Sunday, August 11, 2013

PNN - Presents the Progressive Press

PNN 8-11-13

7:11 - 7:21pm - Hans Meyer + World Bank
Steve Malagodi
Gwen Barry
Rob Abston - founder PLAN
Susan Nilon
1. Fukushima drainage has 20,000 tons of water with radioactive substance – TEPCO

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) said on Tuesday that the drainage system of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant contains more than 20,000 tons of water with high levels of radioactive substances.
Tepco said that it detected 2.35 billion becquerels of cesium per liter in water located in underground passages at Fukushima which is leaking into the groundwater through cracks in the drainage tunnels - a radiation level roughly the same as that measured in April 2011. The normal level is 150 becquerels of cesium per liter. 

Japan’s nuclear watchdog said on Monday that the highly radioactive water building up inside the plant vaults is creating an “emergency.” 

Tepco, which is responsible for decommissioning the wrecked plant, estimated that contaminated groundwater could reach the surface within three weeks. The company is currently failing to prevent the drainage from seeping into the seawater near the plant. 

As a result, Tepco has decided that it is necessary to strengthen barriers as well as increase the speed with which water is pumped from the drainage area of the facility. 

For the past two years, Tepco has claimed that it managed to siphon off the excess water into specially built storage tanks. However, the company admitted late last month that toxic water was not contained.
As of March 2013, the station has accumulated more than 360,000 tons of water containing different degrees of radioactive concentration.
The Tepco plant suffered a meltdown in March 2011 after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami which caused the nuclear disaster. Almost 90,000 people within a 20km radius of the plant were forced to evacuate their homes due to the possibility of radiation poisoning.
Decisions to shut down all of the country's reactors were made following the disaster. The final reactor was made idle in May 2012. However, since then two reactors were restarted, though both of them will need to be put out of action for routine checks before September. 

Japanese experts predicted that as many as four are likely to come back into service by March 2015. The country may restart further reactors in July, Reuters cited a government-affiliated institute as saying on Tuesday.

2. Worse than admitted!
TOKYO, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Highly radioactive water from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is pouring out at a rate of 300 tonnes a day, officials said on Wednesday, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered the government to step in and help in the clean-up.
The revelation amounted to an acknowledgement that plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) has yet to come to grips with the scale of the catastrophe, 2 1/2 years after the plant was hit by a huge earthquake and tsunami. Tepco only recently admitted water had leaked at all.
Calling water containment at the Fukushima Daiichi station an "urgent issue," Abe ordered the government for the first time to get involved to help struggling Tepco handle the crisis.
The leak from the plant 220 km (130 miles) northeast of Tokyo is enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool in a week. The water is spilling into the Pacific Ocean, but it was not immediately clear how much of a threat it poses.

As early as January this year, Tepco found fish contaminated with high levels of radiation inside a port at the plant. Local fishermen and independent researchers had already suspected a leak of radioactive water, but Tepco denied the claims.
Tetsu Nozaki, the chairman of the Fukushima fisheries federation said he had only heard of the latest estimates of the magnitude of the seepage from media reports.
Environmental group Greenpeace said Tepco had "anxiously hid the leaks" and urged Japan to seek international expertise.
"Greenpeace calls for the Japanese authorities to do all in their power to solve this situation, and that includes increased transparancy...and getting international expertise in to help find solutions," Dr. Rianne Teule of Greenpeace International said in an e-mailed statement.
Fukushima is on Japan's northeastern coast and faces the Pacific. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not believe the seepage will have any effect on the West Coast.
"Even 300 tonnes - that's still going to be diluted to an almost undetectable level before it would get to any U.S. territory," said Scott Burnell, public information officer for the commission. "The scale of what's occurring at Fukushima is nowhere near the scale of the releases we saw during the actual accident."
In the weeks after the disaster, the government allowed Tepco to dump tens of thousands of tonnes of contaminated water into the Pacific in an emergency move.
But the escalation of the crisis raises the risk of an even longer and more expensive clean-up, already forecast to take more than 40 years and cost $11 billion.
The admission further dents the credibility of Tepco, criticised for its failure to prepare for the tsunami and earthquake, for a confused response to the disaster and for covering up shortcomings.
"We think that the volume of water (leaking into the Pacific) is about 300 tonnes a day," said Yushi Yoneyama, an official with the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, which oversees energy policy.
Tatsuya Shinkawa, a director in METI's Nuclear Accident Response Office, told reporters the government believed water had been leaking for two years, but Yoneyama told Reuters it was unclear how long the water had been leaking at the current rate.
Shinkawa described the water as "highly" contaminated.
The water is from the area between the crippled reactors and the ocean, where Tepco has sought to block the flow of contaminated water by chemically hardening the soil.
Tetsu Nozaki, head of the Fukushima fisheries federation called for action to end the spillage.
"If the water was indeed leaking out at 300 tonnes a day for more than two years, the radiation readings should be far worse," Nozaki told Reuters. "Either way, we have asked Tepco to stop leaking contaminated water into the ocean."
Abe ordered his government into action. The contaminated water was "an urgent issue to deal with", he told reporters after a meeting of a government task force on the disaster.
"Rather than relying on Tokyo Electric, the government will take measures," he said after instructing METI Minister Toshimitsu Motegi to ensure Tepco takes appropriate action.
The prime minister stopped short of pledging funds to address the issue, but the ministry has requested a budget allocation, an official told Reuters.
The Nikkei newspaper said the funds would be used to freeze the soil to keep groundwater out of reactor buildings - a project estimated to cost up to 40 billion yen ($410 million).
Tepco's handling of the clean-up has complicated Japan's efforts to restart its 50 nuclear power plants. All but two remain shut since the disaster because of safety concerns.
That has made Japan dependent on expensive imported fuels.
An official from the newly created nuclear watchdog told Reuters on Monday that the highly radioactive water seeping into the ocean from Fukushima was creating an "emergency" that Tepco was not containing on its own.
Abe on Wednesday asked the regulator's head to "do his best to find out the cause and come up with effective measures".
Tepco pumps out some 400 tonnes a day of groundwater flowing from the hills above the nuclear plant into the basements of the destroyed buildings, which mixes with highly irradiated water used to cool the fuel that melted down in three reactors.
Tepco is trying to prevent groundwater from reaching the plant by building a "bypass", but recent spikes of radioactive elements in sea water prompted the utility to reverse denials and acknowledge that tainted water is reaching the sea.
Tepco and the industry ministry have been working since May on a proposal to freeze the soil to prevent groundwater from leaking into the reactor buildings.
Similar technology is used in subway construction, but Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the vast scale of Tepco's attempt was "unprecedented in the world."
The technology was proposed by Kajima Corp,, a construction company already heavily involved in the clean-up.
Experts say maintaining the ground temperatures for months or years would be costly. The plan is to freeze a 1.4 km (nearly one mile) perimeter around the four damaged reactors by drilling shafts into the ground and pumping coolant through them.
"Right now there are no details (of the project yet). There's no blueprint, no nothing yet, so there's no way we can scrutinise it," said Shinji Kinjo, head of the task force set up by the nuclear regulator to deal with the water issue.

3. TRANSPARENCY… We don't need no stinking TRANSPARENCY
Former NSA Director General Michael Hayden has made a stunning declaration sure to further poison relations between the so-called intelligence community and the public. Hayden has claimed that transparency activists are the equivalent of Al Qaeda – mocking both the victims of 9/11 and the First Amendment.
The former director of the National Security Agency and the CIA speculated on Tuesday that hackers and transparency groups were likely to respond with cyber-terror attacks if the United States government apprehends whistleblower Edward Snowden…
“They may want to come after the US government, but frankly, you know, the dot-mil stuff is about the hardest target in the United States,” Hayden said, using a shorthand for US military networks. “So if they can’t create great harm to dot-mil, who are they going after? Who for them are the World Trade Centers? The World Trade Centers, as they were for al-Qaida.”

Hayden provided his speculation during a speech on cybersecurity to a Washington group, the Bipartisan Policy Center, in which he confessed to being deliberately provocative.
Under Hayden, the NSA began to collect, among other things, the phone records and internet data of Americans without warrants after 9/11, a drastic departure from its traditional mission of collecting foreign intelligence. A variety of technically sophisticated collection and analysis programs, codenamed Stellar Wind, were the genesis of several of the NSA efforts that Snowden disclosed to the Guardian and the Washington Post.

4. LavaBit Shuts Down

Today, Lavabit announced that it would shut down its encrypted email service rather than “become complicit in crimes against the American people.” Lavabit did not say what it had been asked to do, only that it was legally prohibited from sharing the events leading to its decision.
Lavabit was an email provider, apparently used by Edward Snowden along with other privacy sensitive users, with an avowed mission to offer an “e-mail service that never sacrifices privacy for profits” and promised to “only release private information if legally compelled by the courts in accordance with the United States Constitution.” It backed up this claim by encrypting all emails on Lavabit servers such that Lavabit did not have the ability to access a user's email (Lavabit’s white paper), at least without that user's passphrase, which the email provider did not store.
Given the impressive powers of the government to obtain emails and records from service providers, both with and without legal authority, it is encouraging to see service providers take steps to limit their ability to access user data, as Lavabit had done.

TOR hacked

startpage - not impacted

5. President Carter, General Powell Plead For Russian Aid To Overthrow Obama

A stunning Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) report circulating in the Kremlin today states that two of the United States highest ranking military generals delivered a “personal plea” to President Putin from retired four-star general and former Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the 65th United States Secretary of State, General Colin Powell, and former President Jimmy Carter for “specific military telecommunications assistance” intended to aid them in overthrowing the Obama regime that these Americans claim is “run by blackmail” and is destroying their nation.

And during a televised interview with the American Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) [see video HERE], Tice further noted that NSA-CSS spying orders were issued for US Supreme Court Justices and top US business leaders and that the “word to word” cell, telephone and email communications of all Americans were being recorded and saved too.

Important to note about Tice’s claims of the unprecedented NSA/CSS spying now taking place in the US, is that in 2008, the popular American actor Shia LaBeouf, while being interviewed on a television programme called the Tonight Show [see video HERE] told of his experience having a high level FBI agent play back for him phone conversations he, LaBeouf, had made a few years earlier as a demonstration about how much the American government knew about the private lives of their citizens.

To how the NSA-CSS have used the stolen communications of their nations top political, business, news media, military and other such peoples, this report says, has been to establish the most “convoluted blackmail scheme” the world has ever seen, where at one moment political enemies become political allies (left wing Obama and right wing Congressman Michelle Bachman on same side against NSA/CSS whistleblower Edward Snowden) and where news media giants refuse to investigate any story they’re forbidden to comment on.

Curious to note is that even we here at WhatDoesItMean.Com have been caught up in this NSA/CSS “convoluted blackmail scheme” after being attacked by the famous right wing media giant Glenn Beck, whose main website The, in their 5 August article titled Blaze Debunk: Obama ‘Regime’ Rumored to Shoot Down F-16s Sent to White House in Retaliation for Emails Exposing Colin Powell’s Alleged Affair, written by their technology and science editor Liz Klimas, and extensively commented on by their editor in chief Scott Baker [see video HERE], refuses to acknowledge the Obama regimes actions in shooting down two of their own military planes, while at the same (extremely contradictory) time saying the Obama regime is covering up the Boston Marathon Bombing.

Even worse, in their attack on our previous report, the minions of Glenn Beck failed at even the most rudimentary level to explain to either their readers or listeners (said to be in the millions) even the most basic truths of the Sisters of Sorcha Faal, our mission, or even our purpose for being.

To how the United States can survive such hypocrisy coming from such influential media figures like Glenn Beck, and from too many left-leaning other such media types to even mention, is readily apparent in the appeal made by these two American generals pleading for Russian help to overthrow their present regime.

Should the Powell-Carter coup-plotters be successful in their overthrowing of the Obama regime, however, it remains to be seen. But, and perhaps, even more important is that should they fail, their efforts will be kept from the American people (especially by the Glenn Beck types) like was done in 1933 when the Business Plot Coup nearly overthrew the Franklin Roosevelt regime, but which to this day no American school child or college student is allowed to know about.

6. Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, announced he will propose UNASUR to bring the US before an international tribunal for human rights violations after his plane was denied airspace in Europe in the beginning of July. Speaking yesterday to local newspaper La Razón, Morales announced that 'I'm going to propose in the next UNASUR meeting with all the other presidents to bring the United States before an international court in respect to human rights and international diplomacy treaties. This action is fundamental so that other presidents in the world will not have to go through what I went.'

The diplomatic scandal in question took place on 2nd July when Morales’ plane was re-routed on its return journey from a conference in Moscow as several European countries denied him airspace mistakenly believing that former US Intelligence Agent, Edward Snowden, was smuggled on board. The Bolivian President has since accepted the apologies from the European states involved, but has attributed the incident to Europe cow-tailing to the “repressive policies” of the US.

In addition, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) -an organisation that brings together South American and Caribbean countries- has “commissioned a legal and technical study to find out what legal arguments exist” in order to prosecute the US for espionage. The diplomatic violation came to light when Snowdon leaked the extent of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance of energy, military, politics, and terror, activity across Latin America.

While Morales has stated the importance of restoring US ambassadors in Bolivia, which have not been present since Ambassador Philip Goldberg and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) were expelled in 2008, he also claimed that there would always be mistrust.

He asserted that “there is a look about the US, of pride, of submission, of using geopolitics for monopolistic purposes… It is never going to change…We must re-establish ambassadors, formalities, but we are not going to be trustful.”

Speaking of his disappointment with the US President, Morales declared that “I used to have confidence in Obama, who himself comes from a discriminated sector. But I cannot understand it when one who was discriminated against then discriminates against another.”

7. New Study Finds High Levels of Arsenic in Groundwater Near Fracking Sites

A recently published study by researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington found elevated levels of arsenic and other heavy metals in groundwater near natural gas fracking sites in Texas’ Barnett Shale.

While the findings are far from conclusive, the study provides further evidence tying fracking to arsenic contamination. An internal Environmental Protection Agency PowerPoint presentation recently obtained by the Los Angeles Times warned that wells near Dimock, Pa., showed elevated levels of arsenic in the groundwater. The EPA also found arsenic in groundwater near fracking sites in Pavillion, Wyo., in 2009 — a study the agency later abandoned.

ProPublica talked with Brian Fontenot, the paper’s lead author, about how his team carried out the study and why it matters. (Fontenot and another author, Laura Hunt, work for the EPA in Dallas, but they conducted the study on their own time in collaboration with several UT Arlington researchers.) Here’s an edited version of our interview:

What led you guys to do the study?

We were sort of talking around lunch one day, and came up with the idea of actually going out and testing water in the Barnett Shale. We’d heard all the things that you see in the media, all the sort of really left-wing stuff and right-wing stuff, but there weren’t a whole lot of answers out there in terms of an actual scientific study of water in the Barnett Shale. Our main intent was to bring an unbiased viewpoint here — to just look at the water, see if we could find anything, and report what we found.

What kind of previous studies had been done in this vein?

The closest analog that I could find to our type of study are the things that have been done in the Marcellus Shale, with Rob Jackson’s group out at Duke University. Ours is set up very similarly to theirs in that we went out to private landowners’ wells and sampled their water wells and assayed them for various things. We decided to go with a list of chemicals thought to be included in hydraulic fracturing that was actually released in a congressional report. Our plan was to sample everyone’s water that we could, and then go through that list of these potential chemical compounds within the congressional list.

How did you do it?

We were able to get a press release put out from UT Arlington that went into the local newspapers that essentially called for volunteers to be participants in the study. For being a participant, you would get free water testing, and we would tell them our results. We were upfront with everyone about, you know, we don’t have a bias, we’re not anti-industry, we’re not pro-industry. We’re just here to finally get some scientific data on this subject. And we had a pretty overwhelming response.

From there we chose folks that we would be able to get to. We had to work on nights and weekends, because we had an agreement with EPA to work on this study outside of work hours. So we spent quite a few weekend days going out to folks who had responded to our call and sampling their water. But that wasn’t quite enough. We also had to get samples from within the Barnett Shale in areas where fracking was not going on, and samples from outside the Barnett Shale where there’s no fracking going on, because we wanted to have those for reference samples. For those samples we went door to door and explained to folks what our study was about.

We have people that were pro-industry that wanted to participate in this study to help out — saying, you know, ‘You’re not going to find anything and I’m going to help you prove it.’ And we also had folks that were determined to find problems. We have the whole gamut of folks represented in our study. 

We would take a water well, and we would go directly to the head, the closest we could get to the actual water source coming out of the ground, and we would purge that well for about 20 minutes. That ensures that you’re getting fresh water from within the aquifer. So we didn’t take anything from the tap, and nothing that had been through any kind of filtration system. This was as close to the actual groundwater as we could get. We took some measurements, and then we took several samples back to UT Arlington for a battery of chemistry analyses. That’s where we went through and looked for the various volatile organic compounds and heavy metals and methanols and alcohols and things like that.

What did you find?

We found that there were actually quite a few examples of elevated constituents, such as heavy metals, the main players being arsenic, selenium and strontium. And we found each of those metals at levels that are above EPA’s maximum contaminate limit for drinking water.

These heavy metals do naturally occur in the groundwater in this region. But we have a historical dataset that points to the fact that the levels we found are sort of unusual and not natural. These really high levels differ from what the groundwater used to be like before fracking came in. And when you look at the location of the natural gas wells, you find that any time you have water wells that exceed the maximum contaminate limit for any of these heavy metals, they are within about three kilometers of a natural gas well. Once you get a private water well that’s not very close to a natural gas well, all of these heavy metals come down. But just because you’re close to a natural gas well does not mean you’re guaranteed to have elevated contaminate levels. We had quite a few samples that were very close to natural gas wells that had no problems with their water at all.

We also found a few samples that had measureable levels of methanol and ethanol, and these are two substances that don’t naturally occur in groundwater. They can actually be created by bacterial interactions underwater, but whenever methanol or ethanol occur in the environment, they’re very fleeting and transient. So for us to be able to actually randomly take a grab sample and detect detectable methanol and ethanol — that implies that there may be a continuous source of this.

You found levels of arsenic in areas with fracking that were almost 18 times higher than in areas without fracking or in the historical data. What would happen to someone who drank that water?

Arsenic is a pretty well-known poison. If you experience a lot of long-term exposure to arsenic, you get a lot of different risks, like skin damage, problems with the circulatory system or even an increased risk of cancer. The levels that we found would not be a lethal dose, but they’re certainly levels that you would not want to be exposed to for any extended period of time.

What about the other stuff you found?

The heavy metals are a little bit different because they are known to be included in some fracking recipes. But they’re also naturally occurring compounds. We think the problem is that they’re becoming concentrated at levels that aren’t normal as a result of some aspect of natural gas extraction.

It’s not necessarily that we’re saying fracking fluid getting out. We don’t have any evidence of that. But there are many other steps involved, from drilling the hole to getting the water back out. A lot of these can actually cause different scenarios whereby the naturally occurring heavy metals will become concentrated in ways they normally wouldn’t. For example, if you have a private water well that’s not kept up well, you’ll have a scale of rust on the inside. And if someone were to do a lot of drilling nearby, you may find some pressure waves or vibrations that would cause those rust particles to flake out into the water. Arsenic is bound up inside that rust, and that can actually mobilize arsenic that would never be in the water otherwise.

Methanol and ethanol are substances that should not be very easy to find in the groundwater naturally. We definitely know that those are on the list of things that are known to be in hydraulic fracturing fluid. But we were unable to actually sample any hydraulic fracturing fluid, so we can’t make any claims that we have evidence fluids got into the water.

Have you talked with the homeowners whose wells you sampled?

We have shown those homeowners the results. I think most of the folks that had high levels of heavy metals were not necessarily surprised.  You hear so much I think maybe they were expecting it to come back with something even more extreme than that. I don’t want to say they were relieved, but I think they all sort of took the news in stride and realized, OK, well, as a private well owner there’s no state or federal agency that provides any kind of oversight or regulation, so it’s incumbent on that well owner to get testing done and get any kind of remediation.

Do you think fracking is responsible for what you found?

Well, I can’t say we have a smoking gun. We don’t want the public to take away from this that we have pegged fracking as the cause of these issues. But we have shown that these issues do occur in close relation, geographically, to natural gas extraction. And we have this historical database from pretty much the same exact areas that we sampled that never had these issues until the onset of all the fracking. We have about 16,000 active wells here in the Barnett Shale, and that’s all popped up in about the last decade, so it’s been a pretty dramatic increase.

We noticed that when you’re closer to a well, you’re more likely to have a problem, and that today’s samples have problems, while yesterday’s samples before the fracking showed up did not. So we think that the strongest argument we can say is that this needs more research.

8. Judge Grants Preliminary Injunction to Protect Free Speech after EFF Challenge
Court Blocks Enforcement of Dangerous New Jersey Law

Newark, NJ - A New Jersey federal district court judge granted motions for a preliminary injunction today, blocking the enforcement of a dangerous state law that would put online service providers at risk by, among other things, creating liability based on "indirect" publication of content by speech platforms.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) argued for the injunction in court on behalf of the Internet Archive, as the statute conflicts directly with federal law and threatens service providers who enable third party speech online.

"The Constitution does not permit states to pass overbroad and vague statutes that threaten protected speech. The New Jersey statute created that threat and the court was right to block it," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "Similarly, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act prohibits the state from threatening to throw online providers in jail for what their users do and the statute violated that rule as well. We are grateful that the court recognized the importance of these bedrock principles to online libraries and other platforms that make the Internet the vital and robust tool it is today."

The New Jersey law at issue is an almost carbon-copy of a Washington state law successfully blocked by EFF and the Internet Archive last year. While aimed at combatting online ads for underage sex workers, it instead imposes stiff criminal penalties on ISPs, Internet cafes, and libraries that "indirectly" cause the publication or display of content that might contain even an "implicit" offer of a commercial sex act if the content includes an image of a minor. The penalties – up to 20 years in prison and steep fines – would put enormous pressure on service providers to block access to broad swaths of otherwise protected material in order to avoid the vague threat of prosecution.

"Within the past month, we've seen a coalition of state attorneys general ask Congress to gut CDA 230 to make way for harmful laws like New Jersey's," said Zimmerman. "This misguided proposal puts speech platforms at risk, which in turn threatens online speech itself. Law enforcement can and must pursue criminals vigorously, but attacking the platforms where people exercise their right to free speech is the wrong strategy." separately filed suit against this law, represented by the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine, who also joined today's argument.

For more on this case:

9. EFF - Why Sen. Feinstein Is Wrong About Who’s a “Real Reporter”

During the Senate Judiciary Committee’s August 1 mark-up of the shield law bill aimed at protecting journalists’ sources, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) reportedly objected to the definition of journalist provided in the bill as introduced, seeking to restrict the definition’s scope to apply only to “real reporters.” To achieve her misguided goal, Sen. Feinstein has put forward an amendment to S. 987 that would greatly exacerbate the problems with the definition of who’s a journalist that existed in the bill as introduced.

Her amendment, to be submitted for Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Il.) as well, not only retains the problematic requirement that a person “regularly” engage in journalism to enjoy shield law protections, but moreover adds new requirements that would make it especially difficult for self-publishers such as independent bloggers and citizen journalists to be protected under the law. Indeed, her new requirements for being either salaried or at least affiliated with a news “entity” seem to purposefully target these self-publishers.

These problems are rooted in the vagueness of many key terms in her definition of journalist. Indeed, most essential terms are not defined. While vagueness provides an interpretative battleground, self-publishing bloggers and citizen journalists are disadvantaged in this fight.

Three Roads to “Journalist” that All Go Nowhere

Feinstein’s amendment effectively advances a traditional vision of journalism through the three definitions of journalist that it provides, each of which requires that a person be affiliated with a journalistic “entity” or institution (including news websites and other digital news services, and other periodicals distributed digitally).

Specifically, the amendment requires that a journalist meet one of the following definitions:

    working as a “salaried employee, independent contractor, or agent of an entity that disseminates news or information;”
    either (a) meeting the prior definition “for any continuous three-month period within the two years prior to the relevant date” or (b) having “substantially contributed, as an author, editor, photographer, or producer, to a significant number of articles, stories, programs, or publications by an entity . . . within two years prior to the relevant date;” or
    working as a student journalist “participating in a journalistic publication at an institution of higher education.” (emphases added)1

There are problems with each of these three definitions. First, as we pointed out in our critique of the House’s bill, requiring that an individual is “salaried” is problematic because many people do journalism but do not do it as their primary source of income. Further, it is entirely unclear who or what an “agent” or “entity” is.

Second, for an individual to fall under the second, seemingly looser criteria, that individual must have distributed the news “by means of an entity.” (emphasis added)2 While this definition may cover freelancers, it is again unclear what it means to have “substantially contributed” to a “significant” amount of work of an “entity.” Indeed, for both the first and second definitions, essential terms are not defined—vagueness that, as we’ll see later, ultimately hurts independent bloggers and citizen journalists.

While the amendment’s inclusion of student journalists is laudable, it does nothing for those students who do not work for a “journalistic publication” at their college or university—or for those students the moment they graduate.

Still Requiring that Journalists “Regularly” Engage in Journalism

Additionally, Sen. Feinstein’s amendment retains the original Senate shield bill’s problematic requirement that individuals “regularly” do journalism to count as a journalist. Specifically, the amendment requires either:

    that individuals “engage[] in . . . the regular gathering, preparation, collection, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting or publishing on” matters of public interest; or
    that individuals “regularly conducted interviews, reviewed documents, captured images of events, or directly observed events.” (emphases added)3

As in the original Senate bill, the amendment fails to define what “regularly” means, vagueness that cuts against non-institutional journalists.

Vague Language Is Bad for Independent Bloggers, Citizen Journalists

Sen. Feinstein’s amendment is riddled with vague language, failing to define key terms including “agent,” entity,” “substantially contributed,” and “regularly”—on which the definition of who’s a journalist turns. Non-traditional journalists are at a disadvantage when the interpretative waters are muddy. Why? Because such vagueness invites interpretations that exclude those who are on the margins of status quo journalism, and who are often in a more vulnerable position and unable to hire legal counsel to sort through the law’s ambiguities. As a result, independent bloggers and citizen journalists would likely be interpreted out of Feinstein’s definition of journalist. 

The very fact that developing a crisp, clear definition of journalist is difficult should signal to Congress that it might not be equipped to wade into the uncharted waters of deciding who is a journalist. But it’s a problem that Congress can easily avoid by linking shield law protections to the act of journalism, not the definition of who is journalist.

10. More Bad Apples
Apple’s growth and reputation for innovation have long been built on the shaky foundation of rock-bottom wages and poor labor conditions in Chinese factories. Now, a new investigation by the New York-based advocacy group China Labor Watch has further revealed the abuses, including wage violations and chemical exposures, at the warped core of Apple’s corporate empire. The report focused on Apple supplier the Pegatron Group, which has become a major producer of an upcoming new model for a scaled-back “cheap iPhone” for lower-end markets.

The most infamous of Apple’s labor problems were the widely reported the Foxconn suicides of 2010–when several workers at the Taiwanese-owned Apple contractor’s mega-compounds in China threw themselves from buildings in despair over their working conditions. Apple has since waged a highly publicized campaign to raise labor standards and wages at supplier factories.

Pegatron—a smaller company, with a mere 70,000 employees, though it counts among its clients not only Apple but also Dell, HP and Microsoft—has avoided the kind of negative publicity that Foxconn garnered. But CLW’s research on three Pegatron workplaces, two in Shanghai and one in nearby Suzhou, suggests that labor exploitation is hardwired into the entire production model for brand-name electronics manufacturing in China.

The report, based on field investigations and interviews with employees, found that workers at Pegatron still facing grueling conditions. Work shifts typically run about 11 hours, with an hourly wage of about $1.50. At the three factories investigated, according to the report, “average weekly working hours… are approximately 66 hours, 67 hours, and 69 hours.” At the same time, Apple has claimed “its suppliers had achieved 99 percent compliance with Apple’s 60-hour work week rule.” (In fact, China’s standard workweek is technically just 49 hours, but workers are typically pressured to work excessive overtime.)

The dormitories examined were often filthy and crowded, cramming eight to 12 workers in a room, sometimes with inadequate sanitation facilities. Workers reported being denied adequate safety training and gear, even when their job exposed them to chemical hazards.

Some categories of workers are especially marginalized, according to the report. Student “interns” are effectively shorted on wages due to deductions taken by their schools. Meanwhile, precarious “dispatch” workers, lacking the benefits and protections of regular employees, may be hit with sharp wage cuts if they do not complete their temporary contract terms.

Regulating behavior is key to maintaining “discipline” on the assembly line. Managers reportedly fined workers for activities such as “failing to tuck in one’s chair after eating, failing to eat at predetermined times, and absence from unpaid meetings.” Pregnancy can drive women out of the job due to the stressful conditions, or because the management determines that under China’s strict family planning regulations, “a woman does not have a birth permission document or became pregnant out of wedlock.”

The report charges that the harsh conditions at Pegatron are “violating a great number of international and Chinese laws and standards as well as the standards of Apple’s own social responsibility code of conduct.”

In a public response to CLW’s research, Apple expressed surprise, while Pegatron vowed to investigate the charges and stated, “We strive to make each day at Pegatron better than the last for our employees.”

Apparently many Pegatron workers decide that the way to make tomorrow better is just not to return to work. Noting the frequent turnover at the Suzhou Pegatron facility AVY Precision Electroplating, CLW found, “In a period of two weeks, 80 of 110 new recruits at AVY left, presumably unwilling to accept the work intensity, low pay, living conditions, and harsh management style characterizing the facility.”

The pressure to produce nonstop is linked directly to Apple’s dictates and massive orders. At Pegatron’s Riteng factory, workers were “expected to assemble 2,600 Apple laptop covers per day. Workers responsible for the placement of Apple logos on computer covers have a quota of 100 per hour per worker. Workers in the laser facility are expected to press 600 computer covers every hour.” Missing a quota means adding more overtime or risking reprimand. Beyond Apple, CLW has observed this pattern of labor exploitation in various high-profile brands, including Samsung and Motorola.

While Apple boasts that it monitors its suppliers closely, investigators say bosses at Riteng are adept at evading labor auditors: “The factory will prepare for these visits, telling workers to be neat and orderly, not to speak to the visitors, and to work a bit slower in order to ensure the quality of the products during the inspections.”

Since China lacks an independent labor organizing infrastructure, workers also faced heavy obstacles to challenging abuse grievances individually. At Riteng, many appeared unaware they were supposed to be represented by the official state union. The management “does not post or distribute any information about mechanisms that workers can use to protect their interest or make complaints,” according to the report. CLW Program Coordinator Kevin Slaten tells In These Times in a follow-up correspondence, “At Pegatron Shanghai, workers do not even know the location of the union office, let alone knowing how to seek help from it.”

CLW argues that with Apple’s enormous global corporate power, comes a special responsibility for the conditions workers suffer every day–not just extreme suicide cases. Slaten explains:

    One of the most troubling trends is that Apple is letting suppliers making Apple products, such as Foxconn and Pegatron, compete for Apple orders without ensuring that these suppliers’ conditions first meet legal and Apple’s own standards. Unless Apple places labor conditions on par with production price and speed, then it will continue to give large orders to abusive factories.

The chain of abuses that investigators traces through China’s electronics industry rests upon two powerful silences. In factories, workers are silenced by wilful neglect of managers as well as the failure of international regulations. And for Western enthusiasts of Apple products, the hollow promises of “social responsibility” issuing from Apple’s marketing headquarters and the seductive hum of a digital universe mute our consumer consciences.

11. America's Main Enemy Is Nameless, Shapeless "Associated Forces"
That leaves "their associated forces," in the president's phrase that exercises presumably purposeful threat inflation by using "forces" to refer to what we have no reason to believe are more than assorted gangs of malcontents with a range of grievances, many of which are legitimate and long-standing.
And who are these "associated forces?" The government won't say. The country may be at war, but most of the names of our enemies are classified, and subject to change without notice.
At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on May 16, a week before the president's speech, the committee chairman, Senator Carl Levin, a Democrat from Michigan, questioned Michael Sheehan, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, about designating enemies with no more Congressional authority than the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed by Congress three days after the 9/11 attacks, which gave the president effectively unlimited discretion to wage the war on terrorism, wherever he might imagine it to be.
Senator Levin Asks Questions, the Pentagon Takes Evasive Action
At the May 16 hearing, senators were making an effort to develop a more firm, reliable basis in fact and law for killing foreigners (mostly), a basis that has been absent from the AUMF since it became law in September 2001. One of those questions of fact and law was the determination of who decides who is an enemy:
Chairman LEVIN. Now, under the definition of ''enemy,'' do you agree that mere sympathy with al Qaeda is not sufficient to be an associated force for purposes of the AUMF?
Mr. SHEEHAN. Yes, Senator. Sympathy is not enough. As Jay Johnson and others have mentioned in public, it has to be an organized group and that group has to be in co-belligerent status with al Qaeda operating against the United States.
Chairman LEVIN. Is there any good reason why both Congress and the public should not be informed of which organizations and entities the administration has determined to be co-belligerents of al Qaeda and to promptly be informed of any additions or deletions from that list?
Pentagon Says: Congress Has Oversight Role, but No Right to Know Facts
Mr. SHEEHAN. Senator, I think that the appropriate role for the Congress is in its oversight regarding the designation of groups. A lot of these groups, as you know, Senator, have very murky membership and they also have very murky alliances and shifting alliances. And they change their name and they lie and obfuscate their activities. So I think it would be difficult for the Congress to get involved in trying to track the designation of which are the affiliate forces. We know when we evaluate these forces what they are up to, and we make that determination based on their co-belligerent status with al Qaeda and make our targeting decisions based on that criteria rather than on the shifting nature of different groups and their affiliations.
Chairman LEVIN. Is there a list now? Is there an existing list of groups that are affiliated with al Qaeda?
Mr. SHEEHAN. Senator, I am not sure there is a list per se. I am very familiar with the organizations that we do consider right now are affiliated with al Qaeda, and I could provide you that list of organizations. [emphasis added]
Chairman LEVIN. Would you give us that list?
Mr. SHEEHAN. Yes, sir. We can do that.
Guess What Happened When Pro Publica Asked to See the List?
Pro Publica defines itself as "an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. Our work focuses exclusively on truly important stories, stories with 'moral force.'" Pro Publica reported on July 26 that it had requested the Pentagon list of America's "enemies" from Senator Levin's office, "but Levin's office told Pro Publica they aren't allowed to share it."
Pro Publica reported that it then asked the Pentagon for the American enemies list, only to have Lt. Col. Jim Gregory say that revealing the list could cause "serious damage to national security." How is it that people suffering drone strikes can threaten national security by having their purported identities revealed to the public half a world away?
Lt. Col. Gregory explained: "Because elements that might be considered 'associated forces' can build credibility by being listed as such by the United States, we have classified the list. We cannot afford to inflate these organizations that rely on violent extremist ideology to strengthen their ranks."

The American Enemies List Is Decided Anonymously and Secretly
So who, exactly, is deciding who the enemy is? Not the president, according to Sheehan's testimony in May: "The issue of affiliated force has not gone to the presidential level, Senator. That issue is managed at a much lower level."
So according to the public record, the president decides whether or not to kill people with drone strikes, but he has no direct role in deciding who those people might actually be.
Although Sheehan's testimony (above) equivocates regarding Congressional oversight, he was later more direct about the determination of who's an enemy: "I would think that that is a decision better for the executive branch. As I mentioned to the chairman, these organizations right now are quite savvy in regards to how they are perceived overseas, and so they are always shifting their rhetoric, their names and affiliations. And I think that is better left to the executive branch."
So that's where the United States stands today, officially, a country at war with people whose names can't be shared with the American people, and whose enemy status is determined by someone other than the Congress, or even the president, and that secrecy is necessary because these people might not know we think they are co-belligerents and that might inflate their egos or their numbers, or both, and besides they're "murky" and change their names and lie and obfuscate - national security is at stake, trust us. Isn't that about it?

Sent from my iPhone

12. Livestock Falling Ill in Fracking Regions, Raising Concerns About Food

By Elizabeth Royte for the Food and Environment Reporting Network

In the midst of the domestic energy boom, livestock on farms near oil-and-gas drilling operations nationwide have been quietly falling sick and dying. While scientists have yet to isolate cause and effect, many suspect chemicals used in drilling and hydrofracking (or “fracking”) operations are poisoning animals through the air, water, or soil.

Earlier this year, Michelle Bamberger, an Ithaca, New York, veterinarian, and Robert Oswald, a professor of molecular medicine at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, published the first and only peer-reviewed report to suggest a link between fracking and illness in food animals.

The authors compiled 24 case studies of farmers in six shale-gas states whose livestock experienced neurological, reproductive, and acute gastrointestinal problems after being exposed—either accidentally or incidentally—to fracking chemicals in the water or air. The article, published in New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, describes how scores of animals died over the course of several years.

The death toll is insignificant when measured against the nation’s livestock population (some 97 million beef cattle go to market each year), but environmental advocates believe these animals constitute an early warning.

Exposed livestock “are making their way into the food system, and it’s very worrisome to us,” Bamberger says. “They live in areas that have tested positive for air, water, and soil contamination. Some of these chemicals could appear in milk and meat products made from these animals.”

    In Louisiana, 17 cows died after an hour’s exposure to spilled fracking fluid, which is injected miles underground to crack open and release pockets of natural gas. The most likely cause of death: respiratory failure.
    In New Mexico, hair testing of sick cattle that grazed near well pads found petroleum residues in 54 of 56 animals.
    In northern central Pennsylvania, 140 cattle were exposed to fracking wastewater when an impoundment was breached. Approximately 70 cows died, and the remainder produced only 11 calves, of which three survived.
    In western Pennsylvania, an overflowing wastewater pit sent fracking chemicals into a pond and a pasture where pregnant cows grazed: Half their calves were born dead. Dairy operators in shale-gas areas of Colorado, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Texas have also reported the death of goats.

Drilling and fracking a single well requires up to 7 million gallons of water, plus an additional 400,000 gallons of additives, including lubricants, biocides, scale- and rust-inhibitors, solvents, foaming and defoaming agents, emulsifiers and de-emulsifiers, stabilizers and breakers. At almost every stage of developing and operating an oil or gas well, chemicals and compounds can be introduced into the environment.

Cows Lose Weight, Die

After drilling began just over the property line of Jacki Schilke’s ranch in the northwestern corner of North Dakota, in the heart of the state’s booming Bakken Shale, cattle began limping, with swollen legs and infections. Cows quit producing milk for their calves, and they lost from 60 to 80 pounds in a week and their tails mysteriously dropped off. Eventually, five animals died, according to Schilke.

Ambient air testing by a certified environmental consultant detected elevated levels of benzene, methane, chloroform, butane, propane, toluene, and xylene—and well testing revealed high levels of sulfates, chromium, chloride, and strontium. Schilke says she moved her herd upwind and upstream from the nearest drill pad.

Although her steers currently look healthy, she says, “I won’t sell them because I don’t know if they’re okay.”

Nor does anyone else. Energy companies are exempt from key provisions of environmental laws, which makes it difficult for scientists and citizens to learn precisely what is in drilling and fracking fluids or airborne emissions. And without information on the interactions between these chemicals and pre-existing environmental chemicals, veterinarians can’t hope to pinpoint an animal’s cause of death.

The risks to food safety may be even more difficult to parse, since different plants and animals take up different chemicals through different pathways.

“There are a variety of organic compounds, metals, and radioactive material [released in the fracking process] that are of human health concern when livestock meat or milk is ingested,” Motoko Mukai, a veterinary toxicologist at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, says. These “compounds accumulate in the fat and are excreted into milk. Some compounds are persistent and do not get metabolized easily.”

Veterinarians don’t know how long chemicals may remain in animals, farmers aren’t required to prove their livestock are free of contamination before middlemen purchase them, and the Food Safety Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture isn’t looking for these compounds in carcasses at slaughterhouses.

Documenting the scope of the problem is difficult: Scientists lack funding to study the matter, and rural vets remain silent for fear of retaliation. Farmers who receive royalty checks from energy companies are reluctant to complain, and those who have settled with gas companies following a spill or other accident are forbidden to disclose information to investigators. Some food producers would rather not know what’s going on, say ranchers and veterinarians.

“It takes a long time to build up a herd’s reputation,” rancher Dennis Bauste of Trenton Lake, North Dakota, says. “I’m gonna sell my calves and I don’t want them to be labeled as tainted. Besides, I wouldn’t know what to test for. Until there’s a big wipe-out, a major problem, we’re not gonna hear much about this.”

Fracking proponents criticize Bamberger and Oswald’s paper as a political, not a scientific, document. “They used anonymous sources, so no one can verify what they said,” says Steve Everley, of the industry lobby group Energy In Depth. The authors didn’t provide a scientific assessment of impacts—testing what specific chemicals might do to cows that ingest them, for example—so treating their findings as scientific, he continues, “is laughable at best, and dangerous for public debate at worst.”

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the main lobbying group for ranchers, takes no position on fracking, but some ranchers are beginning to speak out. “These are industry-supporting conservatives, not radicals,” says Amy Mall, a senior policy analyst with the environmental group, Natural Resources Defense Council. “They are the experts in their animals’ health, and they are very concerned.”

Last March, Christopher Portier, director of the National Center for Environmental Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called for studies of oil and gas production’s impact on food plants and animals. None are currently planned by the federal government.

As Local Food Booms, Consumers Wary

But consumers intensely interested in where and how their food is grown aren’t waiting for hard data to tell them their meat or milk is safe. For them, the perception of pollution is just as bad as the real thing.

“My beef sells itself. My farm is pristine. But a restaurant doesn’t want to visit and see a drill pad on the horizon,” Ken Jaffe, who raises grass-fed cattle in upstate New York, says. Only recently has the local foods movement, in regions across the country, reached a critical mass. But the movement’s lofty ideals could turn out to be, in shale gas areas, a double-edged sword.

Should the moratorium on hydrofracking in New York State be lifted, the 16,200-member Park Slope Food Co-op, in Brooklyn, will no longer buy food from farms anywhere near drilling operations—a $4 million loss for upstate producers. The livelihood of organic goat farmer Steven Cleghorn, who’s surrounded by active wells in Pennsylvania, is already in jeopardy.

“People at the farmers market are starting to ask exactly where this food comes from,” he says.

13. Obama EPA Censored Key Pennsylvania Fracking Water Contamination Study
By: Steve Horn Monday July 29, 2013 8:05 am

A must-read Los Angeles Times story by Neela Banerjee demonstrates that – once again – the Obama administration put the kibosh on a key Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) groundwater contamination, this time in Dimock, Pennsylvania.

Though EPA said Dimock’s water wasn’t contaminated by fracking in a 2012 election year desk statement, internal documents obtained by LA Times reporter Neela Banerjee show regional EPA staff members saying the exact opposite among friends.

“In an internal EPA PowerPoint presentation…staff members warned their superiors that several wells had been contaminated with methane and substances such as manganese and arsenic, most likely because of local natural gas production,” writes Banerjee.

“The presentation, based on data collected over 4 1/2 years at 11 wells around Dimock, concluded that ‘methane and other gases released during drilling (including air from the drilling) apparently cause significant damage to the water quality.’ The presentation also concluded that ‘methane is at significantly higher concentrations in the aquifers after gas drilling and perhaps as a result of fracking [hydraulic fracturing] and other gas well work,” Banerjee further explained.

It’s essentially a repeat of Steve Lipsky’s water contamination by Range Resources in late-2010 in Weatherford, Texas. In that case, EPA conducted a taxpayer funded study, determined Range had contaminated his water, sued Range – and then proceeded to drop the suit and censor the study in March 2012.

EPA also recently kicked the can down the road on a high-profile fracking groundwater contamination study in Pavillion, Wyoming, originally set to come out in 2014. That release is now expected in 2016, another election year. Just days after EPA’s decision, a Duke University study again linked fracking to groundwater contamination in the Marcellus Shale.

“We don’t know what’s going on, but certainly the fact that there’s been such a distinct withdrawal from three high-profile cases raises questions about whether the EPA is caving to pressure from industry or antagonistic members of Congress,” Kate Sinding of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) told the LA Times.

Ed Rendell and Friends At Work Again?

Located in the heart of the Marcellus Shale basin, Dimock was featured prominently in both Gasland documentaries, as well as in FrackNation, the industry-funded film created to counter Josh Fox’s films, produced and directed by climate change deniers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney.

In the case of FrackNation, McAleer used EPA’s desk statement for propaganda purposes. He portrayed Craig and Julie Sautner – whose water was contaminated by Cabot Oil and Gas – as “crying wolf” for expressing anger that EPA privately told them their water was contaminated, then publicly stated that it wasn’t.

The Sautners aren’t alone in their frustration, however, and they’re in good company.

“What’s surprising is to see this data set and then to see EPA walk away from Dimock,” Robert Jackson, co-author of the June 2013 Duke study that included Dimock water samples, told the LA Times. “The issue here is, why wasn’t EPA interested in following up on this to understand it better?”

Jackson raises the million dollar question: Who from the industry pressured USEPA to censor the actual results of the Dimock study? In Steve Lipsky’s case it was former head of the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell.

Rendell – tied to the shale gas industry via Ballard Spahr LLP law firm and venture capital firms Element Partners and Greenhill & Co. - privately lobbied EPA to shut down its study and lawsuit centered on Lipsky’s groundwater contaminated by the Pennsylvania-headquartered Range Resources. His lobbying proved successful, likely in part due to three of his former aides now working as industry lobbyists.

One of those lobbyists is K. Scott Roy, Rendell’s former “top advisor.” Roy not only lobbies for Range Resources, but also sits on the Executive Board of the Marcellus Shale Coalition. Prior to serving in the Rendell administration and becoming a fracking lobbyist, Roy worked in the office of former PA Republican Governor Tom Ridge, who went on to serve as “strategic advisor” to the Marcellus Shale Coalition in 2012.

Did Roy contact his old boss Ed Rendell and request the Obama Administration step away from the Dimock study? That’s a question for a follow-up investigation.

Dereliction of Duty, or Par For The Course?

By law, the EPA is tasked to investigate groundwater contamination cases and punish violators of the law with criminal sentences. Instead, the industry has run roughshod over communities nationwide, letting polluters go free with no EPA accountability.

“Our federal government has a responsibility to protect the citizens in communities that are suffering consequences from fracking and to give them the full facts,” wrote the NRDC’s Kate Sinding in a blog post.

“It owes it to the American people to fully and fairly investigate every case that can help to answer some of the vexing scientific questions as to whether, and if so how, fracking and related activities contaminate drinking water. Sadly, EPA’s recent pattern of activity suggests neither has been happening.”

In the military, dereliction of duty is a serious crime, but for upper-level EPA staffers, it seems to just be business as usual.

14. Feds put heat on Web firms for master encryption keys

Whether the FBI and NSA have the legal authority to obtain the master keys that companies use for Web encryption remains an open question, but it hasn't stopped the U.S. government from trying.

 The U.S. government has attempted to obtain the master encryption keys that Internet companies use to shield millions of users' private Web communications from eavesdropping.

These demands for master encryption keys, which have not been disclosed previously, represent a technological escalation in the clandestine methods that the FBI and the National Security Agency employ when conducting electronic surveillance against Internet users.

If the government obtains a company's master encryption key, agents could decrypt the contents of communications intercepted through a wiretap or by invoking the potent surveillance authorities of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Web encryption -- which often appears in a browser with a HTTPS lock icon when enabled -- uses a technique called SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer.

"The government is definitely demanding SSL keys from providers," said one person who has responded to government attempts to obtain encryption keys. The source spoke with CNET on condition of anonymity.

The person said that large Internet companies have resisted the requests on the grounds that they go beyond what the law permits, but voiced concern that smaller companies without well-staffed legal departments might be less willing to put up a fight. "I believe the government is beating up on the little guys," the person said. "The government's view is that anything we can think of, we can compel you to do."

A Microsoft spokesperson would not say whether the company has received such requests from the government. But when asked whether Microsoft would turn over a master key used for Web encryption or server-to-server e-mail encryption, the spokesperson replied: "No, we don't, and we can't see a circumstance in which we would provide it."

Google also declined to disclose whether it had received requests for encryption keys. But a spokesperson said the company has "never handed over keys" to the government, and that it carefully reviews each and every request. "We're sticklers for details -- frequently pushing back when the requests appear to be fishing expeditions or don't follow the correct process," the spokesperson said.

Sarah Feinberg, a spokeswoman for Facebook, said that her employer has not received requests for encryption keys from the U.S. government or other governments. In response to a question about divulging encryption keys, Feinberg said: "We have not, and we would fight aggressively against any request for such information."

Apple, Yahoo, AOL, Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and Comcast declined to respond to queries about whether they would divulge encryption keys to government agencies.

Richard Lovejoy, a director of the Opera Software subsidiary that operates FastMail, said: "Our interpretation is that we are prohibited by law from releasing our SSL key. In the event that we received such a request, we would refuse, for both legal and ethical reasons." Releasing the SSL key would be nearly "equivalent to allowing interception on all our users, which is clearly illegal," Lovejoy said.

Encryption used to armor Web communications was largely adopted not because of fears of NSA surveillance -- but because of the popularity of open, insecure Wi-Fi networks. The "Wall of Sheep," which highlights passwords transmitted over networks through unencrypted links, has become a fixture of computer security conventions, and Internet companies began adopting SSL in earnest about three years ago.

"The requests are coming because the Internet is very rapidly changing to an encrypted model," a former Justice Department official said. "SSL has really impacted the capability of U.S. law enforcement. They're now going to the ultimate application layer provider."

An FBI spokesman declined to comment, saying the bureau does not "discuss specific strategies, techniques and tools that we may use."




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Where is Bill Nelson?




nan rich house party 8/18

Where is Bill Nelson?

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