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News Scan

FBI Poorly Equipped for Cyber Crime:  Pete Yost of the Associated Press reports on the Justice Department's Inspector General's report finding that about a third of FBI agents lack the networking and counter intelligence skills to investigate cyber crimes.  Senator Susan Collins stated, that the need for a strong cyber security work force in the federal government "is more urgent than ever".  The report suggested that to improve the ability to stop cyber attacks their needs to be better information sharing between the FBI and other law enforcement officials on the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force.  The report said that some representatives on the task force were often asked to leave meetings that focused on cyber threats due to a need-to-know policy, even though the task force was created to share information.

Drug Smugglers Using Aircraft to Cross Tighter U.S. Borders:  Elliot Spagat and Amanda Lee Myers of the Associated Press report that drug smugglers are using low-flying aircraft to circumvent new fences along the U.S/Mexico border.  The pilots are flying into the U.S. without landing and are dropping aluminum bins filled with about 200 pounds of marijuana for drivers who are waiting on the ground with blinking lights or glow-sticks.  The Customs and Border Protection agency counted 228 incursions by ultralights along the Mexican border in 2010, up from 118 a year earlier.

Governor Brown Excels at Paroling Murderers:  David Siders of The Sacramento Bee reports Governor Jerry Brown is letting convicted killers leave prison on parole at a far higher rate than previous governors.  Brown has let about 106 out of 130 convicted killers' parole releases stand, about 82 percent, compared to former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who let about 27 percent stand.  Former Governor Gray Davis only let 9 out of 374 paroled killers out of prison.  Davis stated, "I see no reason to parole people who have committed an act of murder."  Brown spokesperson Elizabeth Ashford said the Governor is basing his parole decisions on public safety concerns and a 2008 Supreme Court decision that a governor cannot deny parole based only on the prisoner's crime, but also needs evidence that the prisoner is still a danger to the public.  Christine Ward, director of the Crime Victims Action Alliance, stated, "The larger number does cause us concern, and we will be investigating" when referring to Browns parole decisions.

Court Rejects Death Sentence Appeal:  Jamie Satterfield of the Knoxville News Sentinel reports that murderer Christa Gail Pike's death sentence appeal has been rejected by a Tennessee appeals court.  Appellate Judge John Everett Williams said Pike had failed to show her defense team was inadequate during her 1996 trial or to persuade the court to exempt 18-year-olds with mental health problems from a death sentence.  Pike was involved in a love triangle with Colleen Slemmer and 17-year-old Shadolla Peterson.  Pike, along with Tadaryl Shipp and Peterson lured Slemmer to a secluded area at the University of Tennessee campus.  Slemmer was beaten, sliced with a box cutter and meat cleaver and bludgeoned to death with a rock.  Shipp, who was under the age of 18, is serving a life sentence and Peterson was given probation.  Pike's defense team had tried to persuade the appellate court to create a new class of killers, 18-year-olds with a history of mental illness, who should be exempt from the death penalty.  Juries are already allowed to consider a killer's youth and mental status in deciding whether to impose the death penalty.   


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