(WASHINGTON TIMES) The Environmental Protection Agency has quietly floated a rule claiming authority to bypass the courts and unilaterally garnish paychecks of those accused of violating its rules, a power currently used by agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service.
The EPA has been flexing its regulatory muscle under President Obama, collecting more fines each year and hitting individuals with costly penalties for violating environmental rules, including recently slapping a $75,000 fine on Wyoming homeowner Andy Johnson for building a pond on his rural property.
“The EPA has a history of overreaching its authority. It seems like once again the EPA is trying to take power it doesn’t have away from American citizens,” Sen. John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican, said when he learned of the EPA’s wage garnishment scheme.
Others questioned why the EPA decided to strengthen its collection muscle at this time.
Critics said the threat of garnishing wages would be a powerful incentive for people to agree to expensive settlements rather than fight EPA charges.
EPA officials did not respond to repeated questions by The Washington Times about why they thought it was necessary to garnish people’s wages.
The EPA announced the plan last week in a notice in the Federal Register, saying federal law allows it “to garnish non-Federal wages to collect delinquent non-tax debts owed the United States without first obtaining a court order.”
The agency cited authority under the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 that centralized federal collection operations under the Treasury Department, which oversees garnishments of wages or tax refund checks.
Under the law, every federal agency has the authority to conduct administrative wage garnishment, provided the agency adopts approved rules for conducting hearings where debtors can challenge the amount of debt or terms of repayment schedule, a Treasury official said.
Still, the rule would give the EPA sweeping authority to dictate how and whether Americans could dispute fines and penalties, even as the amount of EPA fines collected from individuals, businesses and local governments steadily increase.
Putting the collection powers on a fast track, the agency announced it in the Federal Register as a “direct final rule” that would take effect automatically Sept. 2, unless the EPA receives adverse public comments by Aug. 1.
The EPA said it deemed the action as not a “significant regulatory action” and therefore not subject to review.
The negative reactions began almost immediately.
In a comment letter submitted to the EPA, the conservative Heritage Foundation faulted the rule for giving the government “unbridled discretion” in controlling the process for challenging fines and wage garnishment, such as dictating the site of a hearing without consideration of the time and travel expense placed on the accused debtor.
The rule allows the EPA to decide whether a debtor gets a chance to present a defense and then picks whomever it chooses to serve as a hearing officer, even someone not trained as an administrative law judge, wrote David S. Addington, group vice president for research at The Heritage Foundation.
It also puts the burden of proof on the debtor, not the EPA, he said.
The EPA has been on the front lines of the battle over Mr. Obama’s climate change agenda, including issuing proposed rules that would require coal-fired power plants to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent over 15 years.
Critics say it will cause massive increases in the cost of electricity, lead to power shortages and eliminate jobs, while making scant impact on the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted worldwide.
The agency has been a magnet for criticism over new rules on things such as wood-burning stoves and small streams or ponds on private land, including waterways on farms and golf courses.
(FEDERALJACK) Reportedly in connection with intelligence indicating al-Qaeda has developed new harder to detect bombs, the Transportation Security Agency will now require passengers coming from certain overseas airports to power up cellphones and other electronic devices in front of security agents. The failure of a device to boot can potentially indicate the presence of a bomb and may result in confiscation, according to the TSA. Seizure of personal items has been a growing issue, and recently made its way back into the headlines when the agency impounded a part of the bass belonging to Grammy winner Christian McBride.
June 15, 2014
10 Columbus Circle
New York, New York 10019
Dear Mr. Cooper,
Seventeen months have passed since you featured me on your AC 360° program on consecutive evenings to call attention to my commentary and analysis of the December 14, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. As you may recall, in the prelude to those January 11th and 14th 2013 broadcasts you sent a production crew to my place of employment that proceeded to pursue staff and administrators on my whereabouts.
Your staff then repeatedly telephoned my residence, later filming in front of my home and disclosing my address to a national audience without my knowledge or consent. This behavior jeopardized my family’s safety and peace of mind, and included a flurry of threatening and abusive communications directed at me. Further, some observers presumed that CNN and other national news media sought to create sufficient controversy that would lead to the termination of my employment. On the other hand, I understand how you may have perceived this as an act of due journalistic diligence rather than coercion.
Further, if at the time ample proof existed that the Sandy Hook massacre was genuine I think you may have been at least partially justified in such activity. Yet in the time since little evidence has emerged to uphold the notion that the event took place as it had been reported by CNN and other news outlets. In fact, the opinion of many independent experts and a wealth of data point to highly questionable elements of the Sandy Hook narrative that require rigorous interrogation through the intrepid investigative reportage of journalists such as you.
Anderson (if I may), that’s why I challenge you to join me on a reportorial quest to Newtown and Sandy Hook in order to revisit and rigorously question the painful affair that still rests so uneasily on the public conscience—one that is called up in memory with each report of another school shooting. Together let us ferret out and present the relevant information, interview the necessary parties, and get to the bottom of what transpired so that we can put the conspiracy theories to rest!
Anderson (again, if I may), this could very well be a landmark event in investigative journalism. If after a thorough investigation we prove that the event in fact took place as CNN and other major media reported, I will concede that you were in fact correct and seriously consider resigning my post in academe.
On the other hand, if we find holes in the official narrative this may in fact be a scandal requiring journalistic performance on par with the paragon set by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein over 40 years ago. It will call for—indeed require—the public service of news professionals like you to find out what really happened and bring the culprits to justice! Anderson, at the end of the day it’s just like you say each evening: we truly need to “keep them honest.”
Yet there are some who say that CNN and, I’m sorry to say, even you may have been in on what they call a “hoax.” These suspicious minds say that some of your reportage from Newtown in the wake of the shooting was “greenscreened.” Others point to the time you spent in the Central Intelligence Agency and subsequent involvement in student and activist groups of several foreign countries. Still others bring up CNN’s sometime questionable coverage of major historical events, such as the Persian Gulf and Iraq Wars.
I say “Hooey!” There are many fine young men from extraordinary wealth and privilege yet limited experience or career prospects who serve in our national intelligence services. These include the nation’s 41st president, George H. W. Bush, in addition to littérateurs such as Cord Meyer. In fact, for over fifty years some of our nation’s finest journalists and political leaders have either served overtly with or maintained ties to the intelligence community. Anderson, both you and I know that serving your country is nothing to be ashamed of.
I think you’ll agree that it’s time to put these Sandy Hook “truthers” to rest for good, thereby allowing the Sandy Hook victims’ families to find comfort in the millions of dollars in donations they have received from sincere and goodhearted Americans.
Anderson, let’s reexamine Sandy Hook together to confirm our own professional integrity, while at the same time striking a potential blow at corruption and deceit. Our conscience requires it. Our nation demands it. Won’t you join me?
James F. Tracy
SENT USPS CERTIFIED MAIL 7013 2250 0002 2334 3915
(FEDERALJACK) Agriculture industry trade groups are defending themselves in courts across the country from journalists and activists who believe their First Amendment rights are being violated. Animal rights activists, environmentalists and journalists who make secret video recordings to expose cases of animal cruelty on farms face the possibility of criminal prosecution due to restrictive laws passed with the support of big agriculture.
(William Norman Grigg) Jerad and Amanda Miller, who were banished from Bunkerville by supporters of Cliven Bundy, had worked as informants for Nevada law enforcement agencies. After the Millers murdered three people — Las Vegas Metro Officers Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo, and Joseph Wilcox, an armed citizen who heroically tried to stop their rampage — their former handlers claimed that they were unaware of the couple’s “anti-police sentiments.” That claim is difficult to credit, given that Jerad Miller had a lengthy criminal record, and the fact that the couple had made itself very prominent in protests associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Jerad Miller, who was mired in the probation system because of narcotics convictions, was precisely the kind of person whose vulnerabilities make him valuable as an informant and provocateur.
The Millers were among many hundreds of people who traveled to Bunkerville, Nevada to support rancher Cliven Bundy in his confrontation with the BLM. They may well have been the only volunteers who were asked to leave because of concerns regarding what was described as their “aggressive nature and volatility.” During their brief visit, however, Jerad was interviewed by the local NBC affiliate, which meant that he was depicted as representative of the people who had rallied to the Bundy family’s cause.
Predictably, following the couple’s subsequent killing spree critics of Cliven Bundy claimed that the rancher, his supporters, and the entire “insurrectionist right” shared collective responsibility for that crime. Honest people who aren’t imprisoned in collectivist ideology would recognize that rather than being radicalized by so-called anti-government extremists, Jerad Miller is more properly seen as a living example of “blowback” in the government’s war on drugs.
(FEDERALJACK) In this stunning but little-known speech from 2007, Gen. Wesley Clark claims America underwent a “policy coup” at the time of the 9/11 attacks. In this video, he reveals that, right after 9/11, he was privy to information contained in a classified memo: US plans to attack and remove governments in seven countries over five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.
LEARN MORE: http://www.federaljack.com/war
(QUAD CITY TIMES) An Iowa cancer patient awaiting trial on marijuana charges whispered a question to his attorney during a Friday status hearing in Scott County District Court.
“What if I die before the trial?” Benton Mackenzie asked.
The 47-year-old is one of six defendants whose charges stem from a Scott County Sheriff’s search last summer that seized 71 marijuana plants.
Mackenzie, who shared his story with the Quad-City Times in September, says he grew the marijuana for cannabis oil to treat his terminal cancer. He said that since deputies confiscated his plants, his health has worsened to the point his family has put him on hospice watch.
He doesn’t think he’ll live long enough to make it to trial, which on Friday was set for June 2, almost a year after the search.
Initially, the trial was set for last October. Then it was postponed to December, then March, and now June 2.
“At this time schedule, they’re trying to kill me,” Mackenzie said after Friday’s hearing.
During the hearing, Scott County District Judge Henry Latham attributed the delays to the defense as Latham and lawyers laid out a calendar of future court dates.
Scott County Attorney Mike Walton said he isn’t dropping the case.
“I haven’t been given any legal reason why charges should be dismissed,” Walton said.
In answer to Mackenzie’s question about what happens to the case if he dies, Walton said the case against the other defendants would go on.
Iowa law doesn’t allow medical marijuana. Mackenzie had an opinion about the bill that failed in the Iowa Legislature earlier this week.
“There are still chariot wheels at the bottom of the Red Sea,” he said.
(John Vibes) Eileen DiNino, a 55 year old mother of 7 was sent to prison because she couldn’t afford to pay for her children’s truancy fines. Tragically, after serving half of her two day prison sentence, she was found dead in her cell.
District Judge Dean R. Patton of Reading, Pennsylvania sentenced Ms. DiNino to two days in prison to erase roughly $2,000 in fines.
Patton sent the woman away to prison against his better judgement, but as with most government jobs, Patton is required to ignore his own conscience to abide by federal and state laws.
Her cause of death has yet to be determined, but police say that it is “not suspicious.“