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AOL Censorship Update, Poison Pet Food,
FBI Crimes, Blind Man Tops Everest
Revealing News Articles
April 13, 2007


Dear friends,

Thank you for the tremendous response which caused AOL to remove the two-week old block on emails mentioning WantToKnow.info. Blocking emails of those who spam is certainly legitimate and necessary, but we have never sent spam, and more importantly, there is no legal basis for blocking any mention of a website in emails as they did with us. We believe it is a violation of first amendment rights of free speech for an email service provider to block mention of any website. For my recent message to AOL addressing this issue and their rather pathetic response, click here or see the bottom half of this email. Thanks again for all your help and support in pressuring AOL to remove the block.

Below are key excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These articles include revealing information on AOL censorship, poison pet food, FBI crimes, a blind man reaching the summit of Everest, and more. Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails to function, click here. Key sentences are highlighted for those with limited time. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.

With best wishes,
Fred Burks for PEERS and WantToKnow.info
Former language interpreter for Presidents Bush and Clinton

The FBI ... has turned its back on thousands of white-collar crimes
April 11, 2007, Seattle Post-Intelligencer (One of Seattle's two leading newspapers)
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/311046_fbiterror11.html

Thousands of white-collar criminals across the country are no longer being prosecuted in federal court -- and, in many cases, not at all -- leaving a trail of frustrated victims and potentially billions of dollars in fraud and theft losses. It is the untold story of the Bush administration's massive restructuring of the FBI after the terrorism attacks of 9/11. Five-and-a-half years later, the White House and the Justice Department have failed to replace at least 2,400 agents transferred to counterterrorism squads, leaving far fewer agents on the trail of identity thieves, con artists, hatemongers and other criminals. The hidden cost: a dramatic plunge in FBI investigations and case referrals in many of the crimes that the bureau has traditionally fought, including sophisticated fraud, embezzlement schemes and civil rights violations. In 2005, the bureau brought slightly more than 20,000 cases to federal prosecutors, compared with about 31,000 in 2000 -- a 34 percent drop. White-collar crime investigations by the bureau have plummeted in recent years. In 2005, the FBI sent prosecutors 3,500 cases -- a fraction of the more than 10,000 cases assigned to agents in 2000. Civil rights investigations, which include hate crimes and police abuse, have continued a steady decline since the late 1990s. FBI agents pursued 65 percent fewer cases in 2005 than they did in 2000. Large numbers of FBI agents also were transferred out of violent-crime programs. The gaps created by the Bush administration's war on terrorism are troubling to criminal justice experts, police chiefs -- even many current and former FBI officials and agents.

Note: For an article on how the FBI knowingly allowed innocent people to be sentenced to death, click here.

Bigger than you think: The story behind the pet food recall
April 3, 2007, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2007/04/03/petscol.DTL

The March 16 recall of 91 pet food products manufactured by Menu Foods wasn't big news at first. Early coverage reported only 10-15 cats and dogs dying. I'm a contributing editor for a nationally syndicated pet feature ... and all of us there have close ties to the veterinary profession. What we were hearing from veterinarians wasn't matching what we were hearing on the news. Although ... Menu Foods started getting complaints as early as December 2006, FDA records state the company received their first report of a food-related pet death on February 20. One week later, on February 27, Menu started testing the suspect foods. Three days later, on March 3, the first cat in the trial died of acute kidney failure. Nearly one month passed from the date Menu got its first report of a death to the date it issued the recall. At that point, Menu had seen a 35 percent death rate in their test-lab cats. We started a database for people to report their dead or sick pets. As of March 31, the number of deaths alone was at 2,797. Pet owners were encouraged to report deaths and illness to the FDA. But ... there was no place on the agency's Web site to do so. The FDA kept confirming a number it had to have known was only the tip of the iceberg. It prevented veterinarians from having the information they needed to treat their patients. It allowed the media to repeat a misleadingly low number ... preventing a lot of people from really grasping the scope and implication of the problem. An import alert buried on the FDA Web site ... identified the Chinese company that is the source of the contaminated gluten -- gluten that is now known to be sold not only for use in animal feed, but in human food products, too.

Note: If you want to understand how the FDA sometimes works to support big industry at the expense of our health (and in this case the health of our pets), the entire article is a big eye-opener. Click here for more.

Army's conquer by cannabis plan
April 8, 2007, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/04/08/INGG3P14MD1.DTL

The U.S. Army, in a search for "nonlethal incapacitating agents," tested cannabis-based drugs on GI volunteers throughout the 1960s according to Dr. James Ketchum, the psychiatrist who led the classified research program at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland. Ketchum retired as a colonel in 1976. He has written a memoir, "Chemical Warfare: Secrets Almost Forgotten," in which he describes experiments conducted at Edgewood and defends the Army's ethical standards. In a talk to the Society of Cannabis Clinicians in Los Angeles last month, Ketchum recounted to 20 doctors the Army's experiments with cannabinoid drugs. Only a small fraction of Ketchum's work at Edgewood involved THC derivatives. Ketchum says he was motivated to write his memoir because the media has conflated the ethical, scientific drug studies conducted by the Army on knowing volunteers with the kinky, unsafe drug studies conducted by the CIA on unwitting civilians. "None, to my knowledge, returned home with a significant injury or illness attributable to chemical exposure," Ketchum says. "Nevertheless, years later, a few former volunteers did claim that the testing had caused them to suffer from some malady." Those claims came from subjects exposed to agents other than EA 2233, he says.

Note: Though the Army may have been somewhat more ethical than the CIA, why has the media had so little coverage of these unethical programs to develop mind control capabilities. For more information on secret mind control programs based on 18,000 pages of declassified government documents, click here.

Fat 'counters vitamin C benefits'
April 8, 2007, BBC News
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6510479.stm

In laboratory experiments, a team at the University of Glasgow simulated what happens in the human stomach. They found vitamin C (ascorbic acid) mopped up potential cancer-causing compounds that are made when saliva and food mixes with stomach acid. But when they added fat to the mix, the ascorbic acid could no longer convert the hazardous compounds into safe ones. Antioxidants like ascorbic acid protect against the formation of (carcinogenic) nitrosocompounds by converting the nitrosating species into nitric oxide. However, when fat is present, it reacts with the nitric oxide to reform nitrosating species, the scientists found. Bridget Aisbitt, nutrition scientist for the British Nutrition Foundation, said: ... "This research is interesting." She said fat-compatible antioxidants in the body, such as beta-carotene, could also neutralise the nitrosocompounds. This is another reason to underline the importance of a healthy balanced diet where meals high in fat should not be frequent and five portions of fruit and vegetables - our main source of vitamin C - are eaten each day.

Note: Why isn't it being widely reported the Vitatmin C and beta-carotene are effective cancer fighters? For a possible answer by one of the top physicians in the U.S., click here.

A third 'will refuse ID checks'
April 4, 2007, BBC News
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6526225.stm

One in three people are expected not to cooperate with identity card checks, Home Office papers from 2004 suggest. The working assumptions were revealed in the documents published by the Department for Work and Pensions under the Freedom of Information laws. They show that the assumption was that the cards, due to be introduced on a voluntary basis from 2008, would become compulsory to own - though not carry - in 2014. Lib Dem MP Mark Oaten had asked for the information to be made public when he was the party's home affairs spokesman in 2004. The department had resisted his request, which came under the Freedom of Information Act. But the department was ordered to release the data by the Information Commissioner - a decision which was subsequently backed by the Information Tribunal.

Note: Why do you think the government was so keen on keeping this information secret? For more, click here.

Profile: Gary McKinnon
April 3, 2007, BBC News
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4715612.stm

Gary McKinnon has lost his appeal against extradition to the US on hacking charges. To hear the US government tell it, Gary McKinnon is a dangerous man, and should be extradited back to America to stand trial. One US prosecutor has accused him of committing "the biggest military computer hack of all time". But Mr McKinnon has said his motives were harmless and innocent. He was, he says, simply looking for information on UFOs. If found guilty, Mr McKinnon could face decades in US jail, and fines of close to $2m. Mr McKinnon said that ... he never acted with malicious intent. But he did admit that he hacked into dozens of US government computer systems. In fact, he calmly detailed just how easy it was to access extremely sensitive information. But for some, his method of hacking is not nearly so interesting as his reason for doing it. Mr McKinnon told the BBC that he is convinced that the United States government is withholding critical information about Unidentified Flying Objects. His supporters say that instead of prosecuting him, the US government should thank him for pointing out massive computer security lapses. As for his quest to find evidence of a UFO cover-up, Mr McKinnon has said that he found some circumstantial evidence online ... including what he said are photos with what he speculated were alien spacecraft airbrushed out of the picture.

Note: For inspiring, reliable information on the UFO cover-up, see our two-page summary available here.

Libraries for Africa
July 12, 2006, CBS News San Francisco Affiliate
http://cbs5.com/jeffersonawards/local_story_193173818.html

An industrious group of sixth graders is packing box after box with books ... all headed to Africa, for children whose educational experience is worlds apart. Student Emily Moreton says, "I've learned that a lot of kids in Africa don't have a lot of books to read." Classmate Josh Totte adds, "The places they learn -- they don't all have buildings. Sometimes they just gather around a tree." Two years ago, [Chris Bradshaw] and her family took a vacation to Africa. That's when the African Library Project was born. "I asked them if they had ever thought about having a library and they said, 'we've always wanted a library, but we didn't know how to make it happen,'" she explains. Now her all-volunteer network partners with schools and organizations that handle the collecting and shipping. In Africa, Peace Corps volunteers help identify communities interested in sustaining a library, then work with local officials to set them up with books shipped from the U.S. So far, the African Library Project has completed work on 29 libraries. Twenty more are under development. Twenty thousand books have been donated by fourteen American schools. And countless lessons are learned each day on both sides. "There are many, many places that are poor, but Africa is getting poorer," says Chris. "It's poorer now than it was 25 years ago and it's the only place in the world that is like that." She believes books provide the tools for change. Her dream is to one day provide books written in native African languages... a chapter she'll write when there's more money. "I got sick of feeling overwhelmed," she says. "I wanted to dig in and do it and this was something I could do and I know it's making a huge difference."

Note: For more on this most inspiring project, see their website at http://www.africanlibraryproject.org.


Older Articles Recently Discovered

FBI let innocents get death sentences
November 22, 2003, Sydney Morning Herald (Australia's leading newspaper)
http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/11/21/1069027333534.html

The FBI used murderers as informants in Boston for three decades, even allowing innocent men to be sentenced to death to protect the secret operation, a government report has found. The FBI's policy "must be considered one of the greatest failures in the history of federal law enforcement" and had "disastrous consequences", the report by the House Committee on Government Reform said. More than 20 people were murdered by FBI informants in Boston from 1965, often with the help of FBI agents, it said. But no FBI agent or official has ever been disciplined. The FBI's policy of using murderers grew out of a belated effort by a former director, J. Edgar Hoover, to go after the Mafia, which Hoover had earlier denied even existed. In the early 1960s, the bureau began recruiting underworld informers in its new campaign. The report focuses heavily on one episode, the 1965 murder of Edward Deegan, a small-time hoodlum who was killed by Jimmy Flemmi and Joseph Barboza, who had just been recruited by an FBI agent in Boston. The FBI knew the two men were the killers because it had been using an unauthorised wire tap and had heard Flemmi ask the Mafia boss, Raymond Patriarca, for permission to kill Deegan. A few days later, Deegan was shot dead. Four men who had nothing to do with the killing were tried and convicted, with two sentenced to death and two to life in prison. Two of the men died in prison and two had their sentences commuted and were freed after serving 30 years behind bars. Hoover was kept fully informed about this murder and the wrongful convictions, the report said.

Tapes Depict Proposal to Thwart Bomb Used in Trade Center Blast
October 28, 1993, New York Times
http://select.nytimes.com/search/restricted/article?res=F00617FE3A5C0C7B8EDDA90994DB494D81

Law-enforcement officials were told that terrorists were building a bomb that was eventually used to blow up the World Trade Center. The informer was to have helped the plotters build the bomb and supply the fake powder, but the plan was called off by an F.B.I. supervisor who had other ideas about how the informer, Emad A. Salem, should be used. The account, which is given in the transcript of hundreds of hours of tape recordings Mr. Salem secretly made of his talks with law-enforcement agents, portrays the authorities as in a far better position than previously known to foil the Feb. 26 bombing of New York City's tallest towers. The explosion left six people dead, more than 1,000 injured and damages in excess of half a billion dollars. The transcript quotes Mr. Salem as saying that he wanted to complain to F.B.I. headquarters in Washington about the bureau's failure to stop the bombing, but was dissuaded by an agent identified as John Anticev. "He said, I don't think that the New York people would like the things out of the New York office to go to Washington, D.C." Another agent ... does not dispute Mr. Salem's account, but rather, appears to agree with it. Other Salem tapes and transcripts were being withheld pending Government review, of "security and other issues." William M. Kunstler, a defense lawyer in the case, accused the Government this week of improper delay in handing over all the material. The transcripts he had seen, he said, "were filled with all sorts of Government misconduct." But citing the judge's order, he said he could not provide any details.

Note: If the above link fails, click here. For a two-minute CBS News clip the same day giving more information on this little-known story, click here.

NIH Scientist Says He's Paid To Do Nothing
July 4, 2003, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A6791-2003Jul3

Edward McSweegan ... has an office in Bethesda, a job title -- health scientist administrator -- and an annual salary of about $100,000. What McSweegan says he does not have -- and has not had for the last seven years -- is any real work. He was hired by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in 1988, but says his bosses transferred the research grants he administered to other workers eight years later, leaving him with occasional tasks more suitable for a typist or "gofer." McSweegan used to be NIH's program officer for Lyme disease but was removed from the post in June 1995 after a dispute over his repeated criticism of a politically influential support group for sufferers and his allegations that NIH had been too accommodating of the group. He had publicly described the Lyme Disease Foundation as "wacko" because he disagreed with its theories about the disease. The dispute led to his suspension without pay for two weeks for insubordination. According to NIH, McSweegan is director of the U.S.-Indo Vaccine Action Program, and has traveled to countries such as Russia representing the agency. He has also "produced reports and other work products." But McSweegan said he has never been told he was director of the program. McSweegan said he struggles to fill his eight-hour workdays by reading, exercising and writing fiction. He has self-published a bioterrorism thriller and a science fiction novel. But he says his six-page job description is the ultimate work of creative writing and describes his position as "a bizarre, surreal situation -- part Orwell, part Kafka and part Dilbert."

This war on terrorism is bogus
September 6, 2003, The Guardian (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1036571,00.html

The neoconservative think tank, Project for the New American Century (PNAC) [wrote "Rebuilding America's Defenses"] a year before 9/11. [It] justifies the creation of a "worldwide command and control system". This is a blueprint for US world domination. It provides a much better explanation of what actually happened before, during and after 9/11 than the global war on terrorism thesis [which] is being used ... as bogus cover for achieving wider US strategic geopolitical objectives. 9/11 offered an extremely convenient pretext to put the PNAC plan into action. Plans for military action against Afghanistan and Iraq were in hand well before 9/11. Some have seen ... the 9/11 attacks as creating an invaluable pretext for attacking Afghanistan in a war that had clearly already been well planned in advance. There is a possible precedent for this. The US national archives reveal that President Roosevelt used exactly this approach in relation to Pearl Harbor. The ensuing national outrage persuaded a reluctant US public to join the second world war. Similarly the PNAC blueprint ... states that the process of transforming the US into "tomorrow's dominant force" is likely to be a long one in the absence of "some catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor". The 9/11 attacks allowed the US to press the "go" button for a strategy in accordance with the PNAC agenda which it would otherwise have been politically impossible to implement. The "global war on terrorism" has the hallmarks of a political myth propagated to pave the way for a wholly different agenda - the US goal of world hegemony.

Note: This op-ed by Michael Meacher, UK Environment Minister from May 1997 to June 2003, is a remarkable statement by a high governmental official of the suspicions which surround the true origins of the events of 9/11. For lots more reliable information on this important issue, click here.

Blind To Failure
June 18, 2001, Time Magazine (Cover story)
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1000120.html

Scaling Everest requires the enthusiasm and boosterism of a physical-education teacher combined with the survival instinct of a Green Beret. You have to want that summit. Erik Weihenmayer, 33, wasn't just another yuppie trekker. Blind since he was 13 ... he began attacking mountains in his early 20s. For Erik ... excelling as an athlete was the result of accepting his disability rather than denying it." Climbing with Erik isn't that different from climbing with a sighted mountaineer. You wear a bell on your pack, and he follows the sound ... using his custom-made climbing poles to feel his way along the trail. His climbing partners shout out helpful descriptions: "Death fall 2 ft. to your right!" Almost 90% of Everest climbers fail to reach the summit. Many--at least 165 since 1953--never come home at all. When Erik and the team began the final ascent from Camp 4 ... they had been on the mountain for two months ... getting used to the altitude and socking away enough equipment [before they made the final, successful] summit push. "He was the heart and soul of our team," says Eric Alexander. "The guy's spirit won't let you quit." It could be called the most successful Everest expedition ever, and not just because of Erik's participation. A record 19 climbers from the N.F.B. team summited, including the oldest man ever to climb Everest--64-year-old Sherman Bull. Perhaps the point is really that there is no way to put what Erik has done in perspective because no one has ever done anything like it. It is a unique achievement, one that in the truest sense pushes the limits of what man is capable of.

Note: Don't miss the entire inspiring story at the link above. For an inspiring video of Erik in Peru, click here.


Special Note: It appears that the FDA is attempting to increase regulation of complimentary and alternative medicine (including even juices used for juice therapy!). To learn more and sign a petition protesting this move, click here and here. For a very good 21-minute video on the 9/11 cover-up titled "The Third Stage," click here. For a description of how a six-year-old girl was arrested and handcuffed by police for throwing a temper tantrum in school, click here. For an informative five-minute ABC news clip on the power elite gathering Bohemian Grove reported in 1981, click here. And for those interested in the May 1st Global Love Day activities officially supported by over 100 states and localities, click here.





AOL Censorship of WantToKnow.info: Update

Below are the email exchanges I have had with AOL about the block placed on emails which mentioned WantToKnow.info listed in sequential order. As it stands now, the representative who originally told me to "rest assured" that this was caused by a complaint has bowed out and referred me to the AOL legal department. I've sent them a message, but have yet to receive a reply. Email addresses have been removed to protect privacy.




Sent: Monday, April 9, 2007 5:20 PM
Subject: Re: AOL Operations Ticket 1380785 created

Dear AOL Postmaster,

Thanks for your email. Anthony in your support center was very helpful in dealing with our problem today when I called him at 4 PM. I just wanted to add a few comments in order to help resolve our issue.

I am the executive director of a small nonprofit named PEERS (http://www.peerservice.org), which manages several websites and email lists. We have over 4,000 subscribers to our email lists. The subscription process for all of our email lists is double opt-in, so that after subscribing, each new subscriber is sent an email and must confirm that they indeed want to subscribe before they are added to our subscriber database. This is to avoid any unintentional or unwanted subscriptions, and to avoid any accusations of spam. We also have instructions on how to unsubscribe from the list at both the top and bottom of every email we send out.

Approximately 10% or 400 of our 4,000 subscribers use AOL for their email service. We send out emails to our main email list every four days on average. We never send out any emails to those who are not subscribed and never engage in any activity which would be considered spam.

A short while ago, we discovered that our subscribers who used AOL for their email service stopped receiving our emails. After contacting about a dozen of these subscribers, all agreed that the last email they received from us was on 3/24/07. None of them received the next email we sent on 3/28/07, nor have they received any of the emails we have sent since. Thus it appears this problem began sometime between 3/24 and 3/28.

After running a variety of tests with a number of our subscribers who use AOL, we discovered that though they, as AOL users, could send out email with the URL of one of our websites - WantToKnow.info - mentioned in the email, anyone who was not an AOL user who tried to send an email to an AOL user which included the term "WantToKnow.info" anywhere in the message found that their email was blocked and returned with a 554 error message. So it appears for some reason that a block or filter has been placed on the term WantToKnow.info for emails from non-AOL users to AOL users.

I understand that if several AOL users were to make a complaint about our website, it might be blocked. I would like to recommend that before a block is placed on any website like this, you contact the website first to see if there might be a legitimate reason or resolution to the problem being mentioned by AOL users who have made a complaint. Otherwise, it appears that you are censoring that website.

I cannot imagine any reason any AOL users would complain about our work other than political, as our website does deal with political issues. We've received many emails of support from our AOL users for our work, so the vast majority very much support us. If they don't like our work, it is very easy to unsubscribe, as mentioned above. Because of what happened, I have to wonder if we are either being censored by AOL for our political work, or if a group of people who do not like our work have staged a complaint campaign with AOL to get us black listed. You could avoid accusations of censorship by communicating with any website before blocking it.

After calling your support desk today, Anthony checked your system and could find no block of the WantToKnow.info URL. Yet we've had confirmation from over 40 people who are not AOL users that all emails they send to AOL users which mention WantToKnow.info in the text are returned unsent with a 554 error message. We would very much appreciate your help in resolving this matter and letting us know what we might do to avoid this problem in the future. Thanks much for you help, and please let us know if you need any further information.

With best wishes,
Fred Burks
Executive Director of PEERS (http://www.peerservice.org)




Sent: Tuesday, April 10, 2007 8:55 AM
Subject: 554 Transaction Failed HVU:B1 RT#1380785

Hello,
 
I am contacting you regarding the ticket you opened with AOL concerning a mail delivery issue. As I understand, you are receiving 554 HVU:B1 bounce messages when trying to email AOL members.  In order to assist in resolving your delivery issue, I will need to see an exact copy of the email receiving the HVU:B1 bounce.  Please send the email to [deleted]. Additionally, please include the ticket number when responding. As soon as I am able to find the offending URL, I will immediately get back to you.

Thank you,
Jon
AOL Postmaster




Sent: Tuesday, April 10, 2007 7:34:28 P.M.
Subject: Re: 554 Transaction Failed HVU:B1 RT#1380785

Dear Jon,

Thanks for getting back to us on our problem of being blocked by AOL. Our ticket number is 1380785 and reference number is 171054229. We are very clear that the "offending URL" was our website WantToKnow.info. We did extensive testing both with our AOL subscribers and non-AOL subscribers. You will find a description of this in the case notes. We have had dozens of supporters call and email AOL asking that the website be unblocked. WantToKnow.info is a website which exposes major corruption and many (including myself) suspect that our website may have been blocked for political reasons.

It appears that the block was lifted this morning, as our emails are now getting through. If you can tell us who initiated the block and why, it would help greatly to dispel the claims of political motivation behind the blocking. I would also highly recommend that you contact a website before blacklisting it, so that the website has an opportunity to defend itself against any claim before such censorship is instituted. I would really appreciate knowing why this block was placed and even why it was then lifted today. As you requested, I included below a copy of a 554 bounce message on an email which mentioned our website. Thanks so much for your help and this, and you have a good day.

With best wishes,
Fred Burks
PEERS Executive Director




Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2007 7:54 AM
Subject: Re: 554 Transaction Failed HVU:B1 RT#1380785

Hi Fred,

You can rest assured, your website was blocked for complaints.  As such, I highly recommend you set up a complaint feedback loop and remove any AOL.com address that reports spam against your mailings. 

http://postmaster.aol.com/tools/fbl.html

Thanks,
Jon 




Sent: Thursday, April 12, 2007 7:59 AM
Subject: Jon, question about AOL and censorship, ticket number: 1380785

Hi Jon,

AOL ticket number: 1380785, AOL reference number: 171054229

Thanks for getting back to me. I'm afraid that your invitation to "rest assured" that AOL's blocking of WantToKnow.info was the result of complaints does not in the least assure me. I don't know you, and I don't know that you aren't being deceived by your superiors on this. So how can I just trust and accept what you say as being true? If you can give me solid evidence that it was not politically motivated, I will certainly consider it.

Taking this a step deeper, I am convinced that blocking all emails which mention a designated website is not only unethical, it is illegal. Websites don't send out spam. Spam is generated through email. AOL certainly would be within its rights legally and ethically to block all email addresses from a website known to be generating spam, but only the emails. What gives AOL the right to block all emails sent by the general public which mention a particular website, as you did with WantToKnow.info? This has nothing to do with spam. I suspect the spam claim is being used as an excuse to disguise censorship.

What's more, AOL doesn't even attempt to contact the website being blocked to give an opportunity for the suspected website to explain what is happening. It is even more egregious when -- as in the case of WantToKnow.info -- the website and associated emails lists have never engaged in practices which would be considered spamming. Our email lists use a double opt-in subscription process, and we include information on how to unsubscribe from our lists at both the top and bottom of every email sent. This is above and beyond what is required to avoid being labeled as spam.

AOL's practice of blocking any mention of websites in emails sent by the general public is clearly censorship. It is not only unethical, but I believe it could be shown to be illegal, as it prohibits the free flow of information in a democratic society. This could easily be proven to be an infringement on the free speech rights of the public guaranteed under the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution. On what legal grounds did AOL have the right to block all emails from anyone in the public mentioning our website, WantToKnow.info? I would very much appreciate an answer to these questions.

Many of us suspect that this is one of those shady areas through which certain individuals and groups with ulterior motives are able to exert censorship under the guise of stopping spam. We all know that there are many people and groups at all levels of industry and government who place their own interests above the interests of the public. Some of these could easily leverage their influence to cause public services like AOL to accuse someone of being a spammer, and with this excuse block any mention of their website in emails sent by the public. In fact, accusations of spam should be dealt with by blocking the spam emails and not blocking any mention of the website. This clearly amounts to deceptive use (blocking websites) of a legitimate function (blocking spam) and thus blocks free speech. I am very interested in your comments and the comments of your superiors on this.

By the way, thank you, Jon, for the information on the complaint loop. I have signed up for that. I am hopeful that this website blocking will not happen again to us. If it does, I will most certainly consider working with EFF to see if we can present a legal case against AOL for this unethical and illegal practice. I highly recommend that you pass on my recommendation to your superiors to stop this illegal blocking of websites. I invite you to join me in calling on AOL to do what is right here.

And if you have any solid evidence of why I should "rest assured" that this was not politically motivated, I welcome it. AOL's block of WantToKnow.info was instituted shortly after we sent out one of our most important, yet most politically sensitive emails (see http://www.WantToKnow.info/financialbankingcoverup). That seems a very unusual coincidence to me. Thanks for your time, and you have a good day.

With best wishes,
Fred Burks
PEERS Executive Director and manager of WantToKnow.info website




Sent: Thursday, April 12, 2007 11:43 AM
Subject: RE: Jon, question about AOL and censorship, ticket number: 1380785

Hi Fred,

At this point, I need to take myself out of this thread.  If you have any questions, I direct you to our legal department.  http://legal.web.aol.com/

Thanks,
Jon




Note to WantToKnow.info supporters: For more on how this whole problem unfolded, click here. You can continue to help us put pressure on AOL about this by contacting AOL at AOLLegal@aol.com. Let's call on AOL to stop this infringement on free speech rights. Feel free to use any of the language above in your communications. Thanks again for all your support.


Final Note:
WantToKnow.info believes it is important to balance disturbing cover-up information with inspirational writings which call us to be all that we can be and to work together for positive change. Please visit our Inspiration Center at http://www.WantToKnow.info/inspirational for an abundance of uplifting material.


See our archive of revealing news articles at www.WantToKnow.info/indexnewsarticles


Your tax-deductible donations, however large or small, help greatly to support this important work.
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