Best of 2015.


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One of 249 pages of heavily redacted documents I received from the FBI on Saturday, May 2, 2015 as a partial response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed in January 2014.


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“We told everybody, ‘Get away from the door and windows,'” said Frankie Viturello, of Fort Lee, a friend of the store’s owners. “‘Someone could open fire at any minute.'”

A block away, city police and the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department SWAT team had started moving toward the party. A 911 caller to the Clifton Police said people were possibly shot and being held hostage — inside the video game store.

But the people in the store were fine. They had not been shot, stabbed or beaten. They had been “swatted.”

How a prank call sent a N.J. SWAT team swarming

The Pine Barrens.


People in New Jersey still use the term, with variants such as “the pine belt,” “the pinelands,” and, most frequently, “the pines.” Gradually development of one kind or another has moved in over the edges of the forest, reducing the circumference of the wild land and creating a man-made boundary in place of the natural one. This transition line is often so abrupt that in many places on the periphery of the pines it is possible to be at one moment in farmland, or even in a residential development or an industrial zone, and in the next moment to be in the silence of a bewildering green country, where a journey of forty or fifty miles is necessary to get to the farms and factories on the other side.

— John McPhee, “The Pine Barrens