Wednesday, April 8, 2009
I've received more than a few e-mails warning me that the U.S. House and Senate were about to shove through a bill that would outlaw farmers markets, and make it illegal to grow your own garden. Mercy.
Let's all calm down.
Breathe in some lavender, brew some camomile tea.
Your organic gardens are safe, folks, despite the alarming spin.
I've received more than a few e-mails warning me that the U.S. House and Senate were about to shove through a bill that would outlaw farmers markets, and make it illegal to grow your own garden. Mercy.
And, according to the panicked e-mails and YouTube videos, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 was going to dictate which fertilizers and insect sprays could be used, and control which seeds would be available.
"Strange, right?" asked one person who passed it on to me.
Strange, yes. Also wrong.
"It's a bunch of bull," said Trudy Bialic, the director of public affairs for PCC Natural Markets, our 45,000-member Seattle-based co-op. "And yet, we are getting buried here in calls and e-mails. People are hysterical.
"But it is a straw dog."
Bialic, whose job is to make sense of dense legislation, was so deluged with frantic questions that she wrote an explainer for the May issue of PCC's Sound Consumer newsletter.
House Resolution 875 seeks to improve the safety of foods in supermarkets by tightening standards for labeling, enforcement and regulating all foods. It would also better oversee the safety of imported foods.
And it applies only to foods shipped in interstate commerce. Not your backyard basil.
By Ryan Tate
For years, internet publisher Matt Drudge has responded to questions about his reported homosexuality by obfuscating and dodging. It would appear he's still at it.
Witness his email interview with Chris Rovzar of New York, who elicited (GASP!) a reaction from the tight-lipped protoblogger to an item in Out that said the Drudge Report proprietor "happens to love Chaka Khan, The Young and the Restless, and sex with men" but is homophobic and anti-abortion-rights. Drudge:
"False. False. False. I do not love sex with men. My site is not anti-gay. I present both sides of the anti-choice-life issue... I liked Chaka in the eighties, and have not watched Young and the Restless in twenty years! But I do watch Judge Judy!"
The bit about not loving gay sex is a red herring: Drudge has never been said to particularly relish his homosexuality or embrace it; in fact his gay romantic/sexual side has been described (when alleged) as conflicted and awkward.
David Brock, the former right-wing writer, wrote in his memoir Blinded by the Right about a "scary" date in which Drudge, after bringing Brock flowers and navigating the Santa Monica gay strip "like a pro," stepped on a competing suitor's foot "really hard" (in Drudge's purported words) in a nightclub to scare him away from Brock. He also reproduced an overly blunt email in which Drudge wrote, "Laura [Ingraham] spreading stuff about you and me being fuck buddies. I should be so lucky."
Alec Baldwin stated that Drudge made an advance on him in an ABC Studios hallway that had "kind of a creepy quality to it."
Given his purported bumbling of the matter, it's entirely conceivable that Matt Drudge has gay sex without "loving" it, at least on a level he can admit to himself, or furtive gay relationships that stop well short of that sort of intimacy.
By Scott Burns
LAS VEGAS. If you'd like to learn about adapting to change, spend an afternoon with Jennifer Martin, Realtor. You might also buy a condo or house while you're at it. Priced to insane levels at the top of the bubble, lots of Las Vegas real estate is now available, cheap. If Las Vegas is where you'd like to be, someone else's disaster may be your bargain.
How big a bargain?
Try this. The National Association of Realtors says the median Las Vegas home price declined from $317,400 in 2006 to $181,700 by last December. The decline is confirmed by the Case-Shiller index for Las Vegas: It is down 44 percent from the 2006 peak. In fact, those figures understate the decline for the growing number of houses and condos that are now owned by lenders. Prices for some of the condos Ms. Martin showed me were down nearly 80 percent.
The city has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. Jobs are disappearing. People are burning their cars for the insurance. If you live in Dallas and want to move to Las Vegas, it's a cheap move— $777 at U-Haul. But leaving Las Vegas is more expensive, $1,183, because all the trailers are heading elsewhere.
That's why Ms. Martin bought a bus— to bring new buyers in by the busload and tour the troubled bargains.
Is this a great country, or what?
The resourceful 35-year-old Realtor and mother of three has offices on the far west side of town at the corner of Sahara and Durango, names that suggest adventure. When I called, she was putting the tour together, previewing offerings to make sure they were worth seeing, could be accessed, etc. I asked if I could go along. She explained that the safari approach works. "We wear safari outfits. We wanted to do something that was fun— out of the box."
While the foreclosure safari bus will hold 25 people, she limits the number to a maximum of 20 and has done tours with only a handful of people. Many, she explained, are second-home buyers. Others are investors looking for good rental properties or homes to fix up and resell.
And they come from all over. She said she had clients from Singapore, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, England, Canada, and Australia. As a consequence, she has also started to manage property for distant owners.
Almost half of the French public support workers have been locking up their bosses after being made redundant, an opinion poll has claimed.
Staff at Sony, 3M and Caterpillar plants have recently made headlines after keeping their managers prisoner overnight in an attempt to secure better layoff terms.
A survey carried out for Le Parisien newspaper has now found that 45% of French people approve of the method, dubbed 'bossnapping' in the media.
In a statement, the newspaper explained: "They are not in the majority - but 45% is an enormous percentage and it demonstrates the extent of exasperation among the public at this time of economic crisis."
Responding to the news, French politician Xavier Bertrand warned: "These hostage takings, we know how it starts but no one knows how far it can go. Our country must avoid entering a spiral of violence."
As beleaguered parents all over the country endeavor to prod their kids to finish their requisite science fair projects, some may find it helpful to provide some inspiration from past winners of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. These are not your basic tabletop volcanoes or series of potted sunflowers. Many sport titles that you'd expect to see gracing the pages of the most prestigious scientific journals, and some of them actually have. Others became inventions developed for use in the wider world while their inventors were still in high school. Each and every one of these projects won their teenage researchers big prizes and hefty scholarships to ensure their future success.
1. The Sign TranslatorOne of the ISEF 2001 winners invented something so completely cool that he bowled over the competition to win a total of more than $200,000 in cash prizes and scholarships. The idea came to then 17-year old Ryan Randall Patterson of Grand Junction, Colorado, over an order of burger and fries at a fast food restaurant. The customers were deaf and needed an interpretor to get their order right, so Ryan decided to develop a method to make it easier for the hearing impaired to communicate with regular people.
It's a glove that translates American Sign Language into large, easy to read letters on a computer screen. This is a kid who carried around an electrical cord instead of a security blanket as a toddler, and requested extension cords from Santa. He helped his dad rewire an extension to their house when he was 6, and managed to live through a bad experiment once when he stuck a screwdriver into an outlet. Ouch! Doesn't seem to have hurt his brain much, though.
2. Prototype for Autonomy: Pathway for the BlindSometimes the most far-reaching discoveries come about by putting already available technologies to new uses. One big prizewinner in the 2005 ISEF fair in Phoenix did just that. 18-year old Ammem Abdulrasool, a senior at the Illinois Junior Academy of Science, developed over three years a way to allow the visually impaired to navigate themselves by using the Global Positioning System.
Inspired by his love for his father, who is visually impaired, Ammem set out to find a way to help and ended up not just winning the big prizes at ISEF, but being named an official Science Hero. He describes his invention, said to be one of the biggest innovations for the blind since the invention of Braille, as "an 'On-Star' system at the handheld level for the blind." Abdulrasool planned to major in business administration at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign.
3. Brain-Computer Interface for the Muscularly DisabledWe older folks rely on our kids to do many computer things for us these days, so it's not surprising that the ISEF fairs have a category for computer science. In 2003's fair 16-year old Elena Leah Glassman from Central Bucks High School West in Doylestown, Pennsylvania took top awards for developing an algorithm that allows people with muscular disabilities to use computers with the help of electro-encephalographic signals.
The algorithm interprets signals from the brain when a person thinks about a task. For interpreting which keys on a keyboard these wavelets are signaling, Glassman achieved 90 percent accuracy using EEG wavelets she found in the public domain. When putting that to use with electrodes on her own scalp and interpreting the specific wavelets for particular keys, she managed over 70 percent accuracy. This informed her that in real life applications the software had to be customized to each user. Impressive!
26-year veteran cop
New Jersey State Police
Congress is Debating the Drug War.
Are Your Representatives Part of the Discussion?
The war against the "War on Drugs" is really starting to heat up.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition has spent the last two years asking every single congressional office to take a thorough look at the failure of our drug laws, and now it is happening!
Recently on Capitol Hill, Sen. Jim Webb (D-Virginia) introduced a bill to create a blue ribbon commission to initiate a comprehensive review of America's criminal justice and drug policies. The commission will spend eighteen months studying all aspects of the criminal justice system, report the findings to Congress and offer tangible recommendations for reform, including, possibly, an end to the cruel drug laws that send too many people to prison for too long.
But that's only if we build enough support to pass this important legislation.
We've made it easy for you to contact your legislators about supporting Sen. Webb's bill. All you have to do is go to http://www.DrugWarDebate.com and enter in your contact information. Edit the pre-written letter if you want, and click send. Then, use our automated system to let your friends know that they can take action too. That's it.
If enough of us put this already-bipartisan legislation on our senators' and representatives' radar screens, we can and will make a difference.
The United States is the number one incarcerator in the world, with one out of every one hundred American adults behind bars. Sadly, the lion's share of this insane level of incarceration is driven by drug prohibition.
Our current policies are not serving the public interest, and the results have been devastating: since the inception of the "war on drugs," more than 38 million arrests have been made for nonviolent drug offenses. Under Sen. Webb's legislation, the commission will, among other things, "make recommendations for changes in policies and laws designed to....restructure the approach to criminalization of, and incarceration as a result of the possession or use of illegal drugs."
A thorough examination of the criminal justice system as it relates to the failed "war on drugs" will go a long way toward awakening more policymakers about the reasons for reform, and Sen. Webb's efforts are exactly what we need right now. Please visit http://www.DrugWarDebate.com today to contact your senators and representatives, asking them to support S. 714, the National Criminal Justice Act of 2009.
And please consider making a donation to help LEAP continue our important efforts. If you can afford to help, please go to http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com/donate and make as big a gift as you feel comfortable giving.
We can't do it without your help!
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
This letter is addressed to ALL of YOU, whether you are Republican, Democrat, Independent, Conservative, Liberal, Socialist, Communist, Fascist or whatever your ideology may be. Your "Party" doesn't make a damn difference here.
Forgive me for being blunt, but do any of you have the balls to end America's dependence on ALL OIL, both foreign and domestic, and convert all our automobiles to run on hemp fuel?
Do any of you have the balls to create millions of American jobs in the Hemp Industry, a clean, green and renewable source of energy?
Do any of you have the balls to legalize something that has already been banned for way too long at the cost of millions of American lives in the ever-losing Drug War?
How much money is the government spending to fight marijuana and how many Americans will you jail for something that you cannot possibly ever control unless you legalize it?
Do you even realize that this IS the "Green Energy" of the FUTURE?
Did you know that this could be accomplished in less than a year!
Imagine, America could be FREE FROM FOREIGN OIL DEPENDENCE IN LESS THAN A YEAR!
Did you even know that Cannabis Hemp amd Marijuana have so many other uses? Clothing, Plastics, Rope, Paper, Health benefits, in some people even CURES CANCER, it is a natural alternative medicine to so many damaging prescription drugs, etc..... and oh yeah, lets not forget that the marijuana plant's "bud" can get you high.
Millions of Americans smoke marijuana. You CANNOT and MORALLY SHOULD NOT jail such a huge portion of the population of our own country in such a foolish manner. It is a waste of valuable resources. These millions of Americans that we currently jail are taken away from being productive to society, their families and communities, all because they chose to get high, whether for recreational, medicinal or emotional purposes.
Please do not let history repeat itself. During the Great Depression, America went into an even deeper slump because of Prohibition. Prohibition in the early 20th Centruy nearly destroyed America. Do not let America's Prohibition of Marijuana destroy our nation.
It's a fact of life: America Smokes Pot and LOTS OF IT!!!
Keep an open mind and envision the inevitable fact that marijuana, cannabis, and hemp are what is destined to save humankind and our planet.
America needs to lead in developing this renewable energy source before we fall behind the rest of the world as slowly all nations will open their eyes to the things they can do with this miracle plant, cannabis.
The potential to once again become the "World's Leading Economy" is in your hands. America needs to push aside the old myths about marijuana that got a nation so paranoid about it, we outlawed hemp - We made it illegal and banned an industry that today has the potential to create millions of jobs, billions in exports, and trillions in taxes and related revenues.
This Lieberman has opposed the Anapolis peace process, threatened Israeli Arabs with deportation unless they sign loyalty oaths and lots more. I guess they should be grateful if they are only to be deported.
This from Christopher Schult in Der Spiegle:
"His words have the force of cluster bombs. He spares no one. He once proposed executing Arab members of the Knesset with ties to Hamas or Hezbollah as "Nazi collaborators." Later he suggested that Israel should proceed in the Gaza Strip the way Russia did in Chechnya -- without consideration for losses or civilians. This remark gained him a reputation as a virulent racist.
"If Lieberman had his way, perhaps Tehran would have been obliterated as a punishment for Iran's refusal to shut down its nuclear program. Years ago he threatened Egypt -- Israel's key ally in the Arab world -- with the bombardment of the Aswan Dam unless the regime withdrew support for then-PLO leader Yasser Arafat. He also had one of his typical remarks at the ready for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. It was about time the president paid a visit to Jerusalem, Lieberman said, "and if he doesn't want to come, he can go to hell."
By Danny Sullivan
It was a hostile audience. It was June 2007, at a conference center in London, where newspaper and magazine publishers were hearing how a new industry-backed search engine rights standard called ACAP was coming along. The day ended with an "issues" oriented panel. The audience didn't seem that pleased with me telling them they were full of shit about how important they thought they were and how awful they thought they had it from Google in particular.
I didn't phrase it like that, but that was the essence of my attitude. I'd rarely encountered so many people in one place with such a sense of entitlement. Worse, these were supposedly my own people. Newspaper folks, where I got my start in journalism. What an embarrassment.
I'm not talking the rank-and-file of newspapers, however -- the reporters and editors doing the grunt work. This crowd was full of publishers or editors of a different type, not wordsmithing and story assignment but looking out for the business issues.
ACAP -- the Automated Content Access Protocol -- was a convoluted system being developed at the time to "solve" the problems that newspapers and some other publishers felt they had with search engines. In particular, that they felt they should be able to selectively decide which pictures could be printed, how long stories could be listed and a number of other things all of which largely already could be controlled through existing systems (my past post, Search Engines, Permissions & Moving Forward In Copyright Battles, goes into this in more depth).
ACAP's real goal, of course, was to establish a way that newspapers could demand Googlegeld, their own version of Danegeld, a tribute tax they felt entitled to get just for being listed in Google. The panel started with a progress report on how ACAP was going, with the audience then asking the panel questions or simply making statements.
Over and over, people kept using the phrase "quality publishers" and how they hoped ACAP would protect these publishers and how "many" publishers were behind it.
I'd had enough. I can't recall my exact spiel, but it went something like this. I explained to that group that ACAP was far from backed by most publishers. That on the internet, there were millions of publishers, while the newspaper groups backing ACAP mounted to a few hundred, if that. That these millions of publishers have a diverse set of concerns about search engines that ACAP was far from addressing, since it was so newspaper-centric. That an online shopping site is also a publisher, as is a small blog, as is a social media site, as is a vertical news site -- and none of these groups had been invited to participate in the hallowed discussion of a supposed new robots.txt 2.0 system.
I also explained that unlike virtually all other publishers on the internet, newspapers were given extraordinary special status with Google. They were among the very select few to be admitted into Google News and receive the huge amounts of traffic it could send their ways. That many small blogs with excellent content struggle for admittance that these other publishers just got handed to them on a silver platter.
I then got very personal. I explained that I was also a journalist, publishing what I considered to be quality content as well. Indeed, I've published content on my topic (search engines) that I know has been of far superior quality than that published by many supposedly "quality" publications. So for them to argue they were somehow "quality publications" deserving special treatment was arrogant not to mention simply incorrect.
And now I'm hearing the same old crap again, and I'm feeling the same way I did back then. Some samples in the past few days. First from Robert Thomson, editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal:
Meantime Thomson said it was "amusing" to read media blogs and comment sites, all of which traded on other people's information.
"They are basically editorial echo chambers rather than centres of creation, and the cynicism they have about so-called traditional media is only matched by their opportunism in exploiting the quality of traditional media," he said.
Robert, I've been creating original content on the internet for about 12 years longer than you've been editor of the WSJ. Shut up. Seriously, shut up. To say something like that simply indicates you really do not understand that all blogs are not echo chambers.
When Congress immunized telecoms last August for their illegal participation in Bush's warrantless eavesdropping program, Senate Democratic apologists for telecom immunity repeatedly justified that action by pointing out that Bush officials who broke the law were not immunized -- only the telecoms. Here, for instance, is how Sen. Jay Rockefeller justified telecom immunity in a Washington Post Op-Ed:
Second, lawsuits against the government can go forward. There is little doubt that the government was operating in, at best, a legal gray area. If administration officials abused their power or improperly violated the privacy of innocent people, they must be held accountable. That is exactly why we rejected the White House's year-long push for blanket immunity covering government officials.
Taking them at their word, EFF -- which was the lead counsel in the lawsuits against the telecoms -- thereafter filed suit, in October, 2008, against the Bush administration and various Bush officials for illegally spying on the communications of Americans. They were seeking to make good on the promise made by Congressional Democrats: namely, that even though lawsuits against telecoms for illegal spying will not be allowed any longer, government officials who broke the law can still be held accountable.
But late Friday afternoon, the Obama DOJ filed the government's first response to EFF's lawsuit (.pdf), the first of its kind to seek damages against government officials under FISA, the Wiretap Act and other statutes, arising out of Bush's NSA program. But the Obama DOJ demanded dismissal of the entire lawsuit based on (1) its Bush-mimicking claim that the "state secrets" privilege bars any lawsuits against the Bush administration for illegal spying, and (2) a brand new "sovereign immunity" claim of breathtaking scope -- never before advanced even by the Bush administration -- that the Patriot Act bars any lawsuits of any kind for illegal government surveillance unless there is "willful disclosure" of the illegally intercepted communications.
In other words, beyond even the outrageously broad "state secrets" privilege invented by the Bush administration and now embraced fully by the Obama administration, the Obama DOJ has now invented a brand new claim of government immunity, one which literally asserts that the U.S. Government is free to intercept all of your communications (calls, emails and the like) and -- even if what they're doing is blatantly illegal and they know it's illegal -- you are barred from suing them unless they "willfully disclose" to the public what they have learned.
There are several notable aspects to what happened here with this new court filing from Obama:
(1) Unlike in the prior cases where the Obama DOJ embraced the Bush theory of state secrets -- in which the Obama DOJ was simply maintaining already-asserted arguments in those lawsuits by the Bush DOJ -- the motion filed on Friday was the first response of any kind to this lawsuit by the Government. Indeed, EFF filed the lawsuit in October but purposely agreed with Bush lawyers to an extension of the time to respond until April, in the hope that by making this Obama's case, and giving his DOJ officials months to consider what to do when first responding, they would receive a different response than the one they would have gotten from the Bush DOJ.
That didn't happen. This brief and this case are exclusively the Obama DOJ's, and the ample time that elapsed -- almost three full months -- makes clear that it was fully considered by Obama officials. Yet they responded exactly as the Bush DOJ would have. This demonstrates that the Obama DOJ plans to invoke the exact radical doctrines of executive secrecy which Bush used -- not only when the Obama DOJ is taking over a case from the Bush DOJ, but even when they are deciding what response should be made in the first instance. Everything for which Bush critics excoriated the Bush DOJ -- using an absurdly broad rendition of "state secrets" to block entire lawsuits from proceeding even where they allege radical lawbreaking by the President and inventing new claims of absolute legal immunity -- are now things the Obama DOJ has left no doubt it intends to embrace itself.
Exclusive footage obtained by the Guardian shows Ian Tomlinson, who died during G20 protests in London, was attacked from behind by baton–wielding police officer
Dramatic footage obtained by the Guardian shows that the man who died at last week's G20 protests in London was attacked from behind and thrown to the ground by a baton–wielding police officer in riot gear.
Moments after the assault on Ian Tomlinson was captured on video, he suffered a heart attack and died.
The Guardian has handed a dossier of evidence to the police complaints watchdog.
It sheds new light on the events surrounding the death of the 47-year-old newspaper seller, who had been on his way home from work when he was confronted by lines of riot police near the Bank of England.
The submission to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) includes a collection of testimonies from witnesses, along with the video footage, shot at around 7.20pm, which shows Tomlinson at Royal Exchange Passage.
The film reveals that as he walks, with his hands in his pockets, he does not speak to the police or offer any resistance.
A phalanx of officers, some with dogs and some in riot gear, are close behind him and try to urge him forward.
A Metropolitan police officer appears to strike him with a baton, hitting him from behind on his upper thigh.
Moments later, the same policeman rushes forward and, using both hands, pushes Tomlinson in the back and sends him flying to the ground, where he remonstrates with police who stand back, leaving bystanders to help him to his feet.
The man who shot the footage, a fund manager from New York who was in London on business, said: "The primary reason for me coming forward is that it was clear the family were not getting any answers."
By JOHN GOEKLER
A significant majority of Americans, polls repeatedly tell us, list terrorism as one of their greatest fears. Like most of our media-inspired interests and worries, however, this one has little basis in reality.
In actual fact, unless you're serving in a war zone, the most dangerous person you're ever likely to encounter – by several orders of magnitude – is the one you see in the mirror every morning.
Not some shadowy arms dealer peddling second hand nukes. Not some dusky Jihadi with a song on his lips and a suicide belt around his middle. Not some mad scientist, bribed by the forces of evil to cook up a bio-bug capable of ending life as we know it.
Here are the hard facts.
The single greatest killer of Americans is the so-called "lifestyle disease". Somewhere between half a million and a million of us get a short ride in a long hearse every year because of smoking, lousy diets, parking our bodies in front of the TV instead of operating them, and downing yet another six pack and / or tequila popper.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, between 310,000 and 580,000 of us will commit suicide by cigarette this year. Another 260,000 to 470,000 will go in the ground due to poor diet and sedentary lifestyle. And some 85,000 of us will drink to our own departure.
After the person in the mirror, the next most dangerous individual we're ever likely to encounter is one in a white coat. Something like 200,000 of us will experience "cessation of life" due to medical errors – botched procedures, mis-prescribed drugs and "nosocomial infections". (The really nasty ones you get from treatment in a hospital or healthcare service unit.)
The next most dangerous encounter the average American is likely to have is with a co-worker with an infection. Or a doorknob, stair railing or restaurant utensil touched by someone with the crud. "Microbial Agents" (read bugs like flu and pneumonia) will send 75,000 of us to meet the Reaper this year.
If we live through those social encounters, the next greatest danger is "Toxic Agents" – asbestos in our ceiling, lead in our pipes, the stuff we spray on our lawns or pour down our clogged drains. Annual body count from these handy consumer products is around 55,000.
After that, the most dangerous person in our lives is the one behind the wheel. About 42,000 of us will cash our chips in our rides this year. More than half will do so because we didn't wear a seat belt. (Lest it wrinkle our suit.)
Some 31,000 of us will commit suicide by intention this year. (As opposed to not fastening our seat belts or smoking, by which we didn't really mean to kill ourselves.)
About 30,000 of us will die due to our sexual behaviors, through which we'll contract AIDS or Hepatitis C. Another 20,000 of us will pop off due to illicit drug use.
The next scariest person in our lives is someone we know who's having a really bad day. Over 16,000 Americans will be murdered this year, most often by a relative or friend.
After that, it's an overdose on "non-steroidal anti-inflammatories", acetaminophen or aspirin. About 7,600 hundred a year, perhaps due to the aftermath of those tequila poppers.
Next most dangerous thing is going to work. About 5,500 of us will buy the farm due to "occupational trauma".
If that's scary enough to skip work, we might want to skip lunch, too. Next most dangerous thing is the food we eat. About 5,200 of us will hurl our lives away due to "foodborne agents".
Another 4,000 of us will drown. A significant percentage will be fishermen found floating with a high blood alcohol content and an unzipped fly.
As the data clearly shows, the things that genuinely threaten us are the ones we are most likely to ignore or simply accept. (We're statistically far more likely to be killed by a lightning strike than by an action of Al Qaeda, for example.) The ones that we're scared witless of – and spend trillions of increasingly scarce dollars to avert in our boundless paranoia – are less likely to harm us than a bag of peanuts. (Deaths in America due to peanut allergies average 50 – 100 per year.)
Deaths of Americans due to terrorist activities, according to the US State Department, have averaged less than 15 per year since 2002.
WASHINGTON -- Cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, according to current and former national-security officials.
The spies came from China, Russia and other countries, these officials said, and were believed to be on a mission to navigate the U.S. electrical system and its controls. The intruders haven't sought to damage the power grid or other key infrastructure, but officials warned they could try during a crisis or war.
"The Chinese have attempted to map our infrastructure, such as the electrical grid," said a senior intelligence official. "So have the Russians."
The espionage appeared pervasive across the U.S. and doesn't target a particular company or region, said a former Department of Homeland Security official. "There are intrusions, and they are growing," the former official said, referring to electrical systems. "There were a lot last year."
Many of the intrusions were detected not by the companies in charge of the infrastructure but by U.S. intelligence agencies, officials said. Intelligence officials worry about cyber attackers taking control of electrical facilities, a nuclear power plant or financial networks via the Internet.
Authorities investigating the intrusions have found software tools left behind that could be used to destroy infrastructure components, the senior intelligence official said. He added, "If we go to war with them, they will try to turn them on."
Officials said water, sewage and other infrastructure systems also were at risk.