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 Links of the Week

GAO Report : Leaking
Underground Storage Tanks

CRS Report : Government
Access to Phone Calling
Activity and Related Records

Elmer Brown, Hughie
Lee-Smith, and Charles Louis
Sallee, The Case Western
University WPA Collection

B.B. King :  KQED Television
Broadcast, 1968

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back to top of
number 92   02.25.07
source :
spread of the red
Five states with the highest
percentage of Nursing
Homes with serious
CT       SD      SC-WY    NC
The Iraqi cabinet has accepted the
draft language for the country’s oil
laws that create a framework for
developing Iraq’s immense oil wealth
and sent the proposal to the Iraqi
Parliament for approval.

The final wording of the legislation
establishes a system for sharing oil
revenues between Iraq’s regions and
codifies the right of international oil
companies to negotiate exclusive
deals to extract oil.  The law also
gives oil companies the right to help
decide which company gets a

Under the proposal that was passed
by the cabinet, Iraq retained the
rights to untapped oil, but private
companies will be able to negotiate
30 year contracts to develop the oil
fields and extract the petroleum.  The
law also creates the Iraqi Federal Oil
and Gas Council that will approve
extraction contracts entered into by
Iraq’s regional governments.  The
law stipulates that international oil
companies, including ExxonMobil,
Chevron and British Petroleum, will
be given seats on the council.

The oil law allows profit sharing
arrangements whereby regional
governments could receive as little
20 percent of the oil profits and
the rest would go to the company
that has the extraction contract.  
This type of agreement is
uncommon in the region where
most countries have a national oil
company that controls oil
production in conjunction with
commercial groups.  Contracts
that Iraq made with oil companies
from France, Italy and Spain have
been nullified under the new legal

Iraq has 115 proven oil reserves
and large untapped natural gas
deposits.  73 of Iraq's proven oil
fields have not been
it's all true
“By the way, that doesn't mean
that I think that they're, you
know, not good, honorable
citizens of the country.…
...They just have a
different opinion.”
Washington DC  02.07.07
verbatim                                                                           number 18.1
The Navy has rejected the input
of the California Costal
Commission as it begins war
games off the California coast.  
The CCC suggested ways to
protect whales from the loud
sonar bursts that the navy uses to
search for enemy submarines.  
Citing the Coastal Zone
Management Act, the CCC
agreed to let the exercises take
place, but set conditions designed
to minimize the impact of sonar on
sea mammals; such as not using
sonar near large concentrations
of whales.

The Navy responded to the
suggestions saying that the CCC
had no authority to order it to take
the  precautions.  The Navy cited
the cited the Marine Mammal
Protection Act asserting that the
act ”preempts state regulation.”

Naval sonar blasts as loud as 235
decibels are blamed for causing a
massive whale stranding of four
types of whales in the Bahamas in
2000.  The whales that were killed
were found to be bleeding from
the ears and around their brains.  
The Navy acknowledges the
deadly effect of sonar on whales
but suggests that pollution and
collisions with ships also cause
whale strandings.      
it's all true
An analysis of recent US Census
figures found an alarming growth of
severely poor Americans over the
past five years.  The
review of the most
recent data available, 2005 figures,
found that 16 million Americans
currently live in severe poverty.  That
is a 26 percent increase since 2000
and is 56 percent faster than the
growth in America’s overall
impoverished population.

Severe poverty refers to families of
four that earn less than $9903 per
year or individuals who earn $5080
per year.  43 percent of America’s
poor live in deep poverty, which is
the highest rate in 35 years.  

The study found that the rise in the
severely poor citizens occurred in
cities, the suburbs and rural
communities.  Although two of three
severely poor Americans are white,
blacks and Hispanics are more likely
to live in severe poverty.  Blacks are
nearly three times more likely, and
Hispanics are twice as likely as whites
to live in severe poverty.

McClatchy reported that nearly two
of three severely poor Americans are
female and approximately 2.1 million
children live in deep poverty.  One in
three severely impoverished poor
people are younger than 17.  The
newspaper reported that over the
past two decades, children in the US
had the highest poverty rates out of
31 developed countries.

The study indicated that the growth
of the population of deeply
impoverished citizens is caused by
myriad factors but that the stagnation
in wages and the disappearance of
huge sectors of America’s
manufacturing jobs has caused
severe stresses in regional
economies.  The newspaper cited the
effects of job contraction in the
Midwest and Northeast and the off
shoring of America’s southern textile
industry as significant factors in the
development of America’s class of
severely impoverished citizens.

Census figures also show that, in any
given month, less than half of
individuals living in severe poverty
received government benefits.  In the
year 2003, only 10 percent
requested Temporary Assistance for
Needy Families from the federal
government, and just over a third
received food stamps.

The analysis found that one in three
Americans would experience deep
poverty during their lives.       
it's all
Voter identification
requirements implemented at
the state level had an adverse
impact on turnout in the 2004
election cycle, according to a
study prepared for the Federal
Election Assistance
Commission. Researchers
found that the new regulations
reduced overall turnout by 2.7
percent, but that participation
by minorities and seniors was
more significantly affected.
Publication of the results led to
renewed calls by voters’ rights
organizations for a set of
standard federal procedures
that would not inhibit turnout
among any specific sector of
the electorate.

The investigation found that
polling-place requirements,
which may include photo
identification, the presentation
of a utility bill bearing a current
address, or the signing of an
affidavit, reduced turnout
among Latinos by 10 percent.
Asian Americans were 8.5
percent less likely to vote, and
blacks were 5.7 percent less
likely to vote. Researchers
also found that, generally,
stricter requirements led to
greater suppression of overall,
minority, and senior turnout.
The study was conducted by
the Eagleton Institute of
Politics at Rutgers University.

Activists have long argued that
photo ID laws can lead to the
disenfranchisement of
legitimate minority, senior, and
low-income voters. In 2004,
only Indiana and Florida
required voters to present a
photo ID, but at least eight
states are currently
considering similar
requirements for the 2008
election cycle.           
it's all true
Almost all of the terrorism-related
statistics compiled and reported by
the Department of Justice and the
FBI from 2001 through 2005 are
seriously flawed, presenting an
inaccurate picture of the efficacy of
government anti-terrorism activities,
according to a report by the DoJ
Inspector General. The audit of
figures related to domestic counter
terrorism operations revealed that
only two of 26 statistical categories
studied could be considered
accurate. Senators from both political
parties questioned whether the data
had been manipulated to secure
funding, or for other political

Auditors found “many cases involving
offenses such as immigration
violations, marriage fraud, or drug
trafficking where department officials
provided no evidence to link the
subject of the case
to terrorist activity,” according to the
report, by Inspector General Glenn
Fine. Declining to speculate as to the
reason for the widespread
inaccuracy, the report concludes,
“The collection and reporting of
terrorism-related statistics within the
department is decentralized and
haphazard.” A previous report by the
GAO had similar findings.  In a
statement, Fine stressed the need
for Congress and the public to
receive accurate information about
law enforcement activities.

“The question I have now is whether
the inaccuracies are an accident or if
there was some other motive behind
it,” said  Sen. Charles Grassley (R-
IA), a member of the Senate Judiciary
Committee . “Two major reports in
four years saying the same thing
doesn’t give me much
it's all true
A budgetary battle over funding for
levee and wetlands protection
projects is taking shape as Senators
from both political parties have joined
to oppose a White House proposal to
cut more than $1.3 billion from flood
protection in areas of Southeast
Louisiana damaged by Hurricane
Katrina. Democrats began work on a
Water Resources authorization bill
this month after a report by the US
Army Corps of Engineers warned that
at least 122 levees across the
country are in danger of imminent
failure, due to poor maintenance and
aging infrastructure. In the past, an
appropriations bill for water projects
was typically approved every two
years, but there hasn’t been one
during the Bush administration.

Senate Environment and Public
Works Committee Chairwoman
Barbara Boxer
has stated that the draft proposal will
be complete in March. Hundreds of
flood control, hurricane protection,
and wetlands preservation projects
are awaiting passage of the bill to
proceed; many are in danger of
being suspended for lack of funds.
Boxer and her committee held rare
field hearings in New Orleans this
week to demonstrate their
commitment to reconstruction efforts
in the area. Members of the
committee voiced their support of an
initiative by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)
to reverse the administration budget
proposal that would divert funds for
levee construction to other
emergency projects.

The report by the Corps of Engineers
reveals that urgent repair and
maintenance projects are not
confined to the Gulf Coast region.
California had
the most potentially dangerous
levees, with 37; Washington was
second with 19 structures at risk.
In most cases local and municipal
authorities have not had the
revenue to address the
maintenance issues, according to
the report. Official de-certification
of a levee would trigger a
requirement that local residents
purchase flood insurance. The
deficiencies catalogued in the
Corps of Engineers’ study could
affect hundreds of thousands of
residents and property worth
billions of dollars.

FEMA spokesmen warned that the
levees pose a danger to those
living in the adjacent flood plains.
Larry Larson, of the Association
of State Floodplain Managers
said, "You're talking about risking
a lot of lives if one of these
it's all true
Navy Shuns
Sonar Safety
Rising Number Sinking Deeper Into Poverty
Department Padded Terror Data
Corps of Engineers Warns Levee Funding a Drop in the
Photo Identification
Develops Problems
Petroleum Corporations Legally Bound to
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