WHAT DID THE FBI KNOW, ETC?
A memo from the FBI's chief lawyer in Minneapolis to FBI Director Robert Mueller, disclosed in part last week, has been published almost in its entirety on Time Magazine's Web site.
In the memo, FBI veteran Coleen Rowley accused headquarters staff of "almost deliberately thwarting" efforts to raise an alarm about the so-called 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui, prior to the Sept. 11 attacks. While Washington officials told her office not to examine Moussaoui's laptop computer or pursue possible terrorist connections, Rowley said her office tried repeatedly to get the cooperation of headquarters.
Rowley wrote to Mueller that allowing the investigation to proceed as requested might not have prevented the full extent of the Sept. 11 attacks, but she said investigators might have been able to stop some of the attacks.
"It's at least possible we could have gotten lucky and uncovered one or two more of the terrorists in flight training prior to Sept. 11th," she wrote, "just as Moussaoui was discovered."
FBI officials, she said, were allowed to make changes in affidavits filed from Minneapolis, and were "consistently, almost deliberately, thwarting the Minnesota FBI efforts."
"We faced the sad realization that the remarks indicated someone, possibly with your approval, had decided to circle the wagons," she wrote.
Crowley -- who asked for protection under federal whistleblower law -- aimed some of her criticism directly at Mueller.
"I think you have ... not been completely honest about some of the true reasons for the FBI's pre-Sept. 11th failures," she wrote.
She added that she feels that "certain facts" have been "omitted, downplayed, glossed over and-or mischaracterized in an effort to avoid or minimize personal and-or institutional embarrassment on the part of the FBI."
-- Do you think the FBI is going to "take the fall" politically for not preventing the Sept. 11 attacks?
-- Do you have confidence in the FBI?
THRILLS, CHILLS AND BRAIN DAMAGE?
As the summer tourism season gets underway, a controversy is heating up around the safety of amusement park thrill rides, and whether states should exercise more control over them.
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, critics of the rides argue that riders' brains are being rattled around in their skulls -- causing brain bleeds and tears that can result in permanent damage or death.
The paper reported that New Jersey is expected this fall to set the nation's first legal limits on the gravitational force that amusement park rides can produce. But industry officials are also moving to set new standards.
Those officials also say that many of those who have been injured on rides had preexisting conditions, such as aneurysms. They also accuse plaintiffs' lawyers and regulators of exaggerating the effects of a small number of cases in a pastime that they say is safer than many forms of family entertainment, such as soccer on the weekends.
"If someone can find an activity that 320 million people do each summer that has less incidents, I'd really like to see what it is," said Gary Story, president of Six Flags Inc., which operates 38 amusement parks worldwide.
There is no question that thrill rides have been getting more intense in recent years. According to the Times' analysis of coaster enthusiasts' Web sites, the 10 fastest coasters have been built in the past eight years. The fastest -- the Dondonpa in Japan -- opened in December and goes 106.9 mph.
Records for height, drop and angle of descent have also been falling in recent years.
Toshio Fukutake, a neurologist who has studied coaster-related injuries, is urging government to consider regulating speed and acceleration of giant coasters. In California, no law governs ride design or G-forces, but state law does require reporting of injuries, accident investigations and ride inspections.
Six Flags has commissioned a study on ride-related brain injuries by Neuro-Knowledge, a research program of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.
-- How far can amusement parks push the envelope on speed, G-Force, height, etc. until they can't go any further?
-- Should government regulation be increased on amusement park thrill rides?
MUTT DIES AFTER BEING TOSSED FROM HIGH-RISE
Police in New York say a man who tossed a 16-year-old mutt from the 23rd floor of a Tribeca apartment had been throwing a major fit -- hurling a TV set off the balcony to a cement courtyard more than 200 feet below, and following with an air conditioner, a stereo receiver, a teddy bear, a handbag and some clothes, before throwing the dog to its death on Sunday.
Witnesses told the New York Daily News that John Jefferson showed up around 11 a.m. at the apartment of his ex-girlfriend, Eugenia Miller, after harassing her for days. Neighbors said Jefferson had lived in the apartment until Miller tossed him out several weeks ago.
Police took the dog -- a 16-year-old poodle-terrier mix named Ribsy -- to a veterinary hospital, but the animal was already dead.
Emergency Service Unit officers rammed down the apartment door and found Jefferson cowering in a corner. As police hauled Jefferson off to Bellevue Hospital for psychiatric evaluation, one neighbor yelled at him: "You should have jumped!"
Jefferson has been charged with reckless endangerment, felony cruelty to animals, menacing and criminal possession of a weapon.
-- Was there a full moon in New York this weekend?
-- People joke about anger management courses, but is this story a good argument for them?