Archives for FUBAR

Washington’s anti-whistleblower culture

A Marine Corps whistleblower says military officials are trying to force him from his job for exposing failures to deliver lifesaving equipment to troops in Iraq.

Franz Gayl, a senior civilian employee, alleges a series of punitive actions that underscore the challenges President Barack Obama faces in fulfilling a campaign pledge to treat federal whistleblowers as patriots instead of pariahs.

Public interest groups cheered Obama's promise. But Gayl's case points to the difficulty of transforming a culture, particularly within the military, where whistleblowers often are viewed with contempt.

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Who wins, who loses in health care bill

The little town of Libby, Mont., isn't mentioned by name in the Senate's mammoth health care bill, but its 2,900 citizens are big winners in the legislation, thanks to the influence of Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont.

After pushing for years for help for residents, many of whom suffer from asbestos-related illnesses from a now-closed mineral mining operation, Baucus inserted language in a package of last-minute amendments that grants them access to Medicare benefits.

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America and China blamed for climate talks mess

President Barack ObamaThe U.N. climate talks were in serious disarray Friday, with delegates blaming both the U.S. and China for the lack of a political agreement that President Barack Obama, China's premier and more than 110 other world leaders are supposed to sign within hours.

Broad disputes continued behind closed doors between wealthy nations and developing ones, delegates said — the divide that from the start has dogged the two-week U.N. climate conference, which aimed to reach agreements on deeper reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases blamed for global warming.

Both Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao were in the Danish capital, but no agreed text had emerged just an hour before the presidents and premiers were to gather at a Copenhagen convention hall, said Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren.
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Federal workers owe billions in back taxes

Federal workers owed the government more than $3 billion in back income taxes in 2008, just as federal tax revenues started to suffer from the recession.

More than 276,000 federal employees and retirees owed back income taxes as of Sept. 30, 2008, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service. The $3.04 billion owed was up from $2.7 billion owed by federal employees and retirees in 2007.

Among cabinet agencies, the Department of Housing and Urban Development had the highest delinquency rate, at just over 4 percent. The Treasury Department, which includes the IRS, had the lowest delinquency rate, at 0.98 percent.

Overall, the 9.7 million federal workers included in the data had a delinquency rate of about 2.9 percent.

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Millions of missing Bush emails found

Computer technicians have found 22 million missing White House e-mails from the administration of President George W. Bush and the Obama administration is searching for dozens more days' worth of potentially lost e-mail from the Bush years, according to two groups that filed suit over the failure by the Bush White House to install an electronic record keeping system.

The two private groups — Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the National Security Archive — said Monday they were settling the lawsuits they filed against the Executive Office of the President in 2007.

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Americans show support for global warming efforts

More Americans believe steps taken to reduce global warming pollution will help the U.S. economy than say such measures will hurt it. It's a sign the public is showing more faith in President Barack Obama's economic arguments for limiting heat-trapping gases than in Republican claims that the actions would kill jobs.

In an Associated Press-Stanford University poll, 40 percent said U.S. action to slow global warming in the future would create jobs. Slightly more, 46 percent, said it would boost the economy.

By contrast, less than a third said curbing climate change would hurt the economy and result in fewer jobs, a message Republican members of Congress plan to take to an international global warming conference in Copenhagen this week.

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Gitmo detainees going to Illinois prison

Taking an important step on the thorny path to closing the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the White House plans to announce Tuesday that the government will acquire an underutilized state prison in rural Illinois to be the new home for a limited number of terrorist suspects held at Guantanamo.

Administration officials as well as Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will make an official announcement at the White House.

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Female combat vets: Outside looking in

Nobody wants to buy them a beer. Even near military bases, female veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan aren't often offered a drink on the house as a welcome home.

More than 230,000 American women have fought in those recent wars and at least 120 have died doing so, yet the public still doesn't completely understand their contributions on the modern battlefield.

For some, it's a lonely transition as they struggle to find their place.

Aimee Sherrod, an Air Force veteran who did three war tours, said years went by when she didn't tell people she was a veteran. After facing sexual harassment during two tours and mortar attacks in Iraq, the 29-year-old mother of two from Bells, Tenn., was medically discharged in 2005 with post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Blackwater served as “extension” of CIA

Blackwater USAPrivate security guards working for Blackwater USA participated in clandestine CIA raids against suspected insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Blackwater's role points to a much deeper connection between the company and the spy agency than has been previously disclosed and raises concerns over the legalities of involving contractors in the most sensitive operations conducted by the U.S. government.

The "snatch and grab" raids took place regularly between 2004 and 2006, the Times reported, when the insurgency in Iraq was escalating and security throughout the country was deteriorating.
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Stolen emails fuel climate change controversy

At a critical time, the uproar over stolen e-mails suggesting scientists suppressed contrary views about climate change has emboldened skeptics — including congressional Republicans looking to scuttle President Barack Obama's push for mandatory reductions in greenhouse gases.

The e-mail brouhaha dubbed "Climategate" by doubters comes as U.S. delegates to the international climate conference in Copenhagen are trying to convince the world the United States is determined to move aggressively to rein in heat-trapping pollution. To counter the delegates, a group of GOP lawmakers is going to Copenhagen to argue against mandatory greenhouse gas reductions.

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