GOTA D'AGUA http://www.movimentogotadagua.com.br/assinatura
Vossa Excelência Sra Presidente Dilma Rousseff
Exmo. Sr. Presidente da Câmara dos Deputados Marco Maia PT/RS
Nós do Movimento Gota D’Água pedimos o vosso empenho e ação para evitar mais umdesastre ambiental de proporções gigantescas:
quinta-feira, 1 de dezembro de 2011
sexta-feira, 8 de julho de 2011
Another victory for our plutocrat overlords: IRS ceases audits of large donors to 501(c)4 organizations (faux think tanks, etc.) -- many of these tax-exempt organizations are in fact nothing more than lobbyists for the ultra-right wing
I.R.S. Drops Audits of Political Donors
by STEPHANIE STROM, The New York Times, July 7, 2011
The Internal Revenue Service on Thursday abandoned its effort to force five big-ticket donors to pay gift taxes on contributions they made to nonprofit advocacy groups that are playing an increasing role in American politics.
“Until further notice, examination resources should not be expended on this issue,” Steven T. Miller, deputy commissioner for services and enforcement, wrote in a memo posted on the I.R.S. Web site.
“This is a difficult area,” Mr. Miller wrote, “with significant legal, administrative and policy implications with respect to which we have little enforcement history.”
The memo was a sharp reversal for the tax agency, which had invoked a rarely used, 30-year-old ruling to warn the five donors in February that they might owe gift taxes on their donations. Organizations heavily financed by conservative donors like David Koch, or in the case of Crossroads GPS, tied to top Republican strategists like Karl Rove, would have come under such newly enforced rules, were they to be imposed across the board.
News of those audits broke in May, after lawyers representing the donors complained about them in an American Bar Association meeting. Neither the donors nor the organizations to which they made the gifts that prompted the I.R.S. audits have been disclosed publicly.
The issue electrified the political world, where such advocacy groups, known as 501(c)4 organizations for the section of the tax code under which they are established, have become powerful players in recent years.
Mr. Rove’s group and Priorities USA, a new liberal advocacy group set up by two former Obama administration officials, Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney, are attracting ever larger war chests in support of campaigns and causes because they can offer their donors anonymity, unlike political action committees and 527 organizations.
The I.R.S. audits became public just as such groups were ramping up for the 2012 election cycle, and a group of six senators led by Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican from Utah, wrote to the I.R.S. commissioner Douglas H. Shulman raising concerns that its effort to impose gift taxes on donations to these groups was politically motivated and in violation the First Amendment.
“This decision today ensures that the I.R.S. remains free from even the hint of undue political influence,” Mr. Hatch said in a statement on Thursday. “It cannot be turned into an arm of political retribution or payback.”
Similarly, David Camp, Republican of Michigan and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, questioned the process the I.R.S had used to challenge the five donors and whether the Obama administration, which has been critical of the increasing power of advocacy groups, was involved.
On Thursday, Mr. Camp issued a statement saying that while he welcomed Mr. Miller’s decision, he remained concerned that the I.R.S. had not ruled out future gift taxes on or audits of such donations. “I remain troubled that the I.R.S. has failed to explain what prompted these audits in the first place,” he said.
The I.R.S. has said that the White House had nothing to do with its audits, and its original statement said they were begun by lower-level employees and that administration officials were not notified. Frank Keith, an I.R.S. spokesman, said Thursday that the estate and gift tax unit had in fact suspended those audits in March, although the agency’s initial confirmation of the audits did not mention any such action.
“All decisions to open, suspend and close the audits were made by career civil servants and were not the result of any outside influence,” Mr. Keith said.
Mr. Miller’s memo today indicated that no new inquiries would be made of donors to such groups until these issues had been studied and a broader policy developed, on a timetable he left open-ended. Greg Colvin, a lawyer for one of the five donors under audit by the I.R.S., called the memo issued Thursday “at least a temporary victory.”
“They might sometime in the future decide to apply the tax,” Mr. Colvin added. “But in my experience, they can go for a very, very long time if they’ve got a tough issue where there is difficult public policy, contradictions, constitutional questions, debate over what Congress intended. They could keep this on ice for decades.”
Mr. Colvin and other lawyers said the I.R.S. turnaround might lead to a spate of refund requests from donors who made contributions to advocacy groups and paid gift taxes. “It makes sense to file a protective claim to avoid losing out by virtue of the statute of limitations expiring,” said Marcus Owens, a lawyer who formerly headed the I.R.S. division that oversees nonprofit groups.
Mr. Keith, the I.R.S. spokesman, said taxpayers had the right to file for a refund of any tax they had paid. “However, I’m not saying how the I.R.S. would treat such a claim, whether it would be honored or denied, and the field directive” — Mr. Miller’s memo — “doesn’t speak to that, either,” he said.
A version of this article appeared in print on July 8, 2011, on page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: I.R.S. Drops Audits Of Political Donors.
quarta-feira, 29 de junho de 2011
Chris Hedges Speaks on Osama bin Laden’s DeathTruthdigs, May 1, 2011: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/chris_hedges_speaks_on_osama_bin_ladens_death_20110502
Chris Hedges, speaking at a Truthdig fundraising event in Los Angeles on Sunday evening, made these remarks about Osama bin Laden’s death.
I know that because of this announcement, that reportedly Osama bin Laden was killed, Bob [Truthdig Editor Robert Scheer] wanted me to say a few words about it … about al-Qaida. I spent a year of my life covering al-Qaida for The New York Times. It was the work in which I, and other investigative reporters, won the Pulitzer Prize. And I spent seven years of my life in the Middle East. I was the Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times. I’m an Arabic speaker. And when someone came over and told ... me the news, my stomach sank. I’m not in any way naive about what al-Qaida is. It’s an organization that terrifies me. I know it intimately.
But I’m also intimately familiar with the collective humiliation that we have imposed on the Muslim world. The expansion of military occupation that took place throughout, in particular the Arab world, following 9/11—and that this presence of American imperial bases, dotted, not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Doha—is one that has done more to engender hatred and acts of terror than anything ever orchestrated by Osama bin Laden.
And the killing of bin Laden, who has absolutely no operational role in al-Qaida—that’s clear—he’s kind of a spiritual mentor, a kind of guide … he functions in many of the ways that Hitler functioned for the Nazi Party. We were just talking with Warren [Beatty] about [Ian] Kershaw’s great biography of Hitler, which I read a few months ago, where you hold up a particular ideological ideal and strive for it. That was bin Laden’s role. But all actual acts of terror, which he may have signed off on, he no way planned. [Chris turned out to be wrong about this, or at least, that is what our government told us.]
I think that one of the most interesting aspects of the whole rise of al-Qaida is that when Saddam Hussein … I covered the first Gulf War, went into Kuwait with the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, was in Basra during the Shiite uprising until I was captured and taken prisoner by the Iraqi Republican Guard. I like to say I was embedded with the Iraqi Republican Guard. Within that initial assault and occupation of Kuwait, bin Laden appealed to the Saudi government to come back and help organize the defense of his country. And he was turned down. And American troops came in and implanted themselves on Muslim soil.
When I was in New York, as some of you were, on 9/11, I was in Times Square when the second plane hit. I walked into The New York Times, I stuffed notebooks in my pocket and walked down the West Side Highway and was at Ground Zero four hours later. I was there when Building 7 collapsed. And I watched as a nation drank deep from that very dark elixir of American nationalism … the flip side of nationalism is always racism, it’s about self-exaltation and the denigration of the other.
And it’s about forgetting that terrorism is a tactic. You can’t make war on terror. Terrorism has been with us since Sallust wrote about it in the Jugurthine wars. And the only way to successfully fight terrorist groups is to isolate [them], isolate those groups, within their own societies. And I was in the immediate days after 9/11 assigned to go out to Jersey City and the places where the hijackers had lived and begin to piece together their lives. I was then very soon transferred to Paris, where I covered all of al-Qaida’s operations in the Middle East and Europe.
So I was in the Middle East in the days after 9/11. And we had garnered the empathy of not only most of the world, but the Muslim world who were appalled at what had been done in the name of their religion. And we had major religious figures like Sheikh Tantawi, the head of al-Azhar—who died recently—who after the attacks of 9/11 not only denounced them as a crime against humanity, which they were, but denounced Osama bin Laden as a fraud … someone who had no right to issue fatwas or religious edicts, no religious legitimacy, no religious training. And the tragedy was that if we had the courage to be vulnerable, if we had built on that empathy, we would be far safer and more secure today than we are.
We responded exactly as these terrorist organizations wanted us to respond. They wanted us to speak the language of violence. What were the explosions that hit the World Trade Center, huge explosions and death above a city skyline? It was straight out of Hollywood. When Robert McNamara in 1965 began the massive bombing campaign of North Vietnam, he did it because he said he wanted to “send a message” to the North Vietnamese—a message that left hundreds of thousands of civilians dead.
These groups learned to speak the language we taught them. And our response was to speak in kind. The language of violence, the language of occupation—the occupation of the Middle East, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—has been the best recruiting tool al-Qaida has been handed. If it is correct that Osama bin Laden is dead, then it will spiral upwards with acts of suicidal vengeance. And I expect most probably on American soil. The tragedy of the Middle East is one where we proved incapable of communicating in any other language than the brute and brutal force of empire.
And empire finally, as Thucydides understood, is a disease. As Thucydides wrote, the tyranny that the Athenian empire imposed on others it finally imposed on itself. The disease of empire, according to Thucydides, would finally kill Athenian democracy. And the disease of empire, the disease of nationalism … these of course are mirrored in the anarchic violence of these groups, but one that locks us in a kind of frightening death spiral. So while I certainly fear al-Qaida, I know its intentions. I know how it works. I spent months of my life reconstructing every step Mohamed Atta took. While I don’t in any way minimize their danger, I despair. I despair that we as a country, as Nietzsche understood, have become the monster that we are attempting to fight.
Listen to Chris’ speech below:
quinta-feira, 23 de junho de 2011
Kenneth Raposa, Forbes: LulzSec attacks Petrobras and Brazilian Receita Federal (internal revenue service), news sites, and that main site of the President of the Republic
LulzSec Attacks Brazil Gov, Petrobras
LulzSec attack Brazilian Gov, Petrobras
by Kenneth Raposa, BRIC Breaker, Forbes blogs, June 22, 2011
Global hacker group LulzSec successfully hacked four government websites, shutting them down and spray painting at least one ofthem with a little keyboard graphiti. LulzSecBrazil, the Brazilian version of the group, took down the website of Brazilian oil company Petrobras on Wednesday. In its place was a message, written in Portuguese for Brazilians to “wake up” and stop paying R$2.98 per liter for gasoline (around $7.5 per gallon) while Petrobras exports it for less. Petrobras was unavailable for immediate comment on its overseas gasoline market.
LulzSec’s Brazilian hacker group has infiltrated government websites three times this year, but Wednesday’s attack was its largest yet. Between midnight and 03:00 local time, three government websites were down, including news sites, Brazil’s internal revenue service, and the main site of the President of the Republic. The SQL injection attacks made the network hosting the sites read over 2 billion unique user access attempts at the same time, slowing the site down, or shutting it down completely, according to a statement from the Office of the President.
The attacking servers were based in Italy, but could have originated elsewhere, Folha de São Paulo reported on Wednesday.
Both LulzSecBrazil and LulzSec announced the attack on their Twitter accounts as they took place.
Petrobras said in a statement that no data appears to have been stolen from the attack. “The momentary congestion of our servers did not cause any alteration to the site’s content or compromised data,” the company said.
LulzSec has been on a tear lately. It’s become the geek squad version of Al Qaeda, joyously claiming responsibility for successful attacks whenever they can. They hacked into the site of the US Senate on June 13, and shut down the Central Intelligence Agency’s website a few days later. They claimed responsibility for both. The group has asked its followers to hack government sites to “steal and leak any classified information, including emails and exchanges of documents. The main targets are banks and other high level establishments.”
LulzSec’s new campaign to steal sensitive government data — and its back to back attacks on the US and Brazil — may signal that it is getting bolder. LulzSec is like a Wikileaks cybersquad of hitmen, but so far has not uncovered any damaging information.
Reuters reporters from Boston and Johannesburg wrote this week that LulzSec recently turned down a potential reward from a security firm, Berg & Berg, that had offered $10,000 to anyone who could change a picture on its website. LulzSec did it, and left a message to say the task was easy. “Keep your money; we do it for the lulz.”