IRS tells Congress it has lost trove of emails by central figure in tea party investigation
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service said Friday it has lost a trove of emails to and from a central figure in the agency’s tea party controversy, sparking outrage from congressional investigators who have been probing the agency for more than a year.
The IRS told Congress Friday it cannot locate many of Lois Lerner’s emails prior to 2011 because her computer crashed during the summer of that year.
Lerner headed the IRS division that processed applications for tax-exempt status. The IRS acknowledged last year that agents had improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status by tea party and other conservative groups.
“The fact that I am just learning about this, over a year into the investigation, is completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the IRS’ response to congressional inquiries,” said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. “There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the inspector general.”
The Ways and Means Committee is one of three congressional committees investigating the IRS over its handling of tea party applications from 2010 to 2012. The Justice Department and the IRS inspector general are also investigating.
Thailand’s military government lifts curfew throughout nation, says no threat of violence
BANGKOK — Thailand’s military government announced that it has fully lifted a nationwide curfew it imposed after seizing power last month, saying there is no threat of violence and that tourism needs to be revived.
Political protests and criticism of the coup, however, remain banned by the junta, which said a return to elected civilian rule cannot be expected for at least 15 months.
The curfew had earlier been reduced to four hours from seven hours, and had been lifted in several resort areas popular with tourists after complaints from the tourism industry over the financial damage it was causing.
“The overall situation in other areas of the country has been resolved and there is no tendency toward possible violence. Therefore, in order to relieve and mitigate the impact on people’s daily lives, and to boost tourism by Thais and foreigners, the curfew order is being canceled in the rest of the country,” the junta said in a statement issued Friday night over all domestic TV stations.
“It’s brilliant because like last night we wanted to see the World Cup match but we couldn’t because it was on at 2 a.m.,” said Sinead Dowd, 27, a tourist from County Kerry, Ireland. “So yes, it’s great.”
Ukrainian troops attack pro-Russia separatists in Mariupol, US says Russia sent rebels tanks
MARIUPOL, Ukraine — Ukrainian troops and pro-Russia separatists clashed Friday in a southern port town, as the United States confirmed earlier reports that a convoy of armored vehicles including three T-64 Russian tanks moved into Ukraine from Russia and now are in the hands of the rebels.
About 100 soldiers emerged triumphant from the previously rebel-occupied buildings in Mariupol, shouting the name of their battalion, Azov, and singing the Ukrainian national anthem. They also destroyed an armored vehicle and a heavy truck used by the separatists, leaving the vehicles scorched and riddled with large-caliber bullet holes.
Mariupol is the second-largest city in the eastern Donetsk region, where armed separatists have declared independence from the government in Kiev. The Azov Sea port sits along the main road leading from Russia to the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in March from Ukraine.
Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said four government troops were wounded in what he called a successful operation. Witnesses said they saw troops capture at least four separatist fighters. There was no immediate word of casualties on the rebel side, and Associated Press journalists at the site were blocked from entering the buildings.
Ukraine and the West have accused Moscow of fomenting the unrest in eastern Ukraine and supporting the separatist fighters. Russia, however, has denied sending troops or weapons to Ukraine and has described the Russian citizens fighting with the separatists as volunteers.
By wire sources