Politics

The grubby literati in America

Fang-Face writes "An interesting look at the state of literacy in the U.S. and a recent movement decrying the slipping standards thereof. Titled
Who Reads in America?, By Mark Schurmann, Pacific News Service, and posted to Alternet.org, this article intimates that literacy is becoming an underground counterculture."

ACLU & CCR File Domestic Spying Suit

Search-Engines writes "Prominent Journalists, Nonprofit Groups, Terrorism Experts and Community Advocates Join First Lawsuit to Challenge New NSA Spying Program.Saying that the Bush administration's illegal spying on Americans must end, the American Civil Liberties Union today filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against the National Security Agency seeking to stop a secret electronic surveillance program that has been in place since shortly after September 11, 2001. THe ACLU Site Explains"

ALA preparing to file a Patriot Act FOIA request

The Reader's Shop writes "The American Library Association's Executive Board is filing the FOIA request to determine if the FBI has been collecting information on the Association and its leaders as a result of their opposition to certain provisions of the USA Patriot Act."

Anonymous Online Posts NOT Illegal

Seth Finkelstein writes "Regarding fears about anonymous online posts, see
A Skeptical Look at "Create an E-annoyance, Go to Jail" - lawyer Orin Kerr states "Declan McCullagh has penned a column that is custom-designed to race around the blogosphere. ...

This is just the perfect blogosphere story, isn't it? It combines threats to bloggers with government incompetence and Big Brother, all wrapped up and tied together with a little bow. Unsurprisingly, a lot of bloggers are taking the bait.

Skeptical readers will be shocked, shocked to know that the truth is quite different.".

See also
rebuttal by Daniel Solove
("Declan's article is misleading") and
analysis
by Ann Bartow
("I may be missing something, but I don't think
either e-mail or web logs would be [covered ...]")"

DOJ - Certain Anonymous Online Posts now Illegal

http://search-engines-web.com/ writes "According to a section of the act, anyone who uses the Internet anonymously "with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass another person" can be tried for violating federal telecommunications law and face fines or jail. The broad language of the law has some online advocates concerned that it could be used to censure the expression of objectionable opinion simply because those opinions annoy someone, but its backers say that is not the case More @ Yahoo! And UPI.com"

Hudson Institute Fellow Paid For Columns

kmccook writes "Awareness of paid comentators is an important aspect of information literacy.

Michael Fumento's failure to disclose payments to him in 1999 from Monsanto, the agribusiness giant, have now caused Scripps Howard to sever its ties to him. Fumento is a senior fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute.Fumento's column will no longer be distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.Other conservative commentators -- in a series of 2005 revelations -- were found to have accepted money to promote programs and initiatives without disclosing the funding. They included Armstrong Williams of Tribune Media Services (which dropped Williams), Maggie Gallagher of Universal Press Syndicate, and the self-syndicated Michael McManus."

Freedom of Information and IRS.

kathleen writes "I.R.S. Move Said to Hurt the Poor.
Tax refunds sought by 1.6 million poor Americans over the last five years were frozen and their returns labeled fraudulent, although the vast majority appear to have done nothing wrong, the Internal Revenue Service's taxpayer advocate told Congress yesterday.. Taxpayer Advocate.

Public Citizen:
In violation of a longstanding court order, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has knowingly stopped providing a widely recognized data expert with detailed statistics about how the agency enforces the nation's tax laws, according to a motion filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington.

The legal challenge was brought by Susan B. Long, professor Syracuse University. Long has used the IRS's own data to document its performance for more than 30 years. Since 1989 she also has been co-director of the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a data research organization that provides the public with detailed information about the operation of hundreds of federal agencies, including the IRS.

Long obtained a court order on July 23, 1976, from Judge Walter McGovern in connection with Long's studies of the agency while she was pursuing her Ph.D. at the University of Washington. The order requires the IRS to provide her statistical data on an ongoing basis about its audit, collection and other enforcement activities.

For many years, the IRS largely abided by McGovern's order. Since mid-2004, however, the agency has refused to comply even while acknowledging the existence of the court order and of statistical material collected by the agency that is covered by the order. The agency has not offered an explanation for its refusal to provide the information. The motion filed today asks the court to compel compliance with the order.

For more than 10 years, TRAC has used the IRS's own data to produce a regular series of reports about the performance of what is today one of the nation's largest and most powerful agencies. The reports are posted on TRAC's Web site, http://trac.syr.edu./
TRAC has Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suits pending against the Justice Department's Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys and the Office of Personnel Management. In addition, TRAC has administrative FOIA requests seeking data and other information from the Justice Department's Civil Division and its Environmental and Natural Resources Division, its immigration courts and several agencies within the Department of Homeland Security."

Gates & Rockefeller - Owning to Saving the World

http://search-engines-web.com/ writes to share this interesting New York magazine piece, "Bill Gates and J. D. Rockefeller Similarities...Rockefeller's life traces essentially the same arc on which Gates appears to be traveling.
Gates's consolation is that his opportunity to be a transformational figure isn't lost with Microsoft's abeyance. This is not a trivial thing. Gates has already changed the world once; now, through his foundation - which is not only disgorging a gusher of funds but inventing a new model for philanthropy, driven by statistics, leverage, and an insistance on accountability - he has a chance to do it again.
  By the time of his death, in 1937, Rockefeller had attained an image in the public mind of a kind of secular saint. Today he's remembered as much for his acts of charity as for his earlier acts of commercial treachery."

Cong Research Service: Bush Spying not Legal

kmccook writes "Report Rebuts Bush on Spying : Domestic Action's Legality Challenged.

The Washington Post : A report by Congress's research arm concluded yesterday that the administration's justification for the warrantless eavesdropping authorized by President Bush conflicts with existing law and hinges on weak legal arguments.The Congressional Research Service's report rebuts the central assertions made recently by Bush and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales about the president's authority to order secret intercepts of telephone and e-mail exchanges between people inside the United States and their contacts abroad.
Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said the report makes it clear that Congress has exerted power over domestic surveillance. He urged Congress to address what he called the president's abuse of citizens' privacy rights and the larger issue of presidential power."

Constitution in Crisis Includes Disinformation

kathleen writes "United States. Congress. The Constitution in Crisis: The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Coverups in the Iraq War.

December 2005.

This Minority Report has been produced at the request of Representative John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee. He made this request in the wake of the President's failure to respond to a letter submitted by 122
Members of Congress and more than 500,000 Americans in July of this year asking him whether the assertions set forth in the Downing Street Minutes were accurate. Mr. Conyers asked staff, by year end 2005, to review the available information concerning
possible misconduct by the Bush Administration in the run up to the Iraq War and post-invasion statements and actions, and to develop legal conclusions and make legislative and other recommendations to him.

The Constitution in Crisis: The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Coverups in the Iraq War.

In brief, we have found that there is substantial evidence the President, the Vice President and other high ranking members of the Bush Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war with Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for
such war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and other legal violations in Iraq; and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of their Administration....it is incumbent on individual Members of Congress as well as the American public to act to protect our constitutional form of government. (Executivev Summary).

"

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