But Republicans dismissed the report as nothing new and criticized Gore for belatedly joining the fight against IRS abuses.
"The congressional IRS reform train had already left the station, and today the administration hopped into the caboose," House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Archer (R-Tex.) said.
Gore's White House announcement and the prompt GOP counterattack provided new examples of the heated political competition to take credit for reforming the IRS. The House approved a reform bill last year, and within the next two weeks, the Senate Finance Committee is expected to finish drafting its legislation to overhaul the agency.
Gore's recommendations, some of which have already been implemented, ranged from providing extended walk-inservice at more than 150 IRS offices across the nation on the last six Saturdays of this year's filing season to a proposal authorizing IRS district directors to issue emergency tax refunds within 24 hours to citizens facing economic hardship.
Gore said new task force recommendations would make it easier for 3 million small-business taxpayers to file quarterly payroll returns by telephone, would create a "small business laboratory" in Seattle to help companies navigate tax procedures and would designate March 28, April 4 and April 11 as special days to help low-income earners apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit when preparing returns.
Page two of the Gore report also included a finding that probably reflects the feelings of many taxpayers: "What IRS customers say they want . . . minimum contact with the IRS."
The report, "Reinventing Service at the IRS," relied on the insights of an IRS task force that included 30 "front-line" employees who work in field offices. Members of the task force attended the Roosevelt Room event, where Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin and IRS Commissioner Charles O. Rossotti also spoke.
"We are not just tinkering at the margins here. We are effecting fundamental change," Rossotti said.
National Treasury Employees Union president Robert M. Tobias welcomed the report, calling it an opportunity for the IRS, "working with its employees, to shape a new future."
Task force member Marilynn Smith of the Kansas City IRS Service Center told Gore that "my co-workers in Missouri can already see the changes in the way we do business. And believe me, if they see it, that's saying quite a bit."
Republicans, however, took a dim view of Gore's report.
"This has all come trickling out over the past two years," said Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a co-chairman of the bipartisan National Commission on Restructuring the IRS. He said the section of the report aimed at curtailing abusive tax collection practices was first suggested by the commission in June 1997.
"But my larger point is that internal reforms are not going to solve the problem. We need legislation," said Portman, who advocates creation of an IRS oversight board composed of outsiders who would impose greater accountability on the agency.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman William V. Roth Jr. (R-Del.) said: "The problems at the IRS will not be corrected by reports alone. This study does not address the plight of taxpayers drowning under mounting interest and penalties. . . . Legislation needs to go beyond 'Reinventing Service at the IRS' -- I intend to reinvent the IRS as a whole."
Gore agreed yesterday that legislation is needed and urged the Senate to quickly pass a bill so President Clinton can sign into law IRS reforms "for this tax season and for all seasons."
In the early hours of the morning there was a heavy "bang, bang, bang" noise knocking on the elderly 75 year old mother's front door. She peeked through the age-worn curtains to see who was there, unaware that she was about to enter Hell in the federal world law of Civil Asset Forfeiture.
Seeing about twenty men in suits and uniforms gathered around her house, and a large television camera scanning the scene, she was terrified why all of these men were there. Only dressed in her thin nightgown, she said through the door, "What do you want?" An FBI man replied back... "We are here to seize your house!" The elderly mother said, "Well, where am I suppose to go?" After she heard him say, "We don't care where you go, but you have a half hour to pack up and get out", her normally uneventful days would never be the same for the next several years. Unable to ever recoup from the nightmare of the forfeiture squad, she finally couldn't take the financial and public ruination of this event any longer, and ended her life.
What did she do to deserve this horrific, un-American, Nazis-like treatment? Six years previous, her youngest son rented one of her adjacent rental properties and sold some marijuana out of it. Anything he touched was tainted in the mindset of these dutiful, officer-friendly men. It mattered not that the law admitted she was not part of his pot-ring conspiracy. There were no charges against her personally... only against her properties. She was free to go.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled it is okay to seize property from innocent owners because there is no innocent owner provision in federal civil asset forfeiture law, and the charges only need be against their property. Furthermore, the government does not have to give you a hearing, trial or prove anything in a court of law in order to do this.
For a simple speeding ticket you are entitled to a trial with proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but to seize your house, car, cash, business, or anything tangible merely suspected of wrongdoing, it can be done on as little evidence as hearsay. It has encouraged legal plunder on a Federal, State, and Local basis. Numbers are mounting on misplaced funds and other unintended applications.
Congress needs to stop making laws which include thinking that citizens are the only ones capable of wrongdoing or making mistakes. There should be no property forfeiture until after a criminal conviction, and even then only assets used or obtained illegally. Our U.S. Constitution protects our property rights in all cases except in forfeiture.
The theory in this law, initially intended for rightly taking the ill-gotten gains of real criminals, has evolved into civil-charge use that is becoming out of control. Forfeiture stems from medieval Biblical times, like when an ox gored someone the ox was sacrificed and put to death.
England used it to seize ships from Pirates, because the pirate couldn't show what else he was using the ship for. This Country moved it off the high seas and brought it inland to be used in crime control.
Most citizens today, clamouring to the government to stop crime, do not realize the tempting misuse of authority that has been written into the fine print of this law.
Since 1984, numerous attempts have been tried by champions of the cause to reform it, such as by Congressman Henry Hyde of Illinois, but in every step of the way, the Justice Department and other law enforcement lobbiests sandbag the effort. Why? Because it is a legal way to take money and boost short- budgeted agencies. Recent memos of Janet Reno obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that this Clinton Administration appointee is now asking federal prosecutors to accelerate forfeitures even more to help make up for a 40% decline in money which was previously available to the Department. This will dawn on new young prosecutors as a way to further their careers. In 1997, in Henry Hyde's HR1965 forfeiture reform bill, the Justice Department insisted that the bill also include... No Probable Cause before seizing property for forfeiture. Sponsorship by nearly all liberal and conservative groups for Hyde's initial HR1965 efforts which would have helped matters a great deal, were quickly and publicly dropped when this sudden change came about in a non-public meeting with the Justice Department. What happened for sure, nobody out here knows. It is a sad day in our wonderful Country when everybody agrees on some good changes, except those appointed to protect us.
The federal statutes on forfeiture have grown from about 100, to now over 300 in the past several years. It has become so popular that State and local law enforcement agencies are dressing up their department's laws similarly. Many of you have heard of the cases in Florida and Louisiana where people are stopped and relieved of the cash in their pockets if the officer deems the money guilty. The point is, this can be done without a hearing or a trial, and there is no innocent owner provision. Allow a friend to use your boat ? If Fish and Game find a fish in your boat one inch under the size limit, your boat can be history even if you did not authorize the wrongdoing.
Many law examples of it's use are on a website at http://www.fear.org, along with a huge volume of other information on it.
Florida recently dropped the ball on an all-approved forfeiture reform bill which outlawed any forfeiture without a criminal conviction. Word has it that pressure from the top law enforcement agent in the State did it. When a press conference is held on the final approval, questions will only be allowed to be asked on the provisions of the final one, not on the provisions that were dropped from it which would have protected us from this tyranny-like law. Isn't that ingenious?
Congress has held numerous hearings about the abuse of this law, has admitted it is their fault for allowing it to continue, and still nothing gets done. How many more mothers with bad kids are going to lose their homes? How many frugal immigrants on the highway shall be relieved of their cash because an officer knows he doesn't have to prove anything? It isn't just time to only write about this to your email friends, it is way past time to also start screaming at your Congressman. Until it starts costing them votes.... nothing will get done.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 17 -- Polaroid Corporation announced today that it had been awarded a contract to produce secure identification cards using leading-edge security technology for the Social Security System of the Philippines. The contract represents the second largest contract for identification cards in Polaroid's 25-year history in identification documents and the most extensive use of secure card technology to date.
The contract calls for Polaroid to produce 35 million Social Security identification cards over 6 years. Production is expected to begin this summer. Terms of the contract weren't disclosed. Polaroid won the contract in competitive bidding as part of a group led by Ayala Systems Technology Inc., a Philippine computer systems integrator and distributor. Other group members include Sagem, S.A. of France and IBM-Philippines.
The cards will feature numerous security features, including a two-dimensional barcode containing the cardholder's fingerprint data; PolaSecure, an optical device that is visible only from certain angles; microprinting, ultraviolet ink; and a magnetic stripe containing the individual's social security number and personal identification number for future use at bank ATMs.
Renato Valencia, president of the Social Security System, said, "The Social Security System chose Polaroid as its strategic partner because of its commitment to the project's success and its world-leading position in the production of high quality and highly durable secure photo ID cards."
John Munday, vice president and general manager of Polaroid Identification Systems, said, "By the summer of 1999, this system will give the Philippines' Social Security System the largest active biometric database in the world. This system will help to insure that Social Security recipients will get the benefits that they are entitled to quickly and efficiently. The benefits of this system accrue to all participants in the Philippines Social Security Plan."
Munday added, "With this award, we will have widened our market lead in the secure photo identification card market, both in the U.S. and globally. Clearly, large issuers of secure identification cards worldwide are realizing that Polaroid not only has the technology to deliver the solutions they desire but the capacity to deliver complex, highly secure systems on time and at a competitive price."
The Social Security cards will be issued from a central production facility in the Philippines using data gathered from more than 150 Social Security System offices scattered around the Philippines archipelago. Under a separate contract, Polaroid has supplied the Philippines with more than 5 million driver's licenses since 1995.
Polaroid has been producing driver's licenses and identification cards for more than 25 years using both photographic and digital systems. Globally, Polaroid produces various types of identification documents for governments in Brazil, the United Kingdom, Russia, and China. In the United States, Polaroid produces digital driver's licenses, in some cases utilizing biometric security features, in Texas, Colorado, Iowa, Tennessee, Oregon, Georgia, and West Virginia. With sales of $2.2 billion, Polaroid is the worldwide leader in instant imaging, supplying instant photographic cameras and films, digital imaging products, medical diagnostic imaging media, graphics imaging systems, polarizers, and holographic films to markets worldwide.
In Afghanistan last week, a teen-age girl was lashed 100 times for talking to a man not related to her by blood. Why such punishment? Because in Afghan society, people are not trusted to make their own decisions. The Afghan government must make decisions for her.
Why don't young American girls get 100 lashes for such behavior? Because those dead white guys who wrote the Declaration of Independance understood something very profound: a moral society can be trusted with freedom.
But is it such a big deal for Bill Clinton to commit adultery in the Oval Office? After all, Clinton has committed much worse crimes while in office, hasn't he? Does it really matter if the prez is getting a little nooky on the side?
Clinton's adultery is actually an indication of deeper cultural problems in America. We've changed for the worse. And it's more devastating than we think.
When Bill Clinton took office, teen drug use doubled. Why? Because Clinton, right on MTV, told America's kids he would do drugs again if he could start over. From that moment forward, Clinton's casual approach to drugs trumped all efforts by every parent, every teacher, and every TV commercial with eggs sizzling in a frying pan. No matter what we tell our kids, they can wonder "What's the big deal? The president says he would do it?"
The founding fathers believed a moral culture would teach each generation a good set of values to guide them into adulthood. That's why they created a very loose framework of laws around a strong base of individual rights. Instead of laws to control behavior, we use role models.
Our parents, families, teachers, and other cultural leaders guide a path to good behavior. And no role model is more powerful than the President of the United States.
Our role models carry the banner for our morality, and our morality is the real underpinning of the American constitution, not the other way around.
Feminists once fought a gallant fight for equal rights, equal pay and equal treatment for women. But feminism was hijacked by radical leftists a long time ago, abandoning women for political expedience. If feminists showed regression on the Paula Jones issue, Bill Clinton has kicked feminism back to the stone age with the Lewinski episode.
Hillary Clinton's defense of her husband is truly offensive. Instead of becoming a strong role model for young women everywhere, the First Feminist transformed into the classic self-created victim. She is excusing a husband who continually cheats on her. All for the sake of political power.
What is Hillary telling young women of America? Boys will be boys? Stand by your man no matter how much of a pig he is? Just don't lose that meal ticket? Great message, Hillary. This is the First Family. The model for America to follow. What family image are American children taking with them into adulthood?
By accepting Clinton's behavior, the lesson we teach young families is that marriage vows are just casual expedience for political power. It's O.K. to cheat on your wife and family and harass women half your age if you are charming, become powerful, and join the Democratic Party.
The highest military civilian was court-martialed for the exact same offenses Clinton has committed. Clinton's message to the men and especially the women of the service is that he holds them to a different standard than he holds himself. In other words, he is above us. King Bill.
What is Clinton telling the nation's military scattered across the globe, putting their life on the line for his policies? He tells them he doesn't care. Imagine being asked to die by such a man. That will do wonders for military morale.
It's bad enough Clinton committed adultery.
Worse, it was right in the oval office. He has soiled the office. Literally. With a slut.
He is telling America the President of the United States doesn't care about desecrating the White House. Our house. The house that belongs to every American. Perhaps the most sacred house in America. How would you feel if someone committed adultery in your kitchen?
What does this say about his feelings towards our nation? This is a slice of Clinton's approach to life. He really doesn't care. He has shown his personal gratification is above the national honor.
Although few Americans now trust him, many seem willing to accept his awful behavior as long as the economy is good and our pockets are lined. Our national morality now has a price. And it's cheap.
If there's no law that tells you how to behave in a free society, what is left to control us? Only our moral fiber. That's why America holds our leaders to high standards, then we aspire to match them. We have to. Otherwise, if our moral standards fall, we risk slipping into either an overbearing government, like Europe, or frightful chaos, as in Africa.
Freedom and morality are partners. But this requires a cultural commitment to moral standards. What commitment is America willing to make when we see our ultimate role model, the president, laughing at moral standards and believing in nothing except instant self-gratification? Bill Clinton offers the nation an excuse to fail, then offers a government solution for our failures. Which is, of course, the very foundation of liberalism. And the expressway to failure.
Yes, America...there is a reason to hold our leaders to a high standard. Our nation became the best in the world by setting high standards. We will stay there only by keeping high standards. We fail our children if we don't inspire their very best. And we fail the nation if we don't demand the highest standards from ourselves.
And that is why we should not accept a president who commits adultery with a girl half his age.
Without morality, a government based upon freedom will fail.
LONDON, March 9 (Reuters) - A row broke out on Monday over the dangers of passive smoking after a British newspaper said the World Health Organization (WHO) had suppressed a study which showed such smoke did not cause cancer.
Less than six months after scientific research showed non-smokers living with smokers had a 25 percent risk of developing lung cancer, the Sunday Telegraph said the WHO deliberately withheld a 10-year study which found that environmental tobacco smoke was not dangerous.
The story re-ignited the debate over passive smoking and left the public even more confused about whether ``second-hand smoke'' is dangerous or not.
British tobacco group B.A.T Industries Plc said the WHO study confirmed that environmental tobacco smoke was not a cancer risk.
``We welcome this new study which confirms what we and other scientists have long believed, that while smoking may annoy some non-smokers, science does not show that being around a smoker is a lung cancer risk,'' said Dr Chris Proctor, the head of science for B.A.T.
He said in a statement that the research found that if there was any lung cancer risk in the air to non-smokers at all, it was too small to be quantified at any meaningful level.
But anti-smoking group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) accused B.A.T of using the data to dampen the impact of additional evidence on the danger of passive smoking to be published later this week.
ASH criticized the tobacco industry for drawing conclusions from unpublished data and accused it of being desperate to play down the impact of such smoking.
``There are clear links between passive smoking and lung cancer, heart disease, respiratory illness in children requiring hospitalization, cot death, middle ear infection, asthma and many minor but widespread irritants,'' the group said.
``The tobacco industry knows this report is going to be very bad for them, and this is an obvious spoiler. They are getting their retaliation in first,'' it added.
A Department of Health spokesman confirmed that Britain's Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health would publish research later this week. No other details were available.
The Sunday Telegraph, which said it had seen the research on seven European nations commissioned by the WHO, reported the study concluded that not only was there no link between passive smoking and lung cancer, but there could even be a protective effect.
``The findings are certain to be an embarrassment to the WHO, which has spent years and vast sums on anti-smoking and anti-tobacco campaigns,'' the newspaper said.
Instead of revealing the results, the newspaper said the WHO had produced only a summary of the findings in an internal report.
The Geneva-based WHO tried to play down the controversy, saying the full report would be published in a scientific journal.
According to the newspaper the research compared 650 lung cancer patients with 1,542 healthy people who were married to, lived, worked or grew up with smokers.
``The results are consistent with there being no additional risk for a person living or working with a smoker and could be consistent with passive smoke having a protective effect against lung cancer,'' the newspaper said.
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