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Purveyor

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White House Plays Down Data Program

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration tried Saturday to marshal new evidence in defense of its collection of private Internet and telephone data, arguing that a secret program called Prism is simply an “internal government computer system” designed to sort through court-supervised collection of data, and that Congress has been briefed 13 times on the programs since 2009.

After rushing to declassify some carefully selected descriptions of the programs, James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, conceded for the first time that the Prism program existed. But in a statement, after denouncing the leak of the data to The Guardian and The Washington Post, Mr. Clapper insisted it was “not an undisclosed collection or data mining program.” Instead, he said it was a computer system to “facilitate” the collection of foreign intelligence that had been authorized by Congress.

Mr. Clapper also insisted that the government “does not unilaterally obtain information from the servers” of telephone and Internet providers, saying that information is turned over only under court order, when there is a “documented, foreign intelligence purpose for acquisition” of the data.

He appeared to be attempting to push back against early reports that the government had direct access to the huge computer servers at Google, Microsoft, Facebook and similar companies. Those firms have denied they give the government a “back door” to their systems.

But they acknowledge handing over material when ordered to do so by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, though they have not described the mechanism for complying with those orders. It appears the companies use some kind of electronic drop box, in which they place the material, so that the government can then harvest the information.

MORE...

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/09/us/politics/officials-say-congress-was-fully-briefed-on-surveillance.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Free Gun Initiative Begins In Houston Neighborhood

HOUSTON (AP) — A nonprofit that offers free shotguns and firearms training to residents of high-crime areas has made a Houston neighborhood the site of its first gun giveaway.

Residents of the Oak Forest neighborhood, which has been hit by a rash of burglaries and robberies, say they are grateful for the self-defense help.

Amid the ongoing national debate on gun control, Houston-based Armed Citizen Project says it's trying to show that putting more guns in the hands of responsible owners can help combat crime.


Read more: http://www.seattlepi.com/news/us/article/Free-gun-initiative-begins-in-Houston-neighborhood-4588826.php#ixzz2VeFDZNAS

KOCH PETCOKE: Detroit’s Mountains Of Petroleum Coke (Petcoke) Are ‘Dirtier Than The Dirtiest Fuel’

By Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian
Saturday, June 8, 2013 4:40 EDT

It was the dirty secret of Alberta’s tar sands – until the black mountain of petroleum coke on the banks of the Detroit River grew to occupy an entire city block three storeys high.

Now it could become a familiar feature at storage yards and water fronts across the country as the oil industry in the US and Canada struggles to deal with a glut of waste from Alberta’s tar sands production.

“This is dirtier than the dirtiest fuel,” Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat who represents the area where the pet-coke mountain has been accumulating, told the Guardian.

---CLIP
This particular pile is owned by Koch Carbon, which is controlled by the Koch brothers, oil billionaires and backers of ultra-conservative groups, including those which work to discredit climate science and block action on climate change.

Koch Carbon did not respond to requests for comment.

MORE...

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/06/08/detroits-mountains-of-petroleum-coke-petcoke-are-dirtier-than-the-dirtiest-fuel/

'Big Brother' Supermarkets Know Your Every Move

How supermarkets get your data – and what they do with it

We all know supermarkets use information about our shopping habits to target us with personalised vouchers and offers – but how would you feel about sitting down to watch a movie and being confronted with adverts based on what was in your shopping trolley a few hours earlier?

Or what would you think about Tesco using its Clubcard database to check what you are eating, and possibly offering vouchers for salad and fruit if your basket is usually groaning with unhealthy items?

These are just two of the ways the supermarket giants are planning to make use of the data they gather on us.

For every loyalty point or coupon that Sainsbury’s, Tesco and the like dish out, they gobble up a huge amount of information about our shopping habits. We are all familiar with targeted offers linked to loyalty cards, but you might be surprised at the amount of data the big retailers collect on all of their shoppers – and even potential customers – and what they do with it.

If you have opted out of taking out a loyalty card because you don’t want “Big Brother in your shopping basket”, then too bad, because the supermarkets also track debit and credit card payment data and till receipts – so someone, somewhere, knows about that bottle of wine you bought at 12.28pm on Tuesday, and that you recently switched your brand of athlete’s foot cream.

MORE...

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/06/08/how-supermarkets-get-your-data-and-what-they-do-with-it/

FLASHBACK: Watch This 2006 PBS ‘NewsHour’ Debate On The NSA’s Phone Call Surveillance Program

In May 2006, USA Today reported that the NSA, under then-CIA Nominee Gen. Michael Hayden's leadership, had, since 9/11, secretly collected tens of millions of phone call records from the nation's three largest telephone companies -- Verizon, AT&T and BellSouth.

We uncovered this conversation Jeffrey Brown held on May 12, 2006 with Bryan Cunningham, a former lawyer for the National Security Council in the Bush administration and with the CIA during the Clinton years, and Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, about the legal merits of the government's -- at the time -- alleged data collection program. Martin appeared again on Thursday's NewsHour.

Newark Mayor Booker Announces Run For Open New Jersey Senate Seat

Source: REUTERS

NEWARK, New Jersey (Reuters) – Newark Mayor Cory Booker announced his candidacy on Saturday for a U.S. Senate seat for New Jersey and will run in a Democratic primary set for August to fill the seat of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg.

“I do not run from challenges. I run towards them,” Booker said at a news conference in the city where he has served as mayor since 2006.

After Lautenberg’s death on Monday, Republican Governor Chris Christie called a special election to fill the remainder of the late senator’s term.

Read more: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/06/08/newark-mayor-booker-announces-run-for-open-new-jersey-senate-seat/



Yeah!

Jewish National Fund Backs Out Of $500,000 Speaking Fee For Bill Clinton At Peres Event

The Jewish National Fund announced Friday that it is backing out of an upcoming gala event in honor of President Shimon Peres and will not fund the $500,000 speaking fee of the keynote speaker, former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Earlier this week, outcries were heard in Israel and abroad after it was reported that the JNF will be donating the large sum to fund Clinton's speech at the gala dinner in honor of Peres' 90th birthday, which is scheduled for June17 at the Peres Academic Center in Rehovot.

As a result of the criticism, the JNF withdrew its participation on Friday and said it will take back all the funds it has donated to the Peres Academic Center for the event.

The speaker’s fee is destined not for Clinton’s pocket, but rather for the William J. Clinton Foundation, whose goals include improving global health and protecting the environment.

MORE...

http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world-news/jnf-backs-out-of-500-000-speaking-fee-for-bill-clinton-at-peres-event-1.528460

Obama Defends U.S. Surveillance Program As Trade-Off For Security

By Reuters | Jun.07, 2013 | 8:59 PM

U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday staunchly defended the sweeping U.S. government surveillance of Americans' phone and internet activity, calling it a modest encroachment on privacy that was necessary to defend the United States from attack.

Obama said the programs were "trade-offs" designed to strike a balance between privacy concerns and keeping Americans safe from terrorist attacks. He said they were supervised by federal judges and Congress, and that lawmakers had been briefed.

"Nobody is listening to your telephone calls. That's not what this program is about," Obama told reporters during a visit to California's Silicon Valley.

"In the abstract you can complain about Big Brother and how this is a potential program run amok, but when you actually look at the details, I think we've struck the right balance," Obama said. "There are trade-offs involved."

MORE...

http://www.haaretz.com/news/world/obama-defends-u-s-surveillance-program-as-trade-off-for-security-1.528489

Republicans Trying to Pink-Slip Obama’s D.C. Court Picks

In April 2005, U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts delivered a lecture at the University of Virginia School of Law entitled, “What Makes the D.C. Circuit Different?”

Roberts, an alumnus of the federal appeals court in Washington, explained the D.C. Circuit’s “unique character” as a judicial body “with special responsibility to review legal challenges to the conduct of the national government.” He noted the court hears a disproportionate number of appeals from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Trade Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission, and other “alphabet soup” regulatory agencies.

--clip
On June 4, a combative-sounding President Barack Obama announced his choices for all three openings and pre-emptively chastised Senate Republicans for blocking some of his previous choices for the court.

“This is not about principled opposition,” the president said. “It’s about partisan obstruction.”

When Republicans returned fire, they augmented finger-pointing about politicizing the judiciary with an argument about manpower: they said they oppose Obama’s nominees because the judges aren’t needed.

Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa is pushing a bill that would eliminate the D.C. Circuit’s three vacancies on the theory that the court is underworked. He proposes to do away with one judgeship and transfer the other two to circuits with heavier caseloads.

MORE...

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-06/republicans-trying-to-pink-slip-obama-s-d-c-court-picks.html

GEORGE W. OBAMA



REPORTS: U.S. Mining Data From 9 Major Tech Firms... MICROSOFT, YAHOO, FACEBOOK, APPLE, GOOGLE, SKYPE, AOL, YOUTUBE... REPORT: AT&T, Sprint Also Handing Over Phone Data... Credit Card Providers, Too!

America, here's hoping you've had enough time to be come to terms with the National Security Agency scooping up all of your metadata pertaining to all of the phone calls you've been making with Verizon, because here comes the next fun news about the government's far-reaching panopticon of total information surveillance, courtesy of Barton Gellman and Laura Poitras of The Washington Post:

The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time.
The highly classified program, code-named PRISM, has not been disclosed publicly before. Its establishment in 2007 and six years of exponential growth took place beneath the surface of a roiling debate over the boundaries of surveillance and privacy. Even late last year, when critics of the foreign intelligence statute argued for changes, the only members of Congress who know about PRISM were bound by oaths of office to hold their tongues.

The Washington Post obtained "briefing slides" from an "internal presentation on the Silicon Valley operation, intended for senior analysts in the NSA’s Signals Intelligence Directorate," from a "career intelligence officer" who cited "firsthand experience with these systems, and horror at their capabilities," as the reason for the disclosure. These materials described PRISM as "the most prolific contributor to the President's Daily Brief" and the NSA's "leading source of raw material, accounting for nearly 1 in 7 intelligence reports." The Post, goes on to report that while PRISM allows the NSA to collect "anything it likes" from the available data, it is in practice not utilized as a "dragnet" per se:

Analysts who use the system from a Web portal at Fort Meade key in “selectors,” or search terms, that are designed to produce at least 51 percent confidence in a target’s “foreignness.” That is not a very stringent test. Training materials obtained by the Post instruct new analysts to submit accidentally collected U.S. content for a quarterly report, “but it’s nothing to worry about.”
One may nevertheless worry about this thing that is "nothing to worry about."

Gellman and Poitras include a detailed history of the PRISM program, along with an explanation of how the system works and the extent to which the technology companies involved offer "resistance" to the data mining, so go read the whole thing.

MORE if you can handle it...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/nsa-prism-data-mining_n_3399310.html
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