A top U.S. national security official says President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping found "quite a bit of alignment" on the subject of North Korea and agreed that North Korea has to be denuclearized.
White House national security adviser Tom Donilon says that the leaders also agreed that neither country will accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state.
Donilon says the common ground between Obama and Xi on North Korea provides a key for enhanced U.S.-China cooperation.
He spoke Saturday at the end of two days of meeting between Obama and Xi in an estate in the California desert.
Eager to quell a domestic furor over U.S. spying, the nation's top intelligence official stressed Saturday that a previously undisclosed program for tapping into Internet usage is authorized by Congress, falls under strict supervision of a secret court and cannot intentionally target a U.S. citizen. He decried the revelation of that and another intelligence-gathering program as reckless.
For the second time in three days, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper took the rare step of declassifying some details of an intelligence program to respond to media reports about counterterrorism techniques employed by the government.
"Disclosing information about the specific methods the government uses to collect communications can obviously give our enemies a 'playbook' of how to avoid detection," he said in a statement.
Clapper said the data collection under the program, first unveiled by the newspapers The Washington Post and The Guardian, was with the approval of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court and with the knowledge of Internet service providers. He emphasized that the government does not act unilaterally to obtain that data from the servers of those providers.
Clapper's reaction came a day after President Barack Obama defended the counterterrorism methods and said Americans need to "make some choices" in balancing privacy and security. But the president's response and Clapper's unusual public stance underscore the nerve touched by the disclosures and the sensitivity of the Obama administration to any suggestion that it is trampling on the civil liberties of Americans.
Late Thursday, Clapper declassified some details of a phone records collection program employed by the National Security Agency that aims to obtain from phone companies on an "ongoing, daily basis" the records of its customers' calls. Clapper said that under that court-supervised program, only a small fraction of the records collected ever get examined because most are unrelated to any inquiries into terrorism activities.
His statement and declassification Saturday addressed the Internet scouring program, code-named PRISM, that allowed the NSA and FBI to tap directly into the servers of major U.S. Internet companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and AOL. Like the phone-records program, PRISM was approved by a judge in a secret court order. Unlike that program, however, PRISM allowed the government to seize actual conversations: emails, video chats, instant messages and more.
Clapper said the program, authorized in the USA Patriot Act, has been in place since 2008, the last year of the George W. Bush administration, and "has proven vital to keeping the nation and our allies safe.
"It continues to be one of our most important tools for the protection of the nation's security," he said.
Among the previously classified information about the Internet data collection that Clapper revealed:
— It is an internal government computer system that allows the government to collect foreign intelligence information from electronic communication service providers under court supervision.
— The government does not unilaterally obtain information from the servers of U.S. electronic communication service providers. It requires approval from a FISA Court judge and is conducted with the knowledge of the provider and service providers supply information when they are legally required to do so.
— The program seeks foreign intelligence information concerning foreign targets located outside the United States under court.
— The government cannot target anyone under the program unless there is an "appropriate, and documented, foreign intelligence purpose" for the acquisition. Those purposes include prevention of terrorism, hostile cyber activities or nuclear proliferation. The foreign target must be reasonably believed to be outside the United States. It cannot intentionally target any U.S. citizen or any person known to be in the U.S.
— The dissemination of information "incidentally intercepted" about a U.S. person is prohibited unless it is "necessary to understand foreign intelligence or assess its importance, is evidence of a crime, or indicates a threat of death or serious bodily harm.
The Post and the Guardian cited confidential slides and other documents about PRISM for their reports. They named Google, Facebook, Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc., Yahoo Inc., AOL Inc. and Paltalk as companies whose data has been obtained.
All the companies have issued statements asserting that they aren't voluntarily handing over user data. They also are emphatically rejecting newspaper reports indicating that PRISM has opened a door for the NSA to tap directly on the companies' data centers whenever the government pleases.
Clapper appeared to support that claim by stressing that the government did not act unilaterally, but with court authority.
"Nobody is listening to your telephone calls," Obama assured the nation Friday after two days of reports that many found unsettling. What the government is doing, he said, is digesting phone numbers and the durations of calls, seeking links that might "identify potential leads with respect to folks who might engage in terrorism."
While Obama on Friday said the aim of the programs is to make America safe, he offered no specifics about how the surveillance programs have done that. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., on Thursday said the phone records sweeps had thwarted a domestic terror attack, but he also didn't offer specifics.
The revelations have divided Congress and led civil liberties advocates and some constitutional scholars to accuse Obama of crossing a line in the name of rooting out terror threats.
Obama, himself a constitutional lawyer, strove to calm Americans' fears but also to remind them that Congress and the courts had signed off on the surveillance.
"I think the American people understand that there are some trade-offs involved," he said when questioned by reporters at a health care event in San Jose, Calif.
Obama echoed intelligence experts — both inside and outside the government — who predicted that potential attackers will find other, secretive ways to communicate now that they know that their phone and Internet records may be targeted.
An al-Qaida affiliated website on Saturday warned against using the Internet to discuss issues related to militant activities in three long articles on what it called "America's greatest and unprecedented scandal of spying on its own citizens and people in other countries."
"Caution: Oh brothers, it is a great danger revealing PRISM, the greatest American spying project," wrote one member, describing the NSA program that gathers information from major U.S. Internet companies.
"A highly important caution for the Internet jihadis ... American intelligence gets information from Facebook and Google," wrote another.
Former Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., who served on the House Intelligence Committee for a decade, said "the bad folks' antennas go back up and they become more cautious for a period of time."
"But we'll just keep coming up with more sophisticated ways to dig into these data. It becomes a techies game, and we will try to come up with new tools to cut through the clutter," he said.
Hoekstra said he approved the phone surveillance program but did not know about the online spying.
Associated Press writer Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report.
Follow Lara Jakes Twitter at: https://twitter.com/larajakesAP.
Authorities have pulled a missing teacher's car from a New Orleans bayou and police say there is a decomposed body inside.
Terrilyn Monette, a Long Beach, Calif., native who moved Louisiana to teach, vanished three months ago. Authorities did not immediately say whether the body in the car was Monette.
Monette's black Honda Accord was pulled from New Orleans' Bayou St. John on Saturday.
Louisiana state Rep. Austin Badon has spearheaded the search for Monette. He says he and a volunteer diver resurveyed the waterway in a boat using sonar and found a car that had earlier been missed.
The 26-year-old teacher was last seen leaving a New Orleans bar not far from the bayou in the early morning hours of March 2.
Authorities say gusty winds sweeping through the Denver area Saturday caused several hot air balloon crashes that injured at least five people.
The four unrelated accidents all happened within miles and about an hour of each other.
In rural Boulder County, Sheriff's Deputy Mitch Rosebrough said a dozen people were riding in a balloon that came down at about 9 a.m. in a field southeast of Boulder.
The pilot was trying to land when the basket hit the ground and was dragged about 50 yards. Two women were taken to a hospital for evaluation after complaining of neck and back injuries.
Balloon pilot Jeff Meeker, of Boulder-based Fair Winds Hot Air Balloon Flights, said the incident was not a crash but a "high-wind landing."
"For the safety of our passengers, it was a calculated decision to put it down in the best place we could," he told The Associated Press.
"The first 45 minutes were absolutely gorgeous, and then the winds just started picking up," he said, adding, "It's Mother Nature, and Mother Nature sometimes lets you know who is in charge."
Meeker said hot air ballooning, a popular pastime in the area, is extremely safe, and it's rare for several balloons to go down on the same day.
"It was just one of those days," he said. "This is obviously not our normal landing conditions."
Meeker was ticketed for landing in the field, a protected habitat for ground-nesting birds. The driver of a vehicle that went to recover the balloon also was ticketed for driving into the area.
Just before Meeker's balloon crashed, another balloon operated by a different company went down in the Rocky Flats area south of Boulder.
Dana Lewis, an engineer with the Rocky Mountain Fire District, said one of the 11 people on board suffered an ankle injury.
"We were watching the balloons go overhead and the balloon that crashed into Rocky Flats, they were screaming," he said. "They were definitely going fast."
In Arvada, one person was injured when a hot air balloon crashed into power lines and sparked a small brush fire at about 8 a.m., police said.
Three people were in the basket when the balloon crashed near a highway intersection, said Arvada police spokeswoman Jill McGranahan.
McGranahan didn't have details on the injured person.
In nearby Louisville, a balloon went down, injuring the pilot, who cut his wrist crashing into an undeveloped industrial park at about 7:45 a.m.
"They were attempting to land and got caught up in some pretty stiff winds," said Louisville Patrol Sgt. Mark Spinder.
There were five passengers in the balloon but none were injured, he said.
The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the crashes, all of which happened in the suburbs northwest of Denver.
A man who fled the U.S. in 1979 after being charged with killing a man in Chicago has been arrested at O'Hare International Airport.
The Cook County sheriff's office says 65-year-old Ata Yousef El Ammouri was taken into custody Friday after arriving on a flight from Jordan, where he has been living.
He was traveling to the United States to attend a graduation.
El Ammouri is accused of shooting 31-year-old Joe Harris in July 1979 after Harris walked out of his store without paying for a can of beer.
El Ammouri was charged with murder but posted $100,000 bail and disappeared.
He was brought to bond court Saturday and ordered held.
Sheriff Tom Dart says "the simple passage of time does not eradicate our commitment to bringing fugitives to justice."
A heavy equipment operator with a lengthy rap sheet who is accused of being high on marijuana when a downtown building collapsed onto a thrift store, killing six people, surrendered Saturday to face charges in the deaths, police said.
Sean Benschop faces six counts of involuntary manslaughter, 13 counts of recklessly endangering another person and one count of risking a catastrophe. A warrant had been issued for his arrest and police had been searching for him.
Authorities believe the 42-year-old Benschop had been using an excavator Wednesday when the remains of the four-story building under demolition gave way and toppled onto an attached Salvation Army thrift store, killing two employees and four customers and injuring 13 others.
Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison said a toxicology report showed evidence that Benschop was high on marijuana. That finding, combined with witness statements and evidence from the scene, led to the decision Friday to raid his North Philadelphia home and later seek an arrest warrant, he said.
Benschop's attorney, Daine Grey, said his client was not at fault.
"This was an accident, but Mr. Benschop is not responsible," Grey said Saturday. "And we believe that, in time, the facts will show that he is not responsible."
Benschop was wearing a bandage on his right arm when he turned himself in. Grey said he had been injured at a worksite, but he declined to say where or when.
Grey said Benschop was able to operate heavy equipment.
"He was completely able to operate a backhoe," Grey said. " ... He operated it safely, as he always does, and he did not violate the law in any capacity.
"He has been doing this for more than 13 years. He is very experienced. He has worked for a number of contractors throughout the region. All of the contractors have found him professional and found that he did his work with the highest regard for the safety of those around him."
Mayor Michael Nutter, in a statement Saturday night, called for harsh charges and punishment for Benschop.
"It is my hope that the harshest level of charges are brought against Sean Benschop and he is punished accordingly," Nutter said. "We must also seek answers from property owners Richard Basciano and Griffin T. Campbell who hired Benschop to do the significant job of operating heavy equipment. These three individuals bear the ultimate and sole responsibility for this tragedy. Justice will only be served if Sean Benschop receives a sentence that buries him in a jailhouse forever, just like his victims were buried on Wednesday."
Benschop, who also goes by the name Kary Roberts, has been arrested at least 11 times since 1994 on charges ranging from drugs to theft to weapons possession, according to court records. He was twice sentenced to prison in the 1990s after being convicted on drug trafficking charges. Benschop's last arrest, on a charge of aggravated assault, came in January 2012, but the case was dismissed for lack of evidence.
As the criminal investigation heated up, at least two survivors sued the demolition contractor and building owner, alleging gross recklessness at the job site.
The city, meanwhile, promised to crack down on the demolition industry.
"We can do much better," Nutter said at a news conference Friday. "We will not accept the status quo in the face of this tragedy."
Nutter's reform plan for construction sites includes random drug testing on heavy equipment operators.
"If that's a factor here, that certainly takes things in a very different direction," he said hours before the charges against Benschop were confirmed.
The mayor also pledged to adopt tougher background requirements for demolition contractors, including information about each worker's experience, and more frequent site inspections when demolitions are underway.
His plan could run into resistance from builders who say they're already highly regulated.
"I think that before we do anything, before we rush to any judgment about how to fix what happened, we have to have all the facts," said Steven Lakin, executive managing director of the General Building Contractors Association, a trade group representing Philadelphia-area contractors. "Everybody wants to regulate demolition contractors, but I'm not so sure that's the answer."
Lawyers for the two survivors who have sued accuse demolition contractor Griffin Campbell -- who has a criminal background and has filed for bankruptcy twice -- of violating federal safety regulations. They say building owner Richard Basciano should have picked a more qualified and competent contractor to do the work.
No one answered the phone at a listing for Campbell on Saturday, and the voice mailbox was full.
Plaintiff Linda Bell, a 50-year-old mother of three, was shopping at the thrift store when the building came down on top of her. She fell into the basement and was covered by rubble for more than an hour.
"She's still shook up real bad, sore, swollen up," Bell's brother, Keith Bell, told the AP on Friday. She's also suffering mental anguish from "seeing other people getting killed," he said.
Construction engineers have said the thrift store should have been evacuated during critical phases of the demolition project next door.
The Salvation Army was concerned enough about the demolition that its attorneys reached out to a lawyer for building owner STB Investments Corp., a company linked to prominent businessman and developer Richard Basciano.
"There was communication between The Salvation Army and the attorney of the neighboring building's owner, pertaining to the demolition. The neighbor assured The Salvation Army that they would be taking proper precautions," Maj. Robert W. Dixon, director of operations of The Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia, said in a statement Friday.
"These discussions were never finalized," he said.
Some important events in the history of the gay-rights movement in the United States:
1950: Mattachine Society, widely considered first national gay rights organization, is formed.
1957: Frank Kameny is fired from job as government astronomer because he's gay; his appeal later reaches Supreme Court before being denied.
1969: Stonewall Inn riots break out after patrons of New York City gay bar protest police harassment.
1977: After campaign led by Anita Bryant and other conservatives, Miami-area voters overturn ordinance banning anti-gay discrimination.
1978: In San Francisco, Mayor George Moscone and pioneering gay politician Harvey Milk are assassinated.
1979: First national gay-rights march on Washington.
1985: Rock Hudson dies, after acknowledging he had AIDS
1986: U.S. Supreme Court upholds Georgia anti-sodomy law criminalizing consensual gay sex
1987: Second national gay-rights march on Washington; AIDS memorial quilt displayed on National Mall
1993: "Don't ask, don't tell" policy implemented for U.S. military, allowing gays to serve but not to be open about their sexual orientation.
1996: Congress passes Defense of Marriage Act, stipulating that federal government will not recognize same-sex marriages.
1997: Ellen DeGeneres comes out publicly as lesbian in appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
1998: Gay university student Matthew Shepard killed in Wyoming.
2000: Vermont becomes first state to establish civil unions; Supreme Court upholds Boy Scouts' right to exclude gays.
2003: Supreme Court strikes down Texas law criminalizing consensual gay sex.
2004: Same-sex marriages start in Massachusetts in compliance with state high court ruling; many other states adopt bans on same-sex marriage.
2008: California court orders legalization of same-sex marriage; voters overturn the ruling by approving Proposition 8 limiting marriage to one man, one woman.
2010: Appeals court strikes down Florida's three-decade-old ban on adoptions by gays.
2011: Military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy is repealed; New York becomes largest state to approve same-sex marriage.
2012: President Barack Obama endorses same-sex marriage; voters approve it in referendums in Maine, Maryland and Washington state.
2013: Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota raise number of states with same-sex marriage to 12; Boy Scouts vote to let openly gay boys participate.
Houston resident Cheryl Strain's inexperience with guns was apparent as she struggled to load shells into a 20-gauge shotgun.
Over the piercing blasts of gunfire in the shooting range, Strain's instructor, Dan Blackford, patiently directed her on how to use her thumb to shove a shell all the way inside the barrel and feel it click.
"Now we got a round in the chamber ready to go," Blackford said as he positioned her body on the right way to hold the shotgun. "Look down your sight, put that BB right in the middle of your target and press the trigger."
Strain's northwest Houston community of Oak Forest is the first neighborhood in the country being trained and equipped by the Armed Citizen Project, a Houston nonprofit that is giving away free shotguns to single women and residents of neighborhoods with high crime rates.
While many cities have tried gun buy-backs and other tactics in the ongoing national debate on gun control, the nonprofit and its supporters say gun giveaways to responsible owners are actually a better way to deter crime. The organization, which plans to offer training classes in Dallas, San Antonio, and Tucson, Ariz., in the next few weeks, is working to expand its giveaways to 15 cities by the end of the year, including Chicago and New York.
But others in Houston, while expressing support for Second Amendment rights, question whether more guns will result in more gun-related deaths rather than less crime.
Residents of Oak Forest say their neighborhood, made up of older one-story houses and a growing number of new townhomes, has experienced a recent rash of driveway robberies and home burglaries. On a recent Sunday afternoon, a group of 10 residents, including Strain, went through training at Shiloh Shooting, a northwest Houston gun range.
Kyle Coplen, the project's 29-year-old founder said his group expects to train at least 50 Oak Forest residents and put up signs saying the neighborhood is armed.
"When we have a crime wave, we don't just say let's just increase police and that's all we do. We do multiple things. I see this as one aspect of what we can do," said Coplen, who graduated from the University of Houston with a master's degree in public administration.
It costs the organization about $300 to arm and train an individual and about $20,000 for an entire neighborhood. All costs are paid through donations, said Coplen, though he declined to say how much his organization has raised so far.
While some residents in the neighborhood are supportive, several officials have mixed feelings about it.
Sandra Keller, Strain's neighbor, said she is participating in part because of the helplessness she felt after her furniture store was robbed a couple of years ago.
"If you don't have a gun, you're just a walking victim. You're just waiting for somebody to take advantage of you and your property," said Keller, 64, after practicing at the shooting range.
But Houston City Councilwoman Ellen Cohen, who represents Oak Forest, said, "I have serious concerns about more guns in homes."
Cohen said she supports Second Amendment rights and believes that such a responsibility should include proper training and background checks.
David Hemenway, a professor of health policy and management at the Harvard School of Public Health who has written about firearms and health, said studies suggesting gun ownership deters crime have been refuted by many others that say the opposite.
"Mostly what guns seem to do is make situations more lethal because most crime has nothing to do with guns," he said. "When there is a gun in the mix, there is much more likely to be somebody dying or somebody incredibly hurt."
Proponents of increased gun ownership point to a variety of statistics to support their argument, including ones showing that some cities with strict gun control laws, like Chicago, still have high murder rates.
Blackford, the firearm instructor in the Oak Forest training, said the group is teaching residents not only how to handle and store a weapon but also when to use deadly force.
"The sad part is most people think if you're pro-gun, that you've got this gunslinger attitude, that you are walking around looking for a gun fight to get into and that is so far from the truth," said Blackford, a former Secret Service agent.
Harris County Precinct One Constable Alan Rosen, whose deputies patrol Oak Forest, said that while he believes the best deterrent to crime is effective neighborhood watch programs, he believes people should have the right to protect themselves.
"In terms of having a shotgun, after you've been properly trained on it, to have that in your home to protect your home, I'm for it," he said.
Strain, 46, a single mother who has never owned a gun, said she was nervous firing the shotgun but that more training will help. She also had her 12-year-old son Rory practice firing the shotgun so "if God forbid something happens, he could be prepared as well."
Florida police officer has shot and killed an alligator after it became aggressive toward children throwing things at it.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports the incident happened early Friday afternoon at a retention pond. The officer was told several small children and two older ones had been throwing things at the gator.
According to the police report, the officer called a trapper who said alligators longer than 5 feet are usually put down. When another officer and a diver showed up to assist, the gator reportedly swam aggressively toward them.
One of the officers then fired a shot at the alligator's head. When they tried to pull the gator ashore, it thrashed around again and two more shots were fired.
The alligator was more than 10 feet long.
For more than a decade now, Americans have made peace with the uneasy knowledge that someone — government, business or both — might be watching.
We knew that the technology was there. We knew that the law might allow it. As we stood under a security camera at a street corner, connected with friends online or talked on a smart phone equipped with GPS, we knew, too, it was conceivable that we might be monitored.
Now, though, paranoid fantasies have come face to face with modern reality: The government IS collecting our phone records. The technological marvels of our age have opened the door to the National Security Agency's sweeping surveillance of Americans' calls.
Torn between our desires for privacy and protection, we're now forced to decide what we really want.
"We are living in an age of surveillance," said Neil Richards, a professor at Washington University's School of Law in St. Louis who studies privacy law and civil liberties. "There's much more watching and much more monitoring, and I think we have a series of important choices to make as a society — about how much watching we want."
But the only way to make those choices meaningful, he and others said, is to lift the secrecy shrouding the watchers.
"I don't think that people routinely accept the idea that government should be able to do what it wants to do," said Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "It's not just about privacy. It's about responsibility ... and you only get to evaluate that when government is more public about its conduct."
The NSA, officials acknowledged this week, has been collecting phone records of hundreds of millions of U.S. phone customers. In another program, it collects audio, video, email, photographic and Internet search usage of foreign nationals overseas who use any of the nine major Internet providers, including Microsoft, Google, Apple and Yahoo.
In interviews across the country in recent days, Americans said they were startled by the NSA's actions. Abraham Ismail, a 25-year-old software designer taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi outside a Starbucks in Raleigh, N.C., said in retrospect, fears had prompted Americans to give up too much privacy.
"It shouldn't be so just effortless," he said, snapping his fingers for emphasis, "to pull people's information and get court orders to be able to database every single call, email. I mean, it's crazy."
The clash between security and privacy is far from new. In 1878, it played out in a court battle over whether government officials could open letters sent through the mail. In 1967, lines were drawn over government wiretapping.
Government used surveillance to ferret out Communists during the 1950s and to spy on Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders during the 1960s. But in earlier times, courts, lawmakers and the public eventually demanded curbs on such watching. Those efforts didn't stop improper government monitoring, but they restrained it, said Christian Parenti, author of "The Soft Cage: Surveillance in America from Slavery to the War on Terror."
The difference now, he and other experts say, is that enormous advances in personal technology and the public's broad tolerance of monitoring because of shifting attitudes about terrorism and online privacy have given government and private companies significantly more power — and leeway — to monitor individual behavior.
The tolerance of government monitoring stems in large part from the wave of fear that swept the country after the 2011 attacks, when Americans granted officials broad new powers under the PATRIOT Act. But those attitudes are nuanced and shifting.
In a 2011 poll by The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 54 percent of those surveyed felt protecting citizens' rights and freedoms should be a higher priority for the government than keeping people safe from terrorists. At the same time, 64 percent said it was sometimes necessary to sacrifice some rights and freedoms to fight terrorism.
"Whenever something like 9/11 happens, it does tend to cause people to change their minds," Richards said. "But I think what's interesting is it has to be a long-term conversation. We can't, whenever we're scared, change the rules forever."
But up until now, there's been only limited debate about where and how to redraw the lines on surveillance. At the same time, explosive growth in social networking, online commerce, smart-phone technology, and data harvesting for targeted marketing have introduced many Americans to all sorts of rich new experiences and conveniences. People have become enamored with the newest technology and media without giving hard thought to the risks or tradeoffs, experts say.
"This ... has really dulled our sense of what privacy is, why it's important," Parenti said. "The fact of the matter is that millions of people are actively participating in keeping dossiers on themselves."
It can, at first glance, seem a leap to draw a line between the way we share our private lives on Facebook or our search habits with Google and concerns about government surveillance. But surrendering privacy, whether to business or government, fundamentally shifts the balance of power from the watched to the watchers, experts say.
Americans may have largely accepted the idea of sharing personal information with businesses or in open forums as the necessary tradeoff for the use of new technologies. But they have done so without stopping to consider what those businesses are doing with it or how police or security officials might tap into it.
"We've allowed surveillance of all kinds to be normalized, domesticated, such that we frequently fail to tell the difference between harmful and helpful surveillance," said David Lyon, director of the Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. "And we assume all too easily that if it's high tech, it's better."
In interviews in recent days, many people described a growing sense of unease about the trade-offs between privacy, technology and the desire for safety.
In Chicago, Joey Leonard, a clerk at the Board of Trade, sat outside at lunch hour checking apps on his smart phone and ruminated about the government's actions. Leonard, a recent college graduate, noted that he was just 11 at the time of the 2001 terrorist attacks. He approved of the heightened security measures to prevent a recurrence. But he said it has also becomes clear that terrorists will act even if the government is watching, raising questions about the tradeoffs.
"Society is changing and technology is changing. I understand there are threats but I do think this is a little too much," Leonard said. "The government is trying to control everything. I feel like I'm being watched 24/7. ... It's like they're trying to get their fingers in every aspect of your life and I don't think it's helping."
In Salt Lake City, Utah, truck driver Elijah Stefoglo hadn't heard about the NSA's program, but said everyday interactions with technology give him plenty to consider. Stefoglo, who lives in Minneapolis, pointed out that most newer rigs come equipped with GPS tracking and even camera systems, technology he worries could be abused. At the same time, he noted, many states are fitting driver's licenses with computer chips to track and store data, posing yet another threat to privacy.
Expectations of privacy have slowly evolved, and younger people are growing up with a different standard, he said.
"They're trying to put it in their heads that it's normal. You have to do this. This is for your security. If you do this, you're going to be safer," he said. "In what way? Criminals are still going to do whatever they want."
Salt Lake City resident Deborah Harrison, who is 57 and manages clinical trials at the University of Utah, recalled the uncertain days after 9/11 and said, while she was shocked by the government's efforts, she understood them. What concerns her more, she said, is whether private companies are monitoring her behavior.
"They can track all your preferences and who knows who sells what to whom. That disturbs me actually more, than I guess the purpose of using it for national security," she said.
And in Sacramento, Calif., Amos Gbeintor, an information analyst originally from Liberia, spoke of his frustrations with an increasing web of surveillance. He recalled a recent trip to New York City, where security cameras hovered over numerous street corners. Employers put video cameras in the workplace without telling employees. It's difficult anymore, he said, to find a private moment in life. The reports of NSA surveillance leave him disappointed in the Obama administration and, so far, in Americans' willingness to surrender their right to privacy.
"The younger generations are so used to putting everything about themselves out there that maybe they don't realize they're selling themselves out. I don't know whether they are desensitized to a loss of privacy, but they sure are reluctant about reacting," he said. But, maybe, this will wake people up, he said.
The revelations about the NSA's surveillance could indeed be a turning point in driving debate, Lyon said. But technology is so pervasive and those doing the surveillance so reluctant to share what they do, that the questions will take time to answer.
Richards, the Washington University professor, was reminded of a phone conversation a few years ago to a cousin in Britain who asked for his views on U.S. politics. Just as he was about to reply, Richards said, he took stock of the situation. A phone call across borders. A foreigner on one end of the line. Criticism of elected leaders. It seemed just the kind of conversation that might be picked up by a government computer. But there was no way to know — and so Richards said he decided he had no choice but to keep his mouth shut.
"It's a symptom of the times we're living in and the choices we're going to have to make ... one way or the other," he said. "We don't accept total surveillance in the name of crime prevention and I think people are coming to reject total surveillance in the name of terrorism prevention."
"But it's hard to reject surveillance if you don't know it's there."
Associated Press writers Allen G. Breed in Raleigh, N.C., Sharon Cohen in Chicago, Tracie Cone in Sacramento, Calif., and Michelle Price in Salt Lake City, Utah contributed to this story. Adam Geller, a New York-based national writer, can be reached at features (at) ap.org. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/AdGeller
George Zimmerman returned to court Saturday morning for the third day in a hearing that will determine whether voice-recognition experts should be allowed at his murder case.
Florida Circuit judge Debra Nelson has been listening to testimony on the issue since Thursday, and the defense still has several more witnesses to call.
The hearing is being held days before jury selection starts in Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial for fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February 2012.
Zimmerman is pleading not guilty, claiming self-defense.
A British audio expert testified for the defense Saturday that it would be extremely difficult to analyze voices by comparing screaming to a normal voice.
"I've never come across a case in my 13 years where anybody's tried to compare screaming to a normal voice," said audio expert John Peter French.
French added that the voice of a person screaming is "completely different" than their normal speaking voice. "There can't be any meaningful findings," French said.
Voice experts were hired by lawyers and news organizations to analyze 911 calls made during the confrontation in which screams can be heard.
The screams are crucial pieces of evidence since they could determine who the aggressor was in the confrontation. Martin's family contends it was the teen screaming, while Zimmerman's father has said it was his son.
Audio experts have reached mixed conclusions, and defense attorneys are arguing against allowing experts who say they can match the screaming to either voice.
State expert Alan R. Reich testified Friday that it was likely Trayvon screaming in the background of the call, according to the Orlando Sentinel. "The words that were at a scream level were almost all [Trayvon]," Reich said.
However, he added that his results should not be treated as conclusive, the Orlando Sentinal reports.
In deciding whether to admit the voice-recognition technology, Nelson must determine whether it is too novel or whether it has been accepted by a community of experts.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Authorities plan to conduct an autopsy on a body believed to be that of a 15-year-old Iowa girl who has been missing since she and another girl were abducted more than two weeks ago.
Authorities say they're confident that the body a fisherman found Friday night in the Des Moines River near Boone is Kathlynn Shepard's. They scheduled the autopsy for Saturday.
Investigators say clothes on the body matched what Kathlynn was wearing when she and a 12-year-old girl were abducted in Dayton, a town about 20 miles north of Boone. They also found zip ties that matched those used to restrain the younger girl, who managed to escape and call 911.
Authorities believe registered sex offender Michael Klunder abducted the girls and committed suicide after the younger girl's escape.
A dying Vietnam veteran who doctors say has only days to live was granted his last wish by a stranger who was able to reunite him with his beloved lost dog, Mr. Cutie.
John Simpson, the veteran, was moved to hospice and could not bring Mr. Cutie. Last Sunday, Mr. Cutie escaped his new owner's home by digging a hole under a backyard fence. It was one day after he visited Simpson in the hospice.
"Saturday was the first time I took the dog here to hospice. The next day, he got out," Ann Marie Gemmel, the neighbor who has been checking on the dog, told MyFoxTampaBay.com. "I really think he was looking for John," she said.
Simpson was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2012. He described Mr. Cutie as his "spark of life," and said the dog is what he was living for.
"When you're growing up you're asked, 'If you could have one wish, what would you wish for?' Back in those days, I used to say, 'As many wishes as I could wish for.' Now my only wish would be for my dog to come home,'" he told MyFoxTampaBay.com.
His wish was granted Friday when Missy Figueroa connected Mr. Cutie with Simpson by posting pictures of the dog she had found on FidoFinder. The dog had been found running around the area near where he escaped with a red collar but had no identification tags.
It wasn't confirmed that the dog found was Mr. Cutie until the moment of the reunion.
"Seeing this person that I don't even know, you know, so excited to see his dog, it just makes me happy that I actually got to be here for that and just make him happy," Figueroa told MyFoxTampaBay.com.
Simpson said that he had been praying to St. Jude everyday for the return of his dog.
"I'm about to cry," he said during the reunion.
A Texas high school silenced its Valedictorian's microphone during his speech when he diverted from his pre-approved remarks and instead spoke about the Constitution.
Joshua High School graduate Remington Reimer, who was accepted into the Naval Academy, had his microphone silenced during his speech right after he told fellow graduates that school officials apparently threatened him with the move the day before, MyFoxDFW.com reported.
Colin Radford, a fellow graduate told MyFoxDFW.com that Reimer was "talking about getting constitutional rights taken away from him, and then he said "just yesterday they threatened to turn my microphone off," and then his microphone went off."
"Student speakers were told that if their speeches deviated from the prior-reviewed material, the microphone would be turned off, regardless of content," Joshua Independent School District said in a statement.
"When one student's speech deviated from the prior-reviewed speech, the microphone was turned off, pursuant to District policy and procedure," the statement said.
The ceremony reportedly opened and closed with a prayer, leading another graduate to believe Reimer's speech mentioning God and Jesus had nothing to do with the microphone being silenced.
A Florida judge is listening to a third day of testimony that will help her decide if voice-recognition experts should be allowed at George Zimmerman's trial.
Testimony was continuing Saturday, only two days before jury selection starts in Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial for fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February 2012.
Zimmerman is pleading not guilty, claiming self-defense.
Voice experts were hired by lawyers and news organizations to analyze 911 calls made during the confrontation in which screams can be heard.
The screams are crucial pieces of evidence since they could determine who the aggressor was in the confrontation. Martin's family contends it was the teen screaming, while Zimmerman's father has said it was his son.
Audio experts have reached mixed conclusions.
Authorities in northern Arizona say a 4-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his father at a Prescott Valley home.
Prescott Valley police say the shooting occurred just after noon Friday.
The 35-year-old man, identified as Justin Stanfield Thomas, and his young son were visiting from Phoenix and were at a friend's house.
Police say the boy somehow found a gun in the home's living room and accidentally fired it and a bullet hit his father, who was rushed to a hospital where he died.
The friend was reportedly Thomas' former roommate and it may have been a surprise visit to the home, MyFoxPhoenix.com reported.
The boy was taken to a police substation to undergo interviews, and did not appear to realize what he did, MyFoxPhoenix.com reported. The boy is now with his mother.
"At this point there is no indication of any foul play," Prescott Valley Police spokesperson Brandon Bonney told MyFoxPhoenix.com.
Thomas was an Iraq War veteran with the Army Special Forces and leaves behind two children, the news station reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The government's broad programs to collect U.S. phone records and Internet traffic helped disrupt a 2009 plot to bomb the New York City subways, a senior U.S. intelligence official said.
But the assertion raises as many questions as it answers because court testimony indicated the subway plot investigation began with an email.
Over the past days, The Guardian newspaper and The Washington Post have revealed classified documents showing how the National Security Agency sweeps up phone records and Internet data in its hunt for terrorists. Those programs have come under criticism from civil libertarians and some in Congress who say they were too broad and collected too much about innocent Americans.
In one of those programs, the NSA's collected daily records of millions of phone calls made and received by U.S. citizens not suspected of any wrongdoing.
On Thursday, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who leads the House Intelligence Committee, credited that effort with thwarting a terrorism plot. But he did not elaborate.
The senior U.S. intelligence official who asserted Friday that the phone records program together with other technical intercepts thwarted the subway plot would not provide other details. The official was not authorized to discuss the plot publicly and requested anonymity.
Afghan-American Najibullah Zazi pleaded guilty in the 2009 plot, saying he had been recruited by al-Qaida in Pakistan.
The break in that case came, according to court documents and testimony, when Zazi emailed a Yahoo address seeking help with his bomb recipe.
At that time, British intelligence officials knew the Yahoo address was associated with an al-Qaida leader in Pakistan. That's because, according to British government documents released in 2010, officials had discovered it on the computer of a terror suspect there months earlier.
Because the NSA and British intelligence work so closely together and so little is known about how the NSA monitors email traffic, it's possible that both agencies were monitoring the Yahoo address at the time Zazi sent the critical email in 2009.
What's unclear, though, is how the phone program aided the investigation, which utilized court-authorized wiretaps of Zazi and his friends.
Based on what's known about the phone-records program, the NSA might have had an archive of all the phone calls Zazi had made, which might have helped authorities look for possible co-conspirators.
Because the phone program remains classified, however, it's impossible to say with certainty how the program benefited the investigation.
Follow Dozier on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kimberlydozier
Richard Ramirez, the demonic serial killer known as the Night Stalker who left satanic signs at murder scenes and mutilated victims' bodies during a reign of terror in the 1980s, died early Friday in a hospital, a prison official said.
Ramirez, 53, had been taken from San Quentin's death row to a hospital where authorities said he died of liver failure. Prison officials said they could not release further details on the cause of death, citing federal patient privacy laws.
Ramirez had been housed on death row for decades and was awaiting execution, even though it has been years since anyone has been put to death in California.
At his first court appearance, Ramirez raised a hand with a pentagram drawn on it and yelled, "Hail, Satan."
His marathon trial, which ended in 1989, was a horror show in which jurors heard about one dead victim's eyes being gouged out and another's head being nearly severed. Courtroom observers wept when survivors of some of the attacks testified.
Ramirez was convicted of 13 murders that terrorized Southern California in 1984 and 1985 as well as charges of rape, sodomy, oral copulation, burglary and attempted murder.
The killing spree reached its peak in the hot summer of 1985, as the nocturnal killer entered homes through unlocked windows and doors and killed men and women with gunshot blasts to the head or knives to the throat, sexually assaulted female victims, and burglarized the residences.
He was dubbed the Night Stalker by the press while residents were warned to lock their doors and windows at night.
Some of the crimes were grisly beyond imagining: A man was murdered in his bed and his wife was raped beside the dead body. The killer beat a small child and attempted to sodomize him.
There were also signs of devil worship — a pentagram drawn on the wall at one murder scene and survivors' accounts of being ordered to "swear to Satan " by the killer.
Ramirez was finally chased down and beaten in 1985 by residents of a blue-collar East Los Angeles neighborhood as he attempted a carjacking. They recognized him after his picture appeared that day in the news media.
The trial of Ramirez took a year, but the entire case — bogged down in pretrial motions and appeals — lasted four years, making it one of the longest criminal cases in U.S. history.
Because of the notoriety, more than 1,600 prospective jurors were called.
The trial was almost aborted in its final stages when a woman juror was murdered during deliberations. Jurors were 13 days into talks when the juror failed to appear one morning. She was found beaten and shot to death at the home she shared with her boyfriend. The next day, the man committed suicide and left a note saying he killed her in an argument.
Jurors wept when they learned of the tragedy, and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Tynan was faced with one of his most trying legal challenges. Lawyers said there were no legal precedents for the situation.
Defense attorneys argued the jurors were too distraught to resume their talks and noted the murder was similar to the gruesome attacks attributed to the Night Stalker.
Tynan decided to move forward. "We must get on with the task life has given us," he told jurors, ordering them to begin deliberations with an alternate juror.
Jurors later said the death of the juror did not influence their decision.
Tynan said Friday, "The Richard Ramirez case was the most difficult trial I ever handled. It was an experience I will never forget, and I'm glad the ordeal is over."
After the conviction, Ramirez flashed a two-fingered "devil sign" to photographers and muttered a single word: "Evil."
On his way to a jail bus, he sneered in reaction to the verdict, muttering: "Big deal. Death always went with the territory. See you in Disneyland."
The black-clad killer, unrepentant to the end, made his comment in an underground garage after the jury recommended the death penalty for his gruesome crimes.
Inexplicably, Ramirez, a native of El Paso, Texas, had a following of young women admirers who came to the courtroom regularly and sent him love notes.
Some visited him in prison, and in 1996 Ramirez was married to 41-year-old freelance magazine editor Doreen Lioy in a visiting room at San Quentin prison.
Relatives called Lioy a recluse who lived in a fantasy world.
Her whereabouts could not be determined on Friday. She was not listed as Ramirez's next of kin, prison spokesman Samuel Robinson said in an email.
"His blood relatives are listed as the next of kin," Robinson said.
In 2006, the California Supreme Court upheld Ramirez's convictions and death sentence. The U.S. Supreme Court refused in 2007 to review the convictions and sentence. Ramirez still had appeals pending when he died.
His lawyers claimed the case should have been moved out of Los Angeles and said Ramirez was incompetent to stand trial.
Two years after his arrest, San Francisco police said DNA linked Ramirez to the April 10, 1984, killing of 9-year-old Mei Leung. She was killed in the basement of a residential hotel in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood where she lived with her family.
Ramirez had been staying at nearby hotels.
Ramirez previously was tied to killings in Northern California. He was charged in the shooting deaths of Peter Pan, 66, and his wife, Barbara, in 1985 just before his arrest in Los Angeles, but he was never tried in that case.
Thompson reported from Sacramento.
Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch covered the trial of Richard Ramirez.
A man with a semi-automatic rifle killed at least four people and wounded several others Friday as he carried out a deadly rampage across several blocks of a normally idyllic beachfront city before police shot him dead in the Santa Monica College Library.
Police said earlier that seven people were killed, including the gunman.
The violence began when the gunman, dressed in all black and wearing what appeared to be a ballistic jacket, opened fire on a house where the bodies of the gunman's father and brother were found, authorities said.
As the house burst into flames, the man wounded a woman in a car before moving toward the campus, spraying bullets as he went. Police said he opened fire on a city bus, a police car and other vehicles, as well as bystanders and pedestrians.
He killed three people on the street before shooting at an SUV leaving a campus parking lot. That vehicle's driver was killed and two passengers were wounded as the car crashed through a block wall.
From there, the gunman entered the campus, shooting a woman as he made his way toward the college's library, where students were studying for final exams.
"It appears that those who were encountered on the street were random victims," Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said.
"We saw a woman get shot in the head," said administrative assistant Trena Johnson, who looked out the window of the dean's office, where she works, when she heard gunfire. "I haven't been able to stop shaking," she said.
Inside the library, students reported hearing gunfire and screams.
"I was totally scared to death and I can't believe it happened so fast," said Vincent Zhang, a 20-year-old economics major who said he heard a woman pleading, "No, no. Please, no."
The gunman continued to shoot at people in the library, Seabrooks said, but apparently didn't hit anybody there as dozens ran for the exits.
"The officers came in and directly engaged the suspect and he was shot and killed on the scene," she said.
Just 3 miles away, President Barack Obama was attending a fundraising luncheon. Secret Service spokesman Max Milien said the agency was aware of the shooting, which began just before noon, but it had no impact on the president's event.
The president was scheduled to take Marine One to the airport, but traveled by motorcade to avoid any impact on the ongoing local response to the shooting.
After the gunman was killed, police wearing helmets and armed with shotguns and rifles searched the campus for a second shooter. A man dressed entirely in black, the words "Life is a Gamble" on the back of his sweatshirt, was seen being led away in handcuffs.
Sgt. Richard Lewis, a Santa Monica police spokesman, said at a news conference Friday night that investigators had released a man who had been detained and questioned as a "person of interest."
The identities of the man detained and those who were killed were not immediately released.
Two officials briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press the two victims in the burned house were the gunman's father and brother.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the case.
Two women were admitted to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, said Dr. Marshall Morgan, the chief of emergency medicine. One was listed in critical condition after undergoing surgery. The other arrived in serious condition but was upgraded to fair condition Friday night.
Three other women went to UCLA Medical Center Santa Monica with relatively minor injuries, Morgan said. One had shrapnel-type injuries and the two others had injuries not related to gunfire, he said. All were treated and released.
Jerry Cunningham Rathner, who lives near the house that caught fire, said she heard gunshots and came out onto her porch to see a man shooting at the residence. Soon, the building erupted in flames and was billowing smoke.
The gunman, dressed in black and wearing an ammunition belt, pointed a rifle at a woman in a car and told her to pull over, Cunningham Rathner said. He then signaled to a second car, also driven by a woman, to slow down and began firing into the vehicle.
"He fired three to four shots into the car -- boom, boom, boom, right at her," said Cunningham Rathner, who went to the woman's aid and saw she was wounded in the shoulder.
She said the gunman then abducted the woman in the first car and drove away.
From there, the chaos shifted to Santa Monica College, located among homes and strip malls more than a mile inland from the city's famous Santa Monica Pier, Third Street Promenade and its expansive, sandy beaches.
The two-year college, spread out across 38 acres, has about 34,000 students.
Jimes Gillespie, 20, told The Associated Press he was in the library studying when he heard gunfire, and he and dozens of other students began fleeing the three-story building.
"As I was running down the stairs I saw one of the gunmen," said Gillespie, who described the shooter as a white man in his 20s, wearing cornrows in his hair and black overalls.
As he ran across campus, he said he saw a car in front of the English building that was riddled with bullet holes, had shattered windows and a baby's car seat in the back.
Student Noke Taumalolo told Fox News that he saw a female worker sorting recycling cans lying bloody on the ground with the gunman standing over her. According to the student, the gunman was wearing black tactical gear including a vest, SWAT-like fatigues and a riot helmet.
In a staff parking lot, college employee Joe Orcutt said he saw the gunman standing calmly with his weapon, looking as though he was trying to determine which people to shoot at.
"I turn around and that's when he's just standing there, like he's modeling for some ammo magazine," Orcutt said. "He was very calm just standing there, panning around, seeing who he could shoot, one bullet at a time, like target practice.
Fox News' Dominic Di-Natale, Adam Housley, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
A 64-year-old Fairbanks man was mauled to death by a bear at a remote lake in Alaska's interior, authorities said Friday.
The man and a family member were at a cabin at George Lake, about 110 miles southeast of Fairbanks, when the attack occurred Thursday evening.
The family member sought shelter inside the cabin and called authorities, Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said.
A troopers helicopter dispatched from Fairbanks was unable to land in the terrain, but a Pavehawk helicopter from Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks was able to drop personnel at the site. Alaska Wildlife Troopers also responded by boat, aided by Good Samaritans.
Responders found the man's body outside the cabin, and the traumatized family member inside. The victim was identified as Robert Weaver, Peters said.
"Troopers did search the area when they first got there, but no bear was located," Peters said.
That soon changed, however, as responders investigating the death encountered a black bear.
"The black bear was stalking up on the trooper and the civilian who was assisting him, when they noticed it and killed it," Peters said.
It wasn't immediately known if this was the bear involved in the mauling.
The necropsy on the bear was completed Friday afternoon in Fairbanks, said Cathie Harms, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Measurements were taken for comparative purposes once the autopsy on Weaver's body is completed in Anchorage.
"We'll know more, but we may or may not know that this bear was involved in the attack," she said.
The bear necropsied was an adult male. They don't yet have an exact age, but assume it was an older bear because of the great deal of wear on its molars, she said.
It had normal levels of fat, meaning it was not in a condition of starvation, and did not have any apparent disease or infirmity, she said.
Harms stressed that it's not yet known if this was the bear involved in the attack, or if it was a black bear attack, at all.
She said an attack by a bear is not common, even less so for black bears. Fatalities by black bears are even more rare. In fact, Harms said she could only find records for four deaths by a black bear in Alaska for the last 61 years.
The family member at the cabin with Weaver was his next of kin, Peters said. That person, who wasn't identified, apparently was uninjured but traumatized.
"We haven't done a follow-up interview yet with the person," Peters said. "They are understandably very, very upset by what happened."
"Our heart goes out to the family," Harms said. "It's a very sad situation and they have our sympathies."
It wasn't immediately known when authorities might be able to interview the other family member to see if they can get more details about what happened.
Peters said the important thing to take away from this is attack is to be always prepared and alert.
"Any time that you are out in Alaska recreating, whether it's in your backyard or out camping in rural Alaska, there's always a risk of coming into contact with wildlife," she said.
"It doesn't matter if it's a black bear or a brown bear or a polar bear, it doesn't matter the size, they are wild animals, and they are dangerous," Peters said.
She said people should familiarize themselves with safety tips on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's "Living with Bears" website: http://is.gd/2S3ZWu .
"Alaskans live in bear habitat and if people pay attention to about five basic rules, they can lessen their chance of an interaction or a serious interaction with bears," Harms said.
Those include not surprising, approaching or feeding a bear, not camping on a trail and staying away from a bear's food cache.