A high level investigation into allegations of homophobia, illegal gag orders, cronyism, and retaliation against Special Counsel Scott Bloch is being stymied by intimidation of those who made the complaints two federal employee groups say.
The Office of Personnel Management began the probe of Bloch in 2005 under Inspector General Patrick McFarland following a year of complaints by members of Congress, Federal Globe – the LGBT organization for federal civil servants, and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility – a watchdog group.
Now those groups say the Office of Special Counsel is trying to stonewall the investigation. This month employees at the agency were told to inform OSC management when they are contacted by investigators and that any contact with investigators must be in a special conference room at OSC headquarters.
The groups say the directive is an attempt to silence them.
After an inquiry from investigators in the probe the OSC has backed down on the meeting place, issuing a second directive saying the meetings could take place elsewhere.
The Office Of The Special Council is the agency that protects whistleblowers and investigates complaints of discrimination by federal workers, but, Bloch has refused to take on complaints of discrimination based on sexuality.
The OPM Inspector General investigation into Bloch is the third probe into Bloch’s operation.
A maker of Mac software has uncovered a “scary” anti-piracy measure in a bit of code called Display Eater.
Display Eater records motion video on your screen which you can then convert to a quicktime movie.
However writing in his bog here, Karsten Kusche, who works for another Apple software maker Briksoftware, says that if you try to use a pirated serial number with Display Eater, the software will delete your home file, which in Mac land is the same as killing your computer.
Kusche said that while it is not right to pirate software it is a bit drastic to kill a mac user’s home file.
I’ll just leave you with this comment from a user on versiontracker.com, the largest Mac software tracking site on the net:
Please stop writing code. You’ll do the Mac community a huge favor by never showing your face here again.
And I note that searching for Display Eater at versiontracker now returns zero results, so the software is delisted as well.
I guess the author reached his goal: nobody will be using a pirated version of this software. In fact, nobody will be using any version at all.
Former “enemy combatant” Jose Padilla is mentally unfit to stand trial on terrorism charges and physically unable to tell his lawyers what happened to him in a U.S. military prison, doctors who examined him for the defense said in court on Thursday.
The doctors testified that Padilla, held by presidential order for 3-1/2 years in a military brig without being charged, is also unable to tell his lawyers anything about the time he spent in Afghanistan and Egypt, where the government alleges he conspired with Islamist terrorists to maim and murder people.
If asked to review taped conversations that will be used as evidence, he breaks into a sweat, hunches over and rocks back and forth, the doctors said.
“He hits a stone wall and his logic shuts down,” said Dr. Angela Hegarty, a neuropsychiatrist who examined Padilla in his Miami jail cell. “His overwhelming anxiety interferes with his reasoning.”
Prosecutors deny Padilla was abused and accuse the defense of raising the mental health issue in order to turn the proceedings into “a referendum on his past treatment in military custody.”
U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke has ordered some of Padilla’s military jailers to appear in court for questioning when the hearing resumes on Monday.
Padilla himself denies he has painful memories, depression or any problems at all and believes he will be sent back to the brig to die there regardless of what happens in court, the defense doctors testified.
A complaint made against a Hell Pizza billboard featuring US President George Bush has been partially upheld by the Advertising Standards Complaints Board (ASCB).
The advertisement featured Mr Bush and the words “Hell. Too good for some evil bastards”.
Objections were made to the use of slang in a public place, the alleged denigration of Mr Bush, and perceived blasphemy.
One of the complainants described the billboard as a vicious smear campaign against an openly Christian person.
But advertising agency Cinderella Ltd defended the billboard, saying that it tapped in to a growing sense of outrage about the invasion of Iraq.
The agency also said that use of the term “bastard” is widespread and can be considered a compliment.
The board ruled the choice of words was irresponsible, but the association with Mr Bush did not cause serious or widespread offence.
This one’s been percolating for about a week now, but with Speaker Pelosi’s office weighing in yesterday, it’s a good time to review one of the Bush administration’s more embarrassing new scandals (not to be confused with the multitude of old ones).
It starts with Steven Griles, a former lobbyist who’s due to be indicted in the Abramoff scandal any minute now, who was hired to be Bush’s Deputy Secretary of the Interior. Shortly after taking office, Griles was accused of doing what he does best — arranging favors for his former clients. As ethics complaints started mounting, the Interior Department assigned an official to keep an eye on Griles, to make sure he didn’t get into too much trouble, while Interior’s inspector general looked into his activities. The official was Sue Ellen Wooldridge, then the deputy chief of staff to Interior Secretary Gale Norton.
Shortly thereafter, Wooldridge started secretly dating the guy she was supposed to be monitoring for ethical lapses. As Paul Kiel explained, that’s when things got really interesting.
You can listen to the music in a New York City bar, but you better not begin tapping your feet because it could lead to dancing.
The controversial Monty Python film Life of Brian is being screened in a church on Tyneside.
Some condemned the 1979 film as blasphemous, because of its story of a Jewish man who is worshipped as the Messiah and then crucified.
Now the Anglican St Thomas the Martyr church in Newcastle is due to screen the film on Friday as part of a project with the independent Tyneside Cinema.
The Reverend Jonathan Adams said he had the backing of his congregation.
Rev Adams said: “Jesus of Nazareth is not some sort of hot house plant that we need to protect from criticism and scrutiny.
“Actually I don’t think the film does that. But it does poke fun at some of the stupidity and hypocrisies of people who profess religious faith.
“The Church is really in trouble if it does not pay attention to that sort of questioning.”
An author has been told his book honouring First World War soldiers cannot be stocked by his local council unless he takes out insurance worth £5million.
Officials said Mark Sutton needed the accident cover in case the public injured themselves on his book – for example, if it fell on their foot or they got paper cuts.
Ze heeft haar ministerie nog nauwelijks van binnen gezien of we weten al hoe laat het is. “De burka moet kunnen”, is de eerste boodschap van de nieuwe minister van Integratie, Ella Vogelaar.
In the 1920s Joseph Rock, an Austrian-born botanist went to live in Lijiang, in Yunnan province. During expeditions over the next three decades he photographed shamans, trulku, petty kings, nomads, astounding scenery and flora and fauna across much of southwest China. He also studied the language and culture of the Nakhi people previouslywhose homeleand centred around Lijiang. A contemporary blogger is now posting some then-and-now images of the places and people Rock recorded.
Microsoft has been quietly testing a new “pay-as-you-go” software rental service in South Africa, Mexico, and Romania. The service allows users to pay a monthly fee of around $15 for the use of Office 2003.
The program is a pilot project, designed to help Microsoft gauge the public reaction to the idea of software rentals. In a statement given to Ars, a Microsoft spokesperson said that the program offers customers “the opportunity to obtain genuine Microsoft Office 2003 at a low upfront price, along with the flexibility to pay over time and renew when they choose.”
If you wonder where the “pay-as-you-go” phrase comes from, try to move to another product: your documents will be locked in a format you cannot read anymore. Thus, if you go, you pay big time.
Another irony of history: Sept. 11-era laws aimed at keeping terrorists out of the United States have disqualified many Hmong refugees, the very people specially recognized by Congress for helping American troops in the Vietnam war.
Under provisions of the USA Patriot Act and the Real ID Act, the Hmong who fought alongside the Americans in the “secret war” against communists in Laos are considered terrorists and are therefore ineligible for asylum or green cards. These are laws from the same Congress that in 2000 passed a law easing the citizenship requirements for the Hmong in recognition of their Vietnam era efforts.