By Mark Hosenball WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Broad U.S. government powers to collect personal data on Americans, such as travel and financial records, would be curtailed under a bill expected to win approval on Wednesday in the U.S. House of Representatives. Mostly framed so far as dealing with bulk collection of domestic phone call data, the bipartisan USA Freedom Act addresses activities much broader than phone calls, said government officials and private experts. For instance, they said, the FBI has used the USA Patriot Act, enacted after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and court rulings to gather records of hotel stays and international wire transfers by companies such as Western Union. Under the USA Freedom Act, such powers would remain in place, but investigators' data-collections power would be narrowed to cases where the government sets out tightly targeted "specific selection terms." "The big news in the USA Freedom Act is to limit bulk collection programs," said Peter Swire, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
An activist perched herself on a 15-foot tripod to try to block the entrance of a Royal Dutch Shell fuel-transfer station on Tuesday, in a harbinger of expected protests over the company's plan to store Arctic drilling rigs in Seattle. Annie Lukins staged her protest on Seattle's Harbor Island a day after the U.S. Department of the Interior conditionally approved Shell's plan to explore for oil in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska, where it has not drilled since a mishap-filled 2012 season. Environmental activists are preparing for three days of demonstrations from May 16 against Shell's plans to store two drilling rigs in Seattle. Protesters say they will meet one of the drilling rigs in kayaks as it arrives in the port later this week.
LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif. (AP) — At first glance, nothing seems amiss at this lush, members-only golf club in one of the priciest communities in Orange County. A bubbling fountain gurgles out of an artificial lake. Emerald-green fairways stretch into the distance. Golf carts zoom across the grass like white ants.