News Briefs 17-06-2013KatMonday, June 17th0 Comments4 min read Geez, I unplug for one week, and my favorite ‘crackpot-blogger conspriacy theory’ splashes onto the front pages of all the mainstream media worldwide. And judging by some of the news photos I’ve seen, a lot of those ‘alien underground bases’ in YouTube videos are actually full of NSA employees and computers. If you’ve already read some of today’s news — sorry, I’m still trying to catch up. Top secret US National Security Agency (NSA) documents disclosed by the Guardian have shocked the world with revelations of a comprehensive US-based surveillance system with direct access to Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and other tech giants. Why have Western security agencies developed such an unprecedented capacity to spy on their own domestic populations? Concern about the risk of civil unrest at home triggered by catastrophic events linked to climate change, energy shocks or economic crisis – or all three. Connecting the dots on PRISM, phone surveillance, and the NSA’s massive spy center. NSA sued over mass phone spying. Google’s real secret spy program? Secure FTP. NSA whistleblower: The ultimate insider attack – from the NSA’s perspective. Edward Snowden took NSA secrets on a thumb drive. He became a firm proponent of civil liberties while working for the NSA. The Whistleblower’s Guide to the Orwellian Galaxy: Wired updates last month’s ‘How to Leak to the Press’. Back in 2000, surveillance programs like Carnivore, Echelon, and Total Information Awareness helped spark a surge in electronic privacy awareness. Now, programs like PRISM, Boundless Informant, and FISA orders are catalyzing renewed concern. Why ‘I have nothing to hide’ is the wrong way to think about surveillance. NSA snooping was only the beginning: Meet the spy chief leading us into cyberwar. John le Carré on secret courts, surveillance and the excessive influence of the CIA and MI6 on democratic institutions. Uri Geller psychic spy? The spoon-bender’s secret life as a Mossad and CIA agent revealed. China could supplant has supplanted the US as the supercomputing superpower. Tianhe-2, with more than 3 million processor cores, can perform more than 30 quadrillion calculations per second — easily dwarfing the runner-up at Oak Ridge National Laboratories. A rash of polemic on new physics: Are scientists deluded, betraying science, living in fairytale-land? The future of robotics: in a transhuman world, the disabled will be the ones without prosthetic limbs. Ethics: the questions posed by our bionic bodies. The future of food: As the global population rises and food prices do too, many scientists are looking for alternatives to traditional foodstuffs. The Heartland Institute’s skeptical Chinese fantasy. Why has there never been a proper revolution in Britain? It’s long overdue. Repairing bad memories. Human communities that do good for others and stick together are happier and cope better with crises. I’m wondering how the university found such a community to study. Where grand Spanish horses learn to be Medieval. Quote of the Day: The US National Security Agency’s Prism program seems to be lifting personal data from the internet. How? Internet giants including Google and Facebook strongly deny that the NSA has direct access to its servers. There is another way, however. A slide from an internal NSA Powerpoint presentation suggests the agency is siphoning directly from fibre-optic cables. To do this, it probably uses “splitters”, which split the light beam. Recent research by Andrew Clement at the University of Toronto, Canada, shows that 99 per cent of US internet traffic goes through one of just 18 cities. So if the NSA installed splitters at a few strategic points “it could intercept a large proportion of internet traffic”, Clement says. New Scientist, “We know who you are”, June 13, 2013.