Trending In Our News Feeds – Snowden, Obama reveal details of NSA surveillance. Edward Snowden and President Obama painted vastly different pictures of the NSA’s surveillance programs in high-profile interviews yesterday. Here are some of the highlights from Snowden’s “ask me anything” interview with Guardian readers, as collected by Mother Jones:
On the accusation he is cooperating with the Chinese government: “I did not reveal any U.S. operations against legitimate military targets. I pointed out where the NSA has hacked civilian infrastructure such as universities, hospitals, and private businesses because it is dangerous… If I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn't I have flown directly into Beijing? I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now.”
On NSA collection of Americans’ data: “If I target for example an email address…and that email address sent something to you, Joe America, the analyst gets it. All of it. IPs, raw data, content, headers, attachments, everything…”
Meanwhile, BuzzFeed got their hands on a partial transcript of Obama’s interview with Charlie Rose. Here’s our favorite part:
“My concern has always been not that we shouldn’t do intelligence gathering to prevent terrorism, but rather are we setting up a system of checks and balances… [Critics will] say… when you start looking at metadata, even if you don’t know the names, you can match it up… and you can yield all this information. All of that is true, except for the fact that for the government, under the program right now, to do that it would be illegal.”
The Atlantic’s Eslepth Reeve is skeptical of these checks and balances: She says the FISA court called out the Justice Department for violating the fourth amendment on at least one occasion.
SCOTUS strikes down voter ID law. The Supreme Court issued another mixed ruling yesterday, this time in the case of Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona. Up for debate was an Arizona law requiring voters to prove U.S. citizenship both to register and to vote. Opponents argued a federal form that allows voters to register simply by swearing they are citizens should override Arizona’s law. SCOTUS struck down Arizona's law, but not completely: The state can require proof of citizenship to vote if it gets permission from the feds.
NATO transfers power to Afghan forces. NATO officially transferred power to the Afghan military at a ceremony today in the capital of Kabul. NATO secretary-general Anders Rasmussen said his forces will support Afghan operations, but will no longer plan or lead strikes. “You are the sons and guardians of this country, and it is your responsibility to protect it,” Afghan President Hamid Karzai told his troops. Karzai also announced he will send a team to Qatar for peace talks with the Taliban.
Women to serve in elite combat positions. Senior defense officials announced yesterday they will welcome women to serve in the most physically demanding positions in the military including the Navy SEALs, the Army Rangers, and the Marine Infantry. The New York Times reports military officials will outline their plans for integrating women into these units later today. Mark Jacobson, a senior adviser to the Truman Project and veteran of both the Army and Navy, welcomes the decision: “There are wonderful historical examples of women being equally, if not more proficient unconventional warfare operators and it’s great that they will have the chance to compete for these types of assignments,” he says.
Feds bust massive 7-Eleven crime ring. Government officials raided 14 7-Eleven stores yesterday, busting what prosecutors call a “modern-day plantation system.” The stores' owners hired over 50 undocumented immigrants and gave them the identities of American citizens, including children and the deceased. The store owners are charged with forcing workers to live in shoddy housing and only paying them for a fraction their work. Authorities are investigating forty other stores that may be involved in the scheme.
Status Updates – Join us for PolicyMic’s first D.C. happy hour! PolicyMic’s community editor Caira Conner is teaming up with co-founder Jake Horowitz to host our first ever D.C. happy hour. Join us at the Science Club this Friday, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. to network, talk shop, and take our stellar community offline.
Must Reads From PolicyMic – The NSA Isn't to Blame For Our Surveillance State, Congress is (Roy Klabin, @RoyKlabin) – Blame the NSA all you want for the massive PRISM surveillance program, but Congress are the ones who made it happen.
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It’s Time Hollywood Made a Black Superhero Movie (Frank Hagler, @bamatek) – Now that we have another Superman movie, can we get to work on a Black Panther film, already?
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4 Incredible Time-Lapse Videos Of Asian Metropolises (Evangeline Furton) – Rob Whitworth, an architectural photographer in Shanghai, creates stunning portraits of Asian cities.
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This Just In: Virginia’s Governor Used Tax Money to Buy His Deodorant (T. Chase Meacham, @TChaseMeacham) – Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell has been charged with spending $600 in taxpayer dollars on personal groceries, as well as giving sizable gifts to his family.
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These Genetically Modified Insects Could Save Thousands Of Human Lives (Mike Miesen) – In Brazil, scientists are performing groundbreaking trials that could eventually lead to the eradication of dengue fever, an excruciatingly painful tropical disease.
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What We’re Sharing – Malcolm Gladwell: “Is ignorance an impediment to progress or a precondition for it?” (New Yorker).
– What the return of Sarah Palin means for the GOP (Salon).
– How Bill Nye became an awesome bow-tied crusader for science (NY Times).
– The sleaziest charity in the U.S. spends 3 cents on the dollar helping kids (CIR).
– Lay off already! Miss Utah wasn’t completely wrong about the wage gap (ThinkProgress).
– Who drinks the most vodka, gin, whisky, and rum? (Economist)
– These 5 survivors fell really, really far (BBC).
Dessert – Classical sculptures dressed as hipsters look really badass.
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