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NSA Still Wiretapping US Citizens, Bush Torture Memos, NSA Seeks Cybersecurity Control
Revealing News Articles
April 20, 2009

Dear friends,

Below are key excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These articles include revealing information on the NSA's (National Security Agency's) expanding program of wiretapping all domestic electronic communications of U.S. Citizens, memos issued by the Bush Administration's Justice Department providing legal cover for torture, the attempt by the NSA to control all US government computers in the name of "cybersecurity", 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. The most important sentences are highlighted for those with limited time. By choosing to educate ourselves and spread the word, we can build a brighter future.

With best wishes,
Tod Fletcher and Fred Burks for PEERS and WantToKnow.info

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Officials Say U.S. Wiretaps Exceeded Law
April 16, 2009, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/16/us/16nsa.html

The National Security Agency intercepted private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress last year, government officials said in recent interviews. Several intelligence officials, as well as lawyers briefed about the matter, said the N.S.A. had been engaged in "overcollection" of domestic communications of Americans. They described the practice as significant and systemic. The legal and operational problems surrounding the N.S.A.'s surveillance activities have come under scrutiny from the Obama administration, Congressional intelligence committees and a secret national security court. Congressional investigators say they hope to determine if any violations of Americans' privacy occurred. It is not clear to what extent the agency may have actively listened in on conversations or read e-mail messages of Americans without proper court authority, rather than simply obtained access to them. While the N.S.A.'s operations in recent months have come under examination, new details are also emerging about earlier domestic-surveillance activities, including the agency's attempt to wiretap a member of Congress, without court approval, on an overseas trip. After a contentious three-year debate that was set off by the disclosure in 2005 of the program of wiretapping without warrants that President George W. Bush approved after the Sept. 11 attacks, Congress gave the N.S.A. broad new authority to collect, without court-approved warrants, vast streams of international phone and e-mail traffic as it passed through American telecommunications gateways.

Note: For further disturbing reports from reliable sources on government efforts to establish total surveillance systems, click here.


Control of Cybersecurity Becomes Divisive Issue
April 17, 2009, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/17/us/politics/17cyber.html

The National Security Agency has been campaigning to lead the government's rapidly growing cybersecurity programs, raising privacy and civil liberties concerns among some officials who fear that the move could give the spy agency too much control over government computer networks. The security agency's interest in taking over the dominant role has met resistance, including the resignation of the Homeland Security Department official who was until last month in charge of coordinating cybersecurity efforts throughout the government. Rod Beckstrom, who resigned in March as director of the National Cyber Security Center at the Homeland Security Department, said ... that he feared that the N.S.A.'s push for a greater role in guarding the government's computer systems could give it the power to collect and analyze every e-mail message, text message and Google search conducted by every employee in every federal agency. Mr. Beckstrom said he believed that an intelligence service that is supposed to focus on foreign targets should not be given so much control over the flow of information within the United States government. To detect threats against the computer infrastructure – including hackers, viruses and intrusions by foreign agents and terrorists – cybersecurity guardians must have virtually unlimited access to networks. Mr. Beckstrom argues that those responsibilities should be divided among agencies. "I have very serious concerns about the concentration of too much power in one agency," he said. "Power over information is so important, and it is so difficult to monitor, that we need to have checks and balances."

Note: For further disturbing reports from reliable sources on government efforts to establish total surveillance systems, click here.


Interrogation Memos Detail Harsh Tactics by the C.I.A.
April 17, 2009, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/17/us/politics/17detain.html

The Justice Department ... made public detailed memos describing brutal interrogation techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency, as President Obama sought to reassure the agency that the C.I.A. operatives involved would not be prosecuted. In dozens of pages of dispassionate legal prose, the methods approved by the Bush administration for extracting information from senior operatives of Al Qaeda are spelled out in careful detail – like keeping detainees awake for up to 11 straight days, placing them in a dark, cramped box or putting insects into the box to exploit their fears. The interrogation methods were authorized beginning in 2002, and some were used as late as 2005 in the C.I.A.'s secret overseas prisons. The United States prosecuted some Japanese interrogators at war crimes trials after World War II for waterboarding and other methods detailed in the memos. Together, the four memos give an extraordinarily detailed account of the C.I.A.'s methods and the Justice Department's long struggle, in the face of graphic descriptions of brutal tactics, to square them with international and domestic law. Passages describing forced nudity, the slamming of detainees into walls, prolonged sleep deprivation and the dousing of detainees with water as cold as 41 degrees alternate with elaborate legal arguments concerning the international Convention Against Torture. The revelations may give new momentum to proposals for a full-blown investigation into Bush administration counterterrorism programs and possible torture prosecutions.

Note: For many revealing reports from major media sources on increasing threats to civil liberties, click here.


Judge rejects bid to derail wiretap challenge
April 18, 2009, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/04/17/MN6O174O7E.DTL

A San Francisco federal judge rejected on Friday the Obama administration's attempt to derail a challenge to former President George W. Bush's electronic surveillance program by withholding a critical wiretap document. President Obama's Justice Department had appeared to defy a previous order by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker to allow lawyers for an Islamic organization to see the classified document, which reportedly showed that the group had been wiretapped. The document, which the government accidentally sent to the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, could establish its right to sue over the legality of the program. Justice Department lawyers told Walker in February that he had no power to enforce his order, and indicated they would remove the document from his files if he planned to disclose it to Al-Haramain's lawyers. But after a federal appeals court denied the department's request to intervene, Walker told the government Friday to cooperate. "The United States should now comply with the court's orders," the judge said. He told lawyers for the administration and Al-Haramain to work out a protective order by May 8 that would maintain the document's secrecy after it had been shown to the Islamic group's lawyers. If the two sides can't agree, Walker said, he will issue his own protective order "under which this case may resume forward progress." The case is one of two before Walker challenging the constitutionality of the program that Bush secretly authorized in 2001 to intercept phone calls and e-mails between Americans and suspected foreign terrorists without seeking a court warrant, as required by a 1978 law.

Note: For more reports on government secrecy from reliable sources, click here.


Fed Shrouding $2 Trillion in Bank Loans in 'Secrecy,' Suit Says
April 16, 2009, Bloomberg News
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aS89AaGjOplw

U.S. taxpayers need to know the risks behind the Federal Reserve's $2 trillion in lending to financial institutions because the public is now an "involuntary investor" in the nation's banks, according to a court filing by Bloomberg LP. The Fed refuses to name the borrowers, the amounts of loans or assets banks put up as collateral under 11 programs, arguing that doing so might set off a run by depositors and unsettle shareholders. The largest U.S. banks have tapped more than $125 billion in government aid under the Troubled Asset Relief Program in the past seven months. Assets, including loans and securities, on the Fed balance sheet totaled $2.09 trillion as of April 9. Banks oppose any release of information because that might signal weakness and spur short-selling or a run by depositors, the Fed argued in its March 4 response. The release of the information "can fuel market speculation and rumors," including a drop in stock price and a run on the bank, the Fed said. Bloomberg replied yesterday that "these speculative injuries relate only to the reactions of customers, shareholders and other members of the public, not to competitors' use of the borrowers' proprietary information to their advantage," the exception to disclosure under the FOIA law. Government loans, spending or guarantees to rescue the U.S. financial system total more than $12.8 trillion since the international credit crisis began in August 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg as of March 31. The total includes about $2 trillion on the Fed's balance sheet.

Note: For an extensive archive of key reports on the hidden realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


'Bailout psychology' destroying the economy
April 5, 2009, San Francisco Chronicle
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/04/04/INR316Q4F5.DTL

President Obama must stop the bailouts and start the prosecutions. It's time to focus on anti-poverty programs to protect the growing unemployed from hunger and homelessness. Stealth payments to billionaire bondholders must cease immediately. Since the mid-1970s, average Americans' wages have stayed flat when adjusted for inflation. Productivity rose, profits rose, but not wages. To compensate for stagnant wages and the desire to consume more each year, Americans worked more, retired later, spouses went to work, and many burned savings. Then they started borrowing. Debt became America's growth industry. The scheme collapsed because Americans' wages weren't sufficient to pay the interest on existing debts. The administration and the banks keep talking about a credit crisis, but there isn't one. Banks are lending. If you want a mortgage and can afford to pay it back, you can borrow at low rates today. But most Americans don't want more debt because it is a debilitating path to poverty. The average American family already pays 14 percent of annual income in interest to banks. To fix this fake crisis, there are fake discussions about what the government must do. The endlessly recycled plan to buy "troubled" assets isn't to get banks lending again, because they haven't stopped lending. The plan seeks for taxpayers to buy worthless assets at high prices to absorb rich investors' losses. That's it. It keeps coming back as a different plan, but with that same goal. There is no goal beyond that one goal: keep rich people from taking losses.

Note: For an extensive archive of key reports on the hidden realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


The G20 moves the world a step closer to a global currency
April 3, 2009, The Telegraph (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/5096524/The-G20...

The world is a step closer to a global currency, backed by a global central bank, running monetary policy for all humanity. A single clause in Point 19 of the communiqué issued by the G20 leaders amounts to revolution in the global financial order. "We have agreed to support a general SDR allocation which will inject $250bn (170bn) into the world economy and increase global liquidity," it said. SDRs are Special Drawing Rights, a synthetic paper currency issued by the International Monetary Fund that has lain dormant for half a century.In effect, the G20 leaders have activated the IMF's power to create money and begin global "quantitative easing". In doing so, they are putting a de facto world currency into play. It is outside the control of any sovereign body. Conspiracy theorists will love it. There is now a world currency in waiting. In time, SDRs are likely evolve into a parking place for the foreign holdings of central banks, led by the People's Bank of China. Beijing's moves this week to offer $95bn in yuan currency swaps to developing economies show how fast China aims to break dollar dependence.

Note: For an extensive archive of key reports on the hidden realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.


China Vies to Be World's Leader in Electric Cars
April 2, 2009, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/02/business/global/02electric.html

Chinese leaders have adopted a plan aimed at turning the country into one of the leading producers of hybrid and all-electric vehicles within three years, and making it the world leader in electric cars and buses after that. The goal, which radiates from the very top of the Chinese government, suggests that Detroit's Big Three, already struggling to stay alive, will face even stiffer foreign competition on the next field of automotive technology than they do today. To some extent, China is making a virtue of a liability. It is behind the United States, Japan and other countries when it comes to making gas-powered vehicles, but by skipping the current technology, China hopes to get a jump on the next. The United States has been a laggard in alternative vehicles. G.M.'s plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt is scheduled to go on sale next year, and will be assembled in Michigan using rechargeable batteries imported from LG in South Korea. China's intention, in addition to creating a world-leading industry that will produce jobs and exports, is to reduce urban pollution and decrease its dependence on oil, which comes from the Mideast and travels over sea routes controlled by the United States Navy. Beyond manufacturing, subsidies of up to $8,800 are being offered to taxi fleets and local government agencies in 13 Chinese cities for each hybrid or all-electric vehicle they purchase. China wants to raise its annual production capacity to 500,000 hybrid or all-electric cars and buses by the end of 2011, from 2,100 last year.

Note: For lots more on new developments in auto and energy technologies from reliable sources, click here.


Live like a green heroine - and hold the stuff
April 8, 2009, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/04/08/DDA815VQAH.DTL

Annie Leonard, named one of Time magazine's 2008 Environmental Heroes, knows better than most: It's not so easy living green. Leonard created and narrates the international Web documentary phenomenon "Story of Stuff," which summarizes her 20 years of global sleuthing: tracking the source of the stuff we buy and the fate of the stuff we throw away. This lively animated film makes the point that if everyone on Earth consumed at U.S. levels, we would need five planets. Leading by example, Leonard shows how simple steps and a little patience can help people create environmentally friendly, energy-efficient, stuff-free lives. In her cozy Berkeley home, the first clue sits in her driveway: A blue ZENN, or zero emission no noise, electric vehicle. The car is a NEV, or neighborhood electric vehicle, which is a U.S. Department of Transportation classification for speed-limited battery electric vehicles. The car quietly sucks sun power from solar panels on Leonard's roof and only goes 25 mph, which is just fine with her. "I am always racing around, and this forces me to move at a slower pace. I need any help I can get to do that." Leonard didn't go solar just to charge her car. She says she did it to save mountaintops in Appalachia. "ILoveMountains.org uses Google Earth technology to show coal mine destruction of mountains - the environmental and social devastation. It's really intense. You type in your ZIP code and see the lines of power plants supplying your house. There is mountaintop-removal coal going into my grid. I don't want any part of that."

Note: To watch the powerful 20-minute video "The Story of Stuff", click here.


Cooking with the power of the sun
March 13, 2009, KSL-TV (Salt Lake City NBC affiliate)
http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=5845295

People are looking for ways to trim budgets and cut down on energy use. There's a product heating up in Utah that does just that. It even helps a good cause. Don't underestimate the power of cooking with the sun. LaRue Howells first bought a Global Sun Oven a year ago to be prepared for an emergency, but now she uses it a few times a week, all-year round and shares her knowledge with members of her church. Howells said, "I can grab the solar oven and some food and take off if I needed to, and it's wonderful to have." She baked bread for us. The temperature outside was in the low 40s. "We baked bread when it was 17 degrees outside," she said. "The temperature outside isn't the issue, it's the sun." To control the heat of the oven, you adjust the angle of the oven to the sun. If you want to reduce the heat, you angle it away from the sun. One-third of the Sun Ovens sold in the U.S. are sold in Utah. Joe Crane, with Kitchen Kneads, said, "Just being prepared, self-sufficient brings a lot of peace of mind to people." Crane started to sell them nearly a year ago. "Temperature makes no difference," he said. "I've cooked at 5 below to 90 degrees in the summer time." All you need is sun, and cook times aren't much longer than with a conventional oven. As useful as we might find them, Sun Ovens are life sustaining in developing countries looking for solutions to deforestation and energy deficiency. Domestic sales help pay for ovens in Afghanistan, Nepal and South Africa. They cost around $300. Sun Ovens [use] no electricity and [burn] no fuels, meaning no emissions.

Note: For more on this fascinating development, https://www.sunoven.com. See also http://solarcookers.org


Finding inspiration -- in reality TV
April 16, 2009, USA Today
http://content.usatoday.com/communities/religion/post/2009/04/65566137/1

Religion and spirituality blogs today are buzzing about the "inspirational" performance of Susan Boyle, an ordinary-looking 47-year-old Scottish woman whose anything-but-ordinary voice stopped would-be snarky commenters in their tracks on the reality TV show Britain's Got Talent. In Beliefnet's religion and pop culture blog, Douglas Howe comments on the transformation of the skeptical audience the moment Boyle opened her mouth and began to sing: They loved her! They were touched by her raw talent, her beautiful voice. The part about each of us that is quick to judge is also quick to respond to excellence and beauty. We should be quicker to look for the beauty in people, and I'm not sure our media-driven culture trains us to do that. Rev. James Martin in America magazine's blog In All Things finds a homily here: The world generally looks askance at people like Susan Boyle, if it sees them at all. Without classic good looks, without work, without a spouse, living in a small town, people like Susan Boyle may not seem particularly "important." But God sees the real person, and understands the value of each individual's gifts: rich or poor, young or old, single or married, matron or movie star, lucky or unlucky in life. God knows us. And loves us.

Note: For an engaging article with the highly inspiring performance of Susan Boyle, click here.


Key Articles From Years Past


Powering the Future
March 13, 2008, Newsweek Magazine
http://www.newsweek.com/id/123021

Chances are you've heard of hybrids and biofuels, but what about oil-producing yeast and turbinelike buoys that transform ocean waves into electricity? Those are just a couple of the alternative-energy sources that may power the future according to Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund and coauthor, with Miriam Horn, of the new book Earth: The Sequel (Norton). "Everyone knows the current story of melting glaciers, rising sea levels, worsening hurricanes, dying coral reefs," said Krupp. "'The Sequel' is the story of what happens next." Newsweek's Katie Paul talked with Krupp about ... the next industrial revolution. Newsweek: You seem to be a big fan of solar energy. Why do you think there's so much promise to it? Fred Krupp: We have two chapters on solar energy at the beginning of the book because we think there's tremendous potential there. Every hour, the sun provides the earth with as much energy as all of human civilization uses in an entire year. So, if you could capture just 10 percent of it on a ... 100-mile square piece of land, you could power the entire United States. With solar thermal energy, capturing heat instead of immediately going to electricity, one advantage is that you can store hot water much more cheaply than you can store electricity. There is tremendous potential there, even before advanced batteries are developed, and reason to think solar energy can compete. [Newsweek:] And besides solar? How are they addressing some of the negatives associated with biofuels? [Krupp:] I think we've come to understand that the current generation of biofuels has problems and that we need a whole new generation.

Note: For more exciting reports from major media sources on new energy technologies, click here.



Special Note:
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