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New FDNY technology

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.
May 15, 2013 1:33:51 PM PDT
Back in the day, Americans were aghast at the abuse of power wielded by Richard Nixon and his administration. He had an "enemies list," and those on it (they wore the designation as a badge of honor) were treated to police and FBI surveillance and dossiers, and to audits and scrutiny by the IRS.

He also ordered wire taps. It was a frightening period. The dossiers, FBI files were filled with volumes of often-times nonsense, the feds following otherwise law-abiding citizens just because they may have disagreed with the government's policy on the war in Vietnam, or civil rights, or name-the-issue.

I know. I had an FBI file that numbered about 200 pages and it was chock-full of innocuous surveillance diaries of my comings and goings (talk about boring!) and one shocking claim that I had a gun, which I most certainly did not. All this because I was active against the war.

I'm thinking about those days these days because what's happening in the current administration seems alarmingly similar to the Nixonian White House. Phone records of Associated Press reporters have been gathered and investigated by the Justice Department. And the IRS improperly audited and went after political groups, in this case conservative organizations like the Tea Party, which took exception to the Obama Administration.

Speaking truth to power no matter the politics of that power is a tenet of this country, and a foundation of a free press. Politics shouldn't matter, and the phone records investigations and the audits of opposing political groups is a kind of Orwellian-themed scheme that should sent chills up all of our spines, and spark loud cries of protest.

Even Pres. Obama has called the IRS behavior outrageous. He needs to do more of that. Pres. Nixon always denied any wrongdoing by his minions, and rarely addressed people's worries about abuse of power. And look what happened to him. I'm just sayin'.

We'll have any new developments on the IRS abuse of power and the reporters' phone records, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, the FDNY now embracing new technology that will change the way the biggest fire department in the world inspects buildings. It will focus on buildings that pose the biggest risk of fire.

This is, says the FDNY, the first of its kind in the country, and will use information from several sources and databases to figure out how best to prioritize the 50,000 buildings firefighters inspect every year.

There are also reports that a judge in New York has stopped the City's plan to shut down the emergency housing that is home for 913 people displaced from Superstorm Sandy. The shelters were going to shutdown on May 31; now a judge has put the brakes on the City's plan.

And finally, the odds are staggeringly against you you have a much better chance of becoming president, or giving birth to identical quadruplets - but that's not stopping millions of people from trying to snag the winning numbers in tonight's Powerball jackpot. It's now up to $360 million. That's the 3rd largest Powerball and the 7th largest lottery ever. And it comes less than 2 months after the $338 million Powerball winning ticket was sold in Passaic, New Jersey.

We'll have the drawing, tonight right before the start of our newscast.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER

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