Mic Check: How One Journalist Toppled the NSA’s House Of Cards

1. Obama Administration Reveals NSA Secrets
 
Wednesday was a huge day for information on the NSA's surveillance programs: The Obama administration declassified a secret court ruling on the NSA, the Guardian published a new leak from Edward Snowden, and the Senate held a hearing on the NSA’s activities.
 
The biggest revelation from the declassified court order is that NSA agents can collect the phone data of a suspected national security threat and all the people the suspect called, for up to three degrees of separation. This means the NSA collects info on hundreds or thousands of people when investigating one suspect.
 
The newest leak from Edward Snowden reveals details of the NSA’s XKeyscore interface. XKeyscore is not another method the NSA uses to collect data; it is an interface for sorting through the data it already has. The slides the Guardian published show the U.S. conducts surveillance on 150 countries around the world.
 
At the Senate hearing on the NSA, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said NSA surveillance hasn’t stopped “dozens or even several terrorist plots.” The Obama administration claims NSA surveillance has prevented 54 terrorist attacks.
 
More from around the web:
Take a trip to the top secret FISA court (Washington Post).
 
• Here’s a detailed timeline of the entire Snowden saga (Guardian).
 
More From PolicyMic:
How One Journalist Toppled the NSA’s House of Cards (Robert Taylor)
 
 
2. Who Will Obama Pick to Rebuild the Economy?
 
Ever since President Obama said Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has been at his post “longer than he wanted,” econ wonks have fiercely debated who should take his place; Bernanke’s term expires on Jan. 31 of next year. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and Janet Yellen, the vice chairwoman of the Fed’s board of governors, lead the field of contenders, but Summers has proved to be a controversial option. The Roosevelt Institute describes what’s at stake in picking the next Fed chair: Whoever takes over for Bernanke will be in charge of rebuilding the economy after the Great Recession.
 
More from around the web:
Why Larry Summers should be the chairman of the Fed (Washington Post).
 
Why Janet Yellen should be the chairwoman of the Fed (NY times).
 
More From PolicyMic:
Get to Know the Top 4 Picks to Take Over As the Chairperson Of the Fed (Gabriel Rodriguez)
 
 
3. Facebook Stock Matches $38 IPO
 
Facebook notched a small win on Wednesday when the company’s stock matched its initial value of $38 a share; Facebook stock has had a rough go of it since the company’s messy IPO last year. Facebook’s stock jumped in response to strong second quarter earnings. The company is now almost worth $100 billion. Facebook’s recent success can be traced to its mobile prowess: Mobile ads now account for 40% of the company’s advertising revenue.
 
More from around the web:
Find out what really happened in the biggest IPO flop ever (The Atlantic).
 
This graph tracks the rise and fall of Facebook’s stock (Quartz).
 
More From PolicyMic:
Facebook Stock Rises to $33 After Epic Q2 Mobile Growth (Nick Demas)
 
 
4. MLB Threatens A-Rod With Possible Lifetime Ban
 
The MLB is nearing the end of its investigation into players who took performance-enhancing drugs from a Florida doping clinic, and an anonymous source told the Associated Press that Alex Rodriguez could face a lifetime ban from professional baseball. The source says A-Rod will be kicked out of the MLB unless he agrees not to fight a shorter sentence; up to 14 players could be suspended. Look for the MLB to issue sentences over the weekend.
 
More from around the web:
• Here’s a video history of A-Rod’s doping denials (Daily Beast).
 
More From PolicyMic:
Why A-Rod Will Keep His Money, But Not His Reputation (John Matthew)
 
 
5. Fox News Defends Controversial Interview
 
Fox News says there’s nothing wrong with its Reza Aslan interview, in which a host asked the religion scholar and Muslim why he would write a book about Christianity. On Wednesday, Fox followed up on the controversy caused by the interview. Fox News guest Brent Bozell said Green was right to ask a formerly-Christian academic if his religious background influenced his research. The problem is, that’s not the question Green asked: “You’re a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?” she said.
 
More from around the web:
• In case you missed it, here is Lauren Green’s interview with Reza Aslan (YouTube).
 
Does MSNBC or Fox have more biased reporting? (Pew)
 
More From PolicyMic:
A Millennial Takedown of Fox News’ Islamophobic Interview (Maggie O’Neill)
 
 
DESSERT
• Ever wondered how a convicted murderer prepares for a job interview? (Long Reads).
 
• Learn why Facebook is such a time suck, if you can pull yourself away from your newsfeed (Atlantic).
 
• Find out why Mormons are so good at making money (Pando Daily).
 
8 American legends that aren’t actually true (PolicyMic).
 
Counting is a lot more difficult in Finland than you’d think (Slate).
 

Thanks for reading!
Nick
 
What do you think of the topics in today’s Mic Check? Did Fox cross the line with its Reza Aslan interview, or did the network have a point? Let me know on twitter @nicholascbaker.
 
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