The National Security Agency has obtained access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft and other Internet firms, giving the government the ability to collect emails, search history and live chats of users around the world. Details about the PRISM program were first published in The Guardian and The Washington Post. The disclosure came one day after The Guardian revealed the Obama administration is collecting telephone records of millions of Verizon business customers. According to a new report in The Wall Street Journal, the scope of the NSA program also includes customers of AT&T and Sprint. In addition, the Journal reports the NSA is collecting details about credit card transactions. On Thursday, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein defended the government’s actions.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein: “As far as I know, this is the exact three-month renewal of what has been the case for the past seven years. This renewal is carried out by the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance] Court under the business records section of the PATRIOT Act, therefore it is lawful.”
Fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces has approached the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Austria has announced it is withdrawing nearly 400 U.N. peacekeepers from the Golan Heights after Syrian rebels briefly overran a crossing point near the border with Israel.
Protests are continuing in Turkey despite a call from the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan that they must end immediately. Thousands of protesters remain in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. Some chanted “Tayyip resign” as they watched a broadcast of his address.
The British government has agreed to pay out a total of $22 million to a group of more than 5,000 veterans of Kenya’s Mau Mau resistance movement. More than 100,000 Kenyans are believed to have been killed by British colonial forces between 1952 and 1960. British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced the deal.
William Hague: “The British government recognizes that Kenyans were subject to torture and other forms of ill treatment at the hands of the colonial administration. The British government sincerely regrets that these abuses took place and that they marred Kenya’s progress towards independence. Torture and ill treatment are abhorrent violations of human dignity, which we unreservedly condemn.”
The head of the Mau Mau War Veterans Association said the compensation was too low. Survivors on average will get under $5,000 each.
Gitu Wa Kahengeri, Mau Mau War Veterans Association: “Enough? It can’t be enough. We were detained for 10 years. I was detained for seven years with my father, who raised me. So the issue of 300,000 shillings is far from the amount that I should have been paid, or my father or anyone else who was there during the fight.”
The International Monetary Fund has admitted it had failed to realize the damage austerity would do to Greece as the country tried to recover from its economic crisis. The IMF and the European Union forced Greece to slash public spending and benefits in exchange for a bailout, but the country is now mired in a much deeper recession. The unemployment rate in Greece is now 27 percent.
President Obama is meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a summit in California today amidst a growing dispute between the two countries over cybersecurity. Washington has accused China of cyberspying, including snooping on advanced U.S. weapons designs. But the White House has said little publicly about its own hacking abilities. Bloomberg Businessweek recently disclosed how a secretive unit inside the National Security Agency, called “Tailored Access Operations,” conducts massive cyber-espionage on overseas computer networks. The Pentagon hackers harvest nearly 2.1 million gigabytes every hour. That is the equivalent of hundreds of millions of pages of text. The Pentagon recently promoted the deputy chief of the secretive NSA unit, Rear Admiral Willie Metts, to become director for intelligence of U.S. Pacific Command.
The remains of dozens of Palestinians killed during the war of 1948 have been discovered in Israel. Renovations at a Muslim cemetery unearthed six separate chambers full of skeletons. The victims were killed when Israeli forces conquered Jaffa, a Palestinian city now a part of Tel Aviv.
In media news, a Massachusetts high school runner and his track coach have filed suit against the New York Post after the paper published a front-page article that made them look as if they were suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing.
The New York Daily News is reporting glitches and repeated crashes in New York City’s new $88 million 911 computer dispatch system appear to have delayed emergency responders during several life-and-death situations this week — possibly even in the crash that killed a four-year-old named Ariel Russo. According to a report by Juan González, Ariel died Tuesday when a 17-year-old unlicensed driver who was fleeing police rammed his parents’ SUV into the girl and her grandmother. Emergency responders took an unusually long four minutes and 18 seconds from the time of the first request for an ambulance from police at the scene to a 911 operator until the time an ambulance was finally dispatched.