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The Defense Monitor

Much of what we read in the media about defense is politicized, and can even be laced with deliberate dis-information.  The Center for Defense Information has been around for nearly 40 years and was founded by retired military.

Center for Defense Information, Project on Governmant Oversight
The Defense Monitor by CDI/POGO

I have been a long-time supporter of CDI – at least 20 years. Under Adm. Gene LaRoque and Adm. Eugene Carroll it was a reliable source of fact and sober analysis. I became disappointed in the direction it took a few years ago with Bruce Blair as Director because it became more opinion and case-building advocacy – just another shrill voice among many.   Recent issues seem more objective and balanced so I ‘m once again a reader.

Military spending is far and away the most burdensome part of our federal budget for taxpayers. The amount of waste is astonishing and it defies all efforts at reform.  CDI is one place to go for objective, fact-based reporting and analysis.

“I’m from the IRS …”

The caller says she’s from the IRS and demands that you call back. It sounds menacing, but it’s just another telephone scam.  I recorded the one I received on May 1st, and you can listen here:

Here’s what you can do.

  1. Take notes of what’s said. You’ll need them to report the scam.

  2. Give no information about yourself.

  3. If you have caller ID, enter the phone number into the search window of your web browser.  There are several websites that provide reports on phone numbers that originate scams. I like Report The Call and 800Notes.

  4. Report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission.  Here’s the website: FTC Complaint Assistant

If it’s a phony IRS call also report it here:

What if you think it’s a legitimate call but aren’t sure?

Take down the caller’s name an phone number and offer to call back later.  Go to the official website of the company or government agency and get the public phone number there so you are sure you are not calling an impostor.  Call and ask for person who called you or explain that your are trying to validate a call you received.

People working these scams will generally cut you off and hang up when they know you are suspicious. Legitimate callers don’t mind that you are being cautious.

Effortlessly Organize Your eMail

I have a lot of subscriptions (NY Times, WP, etc.), and various vendors send me flyers. All of it used to swamp my one email inbox.Even though I used MS Outlook to sorted it by setting up complicated sorting rules, each new sender required a new rule and I soon fell behind.

Then I got smart. I had a disused email account ( and I began using that when I subscribed to anything and also whenever I ordered stuff online. It was easy to automatically route everything from that secondary mailbox to a new special folder. When bulk mail arrived at my primary correspondence box, I’d unsubscribe; or when I actually wanted it, I’d change the preferences settings on my account at the sender.

Before long just about all the bulk stuff was arriving in the Hotmail account folder where I could deal with it as my time permitted. Now I don’t have the clutter of 20 to 30 low priority subscription items amongst the important stuff; yet everything is still there when I wish to read an item. I ask my friends to use the Hotmail address when they cc me.

Many email programs have a filter that allows you to screen emails addressed to more than one recipient. Use that filter to move the mail that’s broadcast to many people to a bulk mail folder.

Oh yes, another tip, Hotmail has a filter that checks to see if the sender is in your Hotmail address book. Use that to separate the mail sent by those you know from those you don’t — the stuff from strangers is held in the spam folder.

With tricks like these you can tame the flood with ease and avoid most of the mailbox housekeeping chores.

Don’t have two email accounts? — open a free one at or