A Christmas Gift for the Pentagon -- Slate
Remember how it turned retired generals into media shills? Lax oversight means it could happen again.
This is a time of good cheer at the Pentagon—its watchdog, the inspector general, has just ruled that its Bush-era campaign to manipulate the media was entirely acceptable under Defense Department regulations. The report, dated Nov. 11, was held back until Christmas Eve, when it was released at the happiest time of the year. But we should not allow it to slip into oblivion.
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Court revives NSA dragnet surveillance case -- Ars Technica
A federal appeals court on Thursday reinstated a closely watched lawsuit accusing the federal government of working with the nation’s largest telecommunication companies to illegally funnel Americans’ electronic communications to the National Security Agency without court warrants.
While the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals revived the long-running case brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the three-judge panel unanimously refused to rule on the merits of the case, or whether it was true the United States breached the public’s Fourth Amendment rights by undertaking an ongoing dragnet surveillance program the EFF said commenced under the Bush administration following 9/11.
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Matt Bors -- 14 December 2011
While the TSA can't explain why invasive patdowns without probable cause are legal, that isn't stopping TSA from future plans to track all your daily travels, anywhere you go, from work, to stores, or even when you go out to play.
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Hey, at least this way, say you're an alcoholic and have a black out, the TSA can let you know where you went!
Non Sequitur by Wiley Miller -- 02 August 2011
I met a fairy today who said she would grant me one wish.
"I want to live forever," I said.
"Sorry," said the fairy, "I'm not allowed to grant wishes like that!"
"Fine," I said, "then I want to die after Congress gets their heads out of their asses!"
"You crafty bastard," said the fairy.
Hydrofracked: One man's quest for answers about natural gas drilling -- High Country News / ProPublica
In many ways, it's a sad story: The groundwater a Wyoming couple relies on to sustain their little farm suddenly turns foul. So landowner Louis Meeks embarks on a six-year crusade to discover how it happened, suspecting that nearby natural gas wells are somehow involved. He battles corporations and federal and local governments and alienates many of his neighbors, yet today his water is still contaminated. There's no justice in sight.
But Meeks has accomplished something important: He and other activists have drawn attention to the possible risks of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." When a gas or oil well is fracked, chemicals and water are injected deep underground to fracture rock formations and release gas and oil. The industry insists that fracking is safe. But some of the chemicals used in the process are carcinogenic. And though fracking is used in many thousands of gas and oil wells from the Southwest to New York state, there's never been a comprehensive scientific study of its possible impacts on drinking water.
That is now changing, thanks to people like Meeks and determined staffers within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA is finally launching the first real study of the risks posed by fracking. So the saga of Louis Meeks is not just sad; it also offers hope. Determined citizens can make a difference.
Read about Meeks' quest for justice in a High Country News collaboration with the nonprofit news organization ProPublica.