Social Security

Brickbats

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* Zerubbabel Emanuel Evans isn't dead—but try telling that to the government. The Social Security Administration declared the Ohio man deceased, then seized $2,600 from his bank account to recoup payments made after he "passed away." Then Medicare dropped his coverage. The SSA said that it will correct the problem, but Evans needs to meet an agent in person and bring a photo I.D. to prove he is alive. The agency required no proof—such as a death certificate—to declare him dead.

* Sting: international pop superstar—and victim of human rights abuses? When the British air force announced plans to extend a runway on a base near the singer's home, he sued the Ministry of Defense under the nation's Human Rights Act. Sting says the increased noise would infringe on his rights of privacy and family life.

* When the Cooper High School baseball team needed to raise money for repairs to the home field, they decided to sell a poster of themselves. And what better way to call attention to their heavy hitters than to pose, holding weapons, with a National Guard tank? The poster declared that the Texas team was "Armed and Dangerous." Of course they got complaints, but school officials don't see the problem. "At the time, we weren't thinking about school violence," said school superintendent Pat Henderson. "We were thinking military."

* Top officials in the Army Corps of Engineers rigged data to justify a proposed $1 billion lock expansion on the Mississippi River, according to the Army's inspector general. The report also found that intense pressure from the top ranks has created an agency-wide bias toward favorable evaluations for all river construction projects. The corps is supposed to recommend only projects which have a large net benefit to taxpayers. Experts say that the report probably won't lead to meaningful reform, since the Army is under intense pressure from members of Congress to approve projects for their districts.

* Is bigotry on the Internet a problem? The Simon Wiesenthal Center says that it is, and it compiled a list of 3,000 sites called "Digital Hate 2001." But the center seems to have a broad definition of "hate." Many mainstream conservative and pro-gun groups were listed alongside white supremacists and neo-Nazis, reported World Net Daily. Among them were Women Against Gun Control and the conservative think tank the FreeCongress Foundation. Following complaints, the center pulled the list from its site and promised to review it before releasing a revised version. But it refused to answer questions about how it compiled the list or how it defined a hate site.

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