New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 24, 2005, New Braunfels, Texas
FBI monitors radiation levels at Muslim sites without warrants
WASHINGTON (AP) — A classified radiation monitoring program, conducted without warrants, has targeted private U.S. property in an effort to prevent an al-Qaida attack, federal law enforcement officials confirmed Friday.
While declining to provide details including the number of cities and sites monitored, the officials said the air monitoring took place since the Sept. 11 attacks and from publicly accessible areas — which they said made warrants and court orders unnecessary.
U.S. News and World Report first reported the program Friday. The magazine said the monitoring was conducted at more than IOO Muslim sites in the Washington, D.C. area — including Maryland and Virginia suburbs — and at least five other cities when threat levels had risen: Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, New York and Seattle.
The magazine said that at its peak, three vehicles in Washington monitored 120 sites a day, nearly all of them Muslim targets identified by the FBI. Targets included mosques, homes and businesses, the magazine said.
The revelation of the surveillance program came just days after The New York Times disclosed that the Bush administration spied on suspected terrorist targets in the United States without court orders. President Bush has said he approved the program to protect Americans from attack.
Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based civil rights group,
said Friday the program “comes as a complete shock to us and everyone in the Muslim community.”
“This creates the appearance that Muslims are targeted simply for being Muslims. I don’t think this is the message the government wants to send at this time,” he said.
Hooper said his organization has serious concerns about the constitutionality of monitoring on private property without a court order.
Brian Roehrkasse, a Justice Department spokesman, said Friday that the administration “is very concerned with a growing body of sensitive reporting that continues to show al-Qaida has a clear intention to obtain and ultimately use chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear” weapons or high energy explosives.
To meet that threat, the government “mbnitors the air for imminent threats to health and safety,” but acts only on specific information about a potential attack without targeting any individual or group, he said.
“FBI agents do not intrude across any constitutionally protected areas without the proper legal authority,” the spokesman said.
In a 2001 decision, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that police must get warrants before using devices that search through walls for criminal activity
That decision struck down the use without a warrant of a heat-sensing device that led to marijuana charges against an Oregon man.
Roehrkasse said the Justice Department believes that case does not apply to air monitoring in publicly accessible areas.
Two federal law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the program is clas-sified, said the monitoring did not occur only at Muslim-related sites.
Douglas Kmiec, a professor of constitutional law at Pepperdine University, said the location of the surveillance matters when determining if a court order is needed.
“The greatest expectation of privacy is in the home,” said Kmiec, a Justice Department official under former presidents Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush. “As you move away from the home to a parking lot or a place of public accommodation or an office, there are a set of factors that are a balancing test for the court,” he said.
Despite federal promises to inform state and local officials of security concerns, that never formally happened with the radiation monitoring program, said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.
The official said that after discussions with attorneys, some state and local authorities decided the surveillance was legal, equating it to air quality monitors set up around Washington that regularly sniff for suspicious materials.
“They weren’t targeting specific people, they were just doing it by random, driving around (commercial) storage sheds and parking lots,” the official said.
Governor asks USDA to provide assistance to state’s farmers
AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry has requested that the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency provide disaster relief assistance for 12 counties in the central and southern regions of Texas where farms and ranches have experienced damage due to drought conditions that have persisted since April.
Affected counties include Austin, Blanco, Caldwell, Comal, Goliad, Gonzales, Hays, Karnes, Kinney, Live
Oak, McMullen and Starr.
If the USDA request is approved, qualified farm operators in designated counties will be eligible for low-interest emeigency loans from the USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Producers can borrow up to IOO percent of actual production for physical losses, or a maximum of $500,000. The agency offers additional programs, such as technical assistance, to eligible farmers.
Pedernales Electric offers to help with tree recycling
PEC has a solution for members wondering what to do with their natural Christmas trees after the holidays. Members are invited to bring their trees to any participating PEC office from Tuesday through Jan. 4 for recycling.
PEC offices in Bertram, Canyon Lake, Cedar Park, Johnson City, Junction, Kyle, Lake Travis, Manchaca and Marble Falls will accept
Christmas trees. All decorations, nails and staples must be removed before trees are dropped off.
The bare trees will be mulched, and the chips will be used to beautify local parks and playgrounds in the PEC service area.
For more information on Pedernales Electric’s Christmas tree recycling program, caU PEC toU-free at 1-888-554-4732.
ring in your photo when you see it ublished and receive a coupon for a KEE 1/2 gallon of H-E-B Ice ream and a certificate from Tiger ote to Buy a Foot Long Sandwich leal and receive a 6” Sub FREIE.
Presented by the
“To put this on, we would have to uninstall the pipe, get it cut, re-thread it and then reinstall it. I haven’t installed it, and my husband hasn’t installed it. We’re still trying to figure it out.”
— Sarah Stevick
CONTINUED FROM Page 1A
Most residents unable to install systems
conversation with an elderly lady who was looking at the instructions.
“She told me, ‘If I get down on the ground and try to install this, I won’t be getting up,’” Stevick said. “I’ve had several calls. These people just do not have the capability to install these things themselves.”
The uproar in Bulverde began several weeks ago when residents of Bulverde Hills received letters from BexarMet telling halomethane levels rn their water exceeded the federal standards.
Federal standards say tri-halomethane levels should not exceed 80 parts per billion. Water in Bulverde Hills has been above the threshold for more than a year. The water going to Bulverde Hills comes out of Canyon Lake. It is treated by Canyon Lake Water Supply Corp. and transferred to BexarMet lines. It reaches homes in the area after traveling more than 20 miles in underground pipes.
After residents of Bulverde complained, BexarMet agreed to distribute filters to all 311 homes in the subdivision. On Monday, the company came to Bulverde and handed out bags that contained a $200 CuBigan SY 2650 water filtration system, a reduced-flow shower head and a reduced-
flow water spout for the sink.
The filter came with instructions on how to install the filters, which must be placed under the sink. Installing the Culligan SY 2650 requires a drill, two adjustable wrenches, a I/8-inch drill bit, a sharp utility knife, a Phillips screwdriver, a file and safety glasses, according to the box.
Stevick said for the average person, installing the filter is simply not an option.
“The first step says, ‘Turn off the saddle valve,’” Stevick said. “Do you know what a saddle valve is?”
A saddle valve is a valve that can be placed into a pipe to allow for a low volume flow of water to various appliances. After receiving several calls at City Hall about saddle valves, Stevick actually gathered some of the employees together, had them get on the floor and look under the sink. What they found were pipes without a saddle valve.
Even if the valve was located, that’s just the first step in installing the filter.
“To put this on, we would have to uninstall the pipe, get it cut, re-thread it and then reinstall it,” Stevick said. “I haven’t installed it, and my husband hasn’t installed it. We’re still trying
to Figure it out.”
While she researches how to install the filter, Stevick is still trying to work with, and around, BexarMet. Earlier this week, she approached City Attorney Frank Garza and asked if the city could take legal steps against BexarMet.
“His initial analysis of this was there’s nothing we could do,” Stevick said.,“I went back to him and asked if we could do something from a consumer product standpoint. We are consumers, and we’re getting a faulty product.”
Stevick is also preparing a letter that she will send to BexarMet, Canyon Lake Water Supply Corp. and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
“We are basically saying these are our questions, these are our concerns and, by the way, we want a meeting by Jan. 15,” she said.
Stevick said she wanted all three entities at the meeting so the city’s questions could be answered once and for all. In the meantime, she promises to continue fighting to make sure the drinking water in the city, and at her home, is safe.
“This is not a situation I’m just going to forget about and let it go,” she said.
CONTINUED FROM Page 1A
Several local groups get assistance
The New Braunfels Art League recently received a grant as well, a $65,000 matching grant for its building project. The league must raise another $65,000 in order to use the grant toward their $300,000 remodeling effort.
“T he grant money must be used for remodeling,” said Nancy Bower, the art league’s president-elect. “We’re also asking for other smaller
grants to match the funds."
Connections Individual and Family Services also will use Kronkosky funds as a push in the right direction. Kelly Stallings, director of Connections, said the social services organization relies largely on government funds to operate. However, changing policies in Washington, D.C., can make federal grants uncertain.
“When most of the money is from the government, there’s always a level of anxiety for the future,” she said. “We need far more help than we ask for from the community.”
Connections used its
$22,900 Kronkosky grant to hire a development director, Tammi Woodard.
“Shes been here about a month and will hopefully help us get our name out there in the community and help us ask for what we need,” Stallings said.
Lopez said the Kronkosky Foundation has helped several organizations help themselves. He believes the organization looks for recipients who will best benefit the community.
“I’m very appreciative of the trust they have in us,” he said. “We will definitely use this grant to better serve the seniors of Comal County.”
Children, grandchildren, nephews or nieces...Any child that was born in 2005 can participate in the Special Section of Baby's First Year. A panel of Judges will choose four winners (First place boy, first place girl, runner up boy and runner up girl). Each winner will receive a trophy. Baby does not need to be from this area! Mail the coupon below along with $25.00 for each child, photo (lf photo is copyrighted, a release will also be needed from the photographer) and a copy of the birth certificate, or come in person to:
707 Landa Street, New Braunfels, TX 78130
Child's Name:, DOB:_
Birth Place (City):_
lbs ozs Length:.
Credit Card #:. Signature:_
Please circle method of payment below: _Expiration Date:.
DEADLINE TO ENTER IS JANUARY 9th.
SPECIAL SECTION PUBUSHES JANUARY 28thChristian Xavier PerezBorn: 1/28/03 New Braunfels*
Sibling: Brandon Tyler Lopez Grandparents Raqpel S. Mendoza. Hilda Perez.
Ruben C. Perez. Alberto Mendoza