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Thursday, October 25, 2007

CDC director denies she was censored on climate report




U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, sent a letter to President Bush seeking all drafts of the written testimony for comparison with what Gerberding presented at a committee hearing Tuesday.

Boxer also asked the White House to disclose which officials were involved in reviewing her statement and what led to the deletion of nearly seven pages about the health consequences of climate change.

"I am deeply concerned that important scientific and health information was removed from the CDC Director's testimony at the last minute," Boxer said in the letter.

The Bush administration has repeatedly been accused of muzzling scientists on global warming and other issues. This year, for instance, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was accused of censoring its polar bear experts on the subject of climate change.

Allegations denied

Officials at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention denied they'd been censored. But an earlier version of the written testimony, reviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, shows that Gerberding had planned to give the committee a detailed account of the agency's expectations of more frequent catastrophic weather events, diseases and other health effects of worldwide climate change.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the testimony simply went through a normal review process to ensure it reflected current science.

Perino said nobody censored Gerberding.

"It was not watered-down in terms of its science. It wasn't watered-down in terms of the concerns that climate change raises for public health," she said.

Gerberding said Wednesday she was happy with her testimony and that the review process was normal. In a lunch-hour speech before the Atlanta Press Club, Gerberding said she made all the points to Congress that she wanted to make.

"This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," Gerberding said of the furor. "I don't let people put words in my mouth. I spoke the truth to Congress."

The testimony went through many versions, perhaps as many as 40, Gerberding said. "This was not an issue of someone trying to cover up a connection between climate change and health," she said.

The 12-page draft reviewed by the AJC differs significantly from the final six-page version submitted to the Senate committee.

The shorter version focuses on public health preparedness for climate change, including how the CDC is tracking diseases, doing heat-stroke modeling for cities to predict vulnerable populations and helping local officials plan for environmental emergencies.

The draft version contained an additional six pages explaining why climate change is a public health concern. Deleted passages describe the expected impact of climate change, including new disease patterns and food and water shortages for some people.

The deleted testimony included predictions about the potential consequences of increased air pollution, the rampant growth of plants that cause allergies and the creation of environments that promote water- and food-borne disease.

"Catastrophic weather events such as heat waves and hurricanes are expected to become more frequent, severe, and costly," the deleted section said.

Dr. Michael McCally, executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility, called the deletions "very significant." The committee only gave Gerberding and other witnesses five minutes each to testify, he said.

"You have to rely on written testimony. So her ability to communicate with the committee was constrained," McCally said. "The administration has censored various climate reports in the past. This may well be the case here."

More to the deletions?

To the Union of Concerned Scientists, it appears Gerberding was censored. "At first blush this is consistent with what we've seen throughout the Bush administration on climate change," said Michael Halpern, outreach coordinator of the group's Scientific Integrity Program.

Some environmentalists and science watchdogs questioned whether the deletions indicate that CDC's scientists will be prevented from studying and preventing climate-related health problems.

"It's my sense that CDC remains very interested in global warming as a central public health issue on which they plan to focus," said Kim Knowlton, a science fellow at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Will they be allowed to follow through to the best of their ability? That is the question."

CDC has publicized protecting the public from the health effects of climate change as a major initiative. Dr. Howard Frumkin, director of CDC's National Center for Environmental Health, said that hasn't changed.

"I have not seen any barriers to our moving forward," Frumkin said Wednesday. "Fears that this is going to stop us are unfounded." Frumkin declined to discuss details how testimony written by his staff was reviewed by the White House.

Perino said she didn't know whether the various drafts of Gerberding's testimony would be released to Congress. CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said the agency hasn't yet received a request.

-- To reach staff writer Alison Young, call 404-526-7372.

Climate Change Testimony Was Edited by White House

An example of one of the changes made to Julie L. Gerberding's testimony.



Published: October 25, 2007


The White House made deep cuts in written testimony given to a Senate committee this week by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on health risks posed by global warming, but the director agreed yesterday with administration officials who said the cuts were part of a normal review process and not aimed at minimizing the issue.

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Dot Earth

A new blog about climate change, the environment and sustainability from The Times's Andrew C. Revkin.

Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, the agency’s director, said in a telephone interview that news reports and comments about the changes had made “a mountain out of a molehill.”

“I said everything I needed to say,” she said.

Dr. Gerberding, who addressed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Tuesday, said she had freely spoken for more than a year about the implications for public health should warming from the buildup of greenhouse gases proceed as scientists project. Still, cuts made to her written testimony included the only statements casting the health risks from climate change as a problem, describing it variously as posing “difficult challenges” and as “a serious public health concern.”

The testimony that remained said, “Climate change is anticipated to have a broad range of impacts on the health of Americans and the nation’s public health infrastructure.” But a line saying “the public health effects of climate change remain largely unaddressed” was gone, and the testimony focused on the ways health agencies were already prepared to tackle any problems.

The changes were first reported Tuesday by The Associated Press, and the draft testimony, whose authenticity was not challenged by Bush administration, was disseminated to reporters and posted online yesterday by several private groups, including Climate Science Watch.

This shift in tone prompted criticisms of the administration by some Democratic lawmakers, including Senator Barbara Boxer of California, the committee’s chairwoman.

The cuts, done by the Office of Management and Budget last week, halved the 12-page draft testimony Dr. Gerberding submitted before her testimony.

Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the committee, sided with the administration, said Matthew Dempsey, a spokesman. “All administrations edit testimony through the O.M.B. process,” Mr. Dempsey said.

Dana Perino, the White House press secretary, told reporters in a daily briefing yesterday that other agencies questioned whether the testimony adequately reflected the findings on health and climate of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body that issued voluminous reviews of climate science this year.

“It was not watered down in terms of its science,” Ms. Perino said. “It wasn’t watered down in terms of the concerns that climate change raises for public health.”

Dr. Michael McCally, executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility, who testified at the same hearing, called the cuts in the written testimony “a misuse of science and abuse of the legislative process.”

Lawrence K. Altman contributed reporting.

State Dept. Ousts Its Chief of Security


Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 25, 2007; Page A01

The State Department's security chief was forced to resign yesterday after a critical review found that his office had failed to adequately supervise private contractors protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq.

Richard J. Griffin, a former Secret Service agent who was once in charge of presidential protection, was told by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's deputy, John D. Negroponte, to leave office by Nov. 1. Griffin's chief deputy, Gregory B. Starr, will become acting assistant secretary for diplomatic security.

Griffin is the first senior official to lose his job over the widening private-contractor scandal. Under fire from Congress, the U.S. military and the Iraqi government after the Sept. 16 contractor killing of 17 Iraqi civilians, Rice on Tuesday ordered extensive changes in diplomatic security arrangements in Iraq and pledged stronger oversight. A high-level panel she appointed to review the Iraq operation recommended Griffin's departure along with the other changes, according to State Department sources.

"I don't rule out . . . that there may even be other things that we must do," Rice told the House Foreign Relations Committee yesterday before Griffin's resignation was announced. She said she has designated Negroponte to recommend further steps after consulting with his Pentagon counterpart, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon R. England.

As she has concentrated on the Middle East peace process, Iran and Russia, Rice has increasingly turned major responsibility for hot-button issues -- including North Korea, Pakistan and Iraq -- over to Negroponte. He has taken the lead on management problems, such as the contractors, along with his longtime Foreign Service colleague Patrick Kennedy, a senior management official who served as Negroponte's management deputy when Negroponte was director of national intelligence, before he took the No. 2 post at the State Department.

The White House has nominated Kennedy to replace Henrietta H. Fore as undersecretary of state for management. That shift took a major step forward yesterday when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to send Fore's long-delayed nomination as director of foreign assistance to the Senate floor. Senate aides said the committee may act on Kennedy's nomination as early as next week.

But the changes in security policy for Iraq and in her team are unlikely to temper rising criticism of Rice's management style. She is due to testify today before the House oversight committee, whose chairman, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), has accused the department's prime security contractor in Iraq, Blackwater Worldwide, of tax evasion; charged the department with papering over evidence of widespread corruption in the Iraqi government; and accused the State inspector general of failing to monitor shoddy work and overspending in construction of a new, $600 million U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

Griffin's departure was widely seen as a positive move within the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS), where many senior agents have expressed growing concern over the dependence on and lack of supervision of private contractors. Several agents, who were not authorized to discuss internal matters publicly, said that DS was unprepared for the rapid rise in contractor use and described the agency as overwhelmed by the demands being made on it.

Those undercurrents were laid bare after the Sept. 16 incident involving Blackwater contractors in Baghdad's Nisoor Square. Although the military and the Iraqi government had previously complained about the use of excessive force by contractor security personnel, the incident sparked public outrage in Washington and Baghdad.

Although DS employs more than 30,000 people worldwide as technicians, building guards and couriers, it has only about 1,400 "special agents" trained in law enforcement and personal protection. Most of them are assigned to Washington and U.S. field offices, with fewer than half based at embassies and consulates overseas. The agency began contracting with private security companies to protect U.S. and other officials abroad in 1994, a practice that expanded with the reestablishment of a U.S. diplomatic presence in Afghanistan following the 2001 ouster of the Taliban government.

Protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq, however, put far greater strains on DS resources. More than 1,000 private contractors from three U.S. companies -- Blackwater, DynCorp and Triple Canopy -- now provide security for all official U.S. civilians there. The contractors had been supervised by 36 DS agents until Rice doubled their numbers this month.

The dispatch of additional agents -- taken from a force of 100 SWAT team members normally held in reserve for worldwide security emergencies -- was one of the recommendations made by the panel, headed by Kennedy, along with the proposal that DS receive funding to hire 100 new agents. The panel also included Eric J. Boswell, a former DS chief whom Negroponte also brought into the National Intelligence Directorate.

It was Negroponte who carried to Rice the team's recommendation -- and his own -- that Griffin be fired. Rice agreed and sent Negroponte to carry it out.

After joining the Secret Service in 1971 in Chicago, Griffin eventually rose through the ranks to become deputy director. From 1997 to 2005, when President Bush nominated him as DS chief, he served as inspector general of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Griffin announced his resignation at a meeting of his senior staff yesterday morning. In a memorandum to Bush, and a later e-mail to DS colleagues, he offered no reason for his departure.


2007 Texas Justice, Peace, and Freedom Conference


November 16-18, 2007

Addison, Texas
Crowne Plaza North Dallas (972) 980-8877
14315 Midway Rd, Addison, Texas

Special room rate of $92 per night available, reserve your room here!

The main part of this 3-day Conference will be Saturday, November 17, and Sunday, November 18, when we will have over twelve of the most informative, knowledgeable and exciting Justice, Peace, and Freedom speakers addressing a variety of the most important and life-changing events of our day. The Friday, November 16, event is a separate 6-hour class on the U.S. Constitution, your rights, freedom and law.

We also have a Friday night banquet with Constitutional Attorney Tommy Cryer and a Saturday night catered dinner with our Banquet Speaker, Congressman Ron Paul (Invited but has not confirmed yet). For your convenience luncheons will also be available on all three days. There are separate charges for the conference, the Friday Constitution Class and each meal. The non-food events have volume discount pricing; luncheons and dinners do not.

All non-food events are FREE to anyone under 21 years old , and to full-time college students who are under 25 years old.

Please pre-register here or by calling (760)868-4271 so we can reserve your space. Thank you.

Download the big and beautiful color brochure of the Conference!

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Joe Banister

Congressman Ron Paul

Republican Presidential Candidate who always vote according to the requirement of the US Constitution and for returning freedom to America will share his vision for America. www.ronpaul2008.com

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*At this time, Congressman Paul and his staff are aware of our desire to have him speak at our conference. However, due to his busy schedule, he couldn't give us a 100% confirmation of his attendance. For the most up to date list of speakers, please visit this site from time-to-time. Thank you.


Our Friday Evening Banquet Speaker, Tommy Cryer

Constitutionalist attorney Tommy Cryer, A unanimous jury of 12, ruled that Tommy Cryer, who had not filed 1040 Income Tax Returns for many years, was not guilty of any crime. Hear about his David v. Goliath victory over the IRS and the truth at www.truthattack.org

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Larry Becraft

The attorney who defended Tommy Cryer in Tommy’s victories NOT GUILTY verdict in Tommy’s tax trial will share secrets of victory over the IRS beast.

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William Rodriguez

Our Saturday Evening Banquet Speaker, G. Ed Griffin

Most renowned author and expert on the Federal Reserve Bank and the New World Order will share the amazing story of how
and why the privately owned Federal Reserve Banking Cartel was created. www.realityzone.com

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Joe Banister

Is the Income Tax based on Fraud? Come and hear an IRS whistle-blower in person:

Joe Banister

Mr. Banister was a Certified Public Accountant who went to work for the IRS as a Special Agent of the Criminal Investigation Division, specializing in Fraud Detection as a fraud expert. Mr. Banister traveled frequently to Washington D.C. to debate the government representatives, about the legality of the Federal Income Tax. Mr. Banister will share the reasons that he quit the IRS after they had failed to show him any law that requires American citizens to file returns or pay income taxes.<

In addition, in 2004 the IRS criminally charged Mr. Banister with several "tax-crimes" to put an end to whistle-blowing activities. However, the jury found Mr. Banister innocent of all charges. Come and hear how this living American hero of the people has stood up to the criminal organization known as the IRS. Please visit Mr. Banister's web site at www.freedomabovefortune.com

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William Rodriguez

What Really happened on 9/11? Come hear 9/11 eyewitness, National Hero (as recognized by the U.S. Government):

William Rodriguez

Last survivor out and maintenance worker who held the master keys to the World Trade Center. He heroically risked his life by opening the fire-exit doors on the North Twin Tower, which permitted firefighters to save hundreds of Americans. However, the major bank-/corporate owned and controlled American media and the 9/11 Commission have suppressed Mr. Rodriguez's account of what really happened on that tragic day.

Come hear the eye-opening first-hand account of what the power-elite who run the government and media do not want you to know about 9/11. Please visit Mr. Rodriguez's website at www.911keymaster.com

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Joe Banister

Attorney Jeff Dickstein

The attorney who defended Joe Banister in Joe’s victorious NOT GUILTY verdict in Joe’s tax trial will share the secrets of victory over the IRS beast.

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What Really happened on 9/11? Come and hear from director of the most widely seen alternative 9/11 documentary:

Dylan Avery, Korey Rowe or Jason Bermas

One of the creators' from Loose Change 9/11 will share how over two years of research took what started out as a Fictional Story and turned it into a Documentary. Loose Change has become the most Internet Watched documentary about 9/11.Even though at www.video.google.com, the number one watched DVDs are almost exclusively short video clips which are under 5 minutes long, each time that the updated version of Loose Change has come out, the new version of Loose Change has become the number one watched video on www.video.google.com. "'Loose Change Final Cut' is the third and final release of the documentary, drawing upon our experience and research since the release of Loose Change 2nd Edition being revised for the third time". Watch the newest edition of Loose Change for FREE here and then come and hear, in person the latest information on 9/11 while the film "Loose Change Final Cut" is in it's final stages of production. www.loosechange911.com

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Is the IRS lying and defrauding the American people? Hear from the man who beat the IRS Beast:

Robert Lawrence

Robert challenged the IRS claim that he is required to file a 1040 Income Tax Confession Form and pay a Federal Income Tax. The U.S. Government charged him with committing “tax crimes”, but later dismissed these charges! The IRS dropped the case when they found out that Robert relied on the instructions within the IRS' 1040 booklet and the law. Robert had proof from these sources that he was not required to file. Hear how this living “David” won his victory over the paper-tiger “Goliath” (the IRS).

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Lindsey Springer

The legal researcher and architect of Robert Lawrence’s tax trial win over the IRS will share how they beat the IRS without going to trial.

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David vonKleist

What Really happened on 9/11? Hear an expert's analysis:

David vonKleist

Co-Sponsor of this Conference and co-Host of The Power Hour Radio program will share his new movie "9-11 Ripple Effect" with never before seen footage from inside the Pentagon on 9/11. www.thepowerhour.com

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Sherry Jackson

The former IRS agent who has repeatedly asked the IRS to show her the law that requires average ordinary Americans to file and pay Income Tax, but the IRS has repeatedly failed to do so

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WHAT DID THE MEDIA NOT TELL YOU?

Mark Anderson

Reporter with the American Free Press, the largest independent weekly paper in America will share the major News/Events of the Year that the Major Media did not tell you! www.americanfreepress.net

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Steve Hempfling

Why does the IRS keeps telling everyone that the Income Tax is based on VOLUNTARY compliance!

Steve Hempfling

Director of the Free Enterprise Society for over 20 years has been searching for the Law that requires the average American to file and pay the Federal Income Tax. During these 20 years, Steve has been educating and lecturing Americans on the subject of the Income Tax . Although the IRS has regularly sent agents to spy on Steve and his Organization for many of these years, the IRS has never shown Him what law requires Steve or the average American to file and pay income taxes. Plus, if the Federal Income Tax is based on voluntary compliance of the people, why is the IRS trying to make it mandatory on all of us! Come and hear from this courageous man's experience in dealing with the IRS beast. www.freeenterprisesociety.com

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Are the FBI, and CIA hurting Americans?

Ted Gunderson

Former Head of the FBI Los Angeles office tells first-hand how many of our Federal Government agencies have gone off-track. Protect yourself and your family with foreknowledge! www.tedgunderson.com

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Peymon Mottahedeh

Can you live FREE of IRS fear and tyranny?

Your Host, Peymon Mottahedeh

President and Founder of Freedom Law School is an Iranian, Jewish-born Immigrant, now an American Citizen, who despite having a four year University Degree, found himself ignorant of his rights as an American Citizen. Peymon decided to educate and empower himself by seeking this knowledge. Peymon's self-study of the law lead him to create Freedom Law School in 1996 so that he could assist others in living a FREE life. Peymon will share how YOU can live FREE of IRS harassment and robbery NOW with knowledge, preparation and support and join with others to take back America from the clutches of the big banks, corporations and their politicians!

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What Really happened on 9/11? Come and hear 9/11 eyewitness/mother from Pentagon:

April Gallop

April was at the Pentagon with her 2 months old baby, when the 9/11 explosion at the pentagon blew her off her feet. April walked out of the crater hole in the Pentagon injured, but alive. Come and hear April's first hand testimony of what She saw on 9/11. The testimony that the 9/11 commission and the major/dominant news media have shamelessly kept from you and the American People!

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William Rodriguez

John Kotmair

Founder and Fiduciary of the Save-A-Patriot Fellowship. Learn of his purpose in founding the Fellowship, and the functions that it has been providing within the Patriot community for these past twenty three years.

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Captain Joyce Riley

Radio show host will share how your tax dollars are being used in the Iraq and what the war is about.

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*At this time, Captain Joyce Riley is awared of our desire to have her speak at our conference. However, due to her busy schedule, she couldn't give us a 100% confirmation of her attendance. For the most up to date list of speakers, please visit this site from time-to-time. Thank you.

Co-Sponsored by:

American Free Press | The Power Hour | Free Enterprise Society | A campaign to expose the truth of 9/11 | A campaign to expose IRS' lies and fraud | Save-A-Patriot Fellowship | We-The-People Radio Network

For Questions regarding the Event, Please Contact Freedom Law School directly at (760) 868-4271

Event Times:
Friday Constitution Class - 9 AM till 5PM
Friday & Saturday Banquet 7:30 PM till 10 PM
Saturday and Sunday 9 AM till 6:00 PM


Location: Crowne Plaza North Dallas
14315 Midway Rd, Addison, Texas 75001
Special room rate of $92 per night available, reserve your room here!

2007 Justice, Peace & Freedom Conference Registration for Saturday and Sunday, November 17-18:
Tickets Prepaid At the door
1 $70 each $80 each
2-4 $60 each $70 each
5-7 $45 each $35 each
8+ $35 each $45 each

Under 21 = FREE

FRIDAY & SATURDAY EVENING CATERED BANQUET:
$50 per person (MUST be paid in advance)

FRIDAY, SATURDAY AND SUNDAY LUNCHES : $20 per person (MUST be paid in advance)

Pre-Register for this Conference

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Friday, November 16 Class on the Constitution, Your Rights, Freedom, Law and the Income Tax

* What is the purpose of the U.S. Constitution?
* What does the U.S. Constitution say about taxes?
* What Ex-IRS Agents are saying about IRS lies and fraud?
* What are the IRS and Politicians hiding from you?
* How YOU can protect yourself from IRS lies, fraud & theft of your property!
* How we can wipe the IRS off of Americans' lives!

Presented by Peymon Mottahedeh

President of Freedom Law School

Dave Wellington, Freedom Law School's Dream Team Member, Paralegal and Entrepreneur

Friday, November 16, 2007 9:00am - 5:00pm

Ticket Prices:

Tickets Prepaid At the door
1-3 $50 each $60 each
4+ $40 each $30 each

Below 21 = FREE

Pre-Register for this Conference

Freedom Law School
9582 Buttemere Road
Phelan, CA 92371
(760) 868-4271

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Seasonal firefighters laid off just before fires

Shorthanded, California recalls some crews to battle wildfires

IMAGE: Wildfires burn in Malibu, California
Outgunned firefighters prepare to battle wildfires burning in Malibu, Calif.
Sean Masterson / EPA

By Bill Dedman
Investigative reporter
MSNBC
Updated: 7:56 p.m. ET Oct 23, 2007


Every fall, the state of California declares the official end of the fire season. Sometimes the fires don't get the message.

Joe Mackey, a seasonal firefighter for CalFire, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, got a call Oct. 12 telling him he wouldn't be needed any more this year.

"They told me I'm getting laid off. Turn my gear in the next day," Mackey said. "They didn't really give me any notice."

On Tuesday, with fires threatening thousands of homes, the state backtracked, declaring the obvious: The fire season is back on.

"They have rescinded the fire season throughout California, and they are able to hire back all fire personnel," Patti Roberts, spokeswoman for the Governor's Office of Emergency Services, told msnbc.com Tuesday afternoon. "I can't say that they have all been rehired, but they can be rehired."

CalFire has about 1,400 seasonal employees in addition to 3,800 permanent staff, according to its Web site. It was not immediately clear whether all of the seasonal firefighters had been terminated before the Southern California fires broke out, or how many would actually be brought back. An official at one fire station said callbacks were happening unit by unit.

Mackey, 31, has been with the department since 1998, moving from station to station as needed. He was most recently stationed in the Chico area of Northern California, north of Sacramento, but said he would be fighting the fires in Southern California if he hadn't been laid off.

‘People don't understand’
"People don't understand that some fire departments are just summertime fire departments," he said. "We work from May to October or November. People ask, 'Why aren't you down there?' They hear on the news that they're shorthanded. I tell them I got laid off."

It's not the first time that a huge fire has happened after the firefighters are sent home. The Paradise Fire, which killed two people and destroyed 221 homes, was in October 2003. The Cedar Fire, which killed 14 people and destroyed more than 250 houses and commercial buildings, started the same month and burned into November.

"Every year, there's a possibility with the Santa Ana winds," Mackey said. "Some years they get lucky and there's only a few fires. The summer has preheated all this vegetation and there's drought, and then you get this spark and it's out of control."

Wife writes of frustration
Mackey’s wife, Laine, who sent an e-mail to msnbc.com on the layoffs, is beside herself over the situation.

"This happens every year," she said. "The Santa Ana winds help fuel huge fires that cause evacuations and millions in damage, all at the same time that the state cuts the budget and lays off thousands of firefighters, while Southern California is burning.

"We are struggling to find work and struggling to find a medical insurance company who will cover a recovering cancer patient like myself before our last 30 days is up. Yet now the state of California is in emergency and it's their own damn fault, as it is every year. Firefighters who could be helping fight the fires and providing for their own families at the same time."

© 2007 MSNBC Interactive





250 more eyes on crime

SIDE NOTE: This is not only going down in Philly, it's happening everywhere. One could maybe call it a gift AND a curse. Big Brother is watching, not that that's anything new, he's just letting you KNOW he's watching now.....and beware because he's listening and reading as well. Oh, but you knew that........right???

Surveillance cameras ordered

Seated at a console inside the Police Administration Building late last Tuesday, a police officer was panning his video-surveillance camera at Broad Street and Susquehanna Avenue when he saw three men approach a Temple student.

In the next moment, they surrounded and robbed the student. Just as quickly, the officer alerted police radio, and officers arrived within minutes to make arrests.

That camera is one of 18 installed as part of a pilot program last year that have been responsible for 60 arrests. Yesterday, Mayor Street announced an $8.9 million contract with Unisys that will add within a year 250 more wireless cameras across the city.

"Video-surveillance cameras are not a panacea," Street cautioned. But he said they're a "vital tool" in improving the safety of Philadelphians.

The first cameras under the new program will be installed at 52nd and Market streets, according to Deputy Police Commissioner Jack Gaittens. So far, Gaittens said, the department has about a thousand locations recommended for surveillance.

The initial focus for the cameras will be to deter violent crime in commercial areas of heavy pedestrian and vehicle traffic but also near schools, recreation centers and transportation hubs.

Street said the siting of cameras will be on the basis of a "data-driven" process. "It won't be done on the basis of who is friends with whom," he said.

City Council members Darrell Clarke and Donna Miller pushed the administration to develop the surveillance program. They visited other cities, including Baltimore and Chicago, to see how their video-surveillance systems work. Their initiative was supported by a May 2006 voter initiative.

Though the one-year contract with Unisys is for 250 cameras, Clarke said the city task force that studied the issue recommended installation of 1,000 cameras. He said he's prepared to introduce legislation to fund more cameras.

Gaittens said that a new control center is under construction at Police Headquarters. There will be 15 to 18 consoles where officers will be able to observe up to 32 camera locations.

Though police officers on limited or restricted duty are now manning the system, Gaittens said the city is designing a position to allow civilians to monitor cameras.

"We're going to have our camera monitors be in direct contact with police radio," he said. "Later, if we have the money, we may stream video directly into the . . . police cars."

Although the system is aimed at suppressing violent crime, Gaittens said there are many quality-of-life issues, from drinking and prostitution to traffic control that can be targeted with the new technology.

The system is based on wireless technology, linking the camera to a base-station tower that transmits to a data center where the tape will be stored and available for use by police investigators and prosecutors. Monitors will view the video in real time.

Although a camera can change behavior in a neighborhood, Street said, "You also need a careful plan of policing. If you are not careful, people will just go around the corner . . . so video cameras are not a stand-alone activity." *

TROOPS REPORT

Slideshow element
Photos: STEVEN M. FALK/Daily News
Reporting for duty in the city's struggle against bloodshed, volunteers await their first training session at W. Phila. High School.
Hundreds of eager black men received their marching orders at meetings in West Philadelphia and Germantown last night as the 10,000 Men: A Call to Action movement gained more steam.

The orientation meetings - the first of several that will be held across the city this week - gave volunteers a detailed picture of what they actually signed up for during the successful weekend kickoff campaign.

Organizers told the more than 300 black men who piled into an auditorium at West Philadelphia High School that they will learn the basics of their community peacekeeping efforts from the city's Town Watch Integrated Services.

"You'll be broken down by ZIP code so that you'll be working in your own neighborhood," explained Joe Certaine, an operations manager from the Millions More Movement who's volunteering his time with the 10,000 Men campaign.

Certaine said volunteers will be broken up into five groups of 10 men per ZIP code that will patrol three nights a week, from about 6:30 to 10.

Patrols are expected to begin within the next three months. The men were told they'd be contacted shortly to undergo more training.

Volunteers will start their patrols at city recreation centers and take notes while they walk, keeping an eye out for everything from corner drug dealers to abandoned properties and broken traffic lights.

They will report back their findings to an appointed squad leader and follow up with city agencies, Certaine said.

Organizers also reviewed a basic list of do's and dont's for the enthusiastic volunteers.

"We don't want confrontations," said Town Watch executive director Anthony Murphy. "You have no arresting power, and we don't want you fighting with anyone.

"We want you to use positive encouragement. This is a new day where we start by doing the simple things."

A number of top pols were at the West Philly meeting, including a beaming Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson, Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers and state Rep. Thomas Blackwell.

"We've got to be serious about this," Blackwell bellowed. "I don't want a dog-and-pony show."

Volunteers remained enthusiastic after the hour-and-a-half meeting came to a close.

"It was an inspiration to see so many black men come together," said Rashid Salahud-Din, 60. "Hopefully this interest will grow into something concrete."

Art Hammond, 53, and his son-in-law, Basheer Knight, talked excitedly about the healthy turnout.

"It shows people really care," said Knight, 20. "Me and my friends are all talking about it. We hope things will change."

Said Hammond: "It's a wonderful first step. We can see we have the support of the city, and that means a lot." *

Hillary catches Obama in fund-raising, leads in 30 states

Hillary Clinton's furious fund-raising in the presidential campaign propelled her to the top of the cash ledger in 30 states during the past three months.

Hillary Clinton's furious fund-raising in the presidential campaign propelled her to the top of the cash ledger in 30 states during the past three months.


WASHINGTON - Hillary Clinton didn't just beat Barack Obama in the last quarter of the campaign money race - she completely turned the tables on him, grabbing broader support in most states.

Clinton's furious fund-raising in the presidential campaign propelled her to the top of the cash ledger in 30 states during the past three months, slashing deeply into the state-by-state buck-raking lead Obama built earlier this year.

She did it by crushing Obama in 13 states where he'd jumped to big early leads, a Daily News analysis of fund-raising records shows.

"The early money that Obama got was the easier money. He did an incredible job, but it gets harder and harder," said GOP strategist Ed Rollins. "Now there's the sense that it's going to be Hillary, and her machine is so much more established. People are starting to say, 'I better get my money in.'"

Analysts are dubious that raising money predicts primary wins, but they say it bolsters Clinton's image as efficient and unstoppable and buttresses the argument she can win anywhere.

"The polls are driving the money. People sense she's the one," added Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf.

Clinton and Obama have each raised just shy of $80 million, but until recently Clinton's has come from a much narrower base, with more than half - $41 million - drawn from just New York, California and the Washington area.

Obama has pulled in $26.9 million from the same places, plus just over $9 million from his home state of Illinois - meaning more of his campaign cash came from around the nation.

Obama still has the overall fund-raising lead in most states, but in their state-by-state battle in the third quarter - when pundits say most voters begin focusing on the race - Clinton rode her rising poll ratings to take the top prize in 30 states.

Clinton expanded her donor pool during the summer into states that previously favored Obama - like Iowa, Colorado and Connecticut - to beat his third-quarter cash haul, $27.3 million to $20.6 million.

Other early Obama states that flipped to Clinton in the latest quarter include Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Carolina - states many experts would consider tough for Clinton to win in a general election, but where party faithful are apparently now more willing to put their money on her.

It's all good news for Clinton, but her success has also pasted a bull's-eye on her back. She's become a virtual piƱata for Republicans, who tee off on her daily, and the main focus for other Democrats, who are desperately trying to tear down her poll lead.

UPDATE 9-California wildfires force historic evacuation

NOTE: If you don't know anything about the "Wildlands Project" I'll be posting information about that here real soon. I know that these wildfires happen every year but something's just not right about what's going on THIS year with these fires. One might even be inclined to think that these fire were deliberately started in order to clear out an area for "NEW & SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT". So even if you believe that these fires are an act of The Almighty......how do you explain the fires in North Carolina??? No matter how you spin it there are no hot Santa Ana Winds there....never has been and there never will be.


(Recasts with evacuation as largest in state history, other details)

By Dana Ford

SAN DIEGO, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Fierce wildfires raged across Southern California on Tuesday, threatening more than 60,000 homes as night fell and forcing half a million people to flee in the state's largest evacuation.

California's worst fires in four years, driven by hot Santa Ana winds that have not relented for three days, tormented the San Diego area in the south and threatened mountain communities farther north.

Some 1,500 homes and other structures had been destroyed by the fires as of Tuesday evening and the 500,000 people evacuated in their path was the largest in the U.S. since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005.

"I'm worried for my baby, my house, my kids, everything." said Ana Ramirez, 30 and pregnant, who was taking shelter at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium along with her 4-year-old daughter.

Most of the destroyed homes were in the San Diego area, where four major wildfires burned unchecked and one person was killed on Sunday. Four other deaths were reported among the evacuees and more than three dozen people had been injured, including 18 firefighters.

Firefighters battled flames that shot more than 100 feet (30 meters) high, as they desperately tried to save homes in the fires' path.

As the firestorms raged past nightfall, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked President George W. Bush to upgrade California's wildfires to a "major disaster," which would trigger federal help. Continued...

UPDATE 1-U.S. Sept existing home sales hit record low pace

(Adds background, details, quote, market reaction)

WASHINGTON, Oct 24 (Reuters) - U.S. sales of previously owned homes fell 8.0 percent in September to a record low 5.04 million unit pace amid troubles in the subprime mortgage and credit markets, the National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday.

It was the lowest sales pace since the group began tracking both single-family and condo sales jointly in 1999.

Total existing home sales, which include condominiums, fell in September from a downwardly revised pace of 5.48 million in August. Economists polled by Reuters were expecting home sales to fall to a 5.25 million-unit sales pace.

"Home sales fell in September, but it was certainly due to the August credit crunch," said NAR economist Lawrence Yun.

U.S. Treasury debt prices extended gains slightly. For details see [ID:nN24472615]

The dollar slipped against the yen to session lows after the unexpectedly weak report. [ID:nNYH000578].

"The housing data ... tells us that we are not out of the woods yet. It increases the uncertainty regarding the U.S. economic outlook and reinforces the view the Fed may have to cut rates at its meeting next week," said Matthew Strauss, senior currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets in Toronto.

The slower pace of sales helped drive up the inventory of homes available for sale by 0.4 percent at the end of September to 4.40 million, which represents a 10.5-month supply at the current sales pace. That supply was the highest for both single-family and condos combined since 1999. Continued...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Thousands of black men to help patrol violent city

By Los Angeles Times and Reuters

Music mogul Kenny Gamble, left, and entertainment executive Charlie "Mack" Alston joined in Sunday's call to action.

PHILADELPHIA — A month after civic leaders and the police chief in this crime-plagued city called for 10,000 black men to patrol the streets, thousands arrived Sunday by foot, car, motorcycle, bus, in wheelchairs, with sons and nephews in tow.

"Sign up here!" a volunteer shouted to the long line of men circling Temple University's athletic center. "Be a part of history!"

With 6,000 already registered online, more than 7,000 men showed up Sunday. They wore suits, fraternity letters, job uniforms, T-shirts emblazoned with the face of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or Malcolm X or the words "Stop the Violence."

Many waited more than an hour in line to register, although they did not know much about how they would be trained or deployed to curb violence. But all agreed they wanted to end the killings and drug wars that have seized their neighborhoods.

More than 300 people have been killed here this year. Last year, there were 406 homicides, and most involved black males.

The homicide rate has defied repeated appeals by police and civic and community leaders, and has led national media to dub Philadelphia "Killadelphia" instead of its official nickname, the City of Brotherly Love.

"It's the first step," said Ronald Morris Sr., 50, a middle-school teacher who brought his 16-year-old son to the event. "I hope to try to awaken the spirit of these guys," said Morris, whose son has lost two friends to violence.

Volunteers, who will be unarmed and have no powers of arrest, will be trained in conflict resolution and mentoring.

At neighborhood orientations, they'll also learn how to direct residents to education, jobs and services such as drug treatment, the Baltimore Sun newspaper reported.

The sessions will begin Tuesday and take place throughout the next few weeks. Volunteers are expected to be sent into the streets on three-hour patrols within the next 30 days.

Backers, including Philadelphia Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson and record-industry boss Kenny Gamble, say the initiative has a better chance of succeeding than earlier anti-violence campaigns because it is broadly representative of the black community, rather than led by the city government or police, who are mistrusted in some inner-city areas.

It has been endorsed by more than 80 community groups, businesses, churches and government agencies, organizers said.

But others, including City Councilman Michael Nutter, are more measured in their endorsements: "I want to be careful about asking people to go into the streets," he recently told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The call to participate was directed at black men, but organizers said all were welcome. The majority of those who attended Sunday were black.

In a two-hour rally, black leaders urged men to take responsibility for their communities and their families, and to stop blaming others for a history of economic underachievement.

"Slavery, at this late time, is no longer an acceptable excuse," said A. Bruce Cawley, a prominent black businessman.

He said that in the 325 years blacks have lived in Philadelphia, they have been overtaken in prosperity by immigrant Irish, Jews, Italians and now Asians and Hispanics.

"And where are we? We are sitting on the sidelines," Cawley said.

Johnson, whose department has been criticized for failing to curb the homicide epidemic, said police cannot be blamed for its root causes, such as poverty, unemployment, poor education and weak gun control.

"Traditional policing is not working," he said.

Chandlan Crawford, 38, a forklift driver from southwest Philadelphia, said he had already volunteered to join a street patrol and was optimistic that the thousands who attended Sunday's rally would generate more support.

"The people that are here will take the message out there," he said.

ImageH. RUMPH JR / AP
A supporter displays a sign Sunday as thousands of black men registered as volunteers to combat Philadelphia's violence.

Digital scans reveal Mona Lisa secrets

Matthew Weaver and agencies
Monday October 22, 2007


Pascal Cotte with a replica of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa
Pascal Cotte with a replica of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. Photograph: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP


The Mona Lisa's famously enigmatic smile was originally wider and more expressive, according to new scans of the painting.

Pascal Cotte, a French engineer, used a self-designed digital camera to uncover what he claimed were 25 secrets about Leonardo's da Vinci's portrait.

Mr Cotte said his 240-megapixel scans revealed traces of Mona Lisa's left eyebrow, obliterated by long-ago restoration efforts.

"The face of the Mona Lisa appears slightly wider and the smile is different and the eyes are different. The smile is more accentuated," Mr Cotte told the Live Science website.

He was invited by the Louvre museum in Paris to photograph the painting in 2004. The results were revealed at an exhibition at the Metreon Centre in San Francisco.

Speaking at the opening, Mr Cotte said: "With just one photo you go deeper into the construction of the painting and understand that Leonardo was a genius."

As a boy growing up in Paris in the 1960s, Mr Cotte said, he spent hours staring at the Mona Lisa at the Louvre.

He later used his expertise in light and optics to develop a camera that would let him examine the object of his obsession.

Mr Cotte estimated he had spent 3,000 hours analysing the data from the scans he made of the painting three years ago.

Other findings included: · Da Vinci changed his mind about the position of two fingers on the Mona Lisa's left hand; · the presence of a blanket that had all but faded from view; · lace on her dress; · "blotches" on her chin and an eye were varnished marks.

Mr Cotte said his analysis also revealed what he believed were the painting's colours as they had looked on Da Vinci's easel.

Age, varnish and restorations have resulted in a painting that now appears saturated with heavy greens, yellows and browns.

Using his camera, made with 13 different colour filters rather than the typical three or four found in consumer-grade digital cameras, Mr Cotte created a reproduction of the Mona Lisa with the light blues and brilliant whites he said represented the painting in its original form.

"For the next generation, we guarantee that forever you will have the true colour of this painting," Mr Cotte said.

Though some art historians have expressed scepticism about Mr Cotte's findings, he said he hoped his technique could be used as a guide for future restoration work on ageing art treasures around the world.

Mr Cotte was not the first to subject the Mona Lisa to detailed scans. Last year, another project revealed that her hair was originally gathered in a bun and that she was wearing a maternity dress.

Bush Asks for $46 Billion More for Wars

Monday October 22, 2007

By ANDREW TAYLOR

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush asked Congress on Monday for another $46 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and finance other national security needs. ``We must provide our troops with the help and support they need to get the job done,'' Bush said.

The figure brings to $196.4 billion the total requested by the administration for operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere for the budget year that started Oct. 1. It includes $189.3 billion for the Defense Department, $6.9 billion for the State Department and $200 million for other agencies.

To date, Congress has already provided more than $455 billion for the Iraq war, with stepped-up military operations running about $10 billion a month. The war has claimed the lives of more than 3,830 members of the U.S. military and more than 73,000 Iraqi civilians.

Bush made his request in the Roosevelt Room after meeting in the Oval Office with leaders of veterans service organizations, a fallen Marine's family and military personnel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The White House originally asked for $141.7 billion for the Pentagon to prosecute the Iraq and Afghanistan missions and asked for $5.3 billion more in July. The latest request includes $42.3 billion more for the Pentagon - already revealed in summary last month - and is accompanied by a modified State Department request bringing that agency's total for the 2008 budget year to almost $7 billion.

Bush said any member of Congress who wants to see success in Iraq, and see U.S. troops return home, should strongly support the request.

``I know some in Congress are against the war and are seeking ways to demonstrate that opposition,'' Bush said. ``I recognize their position and they should make their views heard. But they ought to make sure our troops have what it takes to succeed. Our men and women on the front lines should not be caught the middle of partisan disagreements in Washington, D.C.''

Democrats were not swayed.

``We've been fighting for America's priorities while the president continues investing only in his failed war strategy - and wants us to come up with another $200 billion and just sign off on it?'' said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. ``President Bush should not expect Congress to rubber stamp his latest supplemental request. We're not going to do that.''

The State Department is requesting $550 million to combat drug trafficking in Mexico and Central America, $375 million for the West Bank and Gaza and $239 million for diplomatic costs in Iraq.

Top House lawmakers have already announced that they do not plan to act on Bush's request until next year, though they anticipate providing interim funds when completing a separate defense funding bill this fall. Bush asked lawmakers to approve the request before the holidays.

``We must provide our troops with the help and support they need to get the job done,'' Bush said. ``Parts of this war are complicated, but one part is not, and that is America should do what it takes to support our troops and protect our people.''

Congress already has approved more than $5 billion for new vehicles whose V-shaped undercarriages provide much better protection against mines and roadside bombs. It's likely that Congress will quickly grant $11 billion more to deliver more than 7,000 of the vehicles.

The delays in submitting the remaining war funding request were in part due to unease among congressional Republicans about receiving it during the veto override battle involving a popular bill reauthorizing a children's health insurance program.

The request also includes $724 million for U.N. peacekeeping efforts in the war-torn Darfur region in Sudan, $106 million in fuel oil or comparable assistance to North Korea as a reward for the rogue nation's promises to cease its efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Another $350 million would go to fight famine in Africa.

For the Pentagon, the latest request includes:

-$1 billion for military construction projects, including improvements at airfields and other U.S. bases in Iraq.

-$1 billion to expand the Iraqi security forces.

-$1 billion to train National Guard units.

All told, the $189.3 billion Pentagon request for 2008 includes:

-$77 billion for military operations and maintenance.

-$30.5 billion for to protect U.S. forces from roadside bombs, snipers, and other threats.

-$46.5 billion to repair and replace equipment that has been damaged or destroyed in combat or worn out in harsh conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

---

Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann contributed to this report in Washington.

Waxman: Blackwater Violated Tax Laws

Monday October 22, 2007 8:16 PM

By ANNE FLAHERTY

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Democratic chairman of a House watchdog committee said Monday that Blackwater USA violated tax laws and may have defrauded the government of millions of dollars, a charge the embattled security firm said is groundless.

Rep. Henry Waxman, who chairs the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, released a March letter from the Internal Revenue Service that states the company's classification of a security guard as an independent contractor, instead of company personnel, was ``without merit.''

Under U.S. law, companies must pay Social Security and other federal taxes on their employees. But unlike other security companies operating in Iraq, Blackwater says the guards it trains, equips and deploys to Iraq and elsewhere are independent contractors hired directly by the federal government.

``By classifying its armed guards and other personnel as independent contractors instead of employees, Blackwater has apparently evaded withholding and paying these taxes,'' Waxman, D-Calif., wrote in a letter to Blackwater chief Erik Prince.

Waxman's charge comes as the company is struggling to salvage its reputation after a string of security incidents involving its guards, including a September shooting that left 17 Iraqis dead.

U.S. and Iraqi officials are negotiating Baghdad's demand that Blackwater be expelled from the country within six months, and American diplomats appear to be working on how to fill the security gap if the company is phased out.

Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell said in an e-mail statement to The Associated Press that the company has appealed the IRS ruling and that no final determination has been made. Further, she said, the U.S. Small Business Administration has told the company that Blackwater security guards do not have to be classified as company employees.

``It is unfortunate that the chairman has relied upon a one-sided description of the issue to color public perception without all the facts being presented,'' Tyrrell said.

An IRS spokeswoman declined to comment on the case, as is custom to protect privacy.

Waxman has been investigating Blackwater's business dealings for several weeks, including whether the State Department unfairly awarded Blackwater a noncompetitive contract and if its guards took control of two Iraqi military aircraft without permission.

According to the House Democrat, the IRS' finding was the result of an inquiry filed by a Blackwater guard. The guard later agreed not to discuss the matter with anyone, including politicians or public officials, in exchange for receiving compensation owed to him by Blackwater, Waxman said.

The worker's nondisclosure agreement, also released by Waxman on Monday, is ``evidence that Blackwater has tried to conceal the IRS ruling and the evasion of taxes from Congress and law enforcement officials,'' he said.

The primary factor in determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor is the degree of control the business has over its worker. Incorrectly classifying a worker could mean steep penalties for the company, including a $25,000 penalty if the IRS determines an appeal is frivolous or groundless.

In its March letter to Blackwater, the IRS noted the company paid all of the guard's travel expenses and signed a written agreement detailing the type of work required.

``A worker who is required to comply with another person's instructions about when, where and how he or she is to work is ordinarily an employee,'' the IRS stated in the letter.

In testimony before Waxman's committee earlier this month, Prince said Blackwater was not trying to avoid legal responsibilities but rather wanted to give its guards more control of their schedule.

``We provide the trained person with the right equipment, the right training, the logistics to get them in and out of theater,'' Prince said. ``When they get to Iraq or they get to Afghanistan, they work for the State Department.''

Two other companies that provide similar services in Iraq and Afghanistan - DynCorp International and Triple Canopy - classify their workers as company employees.