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Submission + - Everything you have heard about Fast and Furious is totally wrong (wbur.org)

cinnamon colbert writes: I recently heard Katherine Eban talk about her reporting on “fast and furious” on the NPR show “The Connection” (http://onpoint.wbur.org/2012/07/02/fast-and-furious-fortune )
If she is right, those people who have been attacking Eric Holder (primarily D Issa and his committee in congress) has been perpetuating an enormous scam, a scam so large that it is astonishing

Under AZ law, it is legal for an 18 year old without a record to walk into a store and buy 20 AK47s with cash (apparently, stores advertise discounts for bulk purchases).
And, it is legal for that 18yro to walk outside and sell those guns to someone else.
The ATF was monitoring this, but under AZ and Fed law, they could arrest someone only if they had reasonable suspicion that one of the buyers had illegal goal: in the USA, you can't arrest someone cause you don't like em (at least in theory) or you suspect that they are a Drug Cartel Gun Buyer; you need evidence.
The ATF could also make an arrest if the saw that the guns were going across the border (a violation of export law).
The ATF agents were trying very, very hard to make cases, by monitoring and wiretapping, trying to build cases against this constant illegal activity (upwards of 2,000 guns a DAY go into mexico from the US)
However, due to these laws, in many cases they were unable to make a case; in one instance, a gun sale occurred on the Sat of MLK holiday, and by the time the ATF agents got wind of the sale, the guns were gone for 3 days.

Further, there have been accusations that there is a list of “2,000 guns” supposedly walked deliberatley into Mexico so that ATF agents could track the cartel.
Total lie – this is just a list the ATF compiled of LEGAL but questionable sales, those same sales they were trying as hard as they could to stop.
So, you can see the whole story that the ATF was letting known criminals make straw purchases so they could follow guns is a total perversion of the truth, which is that lax gun laws pushed by the NRA and GOP caused this problem.
Further, at least some of the ATF whistleblowers who testified to congress are suspect; one of them was not stationed in Phoenix , nor a part of FnF, and this agent had a long document history of antagonism with his superiors (complaining about the email ringtone on his computer, but, oddly, no complaints about FnF)

For reasons not entirely clear, the Obama admin is going along with this; it could be that they don’t want to upset the NRA/gun lobby prior to the election, or that they are incompetent (their inability to sell healthcare reform points to incompetence or arrogance).

Submission + - What is your opinion of the whitehouse webpage ?

cinnamon colbert writes: What is your opinion of the design and layout of the official whitehouse webpage, www.whitehouse.gov, and the special site , www.recovery.gov., which was setup to tell people where the money in the 1T (trillion) dollar stimulus bill is going ?
To me, both sites seem glitzy and technically cutting edge — the graphics are great eye candy and there is a lot of fancy video and so forth. But in terms of meeting user needs, the Whitehouse.gov site seems cluttered and dis organized, designed mainly to feed the 24/7 news cycle, by providing a constant update of tidbits that media and news organizations can use. But the site lacks overall focus and organization; in particular, there do not seem to be overview pages that help the ordinary citizen understand all of the stuff related to one issue — if you search "recovery act" you get 1300 odd hits (!) but there is no organization or prioritization of those hits.

I thint the recovery.gov site is a lot better organized; it provides a huge amount of information that you can view in GIS or tabular text format. The site also makes it clear that a lot of people have gotten money; at the micro level, you can search your city or zipcode; in my zipcode alone there are 3 awardees: 225K to some company developing software to analyze 911 calls; 60K to the city for some sort of police training program; and 3K to the city agency that helps poor people. And you can view this info on a map, showing the street grid and the location, or in a text table
At the macro level, the site provides good summary statistics of how many jobs (reported by fund reciepients) have been created or saved, and where those jobs are.

What is odd, is that with all this technology and information, the site isn't convincing — you can spend hours pouring over the data without really getting an overview that convinces you that all these billions of dollars are well spent.

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