Poll: American public’s concerns rise over surveillance programs and privacy erosion
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Following disclosures about the National Security Agency’s massive surveillance programs, a majority of Americans believe the U.S.government is doing a poor job of protecting privacy rights, according to a new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Close to 60 percent of Americans oppose the NSA’s collection of data on telephone and Internet usage. A similar majority opposes the legal process supervised by a secret federal court that oversees the government’s classified surveillance.
The American public is still anxious about terrorism as the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches. About 6 in 10 Americans feel it is sometimes necessary to sacrifice rights to confront terrorism.
But suspicions about the government’s promises to protect civil liberties have deepened since 2011. Only 53 percent now say the government does a good job of ensuring freedoms, compared to 60 percent two years ago.
The shift in public attitudes follows a three-month barrage of leaks to media organizations by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who released secret documents about the surveillance agency’s inner workings.
Study: U.S. could default
as early as Oct. 18
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States could default on its obligations as early as Oct. 18 if Washington fails to agree on legislation to raise the government’s borrowing cap, a new study predicted Tuesday.
The Bipartisan Policy Center analysis says the default date would come no later than Nov. 5 and that the government would quickly fall behind on its payments, including Social Security benefits and military pensions.
The think tank’s estimate is in line with a warning last month by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew that the government would exhaust its borrowing authority by mid-October and be left with just $50 billion cash on hand.
The government has never defaulted on its obligations. Raising the $16.7 trillion borrowing cap promises to be a major struggle for House Republicans and President Barack Obama.
Two years ago Obama agreed to pair a $2.1 trillion increase in the debt limit with an equivalent amount in spending cuts spread over 10 years. But the president now says that he won’t negotiate over the debt limit and is asking Congress to send him a straightforward increase that would ensure the government can pay its bills.
In January, House Republicans permitted an increase in the debt ceiling without demanding offsetting spending cuts.
It’s commonly agreed that failure to increase the debt limit on time would roil financial markets and lead to a downgrade of the government’s credit rating. The political fallout would also be intense, especially if Social Security benefits are delayed.
Tuesday’s study predicts that if the default date -- which is when the government cannot pay its bills in full and on time -- comes on Oct. 18, the subsequent Social Security payments due on Nov. 1 could be delayed by almost two weeks.
Richest 1 percent of Americans are collecting biggest share of household income since the ‘20s
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The gulf between the richest 1 percent and the rest of America is the widest it’s been since the Roaring ‘20s.
The very wealthiest Americans earned more than 19 percent of the country’s household income last year -- their biggest share since 1928, the year before the stock market crash. And the top 10 percent captured a record 48.2 percent of total earnings last year.
U.S. income inequality has been growing for almost three decades. And it grew again last year, according to an analysis of Internal Revenue Service figures dating to 1913 by economists at the University of California, Berkeley, the Paris School of Economics and Oxford University.
One of them, Berkeley’s Emmanuel Saez, said the incomes of the richest Americans surged last year in part because they cashed in stock holdings to avoid higher capital gains taxes that took effect in January.
In 2012, the incomes of the top 1 percent rose nearly 20 percent compared with a 1 percent increase for the remaining 99 percent.
Apple CEO Tim Cook unveils 2 new iPhone designs including
CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) -- For the first time since introducing the device that changed cellphones forever, Apple will offer two distinct versions of the latest iPhones -- a cheaper one made of plastic and another that aims to be "the gold standard of smartphones" and reads your fingerprint.
Apple unveiled the latest iPhone models, available on Sept. 20, during an event at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters. The move comes as the company tries to fend off Samsung and other competitors that want to challenge Apple in the competitive smartphone market. The lower-cost iPhone 5C is expected to help boost sales in China and other areas where people don’t have as much money to spend on new gadgets as they do in the U.S. and Europe.
Research firm Gartner Inc. estimates that Apple had a 14.4 percent share of the world’s smartphone market in the second quarter of this year, No. 2 behind Samsung’s 31.7 percent.
The lower-cost iPhone 5C will be available in five colors -- green, blue, yellow, pink and white. CEO Tim Cook calls it "more fun and colorful" than any other iPhone. The 5C has a 4-inch Retina display and is powered by Apple’s A6 chip. It also has an 8 megapixel camera, live photo filters and a rear cover that lights up.
The iPhone 5C will cost $99 for a 16 gigabyte model and $199 for a 32 gigabyte model with a two-year wireless contract.
Once-classified docs show judge ‘lost confidence’ in officials’ use of domestic spying program
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A federal judge who oversaw a secret U.S. spy court almost shut down the government’s domestic surveillance program designed to fight terrorism after he "lost confidence" in officials’ ability to operate it, documents released Tuesday show.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton issued a blistering opinion in March 2009 after discovering government officials had been accessing domestic phone records for nearly three years without "reasonable, articulate suspicion" that they were connected to terrorism.
Walton said the government’s excuse that the program was complicated "strained credulity," and he ordered the National Security Agency to conduct an "end-to-end" review of its processes and policies while also ordering closer monitoring of its activities.
Later in 2009, a Justice Department lawyer reported to the spy court a "likely violation" of NSA surveillance rules. The lawyer said that in some cases, it appeared the NSA was distributing the sensitive phone records by email to as many as 189 analysts, but only 53 were approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to see them.
Judge Walton wrote that he was "deeply troubled by the incidents," which he said occurred just weeks after the NSA had performed a major review of its internal practices because of the initial problems reported earlier in the year.
On marijuana, feds plan
to address banking issue
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Justice Department official says the federal government will enable financial institutions to transact business with the legitimate marijuana industry without fear of prosecution.
The issue has taken on greater urgency now that Colorado and Washington have become the first states to legalize recreational use of marijuana.
Currently, processing money from marijuana sales puts federally insured banks at risk of drug racketeering charges.
In an appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the issue was one that the federal government needed to deal with.
The Justice Department announced Aug. 29 that it won’t try to stop Colorado and Washington state from legalizing recreational marijuana use as long as they implement strong enforcement systems. Marijuana is an illegal drug under federal law.
Police: 107-year-old Ark. man killed in standoff had talked about shooting, doing God’s ‘will’
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- A 107-year-old Arkansas man who died in a police standoff this weekend told officers months earlier that they would have to shoot him or throw him in jail before he went back home with his son-in-law, according to police reports obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.
Monroe Isadore made the comments in June after he said his daughter and son-in-law didn’t want him around, according to one of several police reports the AP obtained.
"Mr. Isadore stated we would have to shoot him or throw him jail before he went back home with" his son-in-law, one of the reports said. "Mr. Isadore stated he was a hundred and seven years old and GOD told him to do his will."
Neither Isadore’s daughter nor son-in-law returned phone messages left Tuesday.
Isadore died on Saturday in Pine Bluff after he opened fire on police and authorities shot him.
Report finds crisis in cancer care from aging boomers, complexity of therapies, rising costs
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. is facing a crisis in how to deliver cancer care, as the baby boomers reach their tumor-prone years and doctors have a hard time keeping up with complex new treatments, government advisers reported Tuesday.
The caution comes even as scientists are learning more than ever about better ways to battle cancer, and developing innovative therapies to target tumors.
And while doctors try to optimize treatment, the Institute of Medicine found "daunting" barriers to achieving high-quality care for all patients. Overcoming those challenges will require changes to the health care system, and savvier consumers.
"We do not want to frighten or scare people who are getting care now," said Dr. Patricia Ganz, a cancer specialist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who chaired the panel.
But too often, decisions about cancer treatments aren’t based on good evidence, and patients may not understand their choices and what to expect, the panel found. For example, some studies suggest that two-thirds or more of cancer patients with poor prognoses incorrectly believe the treatments they receive could cure them.
Police release video showing Zimmerman
being handcuffed after domestic dispute
LAKE MARY, Fla. (AP) -- Police have released a dash cam video of George Zimmerman being handcuffed after his estranged wife called 911 and said he was threatening her with a gun.
The video released Tuesday shows officers ordering Zimmerman out of his truck. They tell him to put his hands up and drop to his knees. Two officers approach him. One of them has a gun drawn while the other handcuffs Zimmerman.
Police are investigating whether George Zimmerman or Shellie Zimmerman should be charged after the dispute Monday. Shellie Zimmerman told a 911 dispatcher George Zimmerman threatened her with a gun, but later told police she didn’t see a gun.
Authorities in Lake Mary say video from her broken iPad may be crucial evidence in determining whether any charges are filed.