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Wednesday
Apr092008

Undisputed Facts Point to the Controlled Demolition of WTC 7

Richard Gage, AIA – Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth


I'm Richard Gage, AIA, a licensed architect of 20 years. I represent Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, a fast-growing body of more than 300 architects and engineers dedicated solely to bringing out the truth about all three high-rise building collapses on 9/11.

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Wednesday
Apr092008

Oil Rises, Gasoline Climbs to a Record, on U.S. Supply Decline

By Mark Shenk / Bloomberg

Crude oil rose above $111 a barrel in New York and gasoline surged to a record after a government report showed that U.S. supplies unexpectedly dropped.

Crude oil inventories fell 3.15 million barrels to 316 million last week, the Energy Department said. A 2.3-million- barrel gain was forecast, according to a Bloomberg News survey. Metals futures also rose as the dollar fell against the euro, and gasoline pump prices reached a record average $3.343 a gallon.

``It looks like this move will accelerate and prices will move toward $115,'' said Tom Bentz, a broker at BNP Paribas in New York. ``This is all part of the big uptrend, and where it stops nobody knows.''

Crude oil for May delivery rose $2.37, or 2.2 percent, to $110.87 a barrel at 11:15 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures reached $111.43, the highest since March 17, when prices touched a record $111.80 a barrel. Oil is up 80 percent from a year ago.

Gasoline for May delivery climbed 3.9 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $2.7894 a gallon. Futures reached $2.8228, an intraday record for gasoline to be blended with ethanol, known as RBOB, which began trading in October 2005.

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Wednesday
Apr092008

House Staffers Livid Over Web Site (legistorm.com)

Working from a cramped loft apartment a mile from the Capitol, a small Internet company has sparked a privacy rights battle with hundreds of angry top House staffers upset that the Web site has begun posting details about their personal finances.

In an unusual conflict over constitutional rights, the aides argue that the recent disclosures leave them highly vulnerable to identity theft. But the Web site, LegiStorm, contends that it has a First Amendment right to publish already public information about some of the Capitol's most powerful players -- the high-level staffers -- and is creating a new check against potential corruption.

"Congressional staffers are among the most powerful people in Washington, and in the past they have received very little scrutiny. It's about time there was a little more scrutiny given to what they're doing," said Jock Friedly, president and founder of LegiStorm, which has six employees.

For several years, LegiStorm has published salary and expenditure reports that are released regularly by the House and Senate. The reports, released quarterly by the House and semiannually by the Senate, provide detailed information on how much each lawmaker spends, along with the names, titles and salaries of every employee.

In late February, however, LegiStorm expanded the data it provides by putting the staffers' personal financial disclosure forms online.

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Tuesday
Apr082008

U.S. To Pitch 'Phase One' of Net Monitoring Plan at RSA

That question draws some 15,000 security professionals and IT bigwigs to San Francisco each year for the RSA Conference, taking place this week. There they learn about the newest threat to corporate networks, and are wooed by the makers of the newest flavor of corporate firewalls, intrusion detection devices and biometric doo-dads.

The answer they always get, not surprisingly, is that the online world is pretty darn dangerous, unless you use our products and services. What's new this year is that the U.S. government is joining the party with much the same pitch.  The nation's intelligence and anti-terror agencies are newly determined to take a more active role in protecting the United States from cyberattack, and they're seeking new authority to monitor the internet in order to save it.

Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff is traveling Tuesday to the conference to pitch a program the Bush administration calls the Cyber Initiative. Slated for $154 million in funding this year, the plan would put the National Security Agency and DHS in charge of cybersecurity for all federal government agencies.

That would mean that the nation's spies -- who began secretly targeting Americans since shortly after 9/11 -- will be monitoring when Americans visit the IRS or the Social Security Administration online.

This would mark a significant change in the NSA's defensive responsibilities, which have historically been limited to locking down military and classified networks and providing encryption technologies to soldiers and statesmen.

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Tuesday
Apr082008

Unconstitutional DNA Bill Passes in Maryland

"What gives government the right to take people's DNA? Frankly, it should be unconstitutional,” says Peter Neufeld, a New York criminal defense lawyer who co-founded with Barry Scheck the Innocence Project, and who helped set state and federal standards for use of DNA testing."

In its final hours before adjournment, the Maryland General Assembly passed a bill yesterday expanding the collection of DNA from crime suspects but balked at authorizing speed cameras in school zones and neighborhoods, capping a session in which the state's continuing fiscal challenges greatly shaped what was attempted and what occurred.

Bills with sizable price tags were largely shelved during the 90-day session in favor of those that tightened regulations at little cost to the state, including sweeping reforms of mortgage-lending practices and further restrictions on shoreline development, both priorities of Gov. Martin O'Malley (D).

"This has been a session of very real and steady progress, even in these difficult times," O'Malley told reporters, acknowledging that the sour economy "undermines our ability to do as many things as quickly as we'd like to do them."

Not everything O'Malley sought passed by the scheduled midnight adjournment. A House panel voted down an ambitious bill intended to curb greenhouse gases, and a compromise speed-camera bill died in the Senate amid a filibuster threat.

But lawmakers did overcome a disagreement to approve a bill implementing a settlement to provide $2 billion in rate relief to customers of the state's largest electricity provider. And they approved a bill to phase out video bingo machines that have sprung up in Southern Maryland.

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Tuesday
Apr082008

Problems With Wireless Technology May Threaten Army's Plan

The U.S. Army is in the early stages of developing the most expensive weapons program in its history, but the project could already be in jeopardy because it largely depends on three separate military programs that have been plagued by cost overruns, immature technologies and timetable delays.

At stake is what the Army calls its most ambitious modernization since World War II -- Future Combat Systems, a new generation of weapons, combat vehicles, robots and sensors connected to a wireless network. Imagine, for instance, a battlefield on which soldiers use remote-control devices to position hovering drones over an enemy encampment, then send those coordinates to a box of rockets that can launch and strike a moving target.

It's a costly vision: In the complicated math of the military, the Army said the program will cost $124 billion, or $162 billion including inflation. Independent estimates from the office of the Secretary of Defense price the project at $203 billion to $234 billion.

But none of those figures takes into account the expense of three complementary military programs that are supposed to serve as a critical communications network for Future Combat Systems. The three projects -- the development of high-speed radios, a wireless network and satellites -- are expected to be used by different parts of the military and cost about $80 billion combined, a figure that has risen by about $29 billion in recent years.

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Tuesday
Apr082008

FBI Data Transfers Via Telecoms Questioned

By Ellen Nakashima / Washington Post

When FBI investigators probing New York prostitution rings, Boston organized crime or potential terrorist plots anywhere want access to a suspect's telephone contacts, technicians at a telecommunications carrier served with a government order can, with the click of a mouse, instantly transfer key data along a computer circuit to an FBI technology office in Quantico.

The circuits -- little-known electronic connections between telecom firms and FBI monitoring personnel around the country -- are used to tell the government who is calling whom, along with the time and duration of a conversation and even the locations of those involved.

Recently, three Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, including Chairman John D. Dingell, sent a letter to colleagues citing privacy concerns over one of the Quantico circuits and demanding more information about it. Anxieties about whether such electronic links are too intrusive form a backdrop to the continuing congressional debate over modifications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which governs federal surveillance.

Since a 1994 law required telecoms to build electronic interception capabilities into their systems, the FBI has created a network of links between the nation's largest telephone and Internet firms and about 40 FBI offices and Quantico, according to interviews and documents describing the agency's Digital Collection System. The documents were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group in San Francisco that specializes in digital-rights issues.

The bureau says its budget for the collection system increased from $30 million in 2007 to $40 million in 2008.

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Tuesday
Apr082008

At Justice Dept., New Pressure To Release Documents

At his confirmation hearing last October, attorney general nominee Michael B. Mukasey assured senators that "there isn't going to be any stonewalling" over congressional requests on his watch.

Key lawmakers are now calling on the Justice Department to live up to that promise.

The release last week of a Justice Department memo that authorized the military to pursue harsh interrogation techniques has ignited new demands for documents that underpin the Bush administration's most sensitive policies, including the treatment of detainees and the warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens.

Despite repeated congressional requests, some made as long as three years ago, key legal opinions and other department documents remain under wraps. That has prompted Democrats to accuse the Bush administration of trying to run out the clock.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who chairs the Judiciary Committee, said the department has been somewhat more responsive under Mukasey than under his predecessor, Alberto R. Gonzales. But, Leahy said, "what slight improvement there has been does not overcome the department's continued failure to provide . . . the secret justifications of presidential lawlessness that we have sought for years."

Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said that officials spend "an enormous amount of department time and resources" responding to congressional inquiries, and that they have replied to more than 500 questions from lawmakers this year. "We agree that there is always room for improvement in our effort to be responsive to Congress," Carr said.

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Tuesday
Apr082008

IMF Says Financial, Economic Losses May Swell to $945 Billion

By Christopher Swann / Bloomberg

The International Monetary Fund said financial losses stemming from the U.S. mortgage crisis may approach $1 trillion, citing a ``collective failure'' to predict the breadth of the crisis.

Falling U.S. house prices and rising delinquencies may lead to $565 billion in mortgage-market losses, the IMF said in its annual Global Financial Stability report, released today in Washington. Total losses, including the securities tied to commercial real estate and loans to consumers and companies, may reach $945 billion, the fund said.

The forecast signals the worst of the credit crunch may be yet to come, because banks and securities firms so far have posted $232 billion in asset writedowns and credit losses. Policy makers, concerned that lenders' deteriorating balance sheets will hobble economic growth, are pushing companies to raise capital.

``The current turmoil is more than simply a liquidity event, reflecting deep-seated balance-sheet fragilities and weak capital bases, which means its effects are likely to be broader, deeper and more protracted,'' the report said. The fund warned of the risk of ``a serious funding and confidence crisis that threatens to continue for a significant period.''

Today's report comes days before finance ministers and central bank governors from the IMF's 185 members gather in Washington for spring meetings of the fund and World Bank. Group of Seven policy makers meet April 11.

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Tuesday
Apr082008

1 in 8 Army recruits needs conduct waiver

The percentage of recruits requiring a waiver to join the Army because of a criminal record or other past misconduct has more than doubled since 2004 to one for every eight new soldiers.

The increase reflects the difficulties the Army faces in attracting young men and women into the military at a time of war. “Each month is a struggle, for the Army in particular,” said Bill Carr, a top military personnel official.

The percentage of active and reserve Army recruits granted “conduct” waivers for misdemeanor or felony charges increased to 11 percent last fiscal year from 4.6 percent in fiscal 2004, according to Army Recruiting Command statistics. So far this fiscal year, which began last October, 13 percent of recruits have entered the Army with conduct waivers.

Most waivers involve misdemeanors. The Army has granted 4,676 conduct waivers among the 36,047 recruited from October through late February. The waivers have helped the Army meet its active and reserve recruitment goals of about 100,000 people a year for the past several years.

A recruit needs a waiver if he or she has one felony or serious misdemeanor or more than three minor misdemeanors. For example, a single charge of possessing marijuana or driving under the influence requires a waiver. Minor infractions include disorderly conduct, trespassing or vandalism.

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