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Snakes in Suits

US Treasury Employees Union: IRS budget cuts degrade customer service, hurt workforce

Five consecutive years of budget cuts have left the Internal Revenue Service with 18,000 fewer employees, many of whom feel besieged this filing season by angry taxpayers waiting in long queues for help that is often inadequate, the National Treasury Employees Union said on Monday.

IRS employees at taxpayer assistance centers tell union officials they "get yelled at, have papers thrown at [them], and are spoken down to [because] the demand is too high for the resources available," National President Colleen Kelley told reporters in a conference call.

According to Kelley, a front line worker in Pittsburgh said fewer than 40 percent of calls are answered. "That's a horrible percentage, and it certainly does not instill confidence in the federal government," the employee told union officials.

Staff at a Van Nuys, Calif., taxpayer assistance center said taxpayers are frustrated from standing in line and are "sore from sitting, hungry because there's no food, thirsty because our water fountain is disgusting, and usually end up with parking tickets," Kelley said.

Another IRS customer service representative heard callers crying on the phone after being placed in a queue or subjected to a "courtesy disconnect" and told to call back later, she said, noting a 26 percent cut in phone center staff over the past five years. Phone equipment is "antiquated" and taxpayers with questions that in the past would have been handled by a subject-matter specialist are being referred to the IRS website, she said.

Comment: Simplifying the tax codemay be a noble goal, but cutting services to citizens subject to the tax code as it is, is hardly the sensible way to go about it. Another example of how out of touch the congress-critters are with the reality of their constituents.


Quenelle - Golden

Boycotting Israel more urgent than in case of South Africa, says anti-apartheid veteran

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© Meraj Chhaya/Flickr
Farid Esack believes that the call to boycott Israel is a progressive one.
Farid Esack, an Islamic studies professor at the University of Johannesburg, has faced strong objections from the Zionist lobby in France over plans to give a series of lectures about the parallels between Israeli and South African apartheid. The pressure meant that he was banned from speaking at events in Paris and Toulouse.

A veteran anti-racism campaigner, Esack has also championed the rights of women and of people lving with AIDS. He was appointed a gender equality commissioner by the late Nelson Mandela. He is currently chairperson of BDS South Africa, a group supporting the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

I spoke to Esack about his speaking tour in France.

Adri Nieuwhof: You went on a speaking tour in France and were banned from speaking on some occasions. Can you tell us what happened?

Farid Esack: There was a huge amount of pressure on all seven universities where I was supposed to speak. Only Paris-Sorbonne University banned me from speaking. The university argued that they were doing so on technical grounds because the forms to fill in the application to give me a venue were wrongly filled in. The students tried to negotiate with the university for one week to correct this error, but the university refused this.

Comment: A pretty accurate deconstruction of the deceptive arguments and maneuvers levied by Zionists against those who would stand up for the rights of Palestinians. Sadly, many are unwilling/unable to scratch beneath the surface of anti-semitism allegations. But those who do, recognize the monumental manipulations involved and the tragic injustices perpetrated on the Palestinians by Israel. It will be interesting to see how far the BDS movement can go with the steam it has gathered and the numbers of people who are catching on to the truth of the situation.


Brick Wall

Toronto Symphony Orchestra cancels Valentina Lisitsa concert for speaking out on Ukraine atrocities

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It is no secret that nowadays many alternative media activists face appalling state-sponsored censorship in many nominally free and democratic Western countries. Now it seems that such censorship has penetrated much deeper than we have come to expect. Art itself, the truest form of free expression, is being silenced.

Valentina Lisitsa is a brilliant musician, a famous virtuoso pianist, also known for publicly expressing her opinion on the Ukrainian conflict through her Twitter account. She is a good friend of the Slavyangrad Team and has kindly translated a number of articles for our publication. Her views are always insightful and she has never made them a secret. We are lucky to have Valentina's first-hand account about dealings with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra ("TSO"), which has decided to cancel her concert because of her political opinions. The TSO's decision to silence Valentina's music because she has exercised her inviolable right to express her beliefs is a message to all artists that the next time it could be them.

Valentina is Ukrainian. She was born on March 25, 1970, in Kiev. Her family comes from Odessa—her mother is a Russian citizen, and her father was Ukrainian. Valentina graduated from the Lysenko music school and the Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine (the Kiev Conservatory). She married Alexey Kuznetsov from Taganrog. In 1991, they represented Ukraine in the Murray Dranoff Two Piano Competition in Miami, Florida, and won the first prize. In 1992 they moved to the USA to study and subsequently decided to remain there. In 2001 they became American citizens. Since last year, Valentina has been living in Paris.

Valentina is one of the most frequently viewed pianists on YouTube, with over 177,000 subscribers, and she performs all over the world. Now Valentina's concert in Toronto, which was scheduled for April 8 and 9 at the Roy Thomson Hall, has been cancelled for an outrageous reason—her political views. In an email sent to Valentina's agent, the TSO stated: "the Toronto Symphony Orchestra received some messages from ticket buyers and others expressing concern over pianist Valentina Lisitsa's public political statements."

Comment: Canada has shown its true face here. Ms. Lisitsa is being punished, as so many before her for standing up for the truth of what is happening in her homeland.

Here's Anissa Naouai from RT's In the Now with more:




Cow

Cow milk found in breast milk purchased online

© Thinkstock
When buying bodily fluids over the internet, there's a chance you may not be getting exactly what you bargained for.

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found that 10 percent of breast milk samples bought online contained some cow's milk.

"We were concerned that, because money is exchanged in these transactions, there might be an incentive to boost milk volumes in order to make more money," said study author Sarah A. Keim, principal investigator in the Center for Biobehavioral Health at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

"Cow's milk and infant formula resemble human milk and could potentially be added to boost volumes without the recipient knowing."

"Mothers who consider purchasing breast milk over the internet should beware — when you obtain milk from an unfamiliar source, you cannot know for sure that what you are getting is safe for your baby," Keim added.

Arrow Down

Texas man serving 17 days in jail for overgrown lawn

© fresnopeoplesmedia.com
Rick Yoes turned himself into the county jail last night in compliance with a warrant issued for his arrest after receiving a fine of $1,700 for having an overgrown lawn in September of last year.

Unable to pay the fine Rick took every vacation day he accrued, made arrangements for a replacement, and surrendered himself to jail.

Rick is the South east campus electrician for Tarrant County College, he is a hard and dedicated worker often times offering to help outside of the description of his job or volunteering for extra curricular activities. In 2012 he dressed up in 1776 style regalia and read a copy of the U.S. Constitution to the student body.

Because of his dedication he is loved by faculty, and students. His collection of beautiful seashells is also on display at the campus.

The incident happened last year in Grand Prairie, Texas, while Rick, and his daughter Angel were working from before sun up, until after dark. During this time the lawn was neglected, and it grew over the 6 inch regulatory code.

The city sent them a reminder to cut the lawn, and within 2 weeks Angel had cut the lawn to regulation height. She said that they have been keeping the lawn "buzzed" ever since.

Stormtrooper

Married couple beaten by DC cops as their young children screamed in horror

Washington D.C. — A married couple claims they were assaulted by Metropolitan police last week, and they have the video and their two small children as witnesses to prove it.

Forrest and Chadon Boggs were near their home, with their children when police showed up on the scene.

Officers arrived at the 1500 block of E Street NE last Wednesday after saying they heard reports of people fighting. When officers arrived, they saw that there was no fighting.

As Forrest Boggs was walking by the officers, he says spat on the ground. But Officer Blier, with the Metropolitan police department claimed Boggs spat on his police cruiser.

"Boggs [husband] ... spat a wad of saliva onto Ofc. Blier's scout car rear window and then continued to walk E/B in the alley," police said in their report.

"I did spit, but I didn't spit on his car," said Boggs.

Even if Boggs would have spat on the officer's car, what happened next was completely unjustified.

"This is straight-out police brutality, and we have videos to show it," said Forrest Boggs.

The officer on a power trip approached Forest Boggs and began to assault the man. The two fell to the ground and the officer got on the back of Boggs. At this point, Chadon Boggs walked over to the officer who was assaulting her husband and began to voice her disapproval.

Chadon says that when her husbands cell phone and hat fell, she bent down to grab it, and that's when her attack began.

Whistle

Artists place bust of Edward Snowden atop War Memorial statue in Brooklyn

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© Video/Photos: Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork
While the unnamed artists acknowledge that Snowden probably won't approve of the memorial, they hope he'll understand.
Paying tribute to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, activist artists in Brooklyn early Monday surreptitiously installed a bust of his likeness to a war memorial.

According to the publication Animal, which was given exclusive access to document the act, three unnamed New York City-based artists "hauled the 100-pound sculpture into Fort Greene Park and up its hilly terrain just before dawn. They fused it to part of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, a memorial to Revolutionary War soldiers."

The group said they first conceived of the project, which is named "Prison Ship Martyrs Monument 2.0," about a year ago. The statue itself was created by a "renowned sculptor on the West Coast who was sympathetic to their cause." In a statement about the artwork, the group wrote:
Fort Greene's Prison Ship Martyrs Monument is a memorial to American POWs who lost their lives during the Revolutionary War. We have updated this monument to highlight those who sacrifice their safety in the fight against modern-day tyrannies. It would be a dishonor to those memorialized here to not laud those who protect the ideals they fought for, as Edward Snowden has by bringing the NSA's 4th-Amendment-violating surveillance programs to light. All too often, figures who strive to uphold these ideals have been cast as criminals rather than in bronze. Our goal is to bring a renewed vitality to the space and prompt even more visitors to ponder the sacrifices made for their freedoms. We hope this inspires them to reflect upon the responsibility we all bear to ensure our liberties exist long into the future.

Comment: It was nice while it lasted. It is forever on the internet now.


Passport

Get out: More US voters want deportations and curbs on immigrants

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© Reuters/Jorge Dan Lopez
Illegal migrants from Guatemala, deported from the U.S., arrive at an air force base in Guatemala City, March 19, 2015.
The majority of US voters think their government should be more aggressive about deporting illegal immigrants, dislike automatic citizenship, and oppose President Obama's amnesty plan, a new survey shows.

A Rasmussen Reports nationwide phone survey found that 62 percent of likely voters polled believe the government is "not aggressive enough" in deporting illegal immigrants and should do more. This is an increase from 56 percent in last November's poll and from 52 percent last April. Only 15 percent think the current number of deportations is "about right."

Fifty-one percent of respondents disagreed that illegal immigrants with American-born children should be exempt from deportation - as proposed by the president's amnesty plan - while only 32 percent agreed. In November, those percentages were 42 and 38 respectively.

Comment: Keep people divided on issues so they don't pay attention to what the elites are doing to the world and the coming calamities.


Newspaper

Media inflates threats with 'ISIS' plots that don't actually involve ISIS

© www.commdiginews.com
Our lips are sealed. That's why we have media!
Last Friday, the FBI announced another harrowing, 11th-hour capture of Americans plotting to join "ISIS" and launch attack within the United States. The case of two Illinois men, Army National Guard Specialist Hasan Edmonds and his cousin Jonas Edmonds, ostensibly involved the former going to Syria to join ISIS there while the latter stayed in the US, plotting to attack "scores" at a military base.

Right on cue, the American media publish dressed-up FBI press releases about the "disrupted" plot, complete with balaclava-wearing stock photos: "FBI Disrupts Plot to Kill Scores at Military Base on Behalf of Islamic State" was the Washington Post's headline (3/26/15).

These outlets, as usual, omitted the rather awkward fact that this "ISIS plot" did not actually involve anyone in ISIS: At no point was there any material contact between anyone in ISIS and the Edmond cousins. There was, as the criminal complaint lays out, lots of contact between the Edmond cousins and what they thought was ISIS, but at no point was there any contact with ISIS - the designated terror organization that the US is currently launching airstrikes against.

Comment: The "other" GMOs: Governmentally Manipulated Operations. Since "terrorists" aim to create fear, over and above their actual ability to generate violence, and to provoke social reactions that they can then manipulate in recruitment efforts, who would know how to utilize these methods better than the FBI and CIA? As Glen Greenwald recently said: "Why does the FBI have to manufacture its own plots if terrorism and ISIS are such grave threats?" He has a point. To answer, consider the architecture of built-in sustainability: FBI & CIA > "terrorists" > "violence" > "Media" > "evidence" > fear > heroes > funding > FBI & CIA (Duped again.)


Dollar

Chasing the dollar or doing our own thing

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© cartoon by Andy Singer
Introduction

I was thinking about a friend who got a decent job recently. In the minds of billions of people, it would seem to solve his problems for meeting his obligations. Though entry level, it's a desirable job where the workplace is pleasant. I began to reflect on his being a proud member of the working class, and how his path (however reluctant or exhilarating) generally follows middle class aspiration. It is extremely unlikely that someone in his position manages to join the exalted, glitzy, rich, tiny segment of the population, to enjoy the dream of the very easy life -- not that his value-system pushes him in that questionable direction.

Unfortunately, he is probably boxed in at the lower middle of the social pyramid, because another, very different path for working people and even the rich is not so visible or tempting. Viewed by others without much respect, or with disinterest, an alternative-lifestyle movement nevertheless exists. It would mean, for my friend and his little family, to go live differently than the vast majority of working people and the idle rich in Europe. It may be communal, centered around permaculture, or it may be more individualistic whereby enlightenment and simple living are still chosen over the prevailing gold/no gold limitation. With the alternative path on hold or deemed remote by my friend, his prospects for embarking on doing his own thing someday, beyond perhaps being able to start his own restaurant, are statistically slim. An infusion of cash from winning the lottery is even more slim, but widely dreamt about to fit yearnings, needs, and common materialist fantasies.