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First POST: Snoop Dog

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, October 29 2013

Snoop Dog

  • "Unless the United States is engaged in hostilities against a country or there is an emergency need for this type of surveillance, I do not believe the United States should be collecting phone calls or emails of friendly presidents and prime ministers," declared Senator Dianne Feinstein, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and longtime defender of the NSA. "It is abundantly clear that a total review of all intelligence programs is necessary," she added, upset that the committee was "not satisfactorily informed." It remains to be seen what kind of "total review" Feinstein might conduct given her continued stated support for the NSA's collection of Americans phone metadata.

  • The New York Times reports that President Obama is on the verge of ordering the NSA to stop snooping on the leaders of US allies. No word on ordinary citizens.

  • The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, and the director of the NSA, General Keith Alexander, will testify before the House Intelligence Committee today.

  • While the federal health exchange HealthCare.gov is being overhauled, Obama administration officials are praising Kentucky for how well its state-based exchange is working. So far, more than 26,000 people have enrolled and more than 50,000 have started applications, in a state with 625,000 uninsured. Dylan Scott of TalkingPointsMemo explains how Kentucky built its site so well.

  • The RNC has unveiled a series of 30-second TV ads styled on the "I'm a Mac; I'm a PC" Apple ads, only these make fun of Obamacare.

  • The London-based Open Data Institute, co-founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Sir Nigel Shadbolt, is linching thirteen additional nodes based in the US, Canada, France, Dubai, Italy, Russia, Sweden, Argentina and the UK.

  • If you thought Silicon Valley VC Chamath Palihapitaya's remarks during the government shutdown dismissing the role of Washington were arrogant and insensitive, get a load of this speech from Balaji Srinivasan, the founder of a genomics company. The US, he claims, is "the Microsoft of nations." Instead of reforming an obsolescent company, techies launch their own. Same with the US? His vision of an "giving people tools to reduce the influence of bad policies over their lives without getting involved in politics…an opt-in society, run by technology, outside the U.S." is techno-libertarianism run amok, says Salon's Andrew Leonard.

  • Srinivasan's rant, which got him a huge ovation at YCombinator, drew criticism from Code for America's Catherine Bracy (and PDM friend). She told The New York Times Anand Giridharadas that, “Most of them aren’t confronted with or don’t have an understanding of most problems regular people are facing. If they had to collect food stamps or ride the bus or send their kid to public school, they might be more empathetic to the role that government plays in people’s lives and more interested in fixing those problems than opting out.”

  • Parody Dept: The New Republic shows us what Politico's coverage of the Civil war might have looked like. And XKCD gives us the top headlines of the 20th century "rewritten to get more clicks."

  • Remember Kony 2012? The Washington Post reports that US Special Forces "have significantly expanded their activities" in the Congo, searching to capture Joseph Kony and his top lieutenants.