SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Washington Calling

Impact of computer theft ... Movies at the Pentagon ...
Scripps Howard News Service


July 06, 2007

Seems it's an almost daily occurrence that a government agency, credit card company, university or public utility announces the theft or disappearance of a laptop containing the personal information of tens of thousands of Americans.

But until now, there was little attention paid to what happened in the aftermath of what could be an identity thief's dream.

In its just-released findings of one of the first such studies, the Government Accountability Office came up with an unexpected answer: Only a small number of identity thefts have occurred.

The auditing agency studied the impact of the 24 largest breaches reported in the press from January 2000 through June 2005 and found only four resulted in clear cases of fraud. In most cases, police say, the missing computers fall into the hands of common crooks interested only in the machine's resale value.

But, the GAO report said, it costs companies an average of $1.4 million to notify consumers, change passwords and otherwise scrub their systems even when the likelihood of identity theft is minor.


Wonder if Al Gore, who wangled from the National Museum of the American Indian a last-minute Washington venue for his Live Earth global extravaganza, took note of the name of one of the musical groups scheduled to perform Saturday.

Among others booked by the Smithsonian museum, which weeks ago organized its own complement of musical artists and speakers for its daylong event, is a native Canadian rock, funk and blues band called the Breaking Wind.

Perhaps this was meant to draw attention to the effect of methane pollution on climate change.


"Transformers", the just-released mega-boy-flick, is the first Hollywood movie allowed to film in and around the Pentagon grounds since the 9/11 attacks.

The Defense Department has a long history of cooperating with Hollywood when it thinks a script will portray the military in a positive light. The Pentagon obviously embraced this one, which is on track to be a major blockbuster. Not only did some Air Force personnel serve as extras, several other service members also had bit parts.

A phalanx of real warplanes are featured, including an F-22 Raptor fighter jet, an A-10 Thunderbolt attack aircraft, a Predator robot plane, the problem-plagued Osprey tilt-rotor craft, and even Air Force One. In the film, the Raptor morphs into an evil Transformer called "Starscream."

After the filming, cast and crew paid their respects at the Pentagon's 9/11 memorial chapel, and hosted a special screening for the troops.


A movement has begun to create the first national monument to honor the sacrifices of military spouses. Conceived by the widow of a U.S. Navy sailor who died last year in Iraq and the daughter of a Marine widow, the memorial would portray two figures standing back to back. One face would be joyous, as if at the return of her loved one from overseas, and the other devastated by grief.

They have a particular spot in mind, one that would allow the mourning figure to face Arlington National Cemetery. Rep. Thelma Drake, R-Va., says she will introduce a House measure this month to authorize the placement on government property.


Taxpayers will shell out at least $32 million next year for the super-scripted partisan love-fests known as the presidential nominating conventions, which, given the unprecedented early start of campaigning this time, will be more irrelevant than ever.

The Democrats and Republicans will each get about $16.4 million -- as an initial U.S. Treasury contribution, according to the Federal Election Commission -- to pay for the "official costs" of the extravaganzas to be held by Democrats from Aug. 25 to 28, 2008 in Denver, and by the GOP from Sept. 1 to 4 next year in Minneapolis-St. Paul.


Ohio State Rep. Bob Hagan, a Youngstown Democrat, has asked President Bush to commute the prison time remaining on the eight-year sentence of former U.S. Rep. James Traficant, in light of Bush's recent commutation of convicted former White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Traficant, famed for his bad hairpiece and his "beam me up, Scotty" refrain on the House floor, went to prison five years ago after being convicted of bribery, racketeering and corruption. He's due for release in 2009.

"The least he can do is apply equal justice and release all of those whose crimes had far less impact on the public good than Libby's," Hagan, who represents Youngstown in the state house, said in a press statement.


Distributed to subscribers for publication by
Scripps Howard News Service,

E-mail your news & photos to

Publish A Letter on SitNews
        Read Letters/Opinions

Contact the Editor

SitNews ©2007
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska