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number 166    
08.17.08
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The Federal Bureau of
Investigation has admitted that
it improperly obtained
telephone records of reporters
working for the New York
Times and the Washington
Post as part of an unspecified
terrorism investigation in 2004.
FBI Director Robert Mueller
personally apologized for the
incident in telephone calls last
week to the executive editors
of each newspaper. A
spokesperson for the Bureau
said that the records were
never used by agents and that
they have been deleted from
the FBI database.

The breach came to light in the
course of a probe by the FBI
inspector general into the
agency’s use of so-called
“national security letters” to
secretly access phone,
banking, and business
records. Last year the
inspector general reported
hundreds of instances in which
FBI agents had used
“emergency” or “exigent”
letters to improperly obtain
personal data. In each case,
the FBI agents involved falsely
asserted that subpoenas for
the records had already been
requested. In the 2004
incident, the FBI used such
“exigent” letters to acquire
phone records for reporters
based in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The FBI discontinued the use
of "exigent" letters in 2007, but
continues to use "national
security letters" to obtain
records without a warrant. The
agency routinely imposes gag
orders on those from whom it
seeks such information,
making it difficult to quantify
the extent of abuses and
procedural
violations.                  
it's all true
The number of low oxygen “dead
zones” in the world’s oceans has
doubled each decade since the
1960’s, creating an environmental
crisis and threatening commercial
fisheries, according to a report
published last week in the journal
Science. Researchers counted
405 distinct “dead”, or hypoxic,
areas in coastal waters in 2007,
covering a combined total of more
than 95,000 square miles. The
dead zones are created when
agricultural runoff containing
fertilizer is carried by rivers into
the oceans, resulting in massive
unnatural algae blooms that
eventually die off, starving the
surrounding area of oxygen, and
killing or disrupting marine life.

One of the best-documented
hypoxic zones forms annually in
the Gulf of Mexico, the result of
high levels of nitrate-rich fertilizer
in the Mississippi River. The Gulf
dead zone has grown to about
8,000 square miles, causing a
mass migration of  fish, shrimp,
and crabs. Significant dead zones
also occur each year in the Baltic
Sea, the East China Sea, and the
Chesapeake Bay.  
it's all true
FBI Used Letters
To Spy on Writers
Bumper Crop
Of Dead Zones
A report released last week by the
Government Accountability Office
reveals that two-thirds of US
corporations claimed zero federal
income tax liability between 1998 and
2005. The report, which was
compiled at the request of
Democratic Senators Carl Levin of
Michigan and Byron
Dorgan of North Dakota, also finds
that 68 percent of foreign-controlled
corporations with US operations paid
no taxes over the same period. The
GAO concluded that together the
companies reported trillions in US
revenues during the years studied.

“It’s shameful that so many
corporations make big profits and
pay nothing to support our country,”
said Dorgan, who called the report “a
shocking indictment of the current tax
system.” Levin highlighted the
sophisticated accounting
practices that enable companies to
legally reduce their tax liabilities
through the transfer of funds, saying,
“corporations are using tax trickery to
send their profits overseas and avoid
paying their fair share in the United
States.” The report comes in the
wake of the Bush administration
announcement that the US budget
deficit for next year will reach a
record $486 billion.

In 2005, the most recent year for
which figures are available, 66.7
percent of US corporations, more
than 1.2 million companies, paid no
federal income tax. Additionally, more
than 38,000 foreign corporations
also avoided US corporate tax in the
same year. The companies avoiding
income tax reported a combined $2.5
trillion in sales. The GAO also found
that 72 percent of foreign
corporations and 57 percent of
US companies paid zero income
taxes for at least one year
between 1998 and 2005. More
than 42 percent of US
corporations and half of all foreign
companies avoided all taxes for
two or more years during that
period.

The GAO report did not name
specific companies. Corporations
typically claim zero liability when
they report an operating loss, or
by the application of tax credits or
other government incentives,
which may include tax deferments.
Critics of US corporate tax policy
accuse large corporations of
aggressively avoiding tax liability
through elaborate transfer pricing
structures that shift profits and
losses to the most advantageous
tax jurisdictions.              
it's all
true    
In US Economy, Not Much Certain Except Debt and Tax Breaks
In the wake of the nation’s largest
immigration raid at a meat-
processing plant in Postville, IA in
May, questions have arisen
regarding what some have
considered to be heavy handed
techniques used by immigration and
Justice Department officials and
others have analyzed as an example
of a chilling new type of federal police
action that disregarded the legal
rights of people taken into custody
and set new legal precedents for
mass arrest in the US.

The immigration raid took place at
the Agriprocessors meat-processing
plant in May when armed Immigration
and Customs Enforcement agents
arrived at the plant in 15 buses, vans
and by helicopter.  Nearly 400
workers, almost half of the plant’s
employees, were arrested and
processed over a seven-day period.  
About 300 of the employees
were charged with aggravated
identity theft and Social Security
fraud.

The American Civil Liberties Union
revealed this week that Justice
Department officials prepared a
manual to facilitate garnering guilty
pleas from the hundreds of
suspects.  The manual contained
detailed “scripts” to be followed by
judges and defense attorneys.  
Groups of 17 workers were given a
single group-attorney and were
paraded in groups before a judge
where they were given a choice
between pleading guilty to
aggravated identity theft and
receiving a guaranteed two year
sentence or pleading guilty to a
reduced charge.  The ACLU said that
the manual was "an important tool
used to rush defendants through the
criminal justice and immigration
systems in an unprecedented
way.”        
it's all true
An international armada, led by US
Carrier Strike Group Two, recently
set sail for the Persian Gulf.  The
deployment comes on the heels of
the introduction of a resolution in
Congress that demands that the US
take tougher action against Iran to
convince it to abandon its
development of enriched uranium
that some fear could be used to
manufacture nuclear weapons and
after the European Union issued a
decree that authorizes tougher
sanctions against Iran.

The flotilla just completed
coordinated war games exercises in
the Atlantic Ocean where the
multinational contingent, made up of
US, British, French and Brazilian
forces, practiced
forming a naval blockade and
rehearsed scenarios to respond to
defensive measures that could be
expected to be taken by a country
that is the target of a naval
blockade.  More than 15, 000 service
members participated in the exercise,
“Operation Brimstone”, which is
characterized by the military as a
“graduate level exercise for strike
groups who are preparing to forward
deploy.”  When the strike force
arrives at its destination in the
Persian Gulf, it will join three
additional US naval battle groups
making the deployment in the
strategic waterway the largest since
the first Gulf War.

Resolutions submitted to Congress
earlier this summer call for a naval
blockade against Iran that would
cut off its supply of refined
petroleum products.  Israeli
Defense Minister Ehud Olmert
proposed the naval blockade
when he traveled to the US in May
and held a “confidential” meeting
with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
(D-CA) where the prime minister
proclaimed, “the present
sanctions (against Iran) have
exhausted themselves.”  A spokes
person for the Navy disclaimed
that prepara-tions were underway
to enforce a naval blockade
against Iran saying that massive
deployments “couldn't be always
linked with military actions.”           
it's all true
The private mercenary organization
Blackwater has come under scrutiny
for misrepresenting the size of its
company in order to acquire federal
contracts set aside for small
businesses.  The falsifications came
to light in an audit performed by the
Office of the Inspector General for
the Small Business Administration
that also found that Blackwater
benefited from assessments made by
the SBA that favored broad
definitions of what it means to be an
employee of Blackwater.  Blackwater
eventually received more than 130
SBA contracts worth over $100
million.  Blackwater has received over
$1.2 billion worth of government
contracts since 2000.

The Inspector’s audit found that
Blackwater gave conflicting
information in its proposals and
applications for federal loans and
applied for contracts under the
business names of companies that it
owned in the effort to disguise the
fact that the contracts would in reality
be awarded to Blackwater.  

The auditors also found that the
Small Business Association accepted
Back-water’s interpretation of which
of its employees were “private
contractors” allowing the company to
assert that it
has far fewer employees than are
actually paid by Blackwater.  The
auditors found, for example, that
Blackwater said in its SBA
applications that the number of
employees of an affiliate, Presidential
Airlines, was just over 700 and
Blackwater reported to Dunn and
Bradstreet that the company had
more than 1500 employees.  
Presidential went on to receive a
$107 million dollar SBA contract.  
The SBA’s policy is to not offer
contracts to companies with over
1000 employees.

The falsifications, misrepresentations
and favorable SBA rulings were
uncovered by Congressional
investigators who reported that
Blackwater used its special
designations of employees as
“private contractors” to evade paying
“millions in federal tax payments.”  
Chairman of the House Committee on
Oversight and Government Reform,
Henry Waxman (D-CA), concluded
that the designation of employees as
contractors also enabled the
Blackwater to secure the SBA
contracts unfairly.  

The Inspector General said that the
findings indicated that Blackwater
might have used the same fakery to
secure additional contracts from
other federal
agencies.                        
it's all true
Guilty Pleas Scripted by Justice Department
Blackwater USA: World's Biggest Small
Business
US Led Flotilla Threatens Infidels with Firepower and Operation
Brimstone
verbatim                                                                            32.3
...is not the person you want as
the
Commander-in-Chief."               
Vienna  OH  10.27.04
"A political candidate who
jumps to conclusions without
knowing the facts...
%
20
Prevalence of poor mental
health selected states
la      ky     mt      wv     wa     ut
10
30
40
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