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Belted Galloway cattle in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Photo by: joanneleon.


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News & Opinion

Everyone has probably read the coordinating long form articles at the NYT and the Guardian but I'll put them here just in case.

No Morsel Too Minuscule for All-Consuming N.S.A.

But it was emblematic of an agency that for decades has operated on the principle that any eavesdropping that can be done on a foreign target of any conceivable interest — now or in the future — should be done. After all, American intelligence officials reasoned, who’s going to find out?

From thousands of classified documents, the National Security Agency emerges as an electronic omnivore of staggering capabilities, eavesdropping and hacking its way around the world to strip governments and other targets of their secrets, all the while enforcing the utmost secrecy about its own operations. It spies routinely on friends as well as foes, as has become obvious in recent weeks; the agency’s official mission list includes using its surveillance powers to achieve “diplomatic advantage” over such allies as France and Germany and “economic advantage” over Japan and Brazil, among other countries.

Portrait of the NSA: no detail too small in quest for total surveillance
The NSA gathers intelligence to keep America safe. But leaked documents reveal the NSA's dark side – and show an agency intent on exploiting the digital revolution to the full

With the collape of the Soviet Union, the NSA entered a decade of uncertainty. Morale slumped. The mood is caught in a document dated February 2001, only a few months before 9/11. In it, the agency admitted its capacity for intercepting electronic communications had been eroded during the 90s.

"NSA's workforce has been graying and shrinking. The operational tools have become antiquated and unable to handle the emerging signal structure," it says.

"Ten years ago we had a highly skilled workforce with intimate knowledge of the target and the tools to analyse the data.

"We have now reached the point of having a workforce where the majority of analysts have little-to-no experience."

Tellingly, in the light of the attacks on New York and Washington six months later, the document complained about a lack of linguists and analysts covering Afghanistan. The same pool of experts covering Afghanistan as a whole were the same that "assist NSA's Office of Counter-terrorism in following the Taleban-Usama bin Laden relationship", it said.

Marcy Wheeler notes some interesting conclusions that came from the NYT/Guardian articles.
Drowning in Haystacks

Both, too, present how detailed our intelligence from Afghanistan has been — though the NYT noted, it doesn’t seem to have brought us success.

We are collecting enormous amounts of data, but it’s not clear what good it’s doing us.

Meanwhile, remember this. The intelligence community keeps missing Congress’ mandated deadlines to install insider detection software — including in the Hawaii location from which Snowden took his files. Given Snowden’s success, it’s safe to assume paid assets of foreign governments have gotten some of it as well. The reason we’re not protecting all this intelligence is because we don’t have the bandwidth to run the software.

I don't know if Reuters is just now noticing this or what.  It's not new.  The White House even does the whole petty practice of 'RT if you love me', asking people to retweet if they agree with one thing or another.  I cringe when I see that but clearly they think their Twitter marketing techniques are effective because they use them a lot to set the messaging and talking points for the OFA.  They resemble a marketing company very much but then again, corporate marketing techniques have always been used heavily by this president's team.
In political messaging wars, White House deploys a Twitter army

(Reuters) - Besieged by unflattering stories about the launch of President Barack Obama's healthcare program, the White House saw a news report that it wanted to swiftly knock down.
Under a strategy championed by Obama's senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer, the White House has doubled its footprint on Twitter since July, giving official accounts on the social media web site to more than a dozen additional communications staffers.

The White House's Twitter army is the lead player in an intense war of messaging on social media in Washington, a conflict that also involves a range of lawmakers, bureaucrats, conservatives and liberals.

Guardian has been doing teasers for this feature article for awhile now.  It looks to be an interactive article, a newfangled thing :) First there is a text intro and then when you scroll down to the photo of a person, they start speaking.  Nice. I've seen some experimental new media ideas in articles, like the one about the avalanche in the NYT that won an award.  It's nice to see journalists, artists and engineers working together to try out new ways to deliver information.
NSA Decoded
What the revelations mean for you.

When Edward Snowden met journalists in his cramped room in Hong Kong's Mira hotel in June, his mission was ambitious. Amid the clutter of laundry, meal trays and his four laptops, he wanted to start a debate about mass surveillance.

He succeeded beyond anything the journalists or Snowden himself ever imagined. His disclosures about the NSA resonated with Americans from day one. But they also exploded round the world.

For some, like Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, it is a vitally important issue, one of the biggest of our time: nothing less than the defence of democracy in the digital age.

Critics Blast Climate Scientists Going To Bat for Nuclear Power
If these people think nuclear energy is part of a viable solution, they 'should go to Fukushima'

Ahead of CNN's airing this week of what critics have described as a misleading and propaganda-laced pro-nuclear film called "Pandora's Promise," four climate scientists on Sunday released a letter of their own calling on "those influencing environmental policy but opposed to nuclear power" to change their position.

Though unaffiliated with the controversial film, the pro-nuke letter was signed by James Hansen, a former top NASA scientist; Ken Caldeira, of the Carnegie Institution; Kerry Emanuel, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Tom Wigley, of the University of Adelaide in Australia. In the letter, the scientists ask individuals and groups concerned about global warming and climate change to demonstrate their commitment to the threat "by calling for the development and deployment of advanced nuclear energy."

Unconvinced, however, many environmentalists voiced deep concerns about the pro-nuclear pitch and responded with derision, if not disgust.

"These guys need to go to Fukushima," said long-time anti-nuclear activist Harvey Wasserman in an email to Common Dreams on Sunday. "It's astonishing anyone could advocate MORE nukes while there are 1331 hot fuel rods 100 feet in the air over Unit Four, three melted cores at points unknown, millions of gallons of contaminated water pouring into the oceans, and so much more."

In case you didn't see this picture of Christie at the Rutgers game this weekend.  Ugh.


Stop Watching Us.

The revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance apparatus, if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights. We demand the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the NSA's spying programs.

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