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GSA Leads U.S. Collaboration With Other Countries on IT and Other Services
WASHINGTON, June 21 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) today announced its participation in bilateral discussions with its Canadian counterpart agency Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) to be held on June 23 in Ottawa, Canada. Topics to be discussed during the 2006 meeting include public buildings operations, acquisition management, e-government and e-infrastructure, human capital and customer service, among others. This meeting marks the third time officials from these two government agencies have met.

Cases of government land grabs on upswing
In the year since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the government's right to take property for private redevelopment, the number of properties eyed for government grabs has nearly tripled nationally, according to a group of reports released Tuesday.
New Jersey, one of 20 states that had legislative sessions but no eminent domain reform, ranked fourth on the list with 611 properties threatened by condemnation since the June 2005 Supreme Court ruling, known as the Kelo decision.
Nationally, 5,783 properties have been targeted for private redevelopment this year, reports the Institute for Justice, which found there had been an average of 2,056 per year from 1998 to 2002.

World Urban Forum Opens in Vancouver
THE third World Urban Forum (WUF3) has opened in the Canadian city of Vancouver with a call on government leaders mostly from developing countries to make their cities sustainable for both the poor and rich.
While opening the five-day event on Monday, the Under Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN-Habitat, Ms Anna Tibaijuka, said cities in both developed and developing countries are becoming less sustainable because of lack of political will.

Secrecy Mustn't Crush Rule of Law
Are there any legal limits to what the executive branch can do in the name of national security, or is it anything goes?
In separate federal lawsuits challenging the warrantless surveillance of American citizens, the Bush administration argues that courts must dismiss cases claiming that the National Security Agency has broken the law because those claims implicate "state secrets."

Crashing the Wiretapper's Ball
CRYSTAL CITY, Virginia -- The dingy hotel corridor was populated with suits, milling about and radiating airs of defensive hostility. They moved in close-knit groups, rounding a stranger or a rival group conspicuously, the way cats do. They spoke in whispers. They glanced nervously over their shoulders as they took calls on their cell phones, then darted swiftly into alcoves.
They were government officials, telephone company honchos, military officers, three-letter-agency spooks and cops, all brought together by salesmen dealing in the modern equipment of surveillance. It was my job to learn what they were up to.

Publisher's death was an apparent suicide
BALTIMORE (AP) -- Publisher and former diplomat Philip Merrill, whose body was recovered from Chesapeake Bay after he disappeared while sailing alone, apparently committed suicide, his family said Tuesday.

The golden revolving door
It has been just over four years since the Department of Homeland Security was created, and it has hardly covered itself with glory. Hurricane Katrina was a disaster of a disaster; ports are still far from secure, and chemical plants remain a huge target of opportunity for terrorists. But there's one area in which Homeland Security has excelled beyond anyone's wildest expectations: creating a giant, expensive crop of government-trained consultants and lobbyists. As The New York Times and the IHT reported this week, at least 90 top Homeland Security officials have gone through that famous revolving door between the government and the lobbying industry. That's more than two-thirds of the most senior executives from the department's infancy. It is hard to believe that the people running an agency that performs so badly could be so much in demand.

Sweden Defends Crackdown on File-Sharing
The Swedish government on Wednesday came under pressure from media and opposition parties to explain reports that a crackdown on Internet file-sharing was prompted by U.S. demands.

Human Genome Gets U.S. Contract: Government to Purchase 20,000 Anthrax-Drug Doses
Human Genome Sciences announced yesterday its first major contract with the U.S. government for an experimental anthrax drug, more than four years after the bacterial infection terrorized the country. But Wall Street's initial reaction was tepid.
The federal government plans to purchase 20,000 doses of the Rockville biotech's treatment for $165.2 million, with delivery and 90 percent of the payment expected in 2008. When complete, the deal will give the 14-year-old company its first-ever product sales revenue.

Ontario opens up regulation to debate, but refuses to change
After being rebuked by the province's environmental watchdog, the Ontario Liberals have agreed to allow the public to comment on a controversial regulation exempting the government's nuclear plan from environmental review.
Provincial Environment Minister Laurel Broten made the partial about-face Tuesday when she agreed to 30-day review period for the regulation.
But Broten said the government will not rescind the regulation.

No bidding war for U.S. spy agency
The Canadian government has awarded more than $42 million worth of untendered contracts over the past three years to the National Security Agency, a U.S. spy organization that specializes in secure communications and eavesdropping on foreign powers, the CanWest News Service has learned.
Moreover, the value of the government's purchases from the NSA has been steadily growing. The Canadian government made only $3.5 million worth of purchases in 2003, but that amount increased to $9.6 million in 2004 and $9.9 million in 2005.
In the first six months of this year alone, that amount has more than doubled, to $19 million, and several departments that had not done business with the NSA during the three years studied made purchases from the U.S. government agency.

Group offers net regulation compromise
Despite the divisiveness in Congress and the tech world over whether the government should regulate the Internet, a compromise that satisfies everyone is possible, according to a report released Tuesday by a non-profit public policy group.
The Center for Democracy and Technology says laws should be enacted that maintain the Internet's inherent openness while allowing phone and cable companies, which essentially own the Internet's traffic lanes, to charge extra for private, super-fast lanes for data traffic. The government shouldn't interfere with those private services, the CDT argues, unless they interfere with regular Internet traffic.

McKenna says state workers can opt out of union dues on religious basis
State government workers can opt out of union membership because of their personal religious beliefs, even if they don't belong to an organized faith, Attorney General Rob McKenna has ruled.
In a ruling released Tuesday, McKenna also said workers who pay union dues and other fees can send in the money instead of using an automatic paycheck deduction.

Gov't gets $1M for power sector reform, Napocor sale
THE government and the World Bank signed Wednesday a $1-million grant to support power sector reform and the privatization of National Power Corp. (Napocor).

Gates Allowed to Skip NJ Casino Probe
New Jersey casino regulators exempted Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates and Chief Executive Steve Ballmer from filing disclosure forms because they already have top-secret clearance from the U.S. Defense Department.

Atikokan coal-fired plant gets reprieve
The provincial government has reversed its decision to close all coal-fired electricity plants in Ontario, meaning the Atikokan generating station will continue operating for now. “It’s great news. It’s very uplifting for the community,” said Mayor Dennis Brown. “The future is looking much better for Atikokan.”

The Organization of Labor-intensive Exporting Countries
A four part series from the Asia Times.

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