More spy games. Russian officials claim they are surprised by the “crude and clumsy recruitment” methods an alleged CIA agent used to attempt to persuade a Russian FSB agent to give up secret information. The FSB, Russia’s intelligence agency, detained U.S. diplomat Ryan Fogel on Monday, claiming it caught him red-handed in his recruitment effort. But the agency also said Fogel carried the “classic spy arsenal,” including a wig, listening devices and a large quantity of cash. If that equates to the best spies have to work with, no wonder our intelligence efforts are often lacking. Russian officials claim Fogel wanted information on Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the two men accused of detonating two bombs at the Boston Marathon on April 15. U.S. officials, who now have Fogel back, have not commented on the case. But analysts speculate Fogel’s high-profile detention and release could be part of a Russian effort to save face after enduring criticism for not releasing all the information it had on Tsarnaev, including text messages he sent to his mother that indicated he wanted to get in touch with radical Islamic groups in Dagestan.
Not guilty? This really boggles the mind. Accused Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro plans to plead not guilty, according to his lawyer. Does he plan to say the women he lured to his dingy downtown home stayed with him voluntarily? Among defense strategies, this would seem to top the bad idea list. But accused criminals often plead not guilty at first and carry that forward into plea bargain negotiations. According to Reuters, it’s not clear yet wether lawyer Jaye Schlachet plans to take the case to trial. Castro is on suicide watch in Ohio’s Cuyahoga County jail. He is accused of holding three women hostage for almost a decade, raping and torturing them. He fathered a child with one woman and forced another to miscarry five times. Prosecutors are considering charging Castro with murder in the deaths of those babies. One of Castro’s other lawyers, Craig Weintraub, says his client is not the monster his victims and family members make him out to be.
All paid up. A New Hampshire city is suing six men for stalking parking meter attendants and dropping coins in expired meters before the city employees can write tickets. The gang, which calls itself “Robin Hood and his Merry Men,” follow the parking meter attendants, often recording their actions with video equipment and coordinating their efforts with handheld radios. The City of Keene claims their activities amount to harassment. If parking meter attendants feel threatened enough to quit, the city will have to spend time and money to train replacements, the suit claims. The city wants to create a 50-foot safety zone to protect the attendants. The Merry Men claim the city’s targeting them because it’s losing out on parking ticket revenue. My biggest question: Where do these guys find the time?
Bad weather. The first tropical depression of the 2013 hurricane season formed today off the Pacific coast of Mexico. The storm, doesn’t seem likely to pose any threat to land. The Pacific hurricane season starts today and ends Nov. 30. The Atlantic hurricane season doesn’t start until June 1. Forecasters have predicted a more active than normal season, with several major storms likely to threaten the U.S. between now and the end of the year.