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Vanishing acts and other news

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Retired Brig. Gen. Terryl Schwalier sued the Pentagon and the Air Force, which initially found that he should get the promotion, for acquiescing to a Pentagon decision to deny his request.

“[The Department of Defense] did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in making this decision, and the Air Force did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in accepting it,” U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled.

Schwalier reported to King Abdulaziz Airbase in Saudi Arabia in July 1995 to assume command of the 4404th Wing, which provided aircraft to enforce the no-fly zone then in effect over southern Iraq.

The Khobar Towers, a large high-rise apartment complex that many Wing personnel called home, was hit by a Hezbollah truck bomb in June 1996. The blast killed 19 airmen and injured hundreds. (Click HERE for article)

Private contractor’s wide-ranging role in Mexico border security detailed
Mark Lisheron – (Texas Watchdog) – March 16, 2012 – We’re coming to end of Sunshine Week and someone forgot to tell the Texas Department of Public Safety they were invited to join in the festivities.

Accepting the invitation would have undoubtedly spoiled the excitement of secretly developing a plan for border security with a private firm led by a former U.S. Army general and billing taxpayers more than $19 million for it.

This according to a lengthy story by the Austin American-Statesman and an equally detailed story from earlier this week on AlterNet. (Thanks to Grits for Breakfast for bringing the AlterNet story to our attention and for calling for more accountability journalism in Texas.)

Not unlike the Patriot Act and double secret probation, smuggling Abrams Learning and Information Systems Inc. into the state from Virginia, handing them contracts that no one bid on and keeping the details of the deal hush-hush at DPS’ public meetings was done for our own protection.

People can get badly injured or killed knowing what their state government is doing. The Statesman was apparently willing to take that risk by revealing the DPS plan through documents the paper got through the Texas Public Information Act.

According to the documents, the department’s Division of Emergency Management used a little known codicil in the Faber College constitution, no, no, I mean the state’s policy allowing for all sorts of questionable conduct in the event of an emergency. (Click HERE for article)

5 Top 100 contractors make Dirty 30 list
Alysha Sideman -  (Washinton Technology) – January 20, 2012 – Five Washington Technology Top 100 contractors have been singled out for paying more for lobbying Congress than on their federal income taxes, according to a new report.

Computer Science Corp., Verizon Communications, Boeing Co., General Electric Co. and Honeywell International Inc. are all included in U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s “Dirty Thirty” list that call outs Fortune 500 companies that “spend big on lobbying and avoid taxes,” the group said.

All five companies were included on Washington Technology’s 2011 Top 100 Contractor list, and three of the contractors made the top 20.

The report says companies can use loopholes and special provisions in the tax code to pay less. The report looks at the years 2008 to 2010 and found 29 corporations received a net tax rebate during the 3-year study period. (Click HERE for article)

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