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Couple Holed Up in House Over Tax Dispute
Pair Claims There Is No Law Requiring Them to Pay
By RUSSELL GOLDMAN
Calling the federal agents surrounding his fortified compound "guns
for hire," a New Hampshire man convicted of tax evasion vowed today
that he and his wife would fight U.S. marshals to the death if they
tried to capture them.
"Do not under any circumstances make any attempt on this land. We
will not accept any tomfoolery by any criminal element, be it
federal, state or local," said Ed Brown in a press conference from
the stoop of his concrete-clad home in Plainfield, N.H. "We either
walk out of here free or we die."
Brown and his wife, Elaine, were sentenced in absentia in April to
serve 63 months in prison for failing to pay more than $1 million in
The couple, however, insists that there is no law that requires
citizens to pay income tax.
"There is no law. We looked and looked," Brown told the press.
Brown and his supporters, including Randy Weaver, leader of the 1992
standoff with ATF agents at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, told the press that
the government has unlawfully tricked people into believing they
have to pay income tax, knowing full well that such a law would be
"We will defend it to the death. This is 1776 all over again. You
cannot tax someone's labor because that is slavery," Brown said.
Carrying a pistol in his waistband, Brown also insisted that he
could not receive a fair trial in a federal court because "the court
system falls under freemasonry."
"There [are] no longer any lawful courts. The Freemasons have taken
over our nation. [Freemasons want] to take over our nation and all
nations on the planet," Brown said.
Weaver, whose son was killed by federal agents and who later
received a $100,000 settlement from the government, said he was
there to support the Browns.
"I'd rather die on my feet right here than die on my knees under
this de facto government," he said. "Bring it on."
Despite months of surveillance and reports of agents hiding in the
woods of the couple's 110-acre compound, U.S. marshals said this
morning that the Brown's Plainfield, N.H., home was not surrounded
by their officers.
U.S. Marshal Stephen Monier made an effort to starkly contrast the
actions of the Marshals with those of the ATF agents who besieged
Ruby Ridge in 1992. In addition to Weaver's son, one federal agent
was killed in that incident.
"There is no standoff and the house is not surrounded." Monier told
ABC News.com. "We have no intention of assaulting the house or
engaging in a violent confrontation."
In April, Ed and Elaine Brown were sentenced in absentia to 63
months in prison for failing to pay more than $1 million in taxes.
Since failing to appear in court the couple has remained within the
concrete-fortified walls of their rural New Hampshire home.
Monier said the Marshals have been communicating with the couple in
an effort to get them to turn themselves over the federal
authorities without having to resort to the use of force.
"We know they have weapons and we do not want to see this escalate,"
Last week agents cut off the home's telephone, Internet and power
access. Monier said the couple most likely had generators --
possibly solar or wind powered -- but that eventually the Browns
would become uncomfortable enough in their isolation that they would
be forced to surrender.
"They probably have generators but those will soon need fuel and
need people to fix them. We want to continue to encourage them, and
make it uncomfortable enough for them that they'll give up."
Brown said he and his wife had enough supplies to wait out the
government no matter how long it lasted. He said the couple did not
use air conditioning and could chop down trees from firewood.
Last week, Danny Riley a friend of the Browns was arrested near
their home by federal agents while walking the couple's dog.
The Marshals claim they were engaged in routine surveillance of the
property, but the Browns believe Riley thwarted a potential raid.
Keep Access to the Internet Tax-Free!
The good news is that national lawmakers have successfully protected
Internet access from getting burdened by federal taxes, helping to
ensure that all Americans have easier access to this incredible
resource. The bad news is that the laws that keep Internet access
tax-free are set to expire in November, 2007.
Legislation has been introduced in Congress to keep taxes off
Internet access. The 'Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act of 2007'
H.R.743 and S.156 is overwhelmingly bi-partisan legislation that
would keep taxes off Internet access for good, as well as prevent
multiple and discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce. Support
the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act of 2007 legislation that
will keep taxes OFF Internet access and prevent multiple and
discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce -- today!
Since 1998, Congress has ensured that Internet access and Internet
commerce are not subject to multiple state or local taxes. Congress
should protect American consumers, and achieve the bi-partisan goal
of ensuring affordable Internet access and commerce benefits to all
Americans. Passage of the 'Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act of
2007' would prevent taxes that limit consumer choice, delay
innovation, and often require consumers to pay more for service.
You Can Make A Difference Today: Urge your elected officials to
support `The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act of 2007' today!
NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg leaves GOP
By SARA KUGLER, Associated Press Writer
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg left the Republican Party on
Tuesday and switched to unaffiliated, a move certain to be seen as a
prelude to an independent presidential bid that would upend the 2008
The billionaire former CEO, who was a lifelong Democrat before he
switched to the Republican Party in 2001 for his first mayoral run,
said the change in his voter registration does not mean he is
running for president.
"Although my plans for the future haven't changed, I believe this
brings my affiliation into alignment with how I have led and will
continue to lead our city," Bloomberg said.
With an estimated worth of more than $5 billion, he easily could
finance an independent presidential bid.
The 65-year-old mayor has increasingly been the subject of
speculation that he will run as an independent in 2008, despite his
repeated promises to leave politics after the end of his term in
2009. He has fueled the buzz with increasing out-of-state travel, a
greater focus on national issues and repeated criticism of the
partisan politics that dominate Washington.
"The politics of partisanship and the resulting inaction and excuses
have paralyzed decision-making, primarily at the federal level, and
the big issues of the day are not being addressed, leaving our
future in jeopardy," he said in a speech Monday at the start of a
University of Southern California conference about the advantages of
Throughout his 5 1/2 years as mayor, Bloomberg has often been at
odds with his party and President Bush. He supports gay marriage,
abortion rights, gun control and stem cell research, and raised
property taxes to help solve a fiscal crisis after the Sept. 11
But he never seemed willing to part with the GOP completely, raising
money for the 2004 presidential convention and contributing to Bush
and other Republican candidates.
Just last year, he told a group of Manhattan Republicans about his
run for mayor: "I couldn't be prouder to run on the Republican
ticket and be a Republican."
Clinton spoofs Sopranos in Web video
By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press Writer
Tue Jun 19, 2007
The scene: A diner and a jukebox. A nostalgic song. A cut to black.
It worked as a finale for "The Sopranos." It now marks a new
beginning for "The Clintons." Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential
campaign on Tuesday unveiled its new campaign song with a Web video
that spoofs the final scene of the popular HBO mobster series.
The video and the announcement of Celine Dion's "You and I" as the
official Clinton tune cap a monthlong, interactive Internet campaign
that drew more than a million viewers to the Clinton campaign Web
site and to YouTube, the popular online video display room.
The selection of Dion, who was born in Canada, resulted in some
smirking accusations from Republicans that Clinton had "outsourced"
her music. In fact, Dion's "You and I" has done a turn as a theme
song already for Air Canada in 2004.
But the song campaign and the video also illustrates the growing
effort by some of the more technologically savvy campaigns to
connect with voters and potential donors in clever, relatively
inexpensive formats that are infused with pop culture references,
contemporary themes or intimate moments.
Just this week, the campaign of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt
Romney, a Republican, posted a video featuring Romney's wife, Ann,
narrating scenes of Christmas vacation last year when the family
reached the decision to pursue the White House.
In the new Clinton clip, Hillary Clinton, like Tony Soprano, spins
through the musical selections in a diner in Mount Kisco, N.Y., near
her home in Chappaqua, as her husband, former President Clinton,
quizzes her about the campaign and the song contest winner.
The Soprano touches are subtle but perfectly obvious to any fan of
The music that plays through the video is not Dion's but
Journey's "Don't Stop Believin,'" the same song that Tony Soprano
chooses from the jukebox in the show's final scene. At one point,
actor Vince Curatola, who played New York mob boss Johnny "Sack"
Sacramoni in the series, walks menacingly by the Clintons' table.
Tony Soprano ordered onion rings. Hillary orders carrots for
Bill. "No onion rings?" the former president asks forlornly.
"Where's Chelsea?" Sen. Clinton asks. Outside a car tire hits the
curb. "Parallel parking," President Clinton replies.
"How's the campaign going?" he asks.
"Well, like you always say, focus on the good times."
"So what's the winning song," he presses.
"My money is on Smash Mouth," he says. "Everybody in America wants
to know how it's going to end."
"Ready?" Hillary asks.
The scene cuts to black.
But, no, unlike the Sopranos, it's not over. You can click to hear
Dion's song. A new page pops up. The most prominent word stands out
against a red background:
On the Net:
New age town in U.S. embraces dollar alternative
By Scott Malone
Tue Jun 19, 2007
A walk down Main Street in this New England town calls to mind the
pictures of Norman Rockwell, who lived nearby and chronicled small-
town American life in the mid-20th Century.
So it is fitting that the artist's face adorns the 50 BerkShares
note, one of five denominations in a currency adopted by towns in
western Massachusetts to support locally owned businesses over
"I just love the feel of using a local currency," said Trice
Atchison, 43, a teacher who used BerkShares to buy a snack at a cafe
in Great Barrington, a town of about 7,400 people. "It keeps the
profit within the community."
There are about 844,000 BerkShares in circulation, worth $759,600 at
the fixed exchange rate of 1 BerkShare to 90 U.S. cents, according
to program organizers. The paper scrip is available in denominations
of one, five, 10, 20 and 50.
In their 10 months of circulation, they've become a regular feature
of the local economy. Businesses that accept BerkShares treat them
interchangeably with dollars: a $1 cup of coffee sells for 1
BerkShare, a 10 percent discount for people paying in BerkShares.
Named for the local Berkshire Hills, BerkShares are accepted in
about 280 cafes, coffee shops, grocery stores and other businesses
in Great Barrington and neighboring towns, including Stockbridge,
the town where Rockwell lived for a quarter century.
"BerkShares are cash, and so people have transferred their cash
habits to BerkShares," said Susan Witt, executive director of the
E.F. Schumacher Society, a nonprofit group that set up the
program. "They might have 50 in their pocket, but not 150. They're
buying their lunch, their coffee, a small birthday present."
Great Barrington attracts weekend residents and tourists from the
New York area who help to support its wealth of organic farms, yoga
studios, cafes and businesses like Allow Yourself to Be, which
offers services ranging from massage to "chakra balancing" and
Infinite Quest, which sells "past life regression therapy."
The BerkShares program is one of about a dozen such efforts in the
nation. Local groups in California, Kansas, Michigan, New York,
Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Wisconsin run similar ones. One of
the oldest is Ithaca Hours, which went into circulation in 1991 in
Ithaca, New York.
About $120,000 of that currency circulates in the rural town. Unlike
BerkShares, Ithaca Hours cannot officially be freely converted to
dollars, though some businesses buy them.
Stephen Burkle, president of the Ithaca Hours program, said the
notes are a badge of local pride.
"At the beginning it was very hard to get small businesses to get on
board with it," said Burkle, who also owns a music store in
Ithaca. "When Ithaca Hours first started, there wasn't a Home Depot
in town, there wasn't a Borders, there wasn't a Starbucks. Now that
there are, it's a mechanism for small businesses to compete with
U.S. law prevents states from issuing their own currency but allows
private groups to print paper scrip, though not coins, said Lewis
Solomon, a professor of law at George Washington University, who
studies local currencies.
"As long as you don't turn out quarters and you don't turn out
something that looks like the U.S. dollar, it's legal," Solomon said.
The BerkShares experiment comes as the dollar is losing some of its
status on international markets, with governments shifting some
reserves into euros, the pound and other investments as the U.S.
currency has slid in value.
But the dollar is still the currency that businesses in Great
Barrington need to pay most of their bills.
"The promise of this program is for it to be a completed circle,"
said Matt Rubiner, owner of Rubiner's cheese shop and Rubi's cafe.
Some local farmers who supply him accept BerkShares, but he pays
most of his bills in dollars.
"The circle isn't quite completed yet in most cases, and someone has
to take the hit," Rubiner said, referring to the 10 percent
discount. "The person who takes the hit is the merchant, it's me."
Meanwhile, Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc., a western Massachusetts
bank that exchanges BerkShares for dollars, is considering
BerkShares-denominated checks and debit cards.
"Businesses aren't comfortable walking around with wads of
BerkShares to pay for their supplies or their advertising," said
Melissa Joyce, a branch officer with the bank, which has 25
branches, six of which exchange BerkShares. "I do hope that we're
able to develop the checking account and debit card, because it will
make it easier for everyone."
Travolta echoes Cruise on psychiatry
June 19, 2007
NEW YORK - John Travolta says his thinking is in line with fellow
Scientologist Tom Cruise, who has publicly defended the religion's
stance against psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry.
Cruise, during a famously heated debate on NBC's "Today" show in
2005, criticized Brooke Shields for taking anti-depression drugs and
berated host Matt Lauer for suggesting that psychiatric treatment
might help some patients.
"I don't disagree with anything Tom says," Travolta says in the July
issue of W magazine, on newsstands Friday. "How would I have
presented it? Maybe differently than how he did, but it doesn't
matter. I still think that if you analyze most of the school
shootings, it is not gun control. It is (psychotropic) drugs at the
bottom of it."
"I don't want to create controversy; I just have an opinion on
things, and there is nothing wrong with stating your opinion if you
are asked," he continues. "Everyone wants that right, and because
you are famous doesn't mean you have less of a right."
Travolta, who also talks of his habit of going to bed at 6 or 7 in
the morning and waking in the early afternoon, says being famous has
little impact on how he lives his life.
"I will tell you the things that would be the same, fame or no
fame," he says. "Being up all night would be the same. Liking empty
restaurants, liking empty movie theaters Ã? unless I am starring in
Travolta, 53, portrays Ms. Edna Turnblad in "Hairspray," the
adaptation of the stage musical that was spun from the 1988 John
Waters film of the same name. The new film opens July 20. The role,
in which he dons a fat suit and feminine garb, has added fuel to
ongoing speculation about his sexuality.
"I have never been compelled to share with you my bathroom habits or
share with you my bedroom habits," says the married father of
two. "Everyone has a right to privacy, so I have never felt - even
though I am famous - that I had to share that with anybody."
Do the rumors bother him? Does he think they've affected his career?
"No and no," he says. "What affects your career is the quality of
the product. I don't think anyone can hurt me."
"Hairspray," a New Line release, also stars Christopher Walken,
Michelle Pfeiffer and Queen Latifah.
New Line is a division of Time Warner Inc.
On the Net:
W magazine: http://www.style.com/w