Monthly Archives: March, 2007

Burger King Goes Animal-Friendly

Burger King is agreeing to change its policies on the treatment of animals used in its products. The New York Times has the story:

In what animal welfare advocates are describing as a ‘historic advance’, Burger King, the world’s second-largest hamburger chain, said yesterday that it would begin buying eggs and pork from suppliers that did not confine their animals in cages and crates.

The company said that it would also favor suppliers of chickens that use gas, or ‘controlled-atmospheric stunning’, rather than electric shocks to knock birds unconscious before slaughter. It is considered a more humane method, though only a handful of slaughterhouses use it.

The goal for the next few months, Burger King said is for 2 percent of its eggs to be ‘cage free’, and for 10 percent of its pork to come from farms that allow sows to move around inside pens, rather than being confined to crates. The company said those percentages would rise as more farmers shift to these methods and more competitively priced supplies become available.

The cage-free eggs and crate-free pork will cost more, although it is not clear how much because Burger King is still negotiating prices, Steven Grover, vice president for food safety, quality assurance and regulatory compliance, said. Prices of food at the chain’s restaurants will not be increased as a result.

While Burger King’s initial goals may be modest, food marketing experts and animal welfare advocates said yesterday that the shift would put pressure on other restaurant and food companies to adopt similar practices.

‘I think the whole area of social responsibility, social consciousness, is becoming much more important to the consumer’, said Bob Goldin, executive vice president of Technomic, a food industry research and consulting firm. ‘I think that the industry is going to see that it’s an increasing imperative to get on that bandwagon.’

Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, said Burger King’s initiatives put it ahead of its competitors in terms of animal welfare.

‘That’s an important trigger for reform throughout the entire industry’,Mr. Pacelle said.

Burger King’s announcement is the latest success for animal welfare advocates, who were once dismissed as fringe groups, but are increasingly gaining mainstream victories.

Last week, the celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck announced that the meat and eggs he used would come from animals raised under strict animal welfare codes.

And in January, the world’s largest pork processor, Smithfield Foods, said it would phase out confinement of pigs in metal crates over the next decade.

Some city and state governments have banned restaurants from serving foie gras and have prohibited farmers from confining veal calves and pigs in crates.

Temple Grandin, an animal science professor at Colorado State University, said Smithfield’s decision to abandon crates for pregnant sows had roiled the pork industry. That decision was brought about in part by questions from big customers like McDonald’s, the world’s largest hamburger chain, about its confinement practices.

‘When the big boys move, it makes the entire industry move’, said Ms. Grandin, who serves on the animal welfare task forces for several food companies, including McDonald’s and Burger King.

Burger King’s decision is somewhat at odds with the rebellious, politically incorrect image it has cultivated in recent years.

Its commercials deride ‘chick food’ and encourage a more-is-more approach to eating with its turbo-strength coffee, its enormous omelet sandwich, and a triple Whopper with cheese.

Burger King executives said the move was driven by their desire to stay ahead of consumer trends and to encourage farmers to move into more humane egg and meat production.

‘We want to be doing things long before they become a concern for consumers’, Mr. Grover said. ‘Like a hockey player, we want to be there before the puck gets there.’

He said the company would not use the animal welfare initiatives in its marketing. ‘I don’t think it’s something that goes to our core business,’ Mr. Grover said.

Beef cows were not included in the new animal welfare guidelines because, unlike most laying hens and pigs, they continue to be raised outdoors. Burger King already has animal welfare standards for cow slaughter, he said.

The changes were made after discussions with the Humane Society and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, known as PETA. [full text]

Open Letter to Cranston City Council

I was not able to attend last night’s City Council meeting (a cold, and a baby with a cold being factors). This is the letter from Cranston Citizens for Responsible Zoning and Development to the City Council, addressing the events that took place:

Dear Cranston City Council Members:

We filled the Council chamber on Monday, March 26, to show support for your ordinance to expand the Zone Board membership and for your resolution to reaffirm commitment to the people of Ward 2. We brought statements of encouragement for your efforts to stand up to John Mancini and the concrete plant, and we were prepared to read them and tell you how much we appreciated your decision to take matters in hand and act decisively. What we witnessed once again was a “back room” decision to avoid confrontation with the Cullion legal team, the latest in a series of “agreements” and “postponements” and “tabled” motions which has strengthened the opposition and enabled their efforts to prolong a legal battle over a permit that should have been revoked months ago.

And when residents expressed their displeasure at the Council’s decision and their disappointment at being denied an opportunity to comment, your reaction was to call in the police. Since most of the audience consisted of elderly residents, what was the need for police officers? Was it “crowd control”, or was it an attempt to silence dissent and intimidate those who came to ask for your continued support?

Your actions on Monday were shameful, and many who have trusted you are now beginning to doubt that you have the will or the ability to prevail over Cullion Concrete and their legal team. The promises made last fall have been replaced with excuses; the problem remains unsolved. The concrete tower is still there, the Cranston building permit is still in place, and the City of Cranston is still opposing residents who are trying to protect their homes. We expected more from you.

Sincerely,

Frank Mattiucci, President

Things are starting to look much worse for the residents of Ward 2, particularly those who live in close proximity to the Cullion Concrete Plant that is being built. We can only hope that the DEM acts properly under the guidelines of the Environmental Protection Agency, in terms of protecting wetlands and preventing the building of this concrete plant in an area that floods easily.

Asian Rivers Face Rising Pollution

If you’re burned out on reading about global warming, perhaps this environmental story will lift your spirits (NOT!). This article from the Asia Times tells of how China’s rivers are being depleted and polluted by the do-or-die race to industrialize:

Water in the Indus River is so clouded that the native dolphin has in effect lost its eyesight and has to detect prey and other objects through sound waves.

More than half of all the industrial waste and sewage in China flows into a single waterway, the Yangtze. And tributaries of the Ganges, one of Asia’s greatest cultural and religious treasures, are running dry because of the crippling burden of irrigation.

Such has been the legacy of the frantic Third World rush to industrialize at any cost, according to a landmark study by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) that was released as part of World Water Day on Thursday.

It found that 21 of the world’s greatest rivers, including the Yangtze, Mekong, Salween, Ganges, Indus and Tigris-Euphrates in Asia, were struggling to survive against the tide of man-made pollution and the diversion of water through dams, pipes and irrigation.

“We’re talking about a complete collapse of the system – they’re so polluted, so over-extracted or so cut up by dams that it’s really not functioning as a river anymore,” said Tom Le Quesne, freshwater-policy officer at WWF. “It’s a challenge that humanity faces not far off the scale of climate change.”

So many lives depend on these river systems that the economies of emerging Asia could be ravaged and there could be immense social upheaval, including the loss of food security and employment. About 450 million people draw water, food and electricity supplies from the Yangtze alone, while many more use it for transportation. [full text]

Endangering the Endangered Species Act

If you care about this planet and the diversity of species that inhabit and enrich it, then the following exposé by Rebecca Clarren at Salon.com should set your teeth entirely on edge:

Inside the secretive plan to gut the Endangered Species Act

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is maneuvering to fundamentally weaken the Endangered Species Act, its strategy laid out in an internal 117-page draft proposal obtained by Salon. The proposed changes limit the number of species that can be protected and curtail the acres of wildlife habitat to be preserved. It shifts authority to enforce the act from the federal government to the states, and it dilutes legal barriers that protect habitat from sprawl, logging or mining.

“The proposed changes fundamentally gut the intent of the Endangered Species Act,” says Jan Hasselman, a Seattle attorney with Earthjustice, an environmental law firm, who helped Salon interpret the proposal. “This is a no-holds-barred end run around one of America’s most popular environmental protections. If these regulations stand up, the act will no longer provide a safety net for animals and plants on the brink of extinction.”….

In some ways, the proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act should come as no surprise. President Bush has hardly been one of its fans. Under his reign, the administration has granted 57 species endangered status, the action in each case being prompted by a lawsuit. That’s fewer than in any other administration in history — and far fewer than were listed during the administrations of Reagan (253), Clinton (521) or Bush I (234). Furthermore, during this administration, nearly half of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees who work with endangered species reported that they had been directed by their superiors to ignore scientific evidence that would result in recommendations for the protection of species, according to a 2005 survey of more than 1,400 service biologists, ecologists and botanists conducted by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a nonprofit organization.

“We are not allowed to be honest and forthright, we are expected to rubber stamp everything,” wrote a Fish and Wildlife Service biologist as part of the survey. “I have 20 years of federal service in this and this is the worst it has ever been.”….

Written in terse, dry legal language, the proposed draft doesn’t make for easy reading. However, the changes, often seemingly subtle, generally serve to strip the Fish and Wildlife Service of the power to do its stated job: to protect wildlife. Some verge on the biologically ridiculous, say critics, while others are a clear concession to industry and conservative Western governors who have long complained that the act degrades the economies of their states by preventing natural-resource extraction.

One change would significantly limit the number of species eligible for endangered status. Currently, if a species is likely to become extinct in “the foreseeable future” — a species-specific timeframe that can stretch up to 300 years — it’s a candidate for act protections. However, the new rules scale back that timeline to mean either 20 years or 10 generations (the agency can choose which timeline). For certain species with long life spans, such as killer whales, grizzly bears or wolves, two decades isn’t even one generation. So even if they might be in danger of extinction, they would not make the endangered species list because they’d be unlikely to die out in two decades.

“It makes absolutely no sense biologically,” wrote Hasselman in an e-mail. “One of the Act’s weaknesses is that species aren’t protected until they’re already in trouble and this proposal puts that flaw on steroids.” [full text]

Why I Don’t Trade Stocks Anymore

Have you ever wondered if the stock market is just like one big casino where the house is rigged against you? This article by Henry Blodget – and the interview from Jim Cramer quoted within — helped affirm my sense of the stock market as basically a pillaging ground for crooks and liars. While the markets and the business of finance in general is populated with many ethical professionals, and while the work of researching and investing in good businesses is worthy, the bottom line is that the investors with lots of cash and a shifty sense of how to manipulate things, tend to walk away from the table with more than the little guy. And why is that? Is it because their research and judgment is better? Perhaps sometimes. But more often, the reason they make more money is because they know how to manipulate the market and they have enough capital to do it.

I had a brief love affair with trading stocks. It lasted about a year in its heyday, then faded to owning a small batch of stocks, then turned into selling everything and going into a combination of guaranteed savings and high-yield money market accounts. A small portion of our retirement money is also diversified into a number of mutual funds. Short of stuffing your money in a mattress, this seems to be the safest way to keep it, and even make a decent return. You can now get over 5% return in high-yield money markets. But high-yield money markets are not guaranteed.

I sometimes ask myself if I want to try researching and buying some stocks again, but I can’t seem to muster the courage, and for the small amounts I’m willing to risk, it’s not really worth my time. Sometimes I think about buying into foreign currencies, betting on the dollar going down, but I’m vaguely uneasy about doing so — it seems kind of un-American, or just strange, like buying life insurance policies on your friends, secretly betting they’ll die. I’ve considered the argument that you should buy gold — that when all else fails, gold will skyrocket in value, but this just doesn’t make intrinsic sense to me. I’ve read a number of arguments for owning gold and I’m still not convinced.

But I don’t think I’ll be going back to stocks anytime soon. It’s articles like this one that remind me of why:

[Blodget writing]…Cramer draws a line in the sand—briefly making it look as though he is not suggesting that hedge funds break the law. Then, he appears to recommend that they do.

[CRAMER:] Now, you can’t “foment.” That’s a violation. You can’t create yourself an impression that a stock’s down. But you do it anyway, because the SEC doesn’t understand it. [my emphasis]. That’s the only sense that I would say this is illegal. But a hedge fund that’s not up a lot [this late in the year] really has to do a lot now to save itself.

This is different from what I was talking about at the beginning where I was talking about buying the QQQs and stuff. This is actually blatantly illegal. But when you have six days and your company may be in doubt because you’re down, I think it’s really important to foment—if I were one of these guys—foment an impression that Research in Motion isn’t any good. Because Research in Motion is the key today.

[Blodget] Until this point, Cramer has just played the role of coach. Next, however, in an example that could come back to haunt him—and in seemingly direct contrast to what he says in his just-released explanation—Cramer switches from adviser to practitioner:

[CRAMER: ] What I used to do … if I wanted [a stock] to go higher, I would take and bid, take and bid, take and bid [repeatedly buy stock and then make an offer for more], and if I wanted it to go lower, I’d hit and offer, hit and offer, hit and offer [repeatedly sell stock and then put more up for sale]. And I could get a stock like Research in Motion—that might cost me $15 to $20 million to knock RIM down—but it would be fabulous, because it would beleaguer all the moron longs [investors betting the stock would go up] who are also keying on Research in Motion.

[Blodget] I’m not a lawyer, but it sure sounds to me as if Cramer is admitting here to a practice that is questionable at best. He then switches back to adviser mode and describes the next part of the game, which is to get reporters involved in helping your cause.

[CRAMER:] Again, when your company is in survival mode, it’s really important to defeat Research in Motion, and get the Pisanis of the world and the people talking about it as if there’s something wrong with Research in Motion [Bob Pisani is a reporter at CNBC]. Then you would call the [Wall Street] Journal and you would get the bozo reporter on Research in Motion, and you would feed that Palm’s got a killer [competitive product] that it’s going to give away. These are all the things you must do … and if you’re not doing it, maybe you shouldn’t be in the game.

[Blodget]Cramer does not say here explicitly that hedge funds should lie to the “bozo reporter” at the world’s top business publication, but a few minutes later, after describing how he would knock Apple’s stock down, he clarifies:

[CRAMER:]What’s important when you’re in that hedge-fund mode is to not do anything that’s remotely truthful. Because the truth is so against your view that it’s important to create a new truth to develop a fiction. [full text]

The Road to Counter Terrorism

The off-road journey that America has traveled in the five-and-a-half years since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 has been costly and treacherous. Civil liberties have eroded. Privacy rights have been trampled on. Suspicion and paranoia have become cultural mainstays. We have lost our way—led astray by a pack of charlatans masquerading as leaders who took advantage of us when we were most vulnerable.

But the time has come to wrest the wheel from these misguided and misguiding rogues, who would have us believe that the road to greater safety and security must of necessity be paved with relinquished rights and liberties. They could not be more wrong. The way to counter terrorism and defeat those who ostensibly begrudge us our freedom is not by becoming less free. It is only by more fully and forcefully embracing and promoting the freedom that it is our great privilege as Americans to possess that we can hope to counter terrorism and totalitarianism. Those who would tell you otherwise are simply steering you wrong.

Yet another cautionary tale, here from the Washington Post:

Ordinary Customers Flagged as Terrorists

Private businesses such as rental and mortgage companies and car dealers are checking the names of customers against a list of suspected terrorists and drug traffickers made publicly available by the Treasury Department, sometimes denying services to ordinary people whose names are similar to those on the list.

The Office of Foreign Asset Control’s list of “specially designated nationals” has long been used by banks and other financial institutions to block financial transactions of drug dealers and other criminals. But an executive order issued by President Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has expanded the list and its consequences in unforeseen ways. Businesses have used it to screen applicants for home and car loans, apartments and even exercise equipment, according to interviews and a report by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area to be issued today.

“The way in which the list is being used goes far beyond contexts in which it has a link to national security,” said Shirin Sinnar, the report’s author. “The government is effectively conscripting private businesses into the war on terrorism but doing so without making sure that businesses don’t trample on individual rights.” [full text]

The article goes on to offer some examples of individuals who have unjustifiably been treated with suspicion and experienced difficulties as a result of the OFLAG list:

Tom Kubbany is neither a terrorist nor a drug trafficker, has average credit and has owned homes in the past, so the Northern California mental-health worker was baffled when his mortgage broker said lenders were not interested in him. Reviewing his loan file, he discovered something shocking. At the top of his credit report was an OFAC alert provided by credit bureau TransUnion that showed that his middle name, Hassan, is an alias for Ali Saddam Hussein, purportedly a “son of Saddam Hussein.”

The record is not clear on whether Ali Saddam Hussein was a Hussein offspring, but the OFAC list stated he was born in 1980 or 1983. Kubbany was born in Detroit in 1949….

Saad Ali Muhammad is an African American who was born in Chicago and converted to Islam in 1980. When he tried to buy a used car from a Chevrolet dealership three years ago, a salesman ran his credit report and at the top saw a reference to “OFAC search,” followed by the names of terrorists including Osama bin Laden. The only apparent connection was the name Muhammad. The credit report, also by TransUnion, did not explain what OFAC was or what the credit report user should do with the information. [full text]

Linkin’ Log (for 03-26-07)

• Are We Politicians or Citizens?—A thoughtful essay in The Progressive by noted historian Howard Zinn that argues against a compromise on the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and asserts that citizens, unlike politicians, must ever “speak for what is right, not for what is winnable.”

• Poor Behavior Is Linked to Time in Day Care—A concerning piece by Benedict Carey of the New York Times on a recent “report from the largest and longest-running study of American child care [that] has found that keeping a preschooler in a day care center for a year or more increased the likelihood that the child would become disruptive in class — and that the effect persisted through the sixth grade.”

• A World Where Lies Are True—A provocative and cautionary essay in TruthDig by Chris Hedges that describes how the propagators of creationism “seek the imprint of science and scholarship to legitimize myth…[which] is a characteristic they share with all modern totalitarian movements.”

• Working to Diagnose Marine Animal Die-Off—An interesting article by Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post on the Working Group on Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events, a team of government researchers that seeks to “unravel the mystery” of why dolphins, whales, and other marine mammals sometimes die off en masse.

Wanton Exploitation, Wantin’ Profit

Every week seems to bring news of some horrible injustice or scandal, some less than shining example of man’s inhumanity and indecency to man. All too often, such happenings are so utterly inexcusable and repugnant that they shock the sensibilities of even the most world-weary and -wise of individuals. The following story from the New York Times—which exposes the cruel and exploitative practices of some long-term-care insurers—has this sort of impact:

Aged, Frail and Denied Care by Their Insurers

CONRAD, Mont. — Mary Rose Derks was a 65-year-old widow in 1990, when she began preparing for the day she could no longer care for herself. Every month, out of her grocery fund, she scrimped together about $100 for an insurance policy that promised to pay eventually for a room in an assisted living home.

On a May afternoon in 2002, after bouts of hypertension and diabetes had hospitalized her dozens of times, Mrs. Derks reluctantly agreed that it was time. She shed a few tears, watched her family pack her favorite blankets and rode to Beehive Homes, five blocks from her daughter’s farm equipment dealership.

At least, Mrs. Derks said at the time, she would not be a financial burden on her family.

But when she filed a claim with her insurer, Conseco, it said she had waited too long. Then it said Beehive Homes was not an approved facility, despite its state license. Eventually, Conseco argued that Mrs. Derks was not sufficiently infirm, despite her early-stage dementia and the 37 pills she takes each day.

After more than four years, Mrs. Derks, now 81, has yet to receive a penny from Conseco, while her family has paid about $70,000. Her daughter has sent Conseco dozens of bulky envelopes and spent hours on the phone. Each time the answer is the same: Denied.

Tens of thousands of elderly Americans have received life-prolonging care as a result of their long-term-care policies. With more than eight million customers, such insurance is one of the many products that companies are pitching to older Americans reaching retirement.

Yet thousands of policyholders say they have received only excuses about why insurers will not pay. Interviews by The New York Times and confidential depositions indicate that some long-term-care insurers have developed procedures that make it difficult — if not impossible — for policyholders to get paid. A review of more than 400 of the thousands of grievances and lawsuits filed in recent years shows elderly policyholders confronting unnecessary delays and overwhelming bureaucracies. In California alone, nearly one in every four long-term-care claims was denied in 2005, according to the state.

“The bottom line is that insurance companies make money when they don’t pay claims,� said Mary Beth Senkewicz, who resigned last year as a senior executive at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. “They’ll do anything to avoid paying, because if they wait long enough, they know the policyholders will die.�

In 2003, a subsidiary of Conseco, Bankers Life and Casualty, sent an 85-year-old woman suffering from dementia the wrong form to fill out, according to a lawsuit, then denied her claim because of improper paperwork. Last year, according to another pending suit, the insurer Penn Treaty American decided that a 92-year-old man had so improved that he should leave his nursing home despite his forgetfulness, anxiety and doctor’s orders to seek continued care. Another suit contended that a company owned by the John Hancock Insurance Company had tried to rescind the coverage of a 72-year-old man when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease four years after buying the policy. [full text]

Concrete Plant Meeting Tonight and Nap’s Letter

The City Council for Cranston is meeting publicly tonight at 7 p.m. and will be deliberating on the following proposal sponsored by Paula McFarland and Emilio Navarro:

VI. DOCKETED RESOLUTIONS

Resolution Urging the Cranston Zoning Board of Review to Revoke the Building Permit Issued by the Building Official for the Construction of a Concrete and/or Cement Plant Adjacent to a Well Established, Heavily Populated, Residential Neighborhood, and Directing the City Solicitor and its Legal Counsel to Prepare a Lawsuit and Take all Steps Reasonably Necessary to Prevent the Construction of the Concrete and/or Cement Plant. Sponsored by Council Vice-President McFarland and Councilman Navarro.

Also of interest is this letter from Mayor Michael Napolitano outlining his position on the matter, from the Projo, published on March 21, 2007:

I feel compelled to clarify The Providence Journal headline which read: “Mayor will not intervene in cement plant case.” The headline should have read: “Mayor prohibited by law and/or court from intervening in cement plant case.”

Throughout the campaign, and at present, I have been personally opposed to the construction of the Cullion [Concrete Corp.] cement plant on Marine Drive. I have stated that the cement plant is not conducive to the surrounding residential neighborhood. It will adversely affect the neighbors’ covenant of quiet enjoyment, increase traffic congestion, be detrimental to air quality, and negatively impact real estate values.

In addition, the cement plant will be in close proximity to the CLCF Building and complex, and the silica that will be produced in the air will be harmful to children and adults who utilize the facility. Moreover, the plant could jeopardize wetland areas and rivers leading to the Bay. Consequently, the cement plant poses a threat to the health and safety of Cranston residents and ultimately adversely affects the quality of life.

Many individuals who live in close proximity to the proposed plant have requested that I revoke the permit which has been issued. Pursuant to R.I. General Laws No. 23-27.3-114.6 entitled, “Revocation of Permits” only the building official may revoke any permit or approval. In addition to the neighbors’ concerns, I believe that the failure to obtain Department of Environmental Management approval, the failure to construct the facility within six months from issuance of the permit, the failure to obtain an extension to build, and the area’s designation as open space on the city’s Comprehensive Plan, gives the building official or his designate ample grounds to revoke the permit, if the law allowed.

R.I. Gen. Laws No. 45-24-65 entitled, “Appeals – Stay of Proceedings” states an appeal shall stay all proceedings in furtherance of the action appealed from, unless the zoning enforcement officer from whom the appeal is taken certifies to the Zoning Board of Review that by reason of facts stated in the certificate, a stay would, in the officer’s opinion, cause imminent peril to life or property. Upon review of this statute, I immediately ordered the alternate building official and zoning enforcement officer to determine whether the structure posed an imminent peril to life or property. If said structure had posed an imminent peril to life or property, I would expect that the acting building official in the performance of his duties would revoke the permit for public safety. It was determined by the city official that the structure did not pose an imminent peril to life or property. [full text]

The Engulfing TIDE of Intelligence Data

Since 9/11, as the tide on securing the civil liberties and privacy rights of Americans has gone out, a more powerful TIDE has come in, one that has steadily grown and now threatens to engulf the people responsible for such, as reported by the Washington Post:

Terror Database Has Quadrupled In Four Years

Each day, thousands of pieces of intelligence information from around the world — field reports, captured documents, news from foreign allies and sometimes idle gossip — arrive in a computer-filled office in McLean, where analysts feed them into the nation’s central list of terrorists and terrorism suspects.

Called TIDE, for Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, the list is a storehouse for data about individuals that the intelligence community believes might harm the United States. It is the wellspring for watch lists distributed to airlines, law enforcement, border posts and U.S. consulates, created to close one of the key intelligence gaps revealed after Sept. 11, 2001: the failure of federal agencies to share what they knew about al-Qaeda operatives.

But in addressing one problem, TIDE has spawned others. Ballooning from fewer than 100,000 files in 2003 to about 435,000, the growing database threatens to overwhelm the people who manage it. “The single biggest worry that I have is long-term quality control,” said Russ Travers, in charge of TIDE at the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean. “Where am I going to be, where is my successor going to be, five years down the road?”

TIDE has also created concerns about secrecy, errors and privacy. The list marks the first time foreigners and U.S. citizens are combined in an intelligence database. The bar for inclusion is low, and once someone is on the list, it is virtually impossible to get off it. At any stage, the process can lead to “horror stories” of mixed-up names and unconfirmed information, Travers acknowledged. [full text]

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