Media organisations have revealed startling details about US espionage in recent weeks. The disclosures can be traced back to three people who don’t play by the rules – intelligence leaker Edward Snowden and his chief disseminators, the Guardian newspaper reporter Glenn Greenwald, and independent film-maker Laura Poitras. – By Tara McKelvey BBC News Magazine

How is the NSA’s vault of secrets being unlocked?

By Tara McKelveyBBC News Magazine

Glenn Greenwald
Glenn Greenwald is the lead reporter on the Snowden leaks

The National Security Agency (NSA) reportedly collected data on millions of US customers of Verizon, a telecom firm, and on 60 million calls in Spain. It is also said to have obtained data on 70 million digital communications in France – and spied on Chancellor Angela Merkel for years.

The revelations, which appeared in articles co-written by Mr Greenwald or Ms Poitras in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, French paper Le Monde, Germany’s Der Spiegel and two Spanish newspapers, El Mundo and El Pais, shed light on an organisation which, as experts explain, is even more shadowy – and hard to cover – than the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The media reports have unnerved diplomats, spies and politicians. In August UK authorities detained Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, at Heathrow Airport – and confiscated Snowden documents he had been carrying.

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Getting beyond the ‘drunk slut’€™ narrative on college campuses by Jill Filipovic October 31, 2013 5:00AM ET

Commentary: Telling young women not to drink in order to avoid rape focuses on the wrong group of people.

 Drinking on college campuses
The focus should be on those who sexually assault, rather than on the behavior of the victims.
David Hogsholt/Getty Images

On college campuses, fall semesters are winding down and post-final, pre-holiday parties will soon kick into high gear. Hard partying brings with it alcohol-related problems, including sexual assault. Common sense advice to female students often boils down to “avoid drinking,” as alcohol is involved in the lion’s share of college sexual assault cases. But what if everything we thought we knew about rape on college campuses is wrong? What if the so-called common sense advice we dole out to young women actually makes it easier for rapists to commit crimes and harder for them to be prosecuted?

Certainly alcohol is involved in a significant proportion of sexual assaults, particularly on college campuses. One in four American women will be sexually assaulted, and alcohol is involved in about half of those assaults — consumed by the perpetrator, the victim or both. In college sexual assaults, the numbers are even starker: One study estimated that alcohol was involved in up to 80 percent of incidents. The solution seems simple. If getting drunk puts young women at risk for rape, then telling them to stop getting drunk would lead to a decrease in sexual assault rates. That advice has been doled out on college campuses, in public service ads and — most recently, as a response to the highly charged cases of alleged sexual assault involving high school students in Steubenville, Ohio, and Maryville, Mo. — in publications across the political spectrum, from Slate to The Globe and Mail.

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Nixon, Obama, and How We Lost Trust in the U.S. Government by Stuart Stevens Oct 31, 2013 4:45 AM EDT

After Nixon’s obfuscation on Vietnam, the press viewed those in power with a skepticism verging on cynicism. That changed with Obama—though his Obamacare untruths are worse.

  • The Vietnam War dominated the presidential campaign of 1968. The North Vietnamese Tet Offensive was launched on January 30, in the middle of the primary battle. A month later, shortly before the war forced President Johnson out of the race, a UPI reporter interviewed Nixon and wrote: “Former Vice President Richard M. Nixon vowed Tuesday that if elected president, he would ‘end the war’ in Vietnam. He did not spell out how.”

The Daily Beast/Elena Scotti

Despite Nixon explicitly saying a few weeks later that he had “no gimmicks or secret plans” for the war, soon there was talk of Nixon’s “secret plan” to end the war. As Walter Wells later wrote in the International Herald Tribune: “Even though Richard Nixon didn’t have one, the notion that he had a secret plan to end the Vietnam war helped him win the presidency in 1968.”

Fast forward to 2009. President Obama is trying to sell his health-care plan. He knows the majority of Americans who have health insurance are satisfied with their coverage and that the new plan could be seen as threatening. Unlike Social Security and Medicare, which were new programs, Obamacare would be supplementing and replacing current systems.

So to answer that concern, the president could not have been clearer. On June 5, 2009, he told the American Medical Association: “And if you like your insurance plan, you will keep it. No one will be able to take that away from you. It hasn’t happened yet. It won’t happen in the future.”

He went on to repeat his promise many times. “The president’s pledge that ‘if you like your insurance, you will keep it’ is one of the most memorable of his presidency,” wrote Glenn KesslerThe Washington Post’s fact checker, on Wednesday.

The problem was, the promise wasn’t true, and within a few days of the first pledge, the Associated Press challenged its credibility. In that story, officials sought to walk back the president’s remarks: “White House officials suggest the president’s rhetoric shouldn’t be taken literally: What Obama really means is that government isn’t about to barge in and force people to change insurance.”

OK, that’s reasonable. And had the president changed his rhetoric accordingly, all would be well. But he didn’t. Instead, despite his own White House admitting it wasn’t accurate, Obama kept repeating the same promise, and as late as this week, Valerie Jarrett, his closest adviser, was tweeting, “Nothing in #Obamacare forces people out of their health plans.”

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Red Sox Rout Cardinals, 6-1, to Win Series in Six Games By TIM ROHAN October 30, 2013, 6:22 pm

Catcher Davis Ross hoisted Koji Uehara after securing the final out of the World Series as their teammates rushed from the dugout.

Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports, via ReutersCatcher Davis Ross hoisted Koji Uehara after securing the final out of the World Series as their teammates rushed from the dugout.

BOSTON — The Fenway Park crowd was eager all night, standing, yelling, cheering. All that pent-up energy exploded as Shane Victorino crushed a Michael Wacha fastball high off the Green Monster, scoring three runs. Victorino pounded his chest and yelled as he advanced to third base. It seemed over then. The Red Sox had the lead.

For the first time since 1918, Boston would celebrate a World Series-clinching victory by the home team at this historic park. The Red Sox jumped out in front early against the St. Louis Cardinals and rolled to a 6-1 win, taking the Series, four games to two.

David Ortiz, now a three-time World Series champion, was named the most valuable player.

Victorino started the party with a two-out, bases-loaded double in the third inning. Wacha, the brilliant Cardinals rookie, finally seemed mortal. He had allowed just three runs in his previous 29 innings this postseason. He was pulled midway through the fourth and walked off the mound clearly distraught.

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NSA infiltrates links to Yahoo, Google data centers worldwide, Snowden documents say. – By Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani, Published: October 30

In this slide from a National Security Agency presentation on “Google Cloud Exploitation,” a sketch shows where the “Public Internet” meets the internal “Google Cloud” where user data resides. Two engineers with close ties to Google exploded in profanity when they saw the drawing.

By Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani, Published: October 30 E-mail the writer

The National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, according to documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with knowledgeable officials.

By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans. The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot.

According to a top-secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, the NSA’s acquisitions directorate sends millions of records every day from internal Yahoo and Google networks to data warehouses at the agency’s headquarters at Fort Meade, Md. In the preceding 30 days, the report said, field collectors had processed and sent back 181,280,466 new records — including “metadata,” which would indicate who sent or received e-mails and when, as well as content such as text, audio and video.


How the NSA is hacking private networks, such as Google’s

Click Here to View Full Graphic Story

How the NSA is hacking private networks, such as Google’s

More on this story:

How MUSCULAR collects too much data from Yahoo and Google

How MUSCULAR collects too much data from Yahoo and Google

OCT 30

This NSA document describes a common problem of collecting too much information – and how the agency is attempting to control it.

Why the NSA wanted more access

Why the NSA wanted more access

Andrea Peterson OCT 30

The NSA already legally compelled tech companies to give it data via PRISM. So why did it hack into data links?


Trick or treat for science: Kids become test subjects – BY AMINA KHAN REPORTING FROM NEW HAVEN, CONN. October, 31, 2013

Sisters Gabi, left, and Maya Karlan in costume for Halloween. They cannot be subjects of their father’s studies. (Karlan family)

Behavioral economists are taking advantage of Halloween’s steady stream of young doorbell ringers, using them to gain insight into kids’ thinking and development. They’re paid in candy, of course.

Each year, Halloween is a massive operation at Dean Karlan’s house, drawing in members of his family, particularly his 13-year-old daughter, Maya.

Maya’s enthusiasm for Halloween knows few bounds. She makes her own costumes: a castle with a working drawbridge, a full-color traffic light with a flashlight inside to switch signals. She’s been known to spend the whole year thinking about her next get-up.

“Normally I plan my Halloween costumes the day after Halloween,” Maya said. “I get very excited.”

But this year, the bubbly eighth-grader is giving up her trick-or-treat time — and her idea of dressing as a toaster — to help out at home, where the real action is.

At Maya’s house, the children marching inexorably through the darkness toward the promised candy will get their treats. But as they climb the creaking stairs of the Karlans’ porch, they’ll also do something else: become test subjects in a one-night science experiment.

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Rand Paul’s Wikipedia Plagarism Defense: I Never Said I Wrote Gattaca By Margaret Hartman

Rand Paul is right that Rachel Maddow was kind of “making a mountain out of a molehill” when she gleefully went through each line the senator recited from Wikipedia during  a recent speech. Surely most politicians have committed worse deeds than plagiarizing a lengthy description of Gattaca. (And Stand and Deliver!) But when questioned by Fusion’s Jorge Ramos, Paul didn’t even appear to understand what he was being accused of. He noted, “I didn’t claim that I created Gattaca,” and dismissed Maddow, saying, “The person who’s leading this attack, she’s been spreading hate on me for three years now, and I don’t intend for it to go away. But I also don’t see her as an objective news source.” Paul didn’t have the opportunity to learn about the perils of using Wikipedia as a source in college, but he and his staff should go over this. Here’s a good place to start.