Archive for July 5th, 2007

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Jul 4, 2007

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) – When the United States invaded Iraq more than four years ago, war opponent David Gross asked his bosses for a radical pay cut, enough so he wouldn’t have to pay taxes to support the war.

“I was having a hard time looking at myself in the mirror,” Gross said. “I knew the bombs falling were in part paid with my tax dollars. I had to actually do something concrete to remove my complicity.”

The San Francisco technical writer was making close to $100,000 a year. He didn’t know exactly how big of a pay cut he would need to fall below the federal tax threshold, but later figured out he would have to make less than minimum wage.

In any event, his employer turned him down and he quit. Gross, 38, now works on a contract basis, and last year he refused to pay self-employment taxes.

War tax resistance, popularized by Henry David Thoreau in the 19th century and by singer Joan Baez and others during the Vietnam War, is gaining renewed interest among peace activists upset over the Iraq war.

“Clearly this year we definitely had more people calling, sending e-mails about how they decided to start resisting,” said Ruth Benn, coordinator of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee in New York.

Based on the committee’s mailing list and reports from numerous groups it works with around the country, Benn estimates 8,000 to 10,000 Americans refuse to pay some or all of their federal taxes over war objections. Internal Revenue Service officials say they don’t have figures for that specific category, but earlier this year reported an overall noncompliance rate of 16.3 percent and estimated the annual tax gap at about $345 billion.

Peace activists are considering a mass tax resistance campaign next April to step up pressure to end the war in Iraq, Benn said.

Many tax protesters say they redirect the money they withhold to charities. Some, like Joanne Sheehan of Norwich, keep their income below taxable levels.

“I don’t see the point of working for peace and paying for war,” Sheehan said.

Gross said he now manages to live on about $15,000 per year by carefully tracking his spending.

He acknowledged the tax resistance movement is too small to stop the war.

“But I think what we’re doing is showing the way for people in the anti-war movement,” Gross said. “I can look myself in the mirror and say at least I’m not supporting it, at least I’m not part of the machine.”

The IRS said that while taxpayers have a right to express their opinions, they still have an obligation to pay their taxes. Tax resisters place an undue burden on taxpayers who pay their fair share of taxes, IRS spokeswoman Dianne Besunder said.

John Ubaldi, spokesman for Move America Forward, which supports the military and the war on terror, said the government would not be able to function if everyone opposed to a program stopped paying taxes.

“They’re showing the terrorists that America is not committed,” Ubaldi said.

The IRS considers it a frivolous argument when a taxpayer cites disagreement with the government’s use of tax money as the reason for not paying taxes.

A new federal law increases the penalty for frivolous tax returns from $500 to $5,000. The IRS says it investigates promoters of frivolous arguments and refers cases to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.

Unlike the days when Thoreau was sent to prison in a tax protest against the Mexican-American War, modern war tax protesters rarely go to prison, according to tax resisters. The IRS may take their money from wages and bank accounts – with penalties and interest – after sending a series of letters.

“They’re very polite, which makes it a little boring,” said Rosa Packard of Greenwich, a longtime anti-war tax protester.

But Randy Kehler, who has refused to pay federal income taxes since 1976 to protest U.S. military policy, was evicted with his wife from their home in Colrain, Mass., in 1989 for nonpayment of more than $45,000 in taxes, interest and penalties. Kehler was also jailed for nearly three months for contempt of court.

Their tax fight was the subject of a 1997 documentary called “An Act of Conscience,” narrated by actor Martin Sheen.

War protesters have been pushing for a law called the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund that would allow designated conscientious objectors to have their income, estate, or gift taxes used for nonmilitary purposes. After years of efforts, they hope a Congressional hearing will be held on the proposal next year.

“People fear the IRS more than they fear God,” said Alan Gamble, executive director of the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund. “They’re paying under a tremendous burden.”

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There are lots of profiles on MySpace for historical figures, from Charles Darwin to Benjamin Tucker, Luigi Russolo to Sigmund Freud. Some are quite minimal, and others are excellent historical resources. “History is in your extended network” is a new MySpace group for the maintainers of these pages, fans of such, and famous dead people who still do social networking. Check it out:


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Gay Marriage

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From myspace bulletins…

“Behavior-Detection” Graduates from Airports to Bus and Train Stations
Thursday July 05th 2007, 5:31 am

In celebration of Independence Day commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, the feds have increased the visibility of armed goons at train stations and bus terminals across the country. “Officials from the Transportation Security Administration, formed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, said the additional security is not a response to any specific threat to any of the regions,” reports the Examiner. In other words, there are no terrorists and you are not in danger. Since the Constitution is nothing more than a “goddamned piece of paper,” according to the decider-commander guy, it makes sense the government has decided to roll out this in-your-face escalation—from airports to bus stations—on the same day baby-kissing politicians blabber on about liberty, freedom, equality under the law, inalienable rights, and representative government, blah, blah, blah.

“The federal security officers are part of the TSA’s Visual Intermodal Protection and Response teams, which consist of behavior-detection officers, federal air marshals not scheduled for flights, and rail, security and aviation inspectors,” the Examiner continues. “The VIPR (pronounced ‘viper’) program has conducted 84 targeted security assignments in the last 18 months.”

Behavior-detection officers. How perfectly Orwell. These guys are trained to detect “micro-expressions,” that is to say “a sign of an emotion being concealed,” as Paul Ekman, writing for the CIA’s favorite newspaper describes it. Had a fight with your wife, or experienced the death of a relative? Don’t show your emotions in public, bub, not unless you want three or four goons to “pull you aside,” that is to say interrogate you for the crime of inappropriate behavior in a public place. Not long ago, especially on the day we supposedly celebrate our freedom, this would have outraged most Americans. Now we thank the automatic weapon-toting goons and behavior-detection officers for treating us like criminals and slaves.

TSA spokeswoman Ellen Howe told KWTX the VIPER goons are intended to provide “a visible deterrent,” whatever that means. Maybe she means we will be deterred from showing emotion in public, lest we be pegged as a terrorist, never mind there is “no credible, specific threat for the Fourth,” according to Howe. Of course, there was two incidents of patently absurd “foiled terrorist attempts” in London and Glasgow, nicely timed to coincide with the Fourth, when we are busy with fireworks, parades, barbecues, picnics, baseball games, etc., all supposedly commemorating our freedom. In fact, we have very little freedom and the Fourth is a day we celebrate our enslavement to government. In the not too distant past, it was enough to be fleeced by the government and follow a dizzy array of meaningless laws, but now we being conditioned to accept the police state personal and right up close like they do in other totalitarian countries.

Obviously, the plan is to expand the Gestapo zones from airports to bus terminals and train stations and eventually down to the highways and the intersection at the end of your neighborhood block. Of course, at present there are not enough cops, VIPER goons, and behavior-detection officers to do this effectively. “In this post-9/11 world, our state and local officers need more help, not less; and they need our assistance with both areas of their job: helping fight terrorism and protecting our communities from crime,” declared senator Joe Biden in 2005. “It’s these officers who not only deter and prevent crime, but also they likely will be the ones finding the bomb under the trash can or the ones to notice a terrorist cell moving in to an apartment building,” or detect and punish inappropriate behavior in the hood.

Naturally, hiring more cops, “federal security officers,” and behavior-detection goons will be expensive, as the Ministry of Homeland Security readily admits, so get ready to fork over more cash. “Homeland security is expensive. It can’t be accomplished on the cheap. And because the war against terrorism is a national fight, a substantial portion of the responsibility falls to the federal government. It takes serious money to make the necessary changes to our services and infrastructure,” notes a Ministry press release. “In transportation, we must move beyond aviation and also secure mass transit, rails, air cargo, pipelines, tunnels, and bridges. These tough jobs and countless others can’t be accomplished with wishful thinking or a magic wand. And they cannot be accomplished by placing an unfair share of the burden on state and local governments who are already facing the worst fiscal crises in decades.”

In other words, the local cop shop will be federalized. Of course, there are not enough bodies to protect us from “al-Qaeda,” and that’s why the city of Santa Fe “is looking at the possibility of recruiting Mexican nationals to fill vacancies on the city police force,” according to the New Mexican. In addition to recruiting Mexicans, Gillian Alessio of the Santa Fe police department “said the Santa Fe police force, like others around the country, has found itself vying to recruit the same 21- to 30-year-olds as the U.S. military,” and thus looked to Mexico.

It makes you wonder if Mexican cops will have the same response to “micro-expressions” as American cops or if they will engage in the sort of shake-down the federales in Mexico are famous or rather infamous for.

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