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Below are one-paragraph excerpts of important news articles you may
have missed. These news articles include revealing information on
the development of a superfast Internet, whale deaths blamed on
navy sonar, a secret US Department of Justice memo a month after
the September 11 attacks that undermined Fourth Amendment protections,
and more. Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website
listed at the link provided. If any link fails to function, click
here. Key sentences are highlighted for those with limited time.
By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and
will build a brighter future.
With best wishes, Tod Fletcher and Fred Burks for PEERS and the
Superfast internet may replace world wide web April 9, 2008, The
Telegraph (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
The internet could soon be made obsolete by a new "grid" system
which is 10,000 times faster than broadband connections. Scientists
in Switzerland have developed a lightning-fast replacement to the
internet that would allow feature films and music catalogues to be
downloaded within seconds. The latest spin-off from CERN, the
particle physics centre that created the internet, the grid could
also provide the power needed to send sophisticated images; allow
instant online gaming with hundreds of thousands of players; and
offer high-definition video telephony for the price of a local call.
David Britton, professor of physics at Glasgow University and a
leading figure in the grid project, believes grid technology could
change society. He said: "With this kind of computing power, future
generations will have the ability to collaborate and communicate
in ways older people like me cannot even imagine." The power of the
grid will be unlocked this summer with the switching on of the L!
arge Hadron Collider (LHC), a new particle accelerator designed to
investigate how the universe began. The grid will be turned on at
the same time to store the information it generates, after scientists
at CERN, based near Geneva, realised the internet would not have
the capacity to capture such huge volumes of data. The grid has
been built with fibre optic cables and modern routing centres,
meaning there are no outdated components to slow the deluge of data,
unlike the internet. There are 55,000 grid servers already installed,
a figure which is expected to rise to 200,000 within the next two
years. Britain has 8,000 servers on the grid system, meaning access
could be available to universities as early as this autumn.
Navy sonar blamed for death of beaked whales April 7, 2008, The
Independent (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
Anti-submarine sonar may have killed a group of whales found dead
in the Hebrides in one of Britain's most unusual strandings,
scientists believe. Five Cuvier's beaked whales, a species rarely
seen in British waters, were discovered on beaches in the Western
Isles on succeeding days in February. Another animal from a related
species was discovered at the same time. Experts consider such a
multiple stranding to be highly abnormal. The main suspect in the
case is sonar, as it is known that beaked whales are highly sensitive
to the powerful sound waves used by all the world's navies to locate
underwater objects such as submarines. Groups of beaked whales have
been killed, with sonar suspected as the direct cause, several times
in recent years; well-documented incidents include anti-submarine
exercises in Greece in 1996, the Bahamas in 2000 and the Canary
Islands in 2002. Britain's Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society
has now submitted a Freedom of Information request to the M!
inistry of Defence over the Hebridean strandings. The 21 species
of beaked whale include some of the world's most rarely seen mammals;
they are also the deepest-diving air-breathing animals. A Cuvier's
beaked whale set the record for a deep dive two years ago: 1,899
metres, or 6,230ft, beneath the surface, holding its breath for an
astonishing 85 minutes. The animals use these deep dives to forage,
but when sonar gets involved, their remarkable habit may be their
undoing. One theory is that the whales are so distressed by the
intensely loud sound waves that they return too quickly to the
surface, and in doing so, fatally suffer "the bends" the formation
of nitrogen bubbles in the blood which can kill human divers.
Note: For other revealing reports of the deadly impact of sonar on
marine mammals from major media sources, click here.
Administration Asserted a Terror Exception on Search and Seizure
April 4, 2008, Washington Post
The Justice Department concluded in October 2001 that military
operations combating terrorism inside the United States are not
limited by Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches
and seizures, in one of several secret memos containing new and
controversial assertions of presidential power. The memo, sent on
Oct. 23, 2001, to the Defense Department and the White House by the
Office of Legal Counsel, focused on the rules governing any deployment
of U.S. forces inside the country "in the event of further large-scale
terrorist activities." Administration officials declined to detail
what domestic military operations were being contemplated at the
time. The memo has not been formally withdrawn. The Fourth Amendment
assertion is one of several far-reaching legal arguments revealed
by the disclosure Tuesday of a 2003 Justice Department memo that
authorized harsh military interrogations. In its footnotes, asides
and central text, that 81-page memo asserted nearly u!
nlimited presidential powers during a time of war. The document
disclosed, for example, that the administration's top lawyers had
declared that the president has unfettered power to seize oceangoing
ships as commander in chief; that Congress has no ability to pass
legislation governing the interrogations of enemy combatants; and
that federal laws prohibiting assault and other crimes did not apply
to military interrogators. One section discussed to what extent the
president might be allowed to legally maim a prisoner, such as
through the use of a "scalding, corrosive, or caustic substance."
A footnote argued that Fifth Amendment guarantees of due-process
rights "do not address actions the Executive takes in conducting a
military campaign against the Nation's enemies."
Note: For further disturbing reports on threats to civil liberties,
Jesse Ventura says he regrets not asking more questions April 3,
2008, WKBT TV/Associated Press http://wkbt.com/Global/story.asp?S=8115056
Jesse Ventura says he regrets not asking more questions about the
9/11 attacks when he was still governor of Minnesota. Ventura tells
the nationally syndicated radio host Alex Jones that his skepticism
about the official version of events would have then carried more
weight. Among many other things, Ventura questions how the Twin
Towers could have fallen so fast and in such a way as to turn so
much of the wreckage into dust. He also says that after watching
the Twin Towers collapse in slow motion, it appears to him exactly
like the controlled demolition of a Las Vegas hotel. Ventura spoke
on Jones' program on Wednesday. Ventura was elected as an independent
in 1998 and left office in 2003 after deciding not to seek re-election.
Jones frequently questions the events surrounding 9/11 and often
discusses conspiracies on his radio show and documentary films.
Note: For a powerful two-page summary of unanswered questions about
the official account of 9/11, click here.
Torture Memo Gave White House Broad Powers April 2, 2008, ABC News
The Justice Department's newly declassified torture memo outlined
the broad legal authority its lawyers gave to the Bush White House
on matters of torture and presidential authority during times of
war. The March 14, 2003 memorandum ... provided legal "guidance"
for military interrogations of "alien unlawful combatants," and
concluded that the president's authority during wartime took
precedence over the individual rights of enemies captured in the
field. The memo ... determined that amendments to the U.S. Constitution,
which in part protect rights of individuals charged with crimes,
do not apply equally to enemy combatants. "The Fifth Amendment due
process clause does not apply to the president's conduct of a war,"
the memo noted. It also asserted, "The detention of enemy combatants
can in no sense be deemed 'punishment' for purposes of the Eighth
Amendment," which prohibits "cruel and unusual" forms of punishment.
The memo was drafted by John Yoo, who was at the time the d!
eputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Office
of Legal Counsel. Former aides to John Ashcroft say the then-attorney
general privately dubbed Yoo "Dr. Yes" for being so closely aligned
with lawyers at the White House. The memo also provided an argument
in defense of government interrogators who used harsh tactics in
their line of work. The memo also laid out a defense against the
authority of the U.N. Convention Against Torture, or CAT. Jack
Goldsmith who headed OLC from October 2003 to July 2004, and worked
at the Pentagon before coming to the department ... described the
problems he had reviewing and standing by Yoo's work. "My first
[reaction] was disbelief that programs of this importance could be
supported by legal opinions that were this flawed."
Note: For further disturbing reports on threats to civil liberties,
Centers Tap Into Personal Databases April 2, 2008, Washington Post
Intelligence centers run by states across the country have access
to personal information about millions of Americans, including
unlisted cellphone numbers, insurance claims, driver's license
photographs and credit reports, according to a document obtained
by The Washington Post. One center also has access to top-secret
data systems at the CIA, the document shows, though it's not clear
what information those systems contain. Dozens of the organizations
known as fusion centers were created after the Sept. 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks. The centers use law enforcement analysts and
sophisticated computer systems to compile, or fuse, disparate tips
and clues and pass along the refined information to other agencies.
Though officials have publicly discussed the fusion centers'
importance to national security, they have generally declined to
elaborate on the centers' activities. But a document that lists
resources used by the fusion centers shows how a dozen of the
organizations in t!
he northeastern United States rely far more on access to commercial
and government databases than had previously been disclosed. The
list of information resources was part of a survey conducted last
year, officials familiar with the effort said. It shows that, like
most police agencies, the fusion centers have subscriptions to
private information-broker services that keep records about Americans'
locations, financial holdings, associates, relatives, firearms
licenses and the like. "Fusion centers have grown, really, off the
radar screen of public accountability," said Jim Dempsey, vice
president for public policy at the Center for Democracy and Technology,
a nonpartisan watchdog group in the District. "Congress and the
state legislatures need to get a handle over what is going on at
all these fusion centers."
Note: For further disturbing reports on threats to privacy, click
ACLU: Military using FBI to skirt restrictions April 1, 2008,
MSNBC/Associated Press http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23908142
The military is using the FBI to skirt legal restrictions on domestic
surveillance to obtain private records of Americans' Internet service
providers, financial institutions and telephone companies, the ACLU
said Tuesday. The American Civil Liberties Union based its conclusion
on a review of more than 1,000 documents turned over by the Defense
Department after it sued the agency last year for documents related
to national security letters. The letters are investigative tools
used to compel businesses to turn over customer information without
a judge's order or grand jury subpoena. ACLU lawyer Melissa Goodman
said the documents the civil rights group studied "make us incredibly
concerned that the FBI and DoD might be collaborating to evade
limits" placed on the Defense Department's use of the letters.
Goodman, a staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project,
said the military is allowed to demand financial and credit records
in certain instances but does not have the!
authority to get e-mail and phone records or lists of Web sites
that people have visited. That is the kind of information that the
FBI can get by using a national security letter, she said. "That's
why we're particularly concerned. The DoD may be accessing the kinds
of records they are not allowed to get," she said. Goodman also
noted that legal limits are placed on the Defense Department "because
the military doing domestic investigations tends to make us leery.
Note: For further disturbing reports on threats to civil liberties,
Algae: 'The ultimate in renewable energy' April 1, 2008, CNN
Texas may be best known for "Big Oil." But the oil that could some
day make a dent in the country's use of fossil fuels is small.
Microscopic, in fact: algae. Literally and figuratively, this is
green fuel. "Algae is the ultimate in renewable energy," Glen Kertz,
president and CEO of Valcent Products, told CNN while conducting a
tour of his algae greenhouse on the outskirts of El Paso. "We are
a giant solar collecting system. We get the bulk of our energy from
the sunshine," said Kertz. Algae are among the fastest growing
plants in the world, and about 50 percent of their weight is oil.
That lipid oil can be used to make biodiesel for cars, trucks, and
airplanes. Most people know algae as "pond scum." And until recently,
most energy research and development projects used ponds to grow
it. But instead of ponds, Valcent uses a closed, vertical system,
growing the algae in long rows of moving plastic bags. The patented
system is called Vertigro, a joint venture with Canadian al!
ternative energy company Global Green Solutions. The companies have
invested about $5 million in the Texas facility. "A pond has a
limited amount of surface area for solar absorption," said Kertz.
"By going vertical, you can get a lot more surface area to expose
cells to the sunlight. It keeps the algae hanging in the sunlight
just long enough to pick up the solar energy they need to produce,
to go through photosynthesis," he said. Kertz said he can produce
about 100,000 gallons of algae oil a year per acre, compared to
about 30 gallons per acre from corn; 50 gallons from soybeans.
Valcent research scientist Aga Pinowska said there are about 65,000
known algae species, with perhaps hundreds of thousands more still
to be identified. A big part of the research at the west Texas
facility involves determining what type of algae produces what type
Note: For many exciting reports of new energy inventions, click
Monsantos Harvest of Fear May 2008 issue, Vanity Fair magazine
Gary Rinehart clearly remembers the summer day in 2002 when the
stranger walked in and issued his threat. Rinehart was behind the
counter of the Square Deal, his old-time country store, as he calls
it, on the fading town square of Eagleville, Missouri, a tiny farm
community 100 miles north of Kansas City. As Rinehart would recall,
the man began verbally attacking him, saying he had proof that
Rinehart had planted Monsantos genetically modified (G.M.) soybeans
in violation of the companys patent. Better come clean and settle
with Monsanto, Rinehart says the man told himor face the consequences.
But Rinehart wasnt a farmer. He wasnt a seed dealer. He hadnt planted
any seeds or sold any seeds. He owned a smalla really smallcountry
store in a town of 350 people. On the way out the man kept making
threats. Rinehart says he cant remember the exact words, but they
were to the effect of: Monsanto is big. You cant win. We will get
you. You will pay. Scenes like this are!
playing out in many parts of rural America these days as Monsanto
goes after farmers, farmers co-ops, seed dealersanyone it suspects
may have infringed its patents of genetically modified seeds. As
interviews and reams of court documents reveal, Monsanto relies on
a shadowy army of private investigators and agents in the American
heartland to strike fear into farm country. They fan out into fields
and farm towns, where they secretly videotape and photograph farmers,
store owners, and co-ops; infiltrate community meetings; and gather
information from informants about farming activities. Farmers say
that some Monsanto agents pretend to be surveyors. Others confront
farmers on their land and try to pressure them to sign papers giving
Monsanto access to their private records.
Note: For a revealing summary on the health impacts of genetically
modified food, click here.
Aiming to put fuel cells to work March 31, 2008, Boston Globe
A powerful winter storm swept across northeastern Ohio in early
January, knocking out power for nearly 60,000 customers. But in an
isolated one-story building, tucked among the trees and fields of
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the lights stayed on. So did the
computers. The power source: two fuel cells, each about the size
of a refrigerator. "It worked seamlessly," said Tom Toledo, maintenance
operations supervisor at the park. "We didn't even realize there
was a power outage." The performance of these fuel cells, a
demonstration project for fuel cell maker Acumentrics Corp. of
Westwood, is an example of a technology whose time may be approaching.
Unlike traditional technologies, which burn fuels like oil, coal,
and natural gas to make power, fuel cells rely on chemical reactions
to produce electricity and heat. Fuel cells are most frequently
imagined as an advanced engine for automobiles. But as Acumentrics'
success in Ohio demonstrates, on-site generation represents anoth!
er application, one that specialists say will make it to market
long before fuel cells replace the internal combustion engine.
Acumentrics, in fact, is moving toward commercial production of a
compact fuel cell system to power and heat homes. Working with the
Italian heating products company Merloni TermoSanitari, Acumentrics
hopes to get these household units, small enough to hang on a wall,
into European markets by 2010. Estimated price: $5,200. "This is a
new way of making electricity," said Gary Simon, Acumentrics chief
executive. "It's like going from vacuum tubes to microchips."
Acumentrics is one of about 40 Massachusetts firms developing fuel
cell technology that someday may power everything from military
outposts to cellphones.
Note: For many exciting reports of new energy inventions, click
Special note: Ever wondered why Congress continues to fund Bush's
war on Iraq? The Center for Responsive Politics provides a major
clue in its new report detailing the investments by members of the
US Senate and House of Representatives in corporations receiving
multimillion-dollar contracts from the Department of Defense. Their
investments total as much as $196 million! To read a summary of the
report, click here. And for those who are interested in solid,
reliable information on UFOs, see our engaging UFO Information
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