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Government in Action



The Los Angeles Police Department announced in April that it had investigated 320 complaints against its officers last year for alleged "racial profiling" and found that not a single one was valid. The Los Angeles Times reported that that was at least the sixth consecutive year that LAPD reported a perfect record on racial profiling.

WWL-TV reported in April that at least one east New Orleans floodwall, built immediately after Hurricane Katrina, had been temporarily stuffed with newspaper to create seals, but that in the two years since had not been upgraded. Among the stuffing that had not decayed or been eaten by bugs was an issue of Parade magazine of May 21, 2006. A contractor of the Army Corps of Engineers told a resident at the time that the newspaper seals were used only until money from Washington arrived to finish the job. Two weeks after WWL-TV's report, the corps repaired the seals properly, but a spokesman insisted that the newspaper stuffing "ha(d) no effect from a structural or safety factor."

The Government Accountability Office revealed in April that more than 60,000 of the federal government's contractors owe a total of about $7.7 billion in unpaid federal taxes, and that health care providers who take Medicare payments owe an additional $1 billion in late taxes. One unnamed company owes $10 million in back taxes, yet the Pentagon did $1 million worth of business with it. (One activist on tax issues pointed out that firms might find it easy to win low-bid contracts if they don't have the tax expense that their competitors have.)

The British government compensates soldiers the equivalent of about $115,000 if they lose a leg in battle. In March, though, the Defense Ministry paid out the equivalent of about $400,000 in disability to a civil servant who had injured his back while lifting a printer, and in May the ministry paid out the equivalent of about $500,000 to an army paratrooper to settle a claim of "humiliating and demeaning" treatment. The soldier had undergone sex-change surgery, converting from "Ian" into "Jan," yet was ordered by the army to report for a physical exam dressed as Ian.

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