Thursday, February 18, 2010

Determined pilot delievers message to IRS

Man angry at IRS crashes plane into Texas building

AP – Firefighters work on putting out a fire at a seven-story building after a small private plane crashed …
By JIM VERTUNO, Associated Press Writer Jim Vertuno, Associated Press Writer – 1 min ago
AUSTIN, Texas – A software engineer furious with the Internal Revenue Service launched a suicide attack on the agency Thursday by crashing his small plane into an office building containing nearly 200 IRS employees, setting off a raging fire that sent workers fleeing for their lives. At least one person in the building was missing.

The FBI tentatively identified the pilot as Joseph Stack. A federal law official said investigators were looking at a long anti-government screed and farewell note that he apparently posted on the Web earlier in the day as an explanation for what he was about to do.

In it, the author cited run-ins he had with the IRS and ranted about the tax agency, government bailouts and corporate America's "thugs and plunderers."

"I have had all I can stand," he wrote in the note, dated Thursday, adding: "I choose not to keep looking over my shoulder at `big brother' while he strips my carcass."

Stack, 53, also apparently set fire to his house about six miles from the crash site before embarking on the suicide flight, said two law enforcement officials, who like other authorities spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still going on.

The pilot took off in a single-engine Piper Cherokee from an airport in Georgetown, about 30 miles from Austin, without filing a flight plan. He flew low over the Austin skyline before plowing into the side of the hulking, seven-story, black-glass building just before 10 a.m. with a thunderous explosion that instantly stirred memories of Sept. 11.

Flames shot from the building, windows exploded, a huge pillar of black smoke rose over the city, and terrified workers rushed to get out.

The Pentagon scrambled two F-16 fighter jets from Houston to patrol the skies over the burning building before it became clear that it was the act of a lone pilot, and President Barack Obama was briefed on the crash.

"It felt like a bomb blew off," said Peggy Walker, an IRS revenue officer who was sitting at her desk. "The ceiling caved in and windows blew in. We got up and ran."

Stack was presumed dead, and police said they had not recovered his body. Thirteen people were treated after the crash and two remained in critical condition Thursday evening, authorities said. About 190 IRS employees work in the building.

Gerry Cullen was eating breakfast at a restaurant across the street when the plane struck the building and "vanished in a fireball."

Matt Farney, who was in the parking lot of a nearby Home Depot, said he saw a low-flying plane near some apartments and the office building just before it crashed.

"I figured he was going to buzz the apartments or he was showing off," Farney said. "It was insane. It didn't look like he was out of control or anything."

Sitting at her desk in another building a half-mile from the crash, Michelle Santibanez said she felt vibrations from the crash. She and her co-workers ran to the windows, where they witnessed a scene that reminded them of 9/11, she said.

"It was the same kind of scenario, with window panels falling out and desks falling out and paperwork flying," said Santibanez, an accountant.

The building, situated in a heavily congested section of Austin, was still smoldering six hours after the crash, with much of the damage on the second and third floors.

The entire outside of the second floor was gone on the side of the building where the plane hit. Support beams were bent inward. Venetian blinds dangled from blown-out windows, and large sections of the exterior were blackened with soot.

Andrew Jacobson, an IRS revenue officer who was on the second floor when the plane hit with a "big whoomp" and then a second explosion, said about six people couldn't use the stairwell because of smoke and debris. He found a metal bar to break a window so the group could crawl out onto a concrete ledge, where they were rescued by firefighters. His bloody hands were bandaged.

The FBI was investigating. The National Transportation Safety Board sent an investigator as well.

In the long, rambling, self-described "rant" that Stack apparently posted on the Internet, he began: "If you're reading this, you're no doubt asking yourself, `Why did this have to happen?'"

He recounted his financial reverses, his difficulty finding work in Austin, and at least two clashes with the IRS, one of them after he filed no return because, he said, he had no income, the other after he failed to report his wife Sheryl's income.

He railed against politicians, the Catholic Church, the "unthinkable atrocities" committed by big business, and the government bailouts that followed. He said he slowly came to the conclusion that "violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer."

"I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let's try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well," he wrote.

According to California state records, Stack had a troubled business history, twice starting software companies in California that ultimately were suspended by the state's tax board, one in 2000, the other in 2004. Also, his first wife filed for bankruptcy in 1999, listing a debt to the IRS of nearly $126,000.

The blaze at Stack's home, a red-brick house on a tree-lined street in a middle-class neighborhood, caved in the roof and blew out the windows. Elbert Hutchins, who lives one house away, said the house caught fire about 9:15 a.m. He said a woman and her teenage daughter drove up to the house before firefighters arrived.

"They both were very, very distraught," said Hutchins, a retiree who said he didn't know the family well. "'That's our house!' they cried. `That's our house!'"

Red Cross spokeswoman Marty McKellips said the agency was treating two people who live in the house.

___

Associated Press writers April Castro and Jay Root in Austin; Devlin Barrett, Lolita C. Baldor and Joan Lowy in Washington; and Melanie Coffee in Chicago contributed to this report, along with the AP News Research Center.


Source:click here

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Politician's confession

Disillusioned Bayh advocates electoral “shock” to broken system

In an interview on MSNBC this morning, newly retiring Sen. Evan Bayh declared the American political system "dysfunctional," riddled with "brain-dead partisanship" and permanent campaigning. Flatly denying any possibility that he'd seek the presidency or any other higher office, Bayh argued that the American people needed to deliver a "shock" to Congress by voting incumbents out en masse and replacing them with people interested in reforming the process and governing for the good of the people, rather than deep-pocketed special-interest groups.

Bayh's announcement stunned the American political world, as up until just last week he looked to be well on his way to an easy reelection for a third term in the Senate, and his senior staff was aggressively pursuing that goal.

But Bayh had apparently become increasingly frustrated in the Senate. In this morning's interview he noted that just two weeks ago, Republicans who had co-sponsored a bill with him to rein in the deficit turned around and voted against it for purely political reasons. He also stated repeatedly that members of his own party should be more willing to settle for a compromise rather than holding out for perfection.

"Sometimes half a loaf is better than none," Bayh insisted.

It's no secret that the Senate has struggled to take action this year. With the two major parties unusually far apart in their substantive proposals for the direction of the country, even finding half a loaf to agree on has been difficult. Though the Democrats have had a substantial majority in the Senate for the last year, Republicans have escalated their threats to use filibusters (by forcing a cloture vote, see the graph below) to force Democrats to come up with 60 votes to pass any major legislation. And after Scott Brown's election to the Senate last month gave Republicans a 41st seat, health-care reform and other Democratic goals were stopped dead in their tracks.

Bayh blamed the current atmosphere of intense partisanship on the need for senators to constantly campaign to be reelected to another six-year term. Citing his father, a popular liberal senator in the '60s and '70s, he noted that "back in the day they used to have the saying: 'You campaign for 2 years and you legislate for 4.' Now you campaign for 6!" He noted that the need for constant fundraising made it nearly impossible to focus on passing legislation.

Frustration over the increasing amount of money being spent on political campaigns isn't exactly a new thing, as spending by candidates in the 2008 presidential election nearly quadrupled the amount of money spent by candidates in the 2000 election. Additionally, winners of House races in 2000 spent an average of $849,158 to do so, while House winners in 2008 spent an average of $1,372,591. Enhancing the concerns of many on the left and the right has been a recent Supreme Court decision to strike down the country's existing campaign finance laws. Put simply, the ruling opens the door for an even greater influence of money by allowing corporations spend money directly on campaigns.

Meanwhile, voter frustration is high, making the fight for campaign cash all the more crucial to politicians hoping to remain in office. A recent poll found that 44% of Americans believe incumbents should be voted out of office.

However, reforms of Congress appear unlikely. There doesn't appear to be any significant momentum at this time behind efforts to change the rules that govern passing legislation or Congress's need to constantly campaign and fundraise. With an election year beginning, it's also unlikely that congressional leaders will begin to see eye to eye more often on major legislation.

Perhaps a "shock" is indeed called for in order to change that.

-- Andrew Golis is the Editor of and Brett Michael Dykes is a contributor to the Yahoo! News blog


Source:click here

Honesty from a politician,very refreshing.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

FBI invades privacy


FBI director Robert Mueller


FBI wants records kept of Web sites visited

WASHINGTON--The FBI is pressing Internet service providers to record which Web sites customers visit and retain those logs for two years, a requirement that law enforcement believes could help it in investigations of child pornography and other serious crimes.

FBI Director Robert Mueller supports storing Internet users' "origin and destination information," a bureau attorney said at a federal task force meeting on Thursday.

As far back as a 2006 speech, Mueller had called for data retention on the part of Internet providers, and emphasized the point two years later when explicitly asking Congress to enact a law making it mandatory. But it had not been clear before that the FBI was asking companies to begin to keep logs of what Web sites are visited, which few if any currently do.

The FBI is not alone in renewing its push for data retention. As CNET reported earlier this week, a survey of state computer crime investigators found them to be nearly unanimous in supporting the idea. Matt Dunn, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in the Department of Homeland Security, also expressed support for the idea during the task force meeting.

Greg Motta, the chief of the FBI's digital evidence section, said that the bureau was trying to preserve its existing ability to conduct criminal investigations. Federal regulations in place since at least 1986 require phone companies that offer toll service to "retain for a period of 18 months" records including "the name, address, and telephone number of the caller, telephone number called, date, time and length of the call."

At Thursday's meeting (PDF) of the Online Safety and Technology Working Group, which was created by Congress and organized by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Motta stressed that the bureau was not asking that content data, such as the text of e-mail messages, be retained.

"The question at least for the bureau has been about non-content transactional data to be preserved: transmission records, non-content records...addressing, routing, signaling of the communication," Motta said. Director Mueller recognizes, he added "there's going to be a balance of what industry can bear...He recommends origin and destination information for non-content data."

Motta pointed to a 2006 resolution from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which called for the "retention of customer subscriber information, and source and destination information for a minimum specified reasonable period of time so that it will be available to the law enforcement community."

Recording what Web sites are visited, though, is likely to draw both practical and privacy objections.

"We're not set up to keep URL information anywhere in the network," said Drew Arena, Verizon's vice president and associate general counsel for law enforcement compliance.

And, Arena added, "if you were do to deep packet inspection to see all the URLs, you would arguably violate the Wiretap Act."

Another industry representative with knowledge of how Internet service providers work was unaware of any company keeping logs of what Web sites its customers visit.

If logs of Web sites visited began to be kept, they would be available only to local, state, and federal police with legal authorization such as a subpoena or search warrant.

What remains unclear are the details of what the FBI is proposing. The possibilities include requiring an Internet provider to log the Internet protocol (IP) address of a Web site visited, or the domain name such as cnet.com, a host name such as news.cnet.com, or the actual URL such as http://reviews.cnet.com/Music/2001-6450_7-0.html.

While the first three categories could be logged without doing deep packet inspection, the fourth category would require it. That could run up against opposition in Congress, which lambasted the concept in a series of hearings in 2008, causing the demise of a company, NebuAd, which pioneered it inside the United States.

The technical challenges also may be formidable. John Seiver, an attorney at Davis Wright Tremaine who represents cable providers, said one of his clients had experience with a law enforcement request that required the logging of outbound URLs.

"Eighteen million hits an hour would have to have been logged," a staggering amount of data to sort through, Seiver said. The purpose of the FBI's request was to identify visitors to two URLs, "to try to find out...who's going to them."

A Justice Department representative said the department does not have an official position on data retention.

Disclosure: The author of this story participated in the meeting of the Online Safety and Technology Working Group, though after the law enforcement representatives spoke.

Source:click here

This is an invasion of privacy and very a slippery slope but with that son of a bitch in the White House nothing is off limits. Look for this law to be used for unconstitutional political purposes.