|Ken Novak's Weblog
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Sunday, November 06, 2005
Energy Innovations raises $16.5m:
Lead investor: Mohr Davidow Ventures, June 2005
. "Energy Innovations is developing a new low-cost rooftop solar system, called the Sunflower. Each Sunflower module is composed of an array of mirrors that track the sun throughout the day and year, concentrating its light onto a small panel of PV cells that generate electricity. By replacing large amounts of very expensive, silicon-based PV cells with inexpensive mirrors, Energy Innovations expects to drive down the cost of solar electricity by half or more.
The company is currently testing the Sunflower on its own roof in Pasadena and will soon be rolling out additional test units to sites in different climate zones. Following Underwriters Laboratory certification later this year, EI Solutions will begin installing Sunflower systems on customer rooftops in the fourth quarter. The system is designed to meet the electrical needs of grid-tied, flat-roofed commercial, government and other institutional buildings, the fastest-growing segment of the solar market. " 11:35:36 PM
The FBI's Secret Scrutiny
: Chilling details on the growth of secret surveillance and data mining. "The FBI now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year, according to government sources, a hundredfold increase over historic norms. The letters -- one of which can be used to sweep up the records of many people -- are extending the bureau's reach as never before into the telephone calls, correspondence and financial lives of ordinary Americans.
Issued by FBI field supervisors, national security letters do not need the imprimatur of a prosecutor, grand jury or judge. They receive no review after the fact by the Justice Department or Congress. The executive branch maintains only statistics, which are incomplete and confined to classified reports. The Bush administration defeated legislation and a lawsuit to require a public accounting, and has offered no example in which the use of a national security letter helped disrupt a terrorist plot.
The burgeoning use of national security letters coincides with an unannounced decision to deposit all the information they yield into government data banks -- and to share those private records widely, in the federal government and beyond. In late 2003, the Bush administration reversed a long-standing policy requiring agents to destroy their files on innocent American citizens, companies and residents when investigations closed. Late last month, President Bush signed Executive Order 13388, expanding access to those files for "state, local and tribal" governments and for "appropriate private sector entities," which are not defined." 10:04:22 AM