Encryption is an essential tool for lawyers handling confidential information. Now, a new Firefox plug-in called freenigma enables you to send and receive encrypted e-mail using browser-based e-mail services such as Google Mail, Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail. The free plug-in adds a toolbar that appears when you log in to the e-mail service. Draft an e-mail then click the “encrypt” button in the toolbar and then send your message. To decrypt your message, the recipient must also have the plug-in and click “decrypt” on the toolbar. Encryption and decryption occur within your browser, although your contacts and trusted persons are managed on the company’s server.

Because the service is in beta, you must go to the site and request an invitation in order to register. Once registered, you can use the plug-in with multiple Web e-mail accounts. Also, you can invite colleagues to use it and send them encrypted e-mails as soon as they accept your invitation.

  • cissy

    Important information about debt crisis by film maker D. Schechter

    Dear journalist, blogger, and concerned citizen:

    On August 27, The National Association of Business Economics issued a
    statement charging that “The combined threat of subprime loan defaults
    and excessive indebtedness has supplanted terrorism and the Middle East
    as the biggest short-term threat to the U.S. economy.”

    This issue has been catapulted to page l from the back of the paper and
    the business. section. But, still, the coverage focuses more on the woes
    of Wall Street than the people who have been victimized. As Karen Weaver
    of Deutche Bank warn, “this is just the beginning. There’s abig wave of
    defaults coming in the next 12 to 18 months.”

    Journalist Danny Schechter has been following this issue closely. He
    directed the documentary IN DEBT WE TRUST: America Befoe the Bubble
    Bursts (indebtwetrust.com) and initiated a campaign for debt relief
    (stopthesqueeze.org) He has also been challenging media outlets to do a
    better job of covering the issues. Some are investiating “why we missed
    the signs of the crisis?”

    Danny Schechter didn’t miss it–and neither did most of you. Help us get
    the film and the ideas that drive it a larger audience.

    Would you consider running or commenting on his most recent commentary?
    Danny is available for interviews at 212 246-0202×3006.

    Thank you for your consideration,

    Sharon B. Kayser
    Globalvision Inc.


    How Did We Miss The Signs Of An Impending Crisis?
    By Danny Schechter.

    That “why didn’t we know” question is back. Again! It was just asked
    about 911 in connection with our government ignoring warning after
    warning about likely terrorist attacks.

    The CIA has just raised it again about their own ostrich like behavior
    in the run-up to the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. Now
    it’s being asked by the New York Times about the failure to anticipate
    and potentially pre-empt the Sub-prime mortgage crisis which has since
    escalated into a deeper meltdown in global financial markets leading to
    lay-offs and predictions of a fall-off in economic growth.

    More insidiously, this is an ongoing crisis not just confined to
    markets. It is expected that, once adjustable rate mortgages are “reset”
    upwards, two million more families face the foreclosure of their homes.
    Their economic pain is being recognized, but too late to prevent a vast
    displacement of people who cannot afford to live in homes they were
    suckered into purchasing with the promise of practically free money.

    Did this “just happen,” appearing one morning out of blue skies, like a
    hurricane moving from category 4 to category 5? Of course not! The signs
    were there for all who wanted to see them, and warnings were plentiful
    even as they were ignored.

    Many in the markets were too.

    It’s odd how the front page of its widely-read Sunday edition, the
    one–time newspaper of record, could splash a story on how the media and
    the markets looked the other way as massive deals were being financed by
    securities cobbled together from sub-prime loans backed with no assets.
    Why were the signs missed, asked the Times?

    Unlike the CIA, the Times did not assess its own reporting and its role
    in all this.

    A few days later the newspaper’s business columnist showed that, in
    fact, many did know and tried to raise the alarm. It seems to be an
    example of the front pages not knowing what the business pages had reported.

    He reminded readers that Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve
    Bank who just pumped billions of dollars in the markets to keep them
    liquid and then followed up with a cut in the discount rate, was asked
    about these issues two years earlier:

    “It came in November 2005, toward the end of his all-day Senate
    confirmation hearing, when Senator Paul Sarbanes brought up the mortgage
    business. Mr. Sarbanes, the ranking Democrat on the Banking Committee
    then, pointed out that the number of people taking out adjustable-rate
    mortgages soared in 2004. ‘Are you concerned about the potential for a
    bubble in the housing market?’ the senator asked Mr. Bernanke. ‘And
    specifically, does the drastic increase in the use of risky financing
    schemes, including interest-only and even negative amortization
    mortgages, concern you?’

    Mr. Bernanke replied that the Fed was reviewing its guidelines for these
    loans and planned to issue new ones soon. The guidelines, he added,
    ‘would have on the margin some beneficial effects in reducing
    speculative activity in some local markets.’ At no point, though, did
    Mr. Bernanke suggest that he was concerned.”

    And what about the larger media? Where was their concern? Back in the
    spring of 2006, I published an article in Nieman Reports, the journalism
    review published at Harvard and read by top editors. I specifically
    lambasted the lack of reporting on the issue. It was titled,
    “Investigating the Nation’s Exploding Credit Squeeze.”

    Its thesis: ‘Questions of by whom and for whom need more and better
    investigation, as well as a look at who are the losers and who are the

    The response: tepid.

    I then followed up by organizing a Media For Democracy online-email
    campaign (Media For Democracy is an advocacy effort tied to
    Mediachannel.org, the media issues website I edit.)

    Media For Democracy members sent tens of thousand of requests to media
    outlets urging that the issue be given more coverage. This was well
    before the market meltdown. The appeal read in part:

    “We are dismayed by the superficial reporting we have seen on the debt
    crisis in America. The press has been asleep at the switch in reporting
    on this story, often showing more compassion for wealthy businessmen
    than abused consumers.

    We believe that our media outlets have a responsibility to offer more
    context, background and information about how this debt crisis occurred
    and what we can do about it.”

    What was the response? Not much. Most responses came in the form of
    yada-yada-yada form letters as in, “Thank You For Writing to the Today
    Show.” Responding to public concerns and suggestions are not high on the
    media agenda.

    I then made the film IN DEBT WE TRUST: America Before The Bubble Bursts
    to try to raise the visibility of the issue. The film was well reviewed
    but ignored by the New York Times. I personally sent copies and letters
    to leading op-ed writers and reporters. The result: nary a mention. I
    have been interviewed extensively in the alternative press but largely
    ignored by the mainstream.

    That’s not entirely true. CNN and MSNBC did carry positive articles
    including one which compared my documentary to “Carrie,” a horror movie.
    They suggested mine was scarier. Tavis Smiley had me on; Larry King did
    not. Oprah has yet to return a call. (And AOL/truestories is now
    streaming the film.)

    The media has still not given us an accounting for burying the story.
    Eventually, on the Iraq War, some media outlets admitted they practiced
    poor journalism, even as many of their mea-culpas did not basically
    change their narratives.

    Why not on this issue?

    Other media critics have been scathing about the dereliction of duty
    that is so obvious here. Dean Starkman in the Columbia Journalism Review
    was contemptuous:

    “What’s wrong? Why ask us? This
    kind of after-the-fact financial
    reporting I equate with a National Transportation Safety Board
    investigation—kicking through smoldering wreckage after the plane has
    already crashed. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this kind of
    reporting. It just feels a little late. Also, I always find it
    disingenuous to talk about napping watchdogs, as in the headline above,
    when the Journal and the rest of the business press themselves slept on
    the job and had to scramble to catch up to the corporate scandals
    earlier in the decade.”

    Now the story is being covered but it is often the wrong story. The
    reporting tends to focus far more on panicky markets than victims of
    predatory lending. It seems like only a few critics like Jim Hightower
    are telling it like it is:

    “At its core, this is a classically simple story of banker greed and
    outright sleaze. And the astonishing part is that nearly all of the rank
    injustice perpetrated by today’s money changers is considered legal and
    is practiced by supposedly reputable financial firms.”

    Some years back, a hamburger chain challenged its competitors with
    commercials asking, “where’s the beef?”

    My questions today to media colleagues, including the progressive
    blogosphere, are where’s the pick-up, where’s the follow-up, where’s the

    – News Dissector Danny Schechter edits MediaChannel.org and writes a
    weekly newsletter on credit and debt issues for stophesqueeze.org.
    Comments to dissector@mediachannel.org

    Yours faithfully,
    Danny Schechter