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Top secret documents detail the mass scope of efforts by the United States to spy on Germany and Europe. Each month, the NSA monitors a half a billion communications and EU buildings are bugged. The scandal poses a threat to trans-Atlantic relations.
At first glance, the story always appears to be the same. A needle has disappeared into the haystack -- information lost in a sea of data.
For some time now, though, it appears America's intelligence services have been trying to tackle the problem from a different angle. "If you're looking for a needle in the haystack, you need a haystack," says Jeremy Bash, the former chief of staff to ex-CIA head Leon Panetta.
U.S. President Barack Obama played down a controversy over whether Washington had spied on its European allies, saying on Monday intelligence services around the world -- including in the EU -- seek additional insight beyond regular media reports.
Obama, speaking at a news conference in Tanzania, said the United States would contact its European counterparts to address their concerns after studying allegations in a recent magazine article about the spying.
Whistleblower Edward Snowden remains on the run from US authorities, leaving behind a trail of revelations. Currently believed to be in Moscow's international airport, he has become the victim of a global hunt with elements of a Cold War thriller.
At the headquarters of the United States National Security Agency (NSA) in Fort Meade, Maryland, there is a giant granite memorial plaque listing the names of 171 agents killed in the line of duty, with the words "They Served in Silence" carved into the stone. It's a very American way of remembering the country's heroes.
They will never say that about Edward Snowden, the biggest whistleblower in recent American history. Nevertheless, he is now a hero for many, because he burst America's dream of total data control.
US whistleblower Edward Snowden has applied for asylum in Russia, hours after President Vladimir Putin said Moscow had no intention of handing him to the United States.
The New York Times on Monday quoted a Russian official as saying Snowden had applied for asylum in Russia, as well as 14 other countries that he did not name.
A Russian immigration official, who didn't want to be named, told Reuters news agency that a Wikileaks activist who is traveling with Snowden handed his application to a Russian consulate in the transit area at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport late on Sunday.
It came hours after Putin said Moscow did not intend to hand him to US authorities, but said he must stop leaking information if he wished to remain in Russia.
Snowden "is not a Russian agent", Putin said on Monday, and that Russian intelligence services were not working with the fugitive American, who is believed to remain in the transit area at a Moscow airport eight days after arriving from Hong Kong.
"Russia never hands over anybody anywhere and has no intention to do so," he said.
However, "if he wants to remain here there is one condition - he should stop his work aimed at inflicting damage on our American partners no matter how strange this may sound coming from me."
Ecuador is not considering Edward Snowden's asylum request and never intended to facilitate his flight from Hong Kong, president Rafael Correa said as the whistleblower made a personal plea to Quito for his case to be heard.
Snowden was Russia's responsibility and would have to reach Ecuadorean territory before the country would consider any asylum request, the president said in an interview with the Guardian on Monday.
"Are we responsible for getting him to Ecuador? It's not logical. The country that has to give him a safe conduct document is Russia."
The president, speaking at the presidential palace in Quito, said his government did not intentionally help Snowden travel from Hong Kong to Moscow with a temporary travel pass. "It was a mistake on our part," he added.
Asked if he thought the former NSA contractor would ever make it to Quito, he replied: "Mr Snowden's situation is very complicated, but in this moment he is in Russian territory and these are decisions for the Russian authorities."
Investigative Reporting Workshop
Koch Industries, one of the largest privately held corporations in the world and principally owned by billionaires Charles and David Koch, has developed what may be the best funded, multifaceted, public policy, political and educational presence in the nation today.
From direct political influence and robust lobbying to nonprofit policy research and advocacy, and even increasingly in academia and the broader public “marketplace of ideas,” this extensive, cross-sector Koch club or network appears to be unprecedented in size, scope and funding. And the relationship between these for-profit and nonprofit entities is often mutually reinforcing to the direct financial and political interests of the behemoth corporation — broadly characterized as deregulation, limited government and free markets.
The cumulative cost to Koch Industries and Charles and David Koch for this extraordinary alchemy of political and lobbying influence, nonprofit public policy underwriting and educational institutional support was $134 million over a recent five-year period. The global conglomerate has 60,000 employees and annual revenue of $115 billion and estimated pretax profit margins of 10 percent, according to Forbes.
The biggest changes in health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act are set to begin less than three months from now. Oct. 1 is when people can start signing up for coverage in new state health exchanges. The policies would kick in on Jan. 1, 2014.
It can all be a little confusing, we agree. So two weeks ago, we asked what you wanted to know about the health law.
You weren't shy; our inbox was stuffed. Here are some answers. If you don't see your question, or one like it, don't despair. We'll be doing this again periodically throughout the summer and fall.
You can email more questions to email@example.com.
Nineteen elite firefighters were killed in a raging Arizona wildfire stoked by record heat and high winds, marking the greatest loss of life among firefighters from a single U.S. wildland blaze in 80 years.
The Prescott, Arizona, Fire Department crew was killed on Sunday when a fast-moving wildfire they were battling trapped them near Yarnell, a town about 80 miles northwest of Phoenix.
"It had to be a perfect storm in order for this to happen. Their situational awareness and their training was at such a high level that it's unimaginable that this has even happened," Prescott Fire Department spokesman Wade Ward told ABC's "Today" program.
A gay couple from Florida have become the first successful green card applicants for permanent US residency since the supreme court struck down a federal law against same-sex marriage.
Traian Popov, from Bulgaria, and American Julian Marsh learnt the decision from immigration officials on Friday as the government acted quickly to change its visa policies after last week's legal decision.
"It was just kind of a shock, like winning the lottery," said Marsh who was celebrating his 55th birthday with Popov at a restuarant when they got the news. "The amazing, overwhelming fact is that the government said yes, and my husband and I can live in the country we chose and we love and want to stay in," he told the New York Times.
Popov, 41, who has been living in the US for 15 years as a student and is working towards a doctorate in social science, married Marsh in October last year – they met in 2011. They wed in New York because Florida does not recognise same-sex marriage. Marsh, a DJ and music producer, petitioned for Popov's green card in February.
PBS News Hour
Monday marks the deadline for a hike in student loan interest rates, an increase affecting 7 million students. Congress left town Friday without taking action to prevent the interest rates on new subsidized Stafford student loans from doubling 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1. Subsidized Stafford loans are low-interest rate loans available to students with financial need.
When faced with this issue last summer, Congress postponed the increases for one year. Lawmakers went home this time without an agreement on a long-term solution, though the Senate on July 10 will vote on a proposal that would extend the 3.4 percent interest rate for another year.
All this week, NPR is taking a look at the demographic changes that could reshape the political landscape in Texas over the next decade — and what that could mean for the rest of the country.
To see the speed of demographic change in Texas, look no further than its largest city — Houston. Only 40 percent of the city's population is non-Hispanic white, and by a Rice University count, it's the most racially and ethnically diverse city in America.
"Houston is an immigrant magnet," says Glenda Joe, a Chinese-Texan community organizer whose extended family came to Houston in the 1880s.
"Texas looks like me. I'm half-Chinese; I'm half-Irish," she says. "I also do business; I work with universities; I also ride horses. That's what Texas is."
At about 35 percent of the population, Latinos make up the second-biggest group in Houston after non-Hispanic whites or Anglos, according to Census numbers. But Asian-Americans are the fastest-growing group — doubling between the 1990 and 2010 census to about 7 percent.
SANFORD -- George Zimmerman told investigators he “screamed ‘Help me!’ maybe 50 times” after Trayvon Martin ambushed him in the dark, beating the neighborhood watch volunteer and telling him, “You're going to die tonight.”
Jurors on Monday heard Zimmerman's first recorded statement to Sanford police the night of Feb. 26, 2012, minutes after he shot and killed Trayvon, 17, of Miami Gardens, who was visiting his father. Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder, claims he acted in self-defense.
“He jumped out from the bushes. He said, ‘What the f---'s your problem, homie?’” Zimmerman, under Miranda warning, said to Officer Doris Singleton in the recording played in court Monday during Zimmerman’s trial. “I said, ‘I don't have a problem.’ He said, ‘Now you have a problem,’ and he punched me in the nose. He just started punching me in the face. I started yelling for help.”
Zimmerman went on to tell Singleton that Trayvon mounted Zimmerman on the sidewalk, grabbed his head and banged it into the concrete. Zimmerman said he slid onto grass to try to get out from underneath Trayvon.
editor's note: For an excellent overview of the trial and coverage of George Zimmerman see this post.
Egypt was thrown into fresh turmoil on Monday when President Mohamed Morsi's aides indicated he would not give in to the threat of a military coup just hours after the army gave him two days to placate the millions who have taken to the streets calling for his departure.
The head of Egypt's armed forces, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, threatened direct military involvement in the political process "if the demands of the people are not realised", in a statement implying that Morsi should either step down or at least call early elections.
The presidency indicated that it viewed the statement as a coup d'etat.
"Obviously we feel this is a military coup," a presidential aide said. "But the conviction within the presidency is that [the coup] won't be able to move forward without American approval."
According to a statement on the president's official Facebook page, Morsi met Sisi along with the prime minister late on Monday.
The aide's comments earlier in the day implied that the presidency was hopeful of continued US support. They also suggested the presidency was banking on the likelihood that the military would not risk upsetting the US, which provides it with significant funding.
How the eurozone is attempting to help young people find work as figures show the jobless rate is soaring
Figures released on Monday show eurozone unemployment levels at record highs. Governments across the continent have been scrambling to come up with measures to tackle the crisis.
Youth unemployment in France is above 26%, more than double the national rate. On deprived urban estates and in certain rural areas, youth unemployment tops 40%. The problem is compounded by the failing education system: more than 120,000 youths leave school each year with no qualifications. Restoring hope to France's desperate, unemployed youth was the central promise of François Hollande's presidential campaign.
Pope Francis is to make a visit to the Italian island of Lampedusa on Monday, to pray for illegal migrants lost at sea trying to reach Europe.
A Vatican statement said the Pope had been profoundly touched by a recent fatal shipwreck off the island of a boat carrying migrants from Africa.
The visit is expected to be extremely low-key, with no official welcome.
Lampedusa, about 80 miles (120km) from Tunisia, is one of the nearest gateways to Europe for African migrants.
Tens of thousands of migrants have made the crossing in recent years, many on overburdened and poorly equipped wooden boats.
Tens of thousands of protesters have marched in Hong Kong to denounce the city's leaders and demand universal suffrage as the region marked 16 years since its handover to China.
Organisers of the protest said on Monday about 430,000 people turned up, while police gave an estimate of 66,000, according to Reuters news agency.
The rally has taken place amid concerns in the southern Chinese city that Beijing, which regained control from Britain in 1997, is increasingly meddling in its affairs.
A widening income gap and soaring property prices are also among grievances, as protesters focus their anger on Leung Chun-ying, Hong Kong's unpopular chief executive.
Al Jazeera's Scott Heidler, reporting from Hong Kong, said the pro-democracy protests had begun with tens of thousands of protesters marching into the central part of the city and braving awful weather.
He said top issues they wanted tackled were “the right to vote, the resignation of Leung, and narrowing the wealth gap - the difference between the haves and have-nots”.
There had been concerns that the march would be threatened by Tropical Storm Rumbia, which has brought adverse weather during the afternoon.
For decades, the world has thought of Canada as America's friendly northern neighbor -- a responsible, earnest, if somewhat boring, land of hockey fans and single-payer health care. On the big issues, it has long played the global Boy Scout, reliably providing moral leadership on everything from ozone protection to land-mine eradication to gay rights. The late novelist Douglas Adams once quipped that if the United States often behaved like a belligerent teenage boy, Canada was an intelligent woman in her mid-30s. Basically, Canada has been the United States -- not as it is, but as it should be.
But a dark secret lurks in the northern forests. Over the last decade, Canada has not so quietly become an international mining center and a rogue petrostate. It's no longer America's better half, but a dystopian vision of the continent's energy-soaked future.
New York Times
LACONIA, N.H. — Seven months pregnant, at a time when most expectant couples are stockpiling diapers and choosing car seats, Renée Martin was struggling with bigger purchases.
At a prenatal class in March, she was told about epidural anesthesia and was given the option of using a birthing tub during labor. To each offer, she had one gnawing question: “How much is that going to cost?”
Though Ms. Martin, 31, and her husband, Mark Willett, are both professionals with health insurance, her current policy does not cover maternity care. So the couple had to approach the nine months that led to the birth of their daughter in May like an extended shopping trip though the American health care bazaar, sorting through an array of maternity services that most often have no clear price and — with no insurer to haggle on their behalf — trying to negotiate discounts from hospitals and doctors.
When she became pregnant, Ms. Martin called her local hospital inquiring about the price of maternity care; the finance office at first said it did not know, and then gave her a range of $4,000 to $45,000. “It was unreal,” Ms. Martin said. “I was like, How could you not know this? You’re a hospital.”
A fierce legal battle is under way in Scotland, involving U.S. tycoon Donald Trump.
At the heart of the wrangle: wind.
Europe is leading the way in generating energy using wind. Huge turbines whir away on the hills and in the seas throughout the continent.
The roots of Trump's hatred for these turbines can be found, at least in part, in what was once a stretch of rolling dunes and grassland in northeastern Scotland, overlooking the North Sea.
He is spending hundreds of millions creating a resort there.
Last year, he opened its star attraction, a championship golf links. Now, a second golf course is in the works.
"It will be truly spectacular, and truly beautiful, and the first course has become such a tremendous success," Trump said during a recent visit.
Yet there is one big problem: the proposed construction of some wind turbines — in the waters overlooked by Trump's resort.
After withering in the dry heat for the last four months, Google Reader will quietly disappear into the horizon later today. It’s a sad day, but the sun will rise tomorrow, and the Internet will keep on spinning. Thankfully there are a lot of fine Google Reader alternatives to keep feeding your RSS addiction.
For the past month, a daily popup has reminded Google Reader users to back up their data. Google is essentially zero’n the drive tomorrow, ridding itself of millions of OMPL files. Stop procrastinating and take 5 minutes to export your data.
There are several options.
Google Takeout is by far the easiest way to export your Google Reader data. The Google service is designed to export not only Google Reader data, but also data from Buzz, Hangouts, Contacts, Drive, Goggles, and YouTube. If you just choose Reader, the export file should be less than a megabyte and only take a minute or so to process and download. Once downloaded, this OMPL file can be used in most RSS readers.
Microsoft’s Windows 8 is now a more popular operating system than the reviled Windows Vista, eliminating a source of embarrassment as Microsoft’s latest OS slowly continues to gather steam.
According to Net Applications’ NetMarketshare tracker, Windows 8 captured 5.10 percent of all desktop systems the firm tracks for the month of June. Vista’s market share now stands at 4.62 percent. Of course, both will need a few months (or years) before they pass Windows XP and Windows 7, both of which dipped about half a percentage point’s worth of share to finish the month with 44.37 percent and 37.17 percent, respectively.
Car-hire app startup Uber is expanding service to the well-heeled Hamptons this week ahead of the Independence Day holiday, a little more than two months after New York gave it the green light as the first taxi-hailing app to operate in city.
And to celebrate, Uber would be pleased to offer a $3,000 helicopter lift to the tony stretch of Long Island.
Starting Wednesday and running through Labor Day weekend, New Yorkers can summon a private driver to the Hamptons using the startup's iPhone or Android apps, or its mobile site at m.uber.com. One-way flat rates are $300 for uberX, its midrange car service; $400 for UberBlack, its high-end sedan or SUV offering; and $500 for UberSUV, a guaranteed SUV that can seat more people than an average car. The service is also available in and around the Hamptons.