On a day when the U.S. Government and Pacific Lumber finally surmounted a deadlock over the preservation of the Headwaters Forest in Northern California, treehuggers — whom you might expect would be celebrating — were putting up their dukes against one another, according to the ASSOCIATED PRESS. The dark force behind this turn of events? None other than Dr. Seuss’ revered defender of the trees and Wilfred Brimley-clone known as “The Lorax.”
The Heritage Forests Campaign sent a letter urging Dr. Seuss Enterprises (which manages the author’s estate) to withdraw American Forests’ license to use the Lorax in its publications. American Forests, the HFC complained, used the Lorax’s image and reputation to appear environmentally friendly and solicit donations when in fact the group is cozy with the timber industry and went before Congress five years ago to advocate clear-cutting to “manage” forests.
American Forests, naturally, denies this. Its executive director answered the complaint with the Seuss-ish, “Shame on you. Shame. Shame. You think publicity by deceit is a feat!”
In fact, American Forest’s magazine is littered with full-page ads from timber companies, according to the report.
China pissed about U.S. ‘Star Wars’ plan
It was bad enough that Clinton decided to revive an old Reagan pipe-dream and commit the U.S. to a national missile defense (and in the process fulfill one of the promises of the Republican’s Contract with America). So far the United States has spent of $60 billion (no, that’s not a mistake) researching such a system. Meanwhile, our best hope for a missile defense, called THAAD, has failed five out of five tests.
Now, according to the CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, China is worried that if the U.S. deploys an anti-missile defense, it could be used to protect Taiwan. In turn the island may use the defense as a shield to declare independence from China. And few want that. Because if Taiwan claims independence, China, as it has said many times, will invade Taiwan.
The article also points out that if the U.S. fields an anti-missile system, it could result in China feeling obligatedto respond by deploying more nuclear weapons in order to deter a possible first strike. That logic, by the way, is exactly why the U.S. signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which the U.S. will likely violate if it deploys this system.
Irish to rich and famous: Keep out
For years, the Irish have been largely known for three things (four, if the drunkenness stereotype counts), the potato famine, the “troubles,” and emigrating to every corner of the planet that would have them. That last situation, however, has reversed itself a bit, especially when it comes to wealthy immigrants to Eire, and it seems that at least some of the Irish are none too happy about it. THE TELEGRAPH reports that the Irish are growing increasingly resentful of the influx of the rich and famous, perhaps because, in the words of one resident, “They treat us like their pet dogs.”
The article states that, since the 1960s when Ireland granted tax-free status to writers and artists, an increasing number of glamoratti have been relocating to the island nation. However, some of the practices of the Robin Leach set, such as erecting high walls and security gates or calling locals “paddies” has the locals seeing red.
In fact, one local teacher has even started a “Keep Ireland for the Irish” campaign in a vain attempt to stem the tide. THE TELEGRAPH notes that she expects her campaign will take off once Ireland has become “saturated” with foreigners, yet doesn’t comment on the obvious irony in keeping an already saturated community pure. The article also fails to mention Ireland’s Millennium Entrepreneur Fund — although it does link to an article on the subject at the bottom of the page — which promises 100,000 Irish punt (roughly $140,000 U.S.) to those of “Irish descent” with technology skills and entrepreneurial spirit willing to relocate to Ireland — which would seem to be another issue exacerbating the tensions.
The auditors get audited — and fail
You know that clammy, panicked feeling you get when spring begins blooming, the birds are singing, and tax anxiety has you hiding under the blankets. How many times have we wished that our persecutors could feel our pain?
According to a report from REUTERS, Congress’ General Accounting Office has concluded that the Internal Revenue Service hasn’t been balancing its own checkbook for years. Never mind the Chevy Blazer and $300,000 laser printer in one field office that have gone missing. No wonder the employees of this “kindler, gentler” IRS are so cheerful these days — a bottomless expense account will do that for you.
The report also noted that the IRS had collected less than 12 percent of outstanding unpaid taxes from 1998, and would write off more than half the remainder — $119 billion, to be precise. Which, naturally, begs the question: Write it off on what, its taxes?
The final audit report caps an investigation which had earlier exposed the fact that certain IRS employees had skimmed $5.3 million by, among other schemes, altering the payee on a taxpayer’s check from “IRS” to “I.R. Smith,” according to MSNBC.
In response to the GAO report, the IRS sent its designated sacrificial lamb in the form of newly appointed chief financial officer Donna Cunninghame, who meekly admitted the agency had been very, very bad and would try harder next time.
P.S. The GAO report isn’t online yet. But, if you the have the desire and the attention span, look for it in the next few days.