Archive for January, 2011

Dispatches from the Badlands
January 31, 2011

A freshman State Representative from the Kingsville area (just outside Corpus Christi) is trying to pass a bill this session that would make trafficking illegal immigrants a state crime. This is certainly not a new idea, but a new legislative session is always a good place for old ideas to get another shot. Under State Rep. J.M. Lozano’s bill, anyone caught transporting illegal immigrants would be charged with a state jail felony. As it stands now this is a federal crime. The proposed bill would also kick the offense up to a third degree felony if the illegal immigrants are transported for money or in a way that causes them bodily harm (remember the 19 who died locked in a tractor trailer outside Victoria?). The lonely stretch of highway that runs through Kingsville is certainly a major route for illegal immigrants, drugs and guns, but so are many other highways leading from the border to major cities. If passed, this bill would put a huge burden on local law enforcement. All you have to do is peruse federal court filings to see the dozens of cases filed each week for trafficking and illegal immigration. Many of these cases stem from local law enforcement catching people on the highways then handing them over to the feds. If Lozano’s bill passes then the locals would be responsible for handling all these cases. This would mean jail overcrowding, especially in small counties. Plus, taxpayers would then have to pick up the tab for these counties having to hire more prosecutors to handle all the cases, as well as paying for defense attorneys to represent the indigent. There are already strict laws and penalties on the books to handle these cases at a federal level and local law enforcement is already enforcing the law by catching so-called “coyotes” and handing them over to the feds. Making this a state crime would create a criminal justice bottleneck at the local level and overburden smaller counties that are already stretched thin.

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Anchors Away
January 27, 2011

Yes, I know that’s not how “away” should be spelled in the context of the Naval Academy fight song. However, I just received this news release from the Coast Guard regarding orphaned anchors in the wake of the BP spill….

NEW ORLEANS – The Coast Guard, in coordination and consultation with the state of Louisiana, local partners, and other federal agencies, has directed BP to begin the first of a three- phase program to retrieve orphan anchors in state waters. Launching the first phase of this program is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 29.

During the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill response, thousands of 20 to 70-pound Danforth anchors were deployed to keep containment boom in place. After retrieval of the boom in areas where no containable oil posed a threat to the shoreline, it was discovered that some of the anchors were not accounted for various reasons such as storms. In addition, some anchors were solidly embedded in the sediment, and could not be recovered by teams retrieving boom.

The first phase of the program to remove these anchors will involve controlled testing by experienced underwater salvage teams. Crews will place anchors in a selected area and then search for them to find the best procedures and equipment for locating and removing the anchors. Using the best methods developed under these tests, crews will then transition into the second phase, which involves locating and removing the orphaned anchors deployed as part of the oil spill response in select areas of St. Bernard Parish.

If phase two recovery operations are successful in St. Bernard Parish, phase three of the plan will begin, which involves expanding removal operations to include all of the waters in Louisiana affected by the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill.

“The federal government team that continues to oversee this response is committed to ensuring that BP uses a safe and proven method to find and remove orphan anchors so that teams do not break submerged pipelines in the area or further harm fragile ecosystems by causing erosion,” said Capt. Lincoln Stroh, Federal On-Scene Coordinator.

“Teams cannot simply drag the waterways with a hook or trawl due to the risk of breaking a pipeline or causing massive erosion. The program requires BP to undertake careful planning to ensure there is no environmental damage or destruction to existing pipelines and infrastructure.”

When laying boom, response crews used Danforth anchors, which embed in the sediment and collapse flat when not in use. This type of anchor does not protrude above the sediment like North Hill anchors. When the boom was retrieved, every anchor that could be recovered by the boom teams was safely removed.

Free Money!
January 3, 2011

Ok, so the title of this post should immediately tip you off that what I’m about to explain is a scam. I just got a call from Local 2 viewer Paula who wanted to let me know about a call she received. The message explained that Paula had won a free Mercedes and $750,000 in cash. All she had to do was call (876) 455-2416 and ask for Peter Williams. Curious, Paula dialed the number and, as luck would have it, she connected with Mr. Williams on the second ring! Paula told me Mr. Williams explained she had indeed won a free Mercedes and $750,000 in cash. Just one little catch. Paula was told she would have to pay a “small amount of taxes on the vehicle and cash.” At this point Paula hung up. I ran a trace on the number and found it originates out of Jamaica. This is a haven for scammers who work the phones and email all day.

In case you are wondering here is a link to the list of complaints this particular number has generated, http://www.numberinvestigator.com/876455.

You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at, http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/index.shtml. Since these calls are originating from a foreign country there is little that can be done by US law enforcement. 

Just remember, nothing in life is free.