Politics

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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WSJ gets snippy about Ted Kennedy & Mao ILL st

mdoneil writes "The OpinionJournal piece notes that Kennedy called the the prevaricating student requested "The official Chinese translation of the Communist Manifesto". That is so wrong in so many ways.
The article gets better when the author quotes Heinlein

These people could "prove" their opinions by quoting any number of Americans and American newspapers and magazines. That they were able to quote such American sources proved just the opposite, namely that we do continue to enjoy free speech even to express arrant nonsense and unpopular opinion, escaped them completely.

I thought it was brilliant and hilarious."

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New Head Of The IMLS

An Anonymous Patron writes sent over a White House press release that says

President George W. Bush today announced his intention to nominate four individuals and appoint four individuals to serve in his Administration: ...

The President intends to nominate Anne-Imelda Radice, of Vermont, to be Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, for a term of four years. Ms. Radice currently serves as Acting Assistant Chairman for Programs at the National Endowment for the Humanities. She previously served as Chief of Staff at the Department of Education. Earlier in her career, Ms. Radice served as Acting Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts and Curator in the Office of the Architect of the United States Capitol. She received her bachelor's degree from Wheaton College and her first master's degree from Villa Schifanoia School of Fine Arts. In addition, Ms. Radice received her PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her second master's degree from American University."

radical militant librarians-from news to fashion

Charles Greenberg writes "Yesterday I heard the NPR description of FBI frustrations with getting kicked around by "radical militant librarians" that are aiding terrorism by questioning the provisions of the Patriot Act, having to do with secretly obtaining library circulation records. See the email source for this phrase (paid for with our tax dollars).

Seeing an entrepreneurial opportunity, I have captured one definition of radical militancy on a boutique of active/casualware for one type of radical militant.

Don't forget to view the back of the shirt to see my definition.

It only takes about 20 minutes to set up a site like this, including the graphic.

Unabashedly, all profits go toward future college expenses for two less radical children...."

Canadian draft proposals to shield personal data

Cabot writes "The Canadian Press reports that the Government of Canada has drafted a proposal that would allow government departments to immediately cancel a contract with an American firm if it hands personal information about Canadians to U.S. anti-terrorism investigators."

FBI, "Radical Militant Librarians", and US

Fang-Face writes "There was an article by Eric Lichtblau of The New York Times, for Sunday 11 December 2005, titled
At FBI, Frustration Over Limits on an Antiterror Law, reprinted at TruthOut.org. In it, Lichtblau reports on how FBI agents are simply twitchy about using S.215. Interestingly enough, it seems to be field agents who are chafing at restrictions administration officials seem reluctant to lift. Lichtblau's allegations of agents wanting to run riot with S.215 are supported by internal FBI e-mails. One e-mail reads in part: "While radical militant librarians kick us around, true terrorists benefit from OIPR's failure to let us use the tools given to us," . . ."

Government tracking of cells prompts court fight

Jeanie Straub writes "The New York Times reports: "Most Americans carry cellphones, but many may not know that government agencies can track their movements through the signals emanating from the handset.In recent years, law enforcement officials have turned to cellular technology as a tool for easily and secretly monitoring the movements of suspects as they occur. But this kind of surveillance - which investigators have been able to conduct with easily obtained court orders - has now come under tougher legal scrutiny. In the last four months, three federal judges have denied prosecutors the right to get cellphone tracking information from wireless companies without first showing 'probable cause' to believe that a crime has been or is being committed. That is the same standard applied to requests for search warrants. The rulings, issued by magistrate judges in New York, Texas and Maryland, underscore the growing debate over privacy rights and government surveillance in the digital age." http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/10/technology/10pho ne.html(reg. required)"

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