Tag Archives: United States

The NSA surveillance scandal explained

For those who have heard some of what’s been going on but got a bit lost in the storm of media coverage, I thought I’d do a nice quick(ish) summary.

What happened?

The Guardian and Washington Post broke a story last week about the extent to which the US National Security Agency spies on people. This is the US equivalent of GCHQ – a spy agency specialising in digital communication. The reports basically said that the NSA had been saving huge quantities of data in partnership with companies including Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Skype (not Twitter, oddly enough). They have also been recording phone call information from the large US carrier Verizon.

The targets of such digital surveillance have been mostly foreign to the US, although the system they use only has a 51 per cent confidence measure, which means that pretty much anyone could be on the list. Other governments have also been implicated, including the UK.

Continue reading

Are we about to start a new war?

On Thursday this week, some nasty details came out of Syria – it looks likely that chemical weapons have been used on the civilian population. Images of victims allegedly attacked earlier in the month with sarin nerve gas show frothing at the mouth, and at least four people have died.

Continue reading

The big red button

N Korea Nuclear MapsWhat on earth is going on in North Korea?

The small rouge nuclear state ordered its missile units to the “highest alert” on Friday and state media issued two photographs showing the North Korean leader sitting at a table surrounded by generals and maps (left).

One of the maps apparently says “Strategic Forces’ US Mainland Striking Plan” on it, although I can’t read Korean to confirm that. They even went so far as to draw lines showing where the missiles will travel to get there. Very strategic, huh?

So how scared should you be?

Continue reading