PATH: BS | Government | Feds

John McCain Is Too Busy To Do His Job

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An Arizona state lawmaker is calling for John McCain to resign from the Senate for missing too many votes.

Republican Representative Russell Pearce of Mesa says Arizona's interests aren't being heard because John McCain is skipping Senate votes to campaign for a spot in the White House.

"He's our Senator and we elected him," said Pearce. "This is about representing Arizona properly."

According to The Washington Post, McCain has missed almost 50% of Senate votes during the current Congress. This comes at a time when taxpayers are paying McCain a salary of $165,200 to represent Arizonans on the Senate floor.

The only other Senator with a worse record is South Dakota's Tim Johnson who has been out recovering from a brain hemorrhage.

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Does America Deserve Levees That Work?

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John Goodman has gone public in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina debacle to call attention to a common misconception about the destruction of New Orleans: It was caused by defective levees built by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps knew about the problems and ignored them. The city was flooded and destroyed.

Similar Corps projects are in virtually every state in the U.S. Goodman asks, "Don't we deserve levees that work?"

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Chocolate May No Longer Be Chocolate Thanks To The FDA

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The federal Food and Drug Administration is proposing to redefine the very essence of chocolate and to allow big manufacturers such as Hershey to sell a bar devoid of a key ingredient — cocoa butter. The butter's natural texture could be replaced with inferior alternatives, such as vegetable fats. And consumers would never know.

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U.S. Plans To Bomb Cyber-Terrorists

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If the United States found itself under a major cyberattack aimed at undermining the nation’s critical information infrastructure, the Department of Defense is prepared, based on the authority of the president, to launch a cyber counterattack or an actual bombing of an attack source.

The question remains, which of the Internets would Bush bomb?

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Subcontractors Are Becoming A 4th US Government Branch

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In June, short of people to process cases of incompetence and fraud by federal contractors, officials at the General Services Administration responded with what has become the government's reflexive answer to almost every problem.

They hired another contractor.

It did not matter that the company they chose, CACI International, had itself recently avoided a suspension from federal contracting; or that the work, delving into investigative files on other contractors, appeared to pose a conflict of interest; or that each person supplied by the company would cost taxpayers $104 an hour. Six CACI workers soon joined hundreds of other private-sector workers at the G.S.A., the government's management agency.

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Keith Olbermann Fact Checks Bush's "Victories" Against Terrorism

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[Liars]
In Bush's recent state of the union address, the president makes reference to a number of successes his administration has garnered in the war against terrorism. Unfortunately nobody in the intelligence community has any idea what he's talking about. Keith Olbermann digs deeper into Bush's claims that he's saved us from evil muslims.

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The World No Longer Trusts The United States

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[Beating Dead Horses]
Global opinion of U.S. foreign policy has sharply deteriorated in the past two years, according to a BBC poll released on the eve of President Bush's annual State of the Union address.

Nearly three-quarters of those polled in 25 countries disapprove of U.S. policies toward Iraq, and more than two-thirds said the U.S. military presence in the Middle East does more harm than good. Nearly half of those polled in Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East said the United States is now playing a mainly negative role in the world.

More than 26,000 people were questioned for the survey.

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The 9 Weirdest Tax Write-Offs

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[Get-Rich-Quick]
Did you hear the one about the ostrich? The sperm donor? The dog food?

They're just three of the more ingenious tax deductions that creative Americans have devised over the years to counterpunch the tax collector. A quick Ali shuffle, a feint with the left and an outlandish deduction delivered with a straight face can take the sting out of the annual tax beating -- at least until the Internal Revenue Service catches on.

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Rumsfeld's Innovative Interrogation Techniques Revealed

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FBI agents documented more than two dozen incidents of possible mistreatment at the Guantanamo Bay military base, including one detainee whose head was wrapped in duct tape for chanting the Quran and another who pulled out his hair after hours in a sweltering room.

Documents released Tuesday by the FBI offered new details about the harsh interrogation practices used by military officials and contractors when questioning so-called enemy combatants.

The reports describe a female guard who detainees said handled their genitals and wiped menstrual blood on their face. Another interrogator reportedly bragged to an FBI agent about dressing as a Catholic priest and "baptizing" a prisoner.

Some military officials and contractors told FBI agents that the interrogation techniques had been approved by the Defense Department, including directly by former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

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Millions Of Previously-Classified Documents Now Available

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It will be a Cinderella moment for the band of researchers who study the hidden history of American government.

At midnight on Dec. 31, hundreds of millions of pages of secret documents will be instantly declassified, including many FBI cold war files on investigations of people suspected of being Communist sympathizers. After years of extensions sought by federal agencies behaving like college students facing a term paper, the end of 2006 means the government's first automatic declassification of records.

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Administration Unveils Latest Iraq Buzz-Phrase: New Way Forward

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[Viral Marketing]
Who needs a plan when you have a new slogan! Because YOU, the A.D.D. American public can't be bothered to understand the details of anything, you get a new slogan! Aren't you excited?

The Bush administration and the same folks who gave you: Operation Enduring Freedom, Cut and run, Stay The Course, You're-Either-With-Us-Or-With-The-Terrorists, You Forgot Poland, USA Patriot Act, Support Our Troops, Activist Judges, People Who "Hate Our Freedom," Islamo-Facists, Surrender Monkey, Iraq Is The Central Front On The War On Terror, Politics of Hate, Compassionate Conservatism, Weak On National Security and more have a new slogan... it's not a real plan. Instead it's a buzzword about the idea of a plan. It's called A New Way Forward. Feeling warm and fuzzy yet?

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Where Do Your Cookies Go?

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There's a lot of talk about government waste, how much taxes Americans pay, and where it goes. The problem is our political leaders aren't particularly keen on letting the public know the details of how our tax dollars are spent. Here at BSA, we've compiled a few informative videos on the issue, including an ABC report on the Pentagon losing $2.3 Trillion dollars, Ben Cohen from Ben & Jerry's discussing how tax dollars are spent in a more consumer-friendly metaphor: Oreo cookies, and an amazing web site that seeks to visualize the disbursement of government money to thousands of departments.

For example, do you know that government spending in 2007 will increase the amount spent on missile defense by more than 10%, but spending on cancer research will decrease? Ask yourself: How many people do you know who have been killed by a missile, verses how many who have been killed by cancer?

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United States Gov Web Site Shows How To Build Atomic Weapons

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Last March, the federal government set up a Web site to make public a vast archive of Iraqi documents captured during the war. The Bush administration did so under pressure from Congressional Republicans who had said they hoped to “leverage the Internet” to find new evidence of the prewar dangers posed by Saddam Hussein.

But in recent weeks, the site has posted some documents that weapons experts say are a danger themselves: detailed accounts of Iraq’s secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war. The documents, the experts say, constitute a basic guide to building an atom bomb.

The beauty of this is that many of the documents were already in Arabic. Isn't that convenient. Thanks George! I feel safer already!

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How Does Your State Match Up On Voting Tech and Security?

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Two years after the controversy-plagued 2004 elections, four years after HAVA (the Help America Vote Act) was passed, and six years after the Supreme Court and America romanced the hanging chad, experts are bracing for yet another wave of challenges to regional vote-counting systems.

One-third of us will use voting machines that have never before served in a general election. Legal challenges to paperless DRE (direct-recording electronic) voting technologies are proliferating across the country, and as computer scientists demonstrated earlier this year, hacking challenges to many of these machines can bear fruit even faster than demands for recounts.

Computerworld has put together a comprehensive guide to voting equipment, laws and online resources on a state-by-state basis. See how your state stands in the big picture. Are you protected from fraud? Does your state require a paper trail of voting? You'd be surprised how many states don't seem to care about this democracy-thing.

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October Surprise? A New Sex Scandal?

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[Pubic Relations]
With the capital already mired in its latest sex scandal, federal agents last week raided the home of a woman they allege has, for the past 13 years, operated a Washington, D.C. escort service that dispatched college-educated prostitutes to the homes and hotel rooms of well-heeled clients. A two-year probe by Internal Revenue Service and Unites States Postal Inspection Service agents has targeted the Pamela Martin & Associates escort service and its owner.

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Daily Show Guide To Mid-Term Elections

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[Humor]
We dug up an old video clip from 2002 describing how mid-term elections work. Watch as TDS does their own spin on School House Rock to tell the truth about the institution of government.

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Terrorism Hypocrisy

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A man who worked for the CIA and is now being held by the U.S. on immigration charges is known to have planned the bombing of a Cubana (Cuban airline) flight that killed all 73 passengers. Despite this, Luis Posada Carriles will not be classified by our government as a terrorist and deported to Cuba. Bush has said, "We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them." So what does that say about us?

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A Virginia Republican's Obsession With Small Appliances

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Virginia's Republican senator George Felix Allen is a very busy guy in Congress. Is he looking into illegal wiretapping? Is he busy readying legislation to help hurricane Katrina victims? Is he working to bring our troops back home or curtail terrorism?

Nope. George Allen is apparently the go-to-guy when you need to import a ton of foreign-made, plastic home appliance crap, and you want import duties lifted so your profit margin is bigger. To what extent? Read on... this is rich..

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Oops! Government Loses One of Man's Greatest Accomplishments

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[Astronomy]
The U.S. government has misplaced the original recording of the first moon landing, including astronaut Neil Armstrong's famous "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," a NASA spokesman said on Monday. Along with about 700 boxes of important historical data.

Armstrong's famous space walk, seen by millions of viewers on July 20, 1969, is among transmissions that NASA has failed to turn up in a year of searching, spokesman Grey Hautaloma said.

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Many FEMA Trailers Use Same Key

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FEMA will replace locks on as many as 118,000 trailers used by Gulf Coast hurricane victims after discovering the same key could open many of the mobile homes.

This must be more of that "National Security" the government is so keen at providing.

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Army Leader Who Admitted New Orleans Errors Quits

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[Environment]
The head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who in June admitted that design flaws in the levees his agency built to protect New Orleans caused most of the flooding during Hurricane Katrina, has asked to retire, the Army said on Thursday. In an after-hours announcement, the Army issued a statement saying Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, commander and chief engineer of the corps, had requested his retirement from the military "based on family and personal reasons," Reuters reports. The announcement came a bit more than two months after the corps issued a 6,100-page report admitting to its blunders in the design of storm walls and earthen levees that were supposed to protect the New Orleans area.

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Ex-FEMA Head Michael Brown Goes On Playboy Whine-fest

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[Your 15m]
Former FEMA chief Michael Brown unloads about his post-Katrina downfall in the August issue of Playboy -- calling himself a "scapegoat," warning that the nation is even "less-prepared" for this year's hurricane season, and sharing some PG-13 opinions of former colleagues.

On his much-mocked prior job with the International Arabian Horse Association: "Dealing with horses' asses taught me how to deal with the federal government."

Oh yea, there's more...

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U.S. Government Charging Beruit Embassy Evacuees For Escape

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If you're an American in Lebanon and you're looking to get out and you go to the American embassy, don't be surprised if they fly you out, but send you a bill later.

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Petting Zoo Critical to Homeland Security Infrastructure

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[Beating Dead Horses]
The Department of Homeland Security is building a massive database of critical national infrastructure to be used to determine what sites most need protection from terrorist attacks.

Among the critical assets in the database are Old MacDonald's Petting Zoo, a Kangaroo Conservation Center, Jay's Sporting Goods, several Wal-Mart stores, Amish Country Popcorn, and the Sweetwater Flea Market.

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Mohammed Can't Get Paid Via Western Union

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[Terroir-ism]
Money transfer agencies have delayed or blocked thousands of cash deliveries on suspicion of terrorist connections simply because senders or recipients have names like Mohammed or Ahmed, company officials said.

In one example, an Indian driver said Western Union prevented him from sending $120 to a friend at home last month because the recipient's name was Mohammed.

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Breakdown of Hurricane Katrina Government Spending

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[BSAlert *exclusive*]
*Developing Story*

The Federal Procurement Data System posted its latest information on hurricane-related contract awards. The total spent on post-Katrina contracts as of June 23 stands at $1.9 billion and this doesn't even count most FEMA and Defense Department contracts.

So how wisely is the government spending money?

Let's see. Remember that cool night-time photo-op Bush did in front of Jackson Square in New Orleans? Where he promised to completely fix the levees (which was never done). It cost $61,000 just for the generators, air conditioners and trailers. Oh wait, $10,000+ for the light towers for that, and we're just getting started.

How about $21,000 for a 5-drawer filing cabinet! (Brought to New Orleans from Illinois, because obviously there were no 5-drawer legal cabinets anywhere in the southern United States).

Oh yea, there's more...

READ MORE | 3 comments since 2008-08-02 22:55:22 | Comment on this Article

Do You Know Where That Tissue Has Been?

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Don't worry, the doctor told Brian Lykins' parents, as he prepared to use cartilage from a cadaver to fix their son's knee. A million people a year have operations that use tissue from donated dead bodies. The nation's largest tissue bank had supplied this cartilage. It was disinfected and perfectly safe, he assured them. But it wasn't.

Four days after this routine, elective surgery, Lykins—a healthy, 23-year-old student from Minnesota—died of a raging infection.

He died because the cartilage came from a corpse that had sat unrefrigerated for 19 hours—a corpse that had been rejected by two other tissue banks. The cartilage hadn't been adequately treated to kill bacteria.

None of this broke a single federal rule.

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Government Computer Security Expert Goes To Jail For Hacking

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Kenneth Kwak, 34, of Chantilly, Va., was recently sentenced by U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth to five months in prison followed by five months of home confinement, based upon Kwak's conviction for gaining unauthorized access to and obtaining information from a Department of Education computer system, the Department of Justice announced.

The sentence results from his March 2006 guilty plea to one count of intentionally gaining unauthorized access to a government computer and thereby obtaining information. In his plea, Kwak, who had been working in an office responsible for ensuring the security of Department of Education computer systems, admitted that he had placed software on a supervisor's computer which enabled him to access the computer's storage at will. He later used that access on numerous occasions to view his supervisor's intra-office and Internet email as well as his other Internet activity and communications; Kwak then shared this information with others in his office.

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Janet Jackson's Nipples More Dangerous Than Coal Mining

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[Pubic Relations]
Yesterday, five miners died in a Kentucky mine explosion. Some are asking what's being done to improve mining conditions.

George Miller, who co-sponsored a miner safety bill in the wake of the Sago mine tragedy, that Congress doesn't seem to care about, says "When Janet Jackson had her wardrobe [malfunction], it took Congress 40 days to change the law...It's now over 120 days, and Congress hasn't done a damn thing about securing a safer workplace for these miners and for these families."

Obviously the problem is these miners aren't wearing g-strings.

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CIA Chief Resigns; Will The Press Find Out Why?

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DailyKOS has a good intro to the issue. CIA head Porter Goss has resigned. The administration is surrounded by investigations into criminal activity. Anyone with half a brain realizes that there must be some serious reason why Goss is stepping down. The big question is, are there any real journalists left that can figure out what's going on and why major people in the administration are trying to disappear into the woodwork?

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Feds Use Ebay To Track Down Terrorists

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Ok, that's wrong. Actually, the Feds are much more interested in drug dealers than terrorists. As evidenced by Tommy Chong's incarceration in contrast with Bin Laden's freedom. Which brings me to the point. If you're setting up a clandestine ecstasy lab, you probably don't want to equip yourself via eBay, because your auction history appears to be "probable cause" for the DEA to raid your home.

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White House Merger With Fox Announced

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[Humor]
One day after being named the new White House spokesman, former Fox News pundit Tony Snow announced that a deal merging Fox News and the Bush White House had been successfully completed.

"The merger between Fox News and the White House can be summed up in one word: synergy," Mr. Snow said. "The two entities have been working in lockstep for five years now and this merger is a formal acknowledgment of that fact."

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Ninja Threat at U. Georgia Averted

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It all began when Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm agents spotted a suspicious ninja running across the University of Georgia campus. Naturally, they subdued him, threw him to the ground, and handed him over to campus police when they arrived.

Thank goodness our college students are safe at last from attack by evil ninjas.

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FEMA Deems Concrete Slab Habitable/Denies Assistance

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A New Orleans house flattened but for a concrete staircase on a crumbling facade was among many storm-ravaged structures that federal officials deemed fit for occupancy by Katrina victims now living in Houston, Mayor Bill White said Friday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has notified about 8,900 heads of households in Houston, representing more than 20,000 Katrina evacuees, that they will be ineligible for the cash assistance intended to replace a massive city voucher program that has paid their rent.

A common reason was that the evacuees' former homes were now habitable.

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Report Shows FEMA Wasted More Than $1B Due To Mismanagement

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[Get-Rich-Quick]
Nearly eight months after Hurricane Katrina triggered the nation's largest housing crisis since World War II, a hastily improvised $10 billion effort by the federal government has produced vast sums of waste and misspent funds, an array of government audits and outside analysts have concluded. As FEMA wraps up the initial phase of its temporary housing program, the toll of false starts and missed opportunities appears likely to top $1 billion and perhaps much more, according to a series of after-action studies and Department of Homeland Security reports, including one due for release today.

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FBI Still Very Afraid of "Hippies"

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"The FBI, while waging a highly publicized war against terrorism, has spent resources gathering information on antiwar and environmental protesters and on activists who feed vegetarian meals to the homeless," reports Nicholas Riccardi. According to environmental activist Kirsten Atkins, who wound up in an FBI terrorism file after she attended a protest against the lumber industry, "They don't know where Osama bin Laden is, but they're spending money watching people like me."

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White House Katrina Study Blames Government

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[Beating Dead Horses]
The results are in, and after tons more money spent on another report to asses what went wrong with the Katrina disaster, the obvious answer appears again, that FEMA and the Dept. of Homeland Security screwed up. Even the administration's own report reveals it.

Major departments across the U.S. government must assume significantly greater responsibility in future catastrophes, because the flawed response to Hurricane Katrina demonstrated that the United States relies too much on insufficient and not always well-managed resources of the Department of Homeland Security, a White House study has concluded.

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CIA Agent Blows Cover For Frequent Flier Miles

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An exhaustive report in December on CIA operatives who staffed the so-called ''rendition'' program, secretly transferring suspected terrorists from U.S. custody to foreign governments, revealed sometimes-sloppy undercover work of the agents.

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FEMA Called Off Search For Katrina Victims

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Hundreds of available trucks, boats, planes and federal officers were unused in search and rescue efforts immediately after Hurricane Katrina hit because FEMA failed to give them missions, new documents show.

Additionally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency called off its search and rescue operations in Louisiana three days after the Aug. 29 storm because of security issues, according to an internal FEMA e-mail given to Senate investigators.

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American Flood Control Technology!

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Ever wonder how New Orleans compares to other countries' methods of protecting themselves against flooding?

READ MORE | 2 comments since 2006-02-03 19:00:02 | Comment on this Article

Top Republican Lobbyist Gets Prison Time

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[Liars]
Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff on Tuesday pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, mail fraud and tax evasion. He admitted to conspiring to defraud his lobbying clients, and trying to bribe lawmakers and congressional aides with campaign contributions, meals, trips and sports tickets. He is expected to serve about 10 years in prison. Rumor has it this guy can also implicate former majority leader Tom DeLay. Is more justice coming? Don't expect the mainstream media to report on this accurately.

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FEMA to Homeless: Don't Call Us, We'll Call You.

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Kim Calcagno in Marrero escaped hurricane Katrina's wrath and managed to move back into her home not too long after the disaster. Imagine her surprise when she received a phone call from FEMA offering her the use of a trailer as a temporary home. She didn't need the trailer, but her brother, who lost everything and had no place to stay did. Upon asking FEMA if she could get the trailer for her brother, she was told FEMA can't do that, and would eventually get around to contacting her brother regarding living arrangements.

Apparently what's happening is FEMA is randomly calling the 600,000 people who have filed claims and offering trailers, with no logic or method of prioritizing resources on the basis of need. Nevermind that many who are homeless might not be easily contacted, FEMA representative James McIntyre said, "If they've been displaced, they're all in the same situation, regardles of the level of devastation. We have no way of knowing who has returned home and who has not." This makes no sense as they certainly have records of most people who entered shelters, and seem to have no desire whatsoever to coordinate relief efforts with local or state authorities who know which families need help.

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Court Shuts Down 3 Companies Bundling Spyware with "Free" Stuff

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A U.S. court shut down three Internet companies for secretly bundling malicious "spyware" with ring tones, music programs and other free high-tech goodies, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Thursday. The malicious software tracked victims' Internet activity, hijacked their home pages and deluged them with unwanted "pop up" ads, the FTC said.

It just goes to show you, nothing is "free."

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Ousted Head of FEMA's Newest Qualification: Fashion God

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As Michael "Brownie" Brown was botching the federal emergency response to Hurricane Katrina, the ousted FEMA director sent a series of embarrassing e-mails to colleagues discussing his appearance, the care of his dog, and, as the storm was making landfall, his desire to "quit" and "go home." Copies of Brown's e-mails were just provided by Department of Homeland Security officials to a congressional panel examining the government's disaster response.

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The Onion Gets Cease And Desist From Bush Administration

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You might have thought that the White House had enough on its plate late last month, what with its search for a new Supreme Court nominee, the continuing war in Iraq and the C.I.A. leak investigation. But it found time to add another item to its agenda - stopping The Onion, the satirical newspaper, from using the presidential seal.

In the spirit of things, we're posting Pete Trbovichs's protest image of the Presidential Seal on some toilet paper.

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Morgue Contractor Fed Up With FEMA

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A company assigned the delicate duty of collecting Hurricane Katrina's dead in Louisiana wanted out of the federal job days later, complaining of a "bureaucratic quagmire" in its dealings with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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Media Ignores More Black Friday Revelations

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Like much news that's damaging to the Bush administration, the report came out on a Friday.

Since then, it's gotten little media attention -- just 41 mentions in U.S. newspapers and wire stories, according to a news database search on October 11. That's remarkably sparse coverage for a story showing that the U.S. government has been engaged in illegal propaganda aimed at its own citizens.

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What Really Went Wrong With Katrina? Hurricane FEMA

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[Environment]
While everyone points fingers at state, local and federal authorities regarding how things went wrong in the Hurricane disaster planning, including claims by both FEMA and Bush that "nobody anticipated a disaster like this", truth is starting to seep out that this is complete BS. As the ex-FEMA director points fingers at the Louisiana Governor & other locals, insiders who were involved in the government's hurricane plan show who was really at fault.

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FEMA Sends Ice Trucks Bound For New Orleans to Maine

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Dozens of trucks, contracted by FEMA, that were supposed to deliver ice to victims of hurricane Katrina have been diverted to Portland, Maine for the time being. Nobody knows why.

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First Lady Forgets Hurricane Name

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[Edumakashun]
Laura Bush on CNN, making an appearance to "Educate kids displaced by Hurricane Katrina" can't even seem to remember the actual name of the hurricane, twice. Aren't you glad our leaders are so on top of this hurricane situation?

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