Saturday, January 14, 2006
12 states oppose Bush's change to `toxic release inventory' plan
By Michael Gormley, Associated Press Writer January 13, 2006
ALBANY, N.Y. --Attorneys general in 12 states, including Connecticut, said Friday the Bush administration's plan to change the annual Toxic Release Inventory would help polluters and hurt the public's right to know about health risks from the legal release of toxic waste in their neighborhoods.
The state officials contend that raising some baseline reporting thresholds and changing the annual release to every two years would have the greatest harm in low-income neighborhoods were plants are often located.
"This EPA move appears to be yet another poorly considered notion to appease a few polluting constituents at the expense of a valuable program," said New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, the lead state official in the effort.
Attorneys general in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Vermont and Wisconsin joined Spitzer.
"The public has a fundamental right to know what hazardous materials their children and families are being exposed to in their communities," said Wisconsin Attorney General Peggy Lautenschlager. "No one has the right to hide their pollution and the federal government has no business helping to cover up this vital information."
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said reducing the flow of public information will increase the flow of deadly toxic chemicals such as lead and mercury.
"This steep public health compromise will have only bad consequences, for industry as well as the public, by undercutting the best business practices and encouraging the worst," he said.
The Bush administration in September announced it wanted to reduce the regulatory burden on companies by allowing some to use a short form when they report their pollution to the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory.............
Auditors: state hasn't claimed $100 million because of computer problems
January 13, 2006
HARTFORD, Conn. --A new auditors' report says state government has failed to claim $100 million in federal reimbursements since November 2003 because of problems with a new computer system.
State Auditors Robert G. Jaekle and Kevin P. Johnston also said state Comptroller Nancy Wyman gave up a significant amount of control over state financial transactions because of the computer troubles, the Journal Inquirer of Manchester reported. The auditors' report was released Thursday.
Wyman said in a written statement that she never relinquished authority and maintains full oversight of financial transactions. She also expressed confidence in the new $130 million Core-CT computer system, saying all similarly large new systems have initial glitches.
In November 2003, the state Department of Transportation discovered that it could not apply for federal reimbursement for highway and road projects because the new computer network could not process data sufficiently. At that time, the $1 million to $2 million in weekly federal reimbursement requests started piling up.
Stephen E. Korta II, who has served as DOT commissioner since April 2004, said officials talked with a software firm tied to the Core-CT project about solving the problem, but it did not come up with a product that could meet the state's needs................
Friday, January 13, 2006
Heating oil dealers to donate 30,000 gallons to military families
(Hartford-AP, Jan. 12, 2006 5:06 PM) _ Connecticut heating oil dealers say they'll donate 30,000 gallons to the families of men and women serving overseas.
The Independent Connecticut Petroleum Association says it will increase its donation from 12,000 gallons to 30,000 gallons this year.
Governor Rell calls the pledge a truly magnificent gesture and one of the most helpful donations that could be extended to military families.
Executive director Gene Guilford says the association is also tripling the number of local heating oil dealers who are participating.
The Connecticut National Guard Family Program administers the donations.
Last year, the donations helped about 25 families of service members on active duty.
With more donations and more soldiers on active duty, the guard expects about 100 families will be helped this year.
More than 500 members of the Connecticut National Guard are currently deployed.
The heating oil donations are part of Operation ELF, a program to help the families of deployed troops.
(Hartford-AP, Jan. 13, 2006 Updated 6:12 AM ) _ A Hartford woman who had claimed her former boyfriend was the one who brutally beat her six-year-old daughter has changed her story.
Twenty-four-year-old Yajaira Rodriguez was arrested yesterday and charged with giving a phony statement.
According to court records, Rodriguez has admitted hat she lied when she told investigators that the girl was beaten by ex-boyfriend Jaime Hoy in late December.
The girl's injuries were so severe that doctors were forced to amputate her left arm.
The father of the original suspect had said his son has not been in the U.S. in years after going to Canada that then being deported to Colombia.
Hartford police plan to work with prosecutors to have the charges against Hoy dismissed today. .....
and remember, the CHAIRMAN of the manchester democtratic town committee is an 82 year old vet of wwii. he can switch sides or run as an independent, i don't give a flying yoo hoo, as i've said before, i am NOT voting for him again, EVER
Are Voters Ready to Dump Lieberman?
by EMILY BIUSO
[posted online on January 11, 2006]
At the close of a regular Democratic Town Committee meeting in Manchester, Connecticut, in December, 79-year-old Joe Rafala, a World War II veteran and party worker for more than sixty years, decided he had had enough with the state's junior senator, Joe Lieberman.
Rafala, like many in Connecticut, had voted for Lieberman in the past but is troubled by Lieberman's continued public support for the Iraq War. Before the meeting adjourned, Rafala presented a surprise motion proposing that the committee reproach the senator by sending him a letter criticizing his stance on Iraq.
"I was upset about our boys and girls in the armed forces getting killed, coming home in body bags," Rafala says. On January 3, the committee overwhelmingly passed the resolution. Rafala, who considers himself a moderate Democrat, speaks for many in the state who have tired of Lieberman's constant cheerleading for the war and for President Bush. "This man has gone too far," he says.
It's pretty unusual for a Democratic Town Committee to formally criticize its Democratic senator. Lieberman appears to be taking the action seriously, as he has offered to meet with Rafala and others from the committee early next week. But the senator's office did not respond to requests to comment for this article.
Lieberman has been a fixture in Connecticut politics since 1970, when he served in the State Senate. He was a popular state attorney general in the 1980s, and voters catapulted him to the US Senate in a stunning upset in 1988 against incumbent Lowell Weicker. Though liberals griped at Lieberman's frequent backbends toward the center, support for him remained strong. In 1994 Lieberman won the largest landslide victory ever in a Connecticut Senate race against Republican Gerald Labriola. Six years later, when he simultaneously ran for re-election and stood as Al Gore's vice presidential running mate, Connecticut voters sent him to the Senate again, apparently untroubled that his ambitions appeared to lie elsewhere.
But Lieberman's support for the war has alienated many of his constituents who are frustrated with an occupation that seems to have no end in sight.
Just as a political moderate like Joe Rafala is an unlikely figure to emerge as a critic of Lieberman's stance on the war, Manchester is an unlikely town to play host to any kind of protest. Democrats have dominated local politics for thirty-three of the past thirty-five years, and registered Democrats far outnumber registered Republicans. A former mill town in central Connecticut with a population of 55,000, Manchester sits just east of Hartford. The median household income is $49,000, which is a little above the national average but below the state average. "These aren't some guys sitting around on their yachts," notes Tom Breen, a reporter at Manchester's Journal Inquirer. .........
Thursday, January 12, 2006
the answer is NO by the way
Poll shows Lieberman strong despite losing ground with Democrats
By Susan Haigh, AP Political Writer January 11, 2006
HARTFORD, Conn. --U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman's support of the war in Iraq has cost him some support in his home state, but most voters believe he should be re-elected, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.
Sixty-two percent of Connecticut voters approve of the way the Democratic senator is handling his job, while 24 percent do not and the rest don't know, according to the telephone survey. Meanwhile, 64 percent said Lieberman should be re-elected in November, 24 percent said he should not and the remainder didn't know.
Seventy-five percent of Republicans, 61 percent of unaffiliated voters and 59 percent of Democrats said Lieberman deserves re-election.
"While Sen. Lieberman has lost support among some Democrats, probably because of his strong support for the war in Iraq, he helps make up for it with support from Republicans," said Quinnipiac pollster Douglas Schwartz.
Lieberman is seeking his fourth term in the U.S. Senate. A former state attorney general, he has enjoyed strong popularity, with approval numbers typically hovering around 70 percent, Schwartz said.
Yet during the last presidential election, when Lieberman sought the Democratic nomination, some liberal Democrats openly backed former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean instead of rallying behind their homegrown candidate.
The new poll shows that Connecticut voters strongly oppose the war and give President George Bush low approval ratings. Sixty-one percent of voters disapprove of the job Bush is doing, compared to 35 percent who approve.............
Bank loses tape with personal information on 90,000 customers
By John Christoffersen, AP Business Writer January 11, 2006
STAMFORD, Conn. --A tape containing the Social Security numbers and other confidential data of 90,000 People's Bank customers was lost recently while en route to a credit reporting bureau, state and bank officials said Wednesday.
Millions of people around the country have been affected by a recent string of data losses and thefts involving major financial institutions and businesses including Citigroup Inc., Time Warner Inc. and Ameritrade Holding Corp.
People's has no reason to believe the data has been used inappropriately and has received no reports of unauthorized activity, officials said. Customers do not need to close accounts because the information is not sufficient to allow unauthorized access, the bank said.
But consumer advocates say identity thieves could use Social Security numbers to open new accounts in the names of those affected.
They say such data should be encrypted so it cannot be illegally accessed and they advocate new laws that would allow consumers to place fraud or security alerts on their credit reports to prevent thieves from creating accounts.
"I am extremely concerned when I hear about data breaches involving Social Security numbers," said Susanna Montezemolo, policy analyst with Consumers Union, one of the nation's leading consumer-activist groups.
The Bridgeport-based bank, which is notifying affected customers, said the tape was lost recently while UPS was taking it to TransUnion, a credit reporting bureau. UPS is investigating, said spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg.
The missing tape contains information about personal credit line accounts such as names, addresses, Social Security and checking account numbers. It does not contain checking account balances, debit card numbers, personal identification numbers or birth dates. Equity credit lines and other People's accounts are not affected, the bank said.............
Military sending soldiers additional body armor for sides
By Liz Sidoti, Associated Press Writer January 11, 2006
WASHINGTON --The Army plans to send thousands of ceramic body armor plates to Iraq this year to better protect soldiers while the Marine Corps already is delivering such gear, military officers said Wednesday.
In a private appearance before members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the officers defended the body armor available to U.S. troops. A Pentagon study done last summer but only disclosed recently found that improved armor may have prevented or minimized torso wounds that proved fatal to Marines in Iraq.
The committee chairman, Sen. John Warner, said he was satisfied the military was ensuring that U.S. troops had adequate body armor. "Everything that can be done, is being done," said Warner, R-Va.
But some Democrats urged more congressional oversight on body-armor issues. "Our soldiers and their families deserve nothing less," Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., said in a statement.
Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., said he planned to offer legislation to force the Pentagon to give troops serving in combat zones "the most complete personal body armor protection." The legislation also would create a $1,100 allowance to each service member to buy body armor from properly certified military suppliers............
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
and then this morning, this story on wtnh, channel 8
Animal breeder charged with animal cruelty
(Clinton-WTNH, Jan. 10, 2006 6:00 PM) _ A shoreline dog breeder is facing animal cruelty charges.
Authorities say they discovered one dead dog and other dogs who were starving.
by News Channel 8's Erin Cox
Now rescued, the rottweilers were in rotten conditions.
"These dogs were in crisis," says Chief Joseph Fauhnan.
Crisis became deadly for one dog. Six adult dogs and four puppies were saved.
The dog owner, 35-year-old Marion Lent has been charged with animal cruelty for raising the Rottweilers in filthy conditions.
"The conditions were so deplorable my officers had to take off their uniforms, put them in bags for special cleaning because they were concerned about the level of bacteria."
A complaint from the animal control officer to 107 Long Hill Road. The officer found the adult dogs in this shed marked stay out. She ordered Lent to clean up the crates.
Later that same day the landlord discovered a dead dog in the bedroom Lent had been renting in the main house.
"The dog was found and had been hidden from the inspection of the animal control officer."
The adult dogs are now being cared for here at the Clinton Dog Pound but because this is a criminal case the animals are evidence and it could be a while before they could be adopted.
Lent is a known breeder and claims the proper kennels for the pups and dogs are in storage. Police couldn't wait for her to clean up.
"If the intervention hadn't happened more animals would have died."
Lent is due in court and the judge will determine if she gets the dogs back or if they will be put up for adoption.
i personally saw ONE sound bite from the questioning yesterday. it was where they brought up alito was a member of a college organization (in the SEVENTIES NOT THE FIFTIES) that wanted to prohibit BLACKS AND WOMEN from attending university. i couldn't watch it any further.
oh and my wish is someday we will have a president who can properly pronounce the word NUCLEAR (this isn't just a republican fault by the way)
i've shopped at the new whole foods market in west hartford. i like it a great deal. wonderful produce, especially the exotic mushrooms i cannot afford (but i CAN afford the more mundane ones). their breads are good too. i just had a lovely rosemary loaf. their pastries look divine but i've not had any nor have i had any of their chocolates (made right there) . the staff has been helpful and friendly too. i put a great deal into customer service.
Whole Foods switching to all wind power in U.S.
Deal for wind power credits makes Whole Foods the biggest corporate user of wind power in the country.
By Renuka Rayasam AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Whole Foods Market Inc. is going all green on electricity.
The company is buying enough wind power credits to cover energy use at all of its U.S. stores, bakeries, distribution centers, regional offices and its Austin headquarters. The deal makes Whole Foods the biggest corporate user of wind power in the country.
Whole Foods will buy 458,000 megawatt-hours of the wind energy credits from Boulder, Colo.-based Renewable Choice Energy Inc. Neither company revealed the dollar value of the two-year contract.
"Right now, the main benefit is public relations," said Andrew Aulisi, senior associate at the nonprofit World Resources Institute. "For a company like Whole Foods, which has a particular kind of clientele, I can imagine this is an important way they relate to their customers."
Unlike slapping solar panels on a roof, buying green power credits does not mean that wind-generated electricity will power all Whole Foods' stores. Rather, the amount spent on the credits will pump more wind energy into the electric grid overall, reducing the amount of coal and natural gas used nationally.
"It's as if a city has been rendered green powered because of this (purchase) by Whole Foods," said Kurt Johnson,Green Power Partnership director at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency........
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
read more on the 'connecticut citizens for immigration control' (hatemongers i call them) at hat city blog (a good little blog if i do say so!) and ConnecticutBlog (another good little blog!)
Accusing Immigrants Misses The Point
January 10 2006
Day One of the Connecticut Citizens for Immigration Control's call to crack down on employers hiring undocumented day laborers, and all is quiet at Danbury's Kennedy Park.Pito arrives first, bundled against the predawn cold in a thrift-store parka.A few minutes later Juan walks up with a smile that defies the cold and the unkind hour.They knew even then, just past 5:30 Monday morning, that the prospects for a day laborer weren't good. Not because of the protest that took place in the park Saturday, but because there's never much work when the weather's cold - unless, of course, it's snowing and people need workers to shovel.But they came anyway, hoping that talk of police arresting day laborers and employers was just a rumor. By daybreak, dozens of men were competing for one job, rushing a prospective employer's car as if it were the last lifeboat on a sinking ship.Work is the reason they are all here. It's why Juan and Pito made the long and dangerous trek from Ecuador, Juan a year ago and Pito just two months ago. "We walked, we ran, we prayed," Juan said. And so, better to be out looking for work, elusive as it often is, then home watching TV. At least out here there's an occasional free cup of coffee from the pastor of a nearby church, and today an impromptu English lesson from a visitor.How do you say un poco? Juan asks.A little, I tell him."I speak a little English."And how do you say sombra?Shade, I tell him. "Please put my lunch in the shade," he says. Please, right? he asks, I don't want to sound like I'm the one giving orders.Please is always good, I tell him. Usually the men come to the park during the week, but Juan came out Saturday to watch the protest arranged by CCIC's Paul Streitz. The so-called "Stop the Invasion" protests were organized in 19 states, but attendance by opponents of illegal immigration was sparse. About 50 showed up in Danbury. It wasn't the first time he'd heard the anti-immigrant rants. But he got a kick out of the folks who came out in support of the immigrants; must be nice to be able to speak out without fear, he said. And he had to laugh at the talk of immigrants taking jobs from Americans. Never once has he competed against an Americano for a job. Would they really want this one, he asks? About the only thing that got to him was the criticism of immigrants' sharing apartments. It's not just to save on the rent, he says, although most immigrants arrive still in debt to the coyotes who smuggle them in. Most times it's just about helping someone out. What kind of people would we be if we turned away a newcomer? Juan asks. .......
what kind indeed, juan?
In SEARCH of SUPPORT
January 10 2006
Infoline 2-1-1 is a free 24-hour statewide source of crisis intervention, referral and information. People dialing 211 are connected with professional caseworkers who assess situations, discuss options and find preventable or rehabilitative care.AgoraphobiaStatewide: Support groups for individuals who suffer from agoraphobia, panic, or generalized anxiety disorder are offered throughout the state. 860-529-1970 or 800-842-1501, Mental Health Association of Connecticut. AIDSNational: Support group information for individuals testing HIV positive, having ARC/AIDS or for those family members and significant others, call the National AIDS Hotline, 800-342-2437; Spanish, 800-344-7432; hearing impaired, 800-243-7889.AlcoholismStatewide: Alcoholics Anonymous assists men and women in obtaining and maintaining sobriety while also helping others to recover from alcoholism. Meetings held throughout the state. Write, General Service Office, 475 Riverside Drive, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10115, or call:•Hartford: 860-282-5924.•Manchester: 860-646-2355.•Middletown: 860-344-1744.•Northwest Conn.: 800-829-1863.•Shoreline: 888-624-6063.•Southeast Conn.: 860-268-2067.•Wallingford: 203-265-5445.•Waterbury: 203-755-2124............
and there is LOTS more too!
Monday, January 09, 2006
Claims: Wrong Man Sought In Abuse Case
By JOSH KOVNER
Courant Staff Writer January 9 2006
The father of a Hartford child-abuse suspect said Sunday his son could not have burned and severely beaten a disabled 6-year-old girl because he'd been deported to Colombia from Canada months ago.Also on Sunday, a man in Colombia who identified himself as Jaime Hoy Jr., the suspect, told The Courant stamps in his passport prove he was not in the United States when the crime occurred.Hartford Police Chief Patrick Harnett said investigators were confident they have the right suspect, but would look into the claims."If the police are looking for my son in Hartford, they are wasting their time," Jaime Hoy Sr., 59, of Kissimmee, Fla., said in a telephone interview.The police's suspect, Hoy Jr., 29, was not the father of the child who was abused. He had lived with the mother for several years and had a son and a daughter with her. Hoy Sr. said the mother and the daughter with the disability visited him in Florida three years ago."This is horrendous what happened - I love that little girl. I hope the police concentrate on the mother and her boyfriend," Hoy Sr. said.He said his son was arrested in Canada on drug charges more than a year ago and deported to Colombia in April. Hoy Sr. said his son has not returned to the United States. Barred from this country for two years, he couldn't return if he wanted to, the father said...........
Wireless Will Open Doors In Hartford
Eddie A. Perez
January 9 2006
In the city of Hartford, less than one-third of households have a working computer and Internet access at home. This means thousands of Hartford families do not have the ready access to information on jobs, services and education that the vast majority of Connecticut residents take for granted.The Internet has so fully revolutionized our society that even basic functions such as registering children for classes or applying for entry-level jobs with large companies are virtually impossible without Internet access. Too many Hartford families are being left behind on the information superhighway.To help close Hartford's digital divide, I announced an initiative earlier this year to provide Web access, computer equipment and training to Hartford families. Our goal is to build a free wireless network across our city, provide low-cost computer equipment to our residents, and train them in the basics of computer and Web usage.Our effort is unlike those of municipalities trying to compete with private-sector companies who provide high-speed Internet access. We are looking to partner with private-sector companies to expand access to the two-thirds of Hartford families that are not being served by the private market.Hartford has an existing fiber-optic network that branches into virtually every neighborhood in the city, linking our schools, firehouses and government buildings. This network can be adapted to serve as a backbone for a wireless network that will provide our all residents with basic high-speed Internet access.Our existing technology infrastructure makes us an attractive partner to private-sector firms looking to serve more residents of urban communities in previously untapped markets. Our partnership will bring together the innovation and flexibility of the private sector with the commitment of the public sector to serve all our citizens.Our goal is to have the Blue Hills and downtown neighborhoods go "live" with our private-sector partners by this summer. We would roll the program out to our other residential neighborhoods over the next two years.This access will open doors to residents that up until now were, for all purposes, closed. Whether searching for jobs, registering for classes, reviewing health care information or learning more about government, our Internet access initiative has the potential to change the lives of residents for the better.Eddie A. Perez is mayor of Hartford. He will speak Tuesday at the MetroHartford Alliance Rising Star Breakfast at the Hilton Hartford Hotel. For more information, go to www.metrohartford.com.
Pharmacists overwhelmed at new Medicare drug program
January 8, 2006
NEW HAVEN, Conn. --The start of the Medicare prescription drug plan for seniors has been difficult for pharmacists in Connecticut.
Pharmacists are helping bewildered beneficiaries, dispensing medications at their own expense and are working out problems with overwhelmed insurance plans. The program began Jan. 1.
"This has been catastrophic," said Frederick Vegliante, 77, a pharmacist and former owner of Bella Vista Pharmacy and Surgical Supplies Inc. in New Haven.
"The program was very badly planned. In reality we're not legally bound to fill prescriptions that are not paid for. But are we going to turn down a 90-year-old woman?" he asked.
Margherita R. Giuliano, executive vice president of the Connecticut Pharmacists Association, said pharmacies are overwhelmed.
"Pharmacies knew it would be bad, but not this bad," she said...........
and this from the hartford courant
Rell Authorizes Medicare Prescription Payments
January 7 2006
HARTFORD, Conn. -- Gov. M. Jodi Rell has authorized the state to pay pharmacies directly when low-income elderly and disabled people have problems with eligibility for the new national Medicare prescription drug program.State officials say people in Connecticut and other states have had trouble getting their new Medicare drug coverage to kick in when their prescriptions are rung up at the pharmacy counter. The federal program started Jan. 1."Connecticut is stepping in to make sure that our vulnerable elderly and people with disabilities do not lose access to their vital prescription drugs because of Medicare glitches as the program gets up to speed," Rell said in a statement. "I have authorized the Department of Social Services to work with pharmacies to guarantee continuation of drug coverage during this transition period."...............
Sunday, January 08, 2006
i don't mind serving (but COME ON, EIGHT times???), but all of the times i have gone, i have NEVER been chosen. it's also a wicked pain. i cannot go through the metal detectors without a light show, so they have to wand me. i feel sorry for the officer that has to go through my purse too. i try to clean it out and bring a smaller one, but that never works. they can get the stuff OUT of my handbag, they just cannot ever get it back in. i had to turn my cell phone in last time too because of the camera. i had it shut off but they still confiscated it. because i believe church and state should be separate, i also do not take the normal oath. i have to be 'sworn in' separately.
January 8, 2006
The struggle for America's soul
By Michael Hammerschlag
The decision by the Bush Administration to go after the New York Times for exposing a portion of their spying- the unauthorized NSA spying on calls to Afghanistan- sets up the central struggle for America’s soul. Truthfully, no one is much alarmed by monitoring connections with Afghanistan or scanning US mosques for radiation; both have a legitimate national security justification. But the FBI is spying on 30,000 people a year- according to the Washington Post, permitted by warrantless so-called national security letters (NSLs) under Section 505 of the Patriot Act, and now it turns out the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA have all also been engaged in illegitimate and unjustified spying on Americans, including harmless peace groups and all US-foreign e-mail.
.........................The Total Information Awareness program (run by John Pointdexter) mined and linked all government and commercial databases: 20 billion records including bank records, motor-vehicle records, driver's licenses with digital photographs, credit histories, family, Social Security #, names of neighbors and landlords… for “interesting” associations. It was supposedly shut down after a public outcry in 2003, but in reality it was just shifted to the Commerce Dept., and renamed the Matrix: the Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange - built by Florida’s Seisint Inc. after 9-11, and run by ex-drug smuggler Hank Asher, whose company performed the Felon Purge against mostly black Florida voters in the 2000 election (42% inaccurate, according to our research*). “Seisint turned over the resulting 120,000 names- people the company claimed had a high terrorism quotient... - to federal and Florida law enforcement authorities.”-- St. Petersburg Times. Seisint has since been sold to Lexis/Nexis after Asher was forced out. States participating in Matrix include Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Connecticut; and formerly Alabama, Georgia, Utah, Kentucky, Louisiana, South Carolina, Oregon, and New York. Technically privately owned (though run by the FBI and HSA), the MATRIX has no oversight mechanism- inaccurate information can’t be corrected or removed. The program was supposedly partially dismantled last April. Meanwhile, the NSA’s and ex-British allies’ worldwide Eschelon monitoring system reportedly scans some 3 billion calls and messages a day. ...............
Devices In Cars Secretly Snoop
By TRACY GORDON FOX
Courant Staff Writer
January 8 2006
When state Trooper Jeffrey Covello crashed his cruiser last July in Plymouth, he knew supervisors would investigate the accident.What he did not know was that deep inside his Ford Crown Victoria was a small "black box," similar to those in airplanes, that recorded data in the seconds before impact - information that could be used against him by his superiors if he were found to be at fault."I had no idea my car had one," Covello, a 12-year veteran, said. "I feel like I took an oath to protect the Constitution for others but my own rights have been cast aside." Many civilian motorists are also unaware that the devices have been installed at the factory in some 30 million vehicles, including most new General Motors and Ford cars.Nobody was seriously injured in the Covello crash, which the trooper declined to discuss because it is still under investigation. Covello and other state troopers say that their department is on the wrong side of the law and that their civil rights are being violated because they were never informed their vehicles contained the black boxes.The issue has state troopers siding with defense lawyers, the American Civil Liberties Union and consumer watchdogs, who contend that the black boxes installed by manufacturers infringe on the privacy rights of motorists. "The vast majority of people don't even realize there is such a device for your car," said Eric Skrum, spokesman for the National Motorists Association. "If the American public knew about this device, they would protest it."GM began installing the boxes - also known as event data recorders - in 1999 for the model year 2000, as part of its air bag sensing system. The boxes can retain information from the five seconds, or more, before an accident, including the car's speed, the engine speed, whether the brakes were applied and position of the gas pedal. They also record information such as whether the driver was wearing a seat belt, whether the air bag deployed and the force of the collision.The devices originally were supposed to determine what caused a vehicle's air bag to deploy, but they are cropping up in civil court cases and to prosecute drivers involved in motor vehicle accidents across the country, including in Connecticut, legal experts say. The device was used to determine that a New Jersey man was traveling 101 mph five seconds before a crash that killed a high school senior in Enfield. The ordinary motorist in Connecticut has some legal protection under state law because, in most cases, police would have to obtain a search warrant before seizing anything from a private vehicle after an accident. Still, Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano said, "It is coming up in cases." Philip Newbury, a civil litigator with a Hartford law firm, said black boxes are being used in lawsuits to prove fault in accidents because they provide data that can prove or refute other evidence."It's extremely valuable," he said. "Obviously, when it crosses the line from being a tool for detecting the truth and becomes a way for the government to determine how people drive their vehicles, it begins to cross the line as an invasion of privacy."I think that will become a whole new area of expertise," Newbury said. Charles Sinkovits, of Triodyne, an engineering consulting firm in Northbrook, Ill., said experts from his company are being called more frequently to testify about the black boxes. All cars with air bags have them, he said, but so far, only U.S. manufacturers have provided a way for the information to be easily downloaded."It's information. You use it accordingly and you don't abuse it," he said................