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CRS report : Privacy: An
Overview of Federal Statutes
Governing Wiretapping and
Electronic Eavesdropping

Greenpeace report : The True
Cost of Coal

Guy de Maupassant : A Piece
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Boys fishing in a bayou :
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one nation, under surveillance
crowd control
spread of the red
fun d' mental
number 175    
Slim Harpo  
Tribute Page
President-elect Barack Obama
introduced his national security team
this week at a press conference in
Chicago, confirming advance reports
that he would nominate primary rival
Hillary Clinton to become Secretary
of State and retain Defense
Secretary Robert Gates. The group,
which also includes Eric Holder as
the nominee for Attorney General
and Arizona Governor Janet
Napolitano as the prospective
chief at Homeland Security,
resembles the previously announced
economic team in that it is comprised
of veteran Washington operators,
many with ties
to the Clinton administration.

While politicians from both parties and
the mainstream media have largely
praised the “pragmatic” and
“experienced” appointments, some
progressive organizations that
supported the Obama candidacy
have been disappointed and
dismayed by the
center-right administration that is
taking shape. At the Chicago event
unveiling the security lineup, Obama
was careful to reiterate that he would
consult with his military commanders
on the timing and scope of troop
withdrawals from Iraq, “calibrating”,
as the
New York Times put it, one
of his most prominent campaign
stances. Political observers explain
Obama’s recent policy maneuvering
as part of a shift that began after he
wrapped up the Democratic
nomination last spring, pointing to
his Senate vote over the summer
to grant retroactive immunity to
telecommunications companies
that cooperated with illegal Bush
administration surveillance

Judging by leaks from within the
Obama transition team, it now
seems doubtful that the new
administration will seriously
pursue investigations of war
crimes or other serious
allegations against the Bush
White House. The Obama
presidency will in any case be
defined more by the current
administration’s economic crimes
than by its human rights and civil
liberties violations.      
it's all true
Private health insurance plans,
which now serve up to 25 percent
of all Medicare beneficiaries, have
increased the costs and
complexity of medical care without
delivering promised improvements
and efficiencies, according to a
pair of studies of the so-called
Medicare Advantage plans
released last week. Critics of the
programs note that the
government pays a premium of 13
percent to the private plans for no
discernible benefit. During the
campaign President-elect Barack
Obama pledged to reduce
payments to the private plans,
which are operated primarily by
large health services corporations.

According to
Bloomberg News,
three healthcare giants—Humana,
WellCare, and HealthSpring—
depend on Medicare Advantage
plans for more than 80 percent of
their gross annual earnings. The
plans include health maintenance
organizations (HMOs), preferred
provider organizations (PPOs),
and private
fee-for-service plans, which cost
an average of 17 percent more
than traditional Medicare.        
all true
Private Premium
Part of the Plan
Obama Security Appointments Promise More of the
“I've been in the Bible every day since
I've been the president."
Washington DC 11.12.08
verbatim                                                                                                                                                                                                       number 34.1
A recent study that compared
societal religiosity and societal
health found that there is no
correlation between a society’s
level of religious belief and the
well being of its citizens.  In
fact, the study, which was
reported in the Journal of
Religion and Society, found
that societies that place a high
value on the worship of a deity
are generally more violent,
more promiscuous and less

Researchers compared
developed countries in the
west, such as England, Japan
and the United States, and
found that countries that are
highly secular have lower rates
of crime, suicide and sexual
promiscuity.  The study, by
contrast, found that “no
democracy is known to have
combined a strong religiosity
and popular denial of evolution
with high rates of social

The study found that of the
countries reviewed, “the United
States is the only prosperous
nation where the majority
absolutely believes in a creator
and evolutionary science is

The study’s author, Gregory S.
Paul, said, “In general, higher
rates of belief in and worship
of a creator correlate with
higher rates of homicide,
juvenile and early adult
mortality, STD infection rates,
teen pregnancy and abortion
in the prosperous
democracies.  The United
States is almost always the
most dysfunctional of the
developing democracies,
sometimes spectacularly
it's all true
In over two years since the
implementation of a controversial
screening method in America’s
airports, where screeners use
behavior profiling techniques to
asses which travelers may be
terrorists, less than one percent of
the travelers that have been
subjected to searches based upon
being targeted using the “behavior
observation and analysis techniques”
have been arrested.

The Transportation Security
Administration has subjected more
than 160,000 travelers to additional
searches and questioning after being
singled out by airport luggage
screeners who use behavior analysis
techniques.  Just over 1200
individuals have been arrested after
having their behavior profiled, and
the vast majority of arrests have
been of people traveling with a phony
IDs or who are smuggling small
amounts of
illegal drugs.  As previously reported
by, under the
TSA behavior analysis program
called Screening Passengers by
Observation Techniques, or SPOT,
airport screeners are trained to look
for passengers who display
“involuntary physical and
psychological reactions that people
exhibit in response to the fear of
being discovered.”   

The TSA program was initially used
in 43 large metropolitan airports but
has been expanded to be used by in
150 airports, including small facilities
where as few as 20 flights are
scheduled per day.  The TSA reports
that 3400 of its employees are
trained to use behavior-profiling
techniques.  The agency will not say
if the use of profiling tactics by its
screeners has resulted in the
apprehension of a terrorist.   
it's all true
In a ruling that gives priority to the
federal government’s claim of
secrecy over the privacy rights of
American citizens, a panel of judges
ruled that authorities can conduct
searches and surveillance of US
citizens in foreign countries without
seeking the approval of a judge as is
required by the US Constitution.

The three-judge panel of the US
Court of Appeals for the Second
Circuit in Manhattan made their ruling
in a case having to do with three
alleged terror suspects who were
convicted of helping to plan the
bombing of two US embassies in
Africa in the late 1990s.  The ruling
effectively strips American citizens of
one of their most fundamental
constitutional rights, the protection
from unwarranted searches and
surveillance by their own  
government, when they are not
actually physically present in the US.

US agents wiretapped the phone
conversations of Wadih el-Hage for a
year without ever seeking the
approval of a court.  El-Hage is a
naturalized American citizen who is
alleged by the government to be a
close aide to Osama bin Laden and
who resided in Nairobi.

The panel said in their ruling that,
while it was true that the defendant in
the case, el-Hage, had suffered a
“significant invasion of privacy by
virtue of the government’s yearlong
surveillance of his telephone
communications,” the “sustained and
intense monitoring” was necessary
for national security reasons.  
Federal agents, the court ruled, had
a “self-evident need to investigate
threats to national security.”
The panel went further to say that
US authorities did not need to
seek the approval of a foreign
government to perform
surveillance of Americans who
happened to live in their country.  
There was no need, the three-
judge panel said in their ruling, for
US intelligence agents to "press
foreign governments for the
provision of legal rights not
recognized by their criminal justice

The court said, however, that
while there was no need for the
government to seek a warrant to
record the conversations of el-
Hage, "The Fourth Amendment’s
requirement of reasonableness-
but not the Warrant Clause-
applies to extraterritorial searches
and seizures of US citizens.”    
all true
Percent of labor force
working more than 40 hours
per week
selected countries
%         20         40         60         
A Country That
Believes Has More
Violence and Thieves
US Citizens' Rights to Privacy Confiscated at Nation's
Airport Facial Profiling Program Nets Few Arrests
Researchers leading the
unprecedented Census of Marine
Life project, scheduled for completion
in 2010, have warned that their
studies reveal that ocean
environments are undergoing a
period of rapid change. An
international effort involving more
than 2000 scientists from 82
countries, the Census has already
identified thousands of new species
and varieties, creating the most
detailed picture ever assembled of
oceanic biodiversity. Over the course
of eight years, researchers have also
been able to observe the effects of
climate change on marine life in a
global context, documenting the
impact of disruptive human activities
on ancient ecosystems.

The Census of Marine Life, which
was started in 2000, is already seen
as a major scientific achievement,
establishing baseline data for future
research in a wide range of
disciplines. “It’s been a remarkable
time of exciting new discoveries and
frightening revelations of how quickly
the oceans are changing,” said Paul
Snelgrove, a Canadian marine
biologist leading a team of
researchers working on the Census,
in an interview with the
Inter Press
News Service
. The Census has
confirmed that over 90 percent of the
large predator species such as
sharks, tuna, and swordfish that
once populated the oceans have
vanished. According to Snelgrove,
“We’re also seeing evidence of
climate change with the shifting
distribution of species.”

Scientists working on the project
have been able to track conditions
related to climate change including
fluctuations in temperatures and
salinity, as well as increasing
acidification of waters directly
affected by industrial development.
The project has also documented the
dramatic disappearance of sea ice
and locally increasing levels of
methane gas that have been
attributed to cracks and fissures in
permafrost caused by global
warming. The Census includes the
first comprehensive studies of marine
biodiversity in Polar Regions.
Researchers estimate that the
Census will ultimately catalog more
than 230,000 named marine

Scientists hope to continue many of
parts of the program, such as the
underwater electronic Ocean
Tracking System. Also to remain in
place is the Global Ocean Observing
System, a network of satellites that
has revealed, researchers warn, a
pressing need for some form of
international governance over the
open oceans.          
it's all true
Project Charts Rising Tide of Threats to
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