Are all phone calls recorded and available to the US government? What do you think?

Former FBI agent says “YES”

The real capabilities and behavior of the US surveillance state are almost entirely unknown to the American public because, like most things of significance done by the US government, it operates behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy. But a seemingly spontaneous admission this week by a former FBI counterterrorism agent provides a rather startling acknowledgment of just how vast and invasive these surveillance activities are.

…on CNN’s Out Front with Erin Burnett…anonymous government officials are claiming that they are now focused on telephone calls between Russell and Tsarnaev that took place both before and after the attack to determine if she had prior knowledge of the plot or participated in any way.

On Wednesday night, Burnett interviewed Tim Clemente, a former FBI counterterrorism agent, about whether the FBI would be able to discover the contents of past telephone conversations between the two. He quite clearly insisted that they could:

BURNETT: Tim, is there any way, obviously, there is a voice mail they can try to get the phone companies to give that up at this point. It’s not a voice mail. It’s just a conversation. There’s no way they actually can find out what happened, right, unless she tells them?

CLEMENTE: “No, there is a way. We certainly have ways in national security investigations to find out exactly what was said in that conversation. It’s not necessarily something that the FBI is going to want to present in court, but it may help lead the investigation and/or lead to questioning of her. We certainly can find that out.

BURNETT: “So they can actually get that? People are saying, look, that is incredible.

CLEMENTE: “No, welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not…”

On Thursday night, Clemente again appeared on CNN, this time with host Carol Costello, and she asked him about those remarks. He reiterated what he said the night before but added expressly that “all digital communications in the past” are recorded and stored:

Let’s repeat that last part: “no digital communication is secure“, by which he means not that any communication is susceptible to government interception as it happens (although that is true), but far beyond that: all digital communications – meaning telephone calls, emails, online chats and the like – are automatically recorded and stored and accessible to the government after the fact.

In my own life and experience I came to accept this fact decades ago. After all, as a civil rights activist…my first face-to-face confrontation with the FBI was at the front door of the factory where I worked – in the 1960’s. But, I knew as a matter of practice that for the rest of my life there would be some record kept of what I said and did.

I’ve never had any reason to doubt that continues – whether our nation is headed by a prick like Reagan who gave the NSA their first breakthrough budget or a conservative Harvard Democrat like Barack Obama. The only difference being technology now allows for warehousing and data mining every electronic conversation. Trusting the government of the United States to defend the Bill of Rights at root and cause is a fool’s game.

Recall – DiGiorno and California Pizza Kitchen frozen pizzas

Nestle USA’s Pizza Division is voluntarily recalling select production codes of four different frozen pizzas sold nationwide due to plastic…

Officials said they took the action after a small number of consumers reported they had found small fragments of clear plastic on the California Pizza Kitchen Crispy Thin Crust White pizza…

Recalled are:

— California Pizza Kitchen Crispy Thin Crust White, UPC 71921 98745; production codes: 3062525951, 3062525952 and 3063525951.

— California Pizza Kitchen Limited Edition Grilled Chicken with Cabernet Sauce, UPC 71921 00781; production code 3059525952.

— DiGiorno Crispy Flatbread Pizza Tuscan Style Chicken, UPC 71921 02663; production codes 3057525922 and 3058525921.

— DiGiorno pizzeria! Bianca/White Pizza, UPC 71921 91484; production code 3068525951.

Consumers who might have purchased the recalled pizzas with the identified production codes should not consume the pizza, but instead contact the Nestle USA Consumer Services at 1-800-456-4394 or for further instructions Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., E.T. and this Saturday, May 4th from 12 noon to 8 p.m.

Poisonally, I advocate buying good bread and pizza from local bakers. Or baking your own.

Use the Search box for focaccia and try my recipe. I’ll try to get off my butt and include my basic bread recipe, soon – and I have a couple of experiments to try based on the techniques used in an article on Neopolitan Pizza in the current issue of SAVEUR.

Ain’t any of it especially difficult, folks. You’ll appreciate the freshness, the results of your own efforts.

Ford’s eWheelDrive projects designs for future urban cars

It’s predicted that by the year 2050 there will be 9.3 billion people on Earth and 6.4 billion of them will be living in cities. There could also be four times as many cars on the roads as today, leading to an incredible degree of urban congestion and gridlock. That’s the impetus behind Ford and technology partner Schaeffler’s eWheelDrive electric research car, that moves the motor to the wheel hubs.

Demonstrated last Friday at Lommel, Belgium, the eWheelDrive is under development by Ford and project leader Schaeffler, a German automotive component manufacturer and supplier. The aim of the project is to investigate the potential for smaller, more agile cars better suited to crowded urban environments.

The eWheelDrive doesn’t look very revolutionary. It’s based on that most conventional of cars, the Ford Fiesta, but the real secret isn’t under the bonnet because there’s nothing there except the battery. Instead, the engine has given way to two electric motors mounted in the hubs of the rear wheels along with the braking and cooling systems.

This setup also isn’t entirely new, but what is new is the fact that the eWheelDrive is not intended to make it more sporty or just greener, but as a way of developing car technologies for increasingly crowded city streets. The design frees up space under the bonnet that is normally occupied by a conventional engine or a central electric motor, opening the door for smaller, more agile cars that are more able to negotiate the warrens of London or Hong Kong…

The aim of the project will be to increase the integration of in-wheel motors in a car, as well as studying vehicle dynamics control, braking, stability and the ”fun-to-drive” factor. The goal will be to solve problems caused by heavier wheels, improve brakes, reduce noise and vibration, improve the suspension, and ensure that the motors deliver enough torque.

Poisonally, I have little concern about power-to-weight ratios. The project cars should be miniature bullet trains. Vehicles with electric drive motors as part of the wheel assembly aren’t new; but, almost never have they been used with wheels sprung and suspended for automotive use. The ratio of sprung-to-unsprung weight can make for comfort and handling problems.

Electricity is still my favorite long-term power source. Hopefully, before I get too old to enjoy driving there will be vehicles I can afford for everyday use on my old geezer budget.

You gotta love celebrity endorsements!

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This kind of info is available for any website

By now this should be celebrity endorser rule No. 1: Make sure that when you tweet your love for a phone, you do it from that phone…But, once again the rule has been broken, this time by Spanish tennis player David Ferrer, tweeting his affection for Samsung’s Galaxy S4, and doing so from an iPhone.

According to AppleInsider, the tweet was quickly deleted and replaced with one not sent from an iPhone.

But, of course, the change came only after people noticed, saved a copy of the tweet and began pointing out the obvious contradiction between stated opinion and the real world.

Ferrer is in good company with other celebs who have made similar moves, including singer Alicia Keys, who briefly continued to tweet from her iPhone after accepting a gig as creative director for BlackBerry.

Hilarious. Especially the part about paying for an endorsement from someone who obviously hasn’t a clue about the details of their product they “love”.

Enjoyment – true – doesn’t have to be dependent on geek qualifications; but, at least use the right phone or eat the right apple pie.