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Washington Calling

Pentagon pink slips ... e-mail alert ... secrecy eased
Scripps Howard News Service


June 04, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Since lawmakers left Washington for a Memorial Day vacation without resolving an impasse over pork-barrel spending stuffed into an emergency spending package for the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, the Army says it has no choice but to begin pinching pennies and preparing pink slips.

With the Pentagon spending $10 billion a month on the global war on terrorism, Army Vice Chief of Staff Richard Cody warns that the service will run out of cash next month, and has ordered subordinates to immediately freeze all new hiring of civilians.

If there is no speedy resolution to the congressional impasse, Cody says pink slips will be handed out to temporary employees June 15, and by July 1, the military will have to suspend contracts, hold up promotions, ban further spending with government-issued spending cards, and release contract employees who now are responsible for maintaining base security and running military restaurants.


Employees take note: more employers today are reading your e-mail than before.

A survey of 300 large companies by Proofpoint and Forrester Research found 38 percent have hired staff to read e-mail, and nearly a third have fired employees for improper e-mail use.

One reason employers are concerned about what their e-mail messages contain - an estimated 1 of 5 e-mail messages contains insider information that entangles businesses in costly legal disputes. Many companies said they have been forced by court cases or regulatory authorities to turn over their e-mail records in the last year.


More than a third of the 774,000 illegal immigrants caught over the last three years have been released because the Department of Homeland Security has run out of beds to house them and personnel to watch over them, the agency's inspector general says.

The inspector general says that while the apprehension of illegal immigrants increased 19 percent over the last three years, the process of freeing apprehended immigrants is encouraging more illegal immigration since immigrants know they can work in the United States until their immigration status is adjudicated through the courts. More than 62 percent of those apprehended and released eventually receive final orders of removal, but the whereabouts of most of them is unknown.


Topping the list of must-pass legislation GOP leaders want: more tax cuts.

After President Bush signed into law a $70 billion capital gains and dividend tax cut last month, Congress is putting together another $23 billion package that includes extending popular tax write-offs for state and local taxes, plus research and development tax credits and other business tax breaks that expired Jan. 1.


In spite of skyrocketing prices for gasoline, retailers are expecting a modest increase in spending on Father's Day this June 18.

Market researcher BIGresearch anticipates that $9 billion will be spent on this Father's Day, compared to $8.2 billion last year, with the average consumer spending $88.80. The average consumer spent $122.16 on Mom for Mother's Day last month.

No surprise, but ties remain popular, along with golf clubs and barbecue sets - but about 27 percent of consumers said they plan to give the old man a gift certificate so he can buy what he wants. More than two-thirds of dutiful children plan to buy Pop a card.


The number of secrecy orders declined 9 percent last year, according to the official annual survey of government classification activities.

William Leonard, director of the Information Security Oversight Office that monitors government classification efforts, said it appears the administration is using secrecy stamps more cautiously now than in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, when secrecy alarms proliferated.

Nevertheless, Leonard's annual survey concludes that more than 14 million documents were classified last year. Under a one-time automatic procedure, the National Archives is preparing by December to unwrap the secrecy cloak covering 155 million pages of documents more than 25 years old - including many stretching back to World War II.



Contact Lance Gay at GayL(at)
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