing the scene: a gold Mercedes.

Officers spent months searching for the Mercedes, but the break didn’t come until one of the suspects dropped a Doritos bag out of the car while breaking into a Smyrna business, Smyrna Det. Chris Singleton said.

Detectives identified Devon Sherman Anderson Jr., the owner of the Mercedes and leader of the burglary ring, through his fingerprint left on the Doritos bag, police said.