Twitter Inadvertently Released Some U.S. Government Surveillance Information

Twitter is suing the government for the right to publish information regarding how many requests it receives for user data and, in the process, revealed the upper limit of the amount of requests it received.

In the lawsuit, Twitter introduces exhibit 5, a copy of a letter it received from the DOJ outlining what it could and could not say.

It noted, for example, that Twitter could

explain that only an infinitesimally small percentage of its total number of active users was affected by [government surveillance by] highlighting that less than 250 accounts were subject to all combined national security process…”

So, while this makes it way through the courts, we can rest easy knowing that the privacy of no more than 249 people using Twitter has been compromised by government snooping.

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Twitter Suing US Govt Over Surveillance Gag Order

Twitter is seeking to publish more information regarding how many and what types of surveillance requests it receives from the US government. The Department of Justice effectively told them to keep their mouths shut and Twitter, on October 7, decided to sue the DOJ and the FBI for the right to publish the information.

You can view the whole lawsuit here.

Case Background

When the government wants a user’s information from a website like Twitter, Google, Yahoo, etc. they issue what are known as National Security Letters (NSL’s) to the provider which compels them to disclose “subscriber information and toll billing records information,” which are records of who a person is communicating with. The company that’s been served an NSL is legally prohibited from disclosing “to any person … that the FBI has sought or obtained access to information or records.” They are effectively compelled to cooperate and, at the same time, prohibited from talking about it.

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A Train Off the Rails: How ISIS Got Away from Its Sponsors

Old Money

Josh Rogin at The Daily Beast said it eloquently:

“The extremist group that is threatening the existence of the Iraqi state was built and grown for years with the help of elite donors from American supposed allies in the Persian Gulf region.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, who has a dog in this fight, said it more directly at the CFR, where he called the West’s partners against ISIS a “coalition of repenters.” Adding:

“Most participants in that — in that meeting in one form or another provided support to ISIS in the course of its creation and upbringing and expansion, actually at the end of the day, creating a Frankenstein that came to haunt its creators.So this group has been in existence for a long time. It has been supported, it has been provided for in terms of arms, money, finances by a good number of U.S. allies in the region.”

Politicking aside, there is little debate about who funded the nascent organizations that became ISIS. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey made a pragmatic decision to, at a minimum, indirectly fund Sunni militants¬†fighting the Assad regime. It’s classic “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” realism and not really surprising.

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Egypt Begins the Slow Work of Rebuilding a Dictatorship

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has his work cut out for him but he’s made great headway in the past 5 months of sowing the seeds of autocracy.

Let’s go through our handy dictatorial checklist:

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US Starts Talking Tough on Turkey in Apparent Change of Heart

Maybe Joe Biden was right after all.

The NY Times lead story today is “Turkish Inaction on ISIS Advance Dismays the U.S.” The article reads as a laundry list of complaints and reservations U.S. officials have about Turkeys foot-dragging and, in some cases, refusal to do what we want them to.

This comes two days after Joe Biden apologized for saying “It took a while for Turkey, a Sunni nation, to figure out that ISIL was a direct immediate threat to their well being,” during a speech at Harvard.

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Gay Marraige: Now Nearly As American as Apple Pie

The Supreme Court decided Monday not to hear cases on whether or not gay people have the right to marry. Instead they let stand the previous decisions that were being appealed, all of which favored same-sex marriage. This brings the total number of states allowing gay marraige to 30.

The dark grey states are set to legalize same-sex marriage as a result of SCOTUS indecision Image Source: Time

Image Source: Time

And it’s not looking good for the hold-out naysayers.

By deciding not to decide, the justices have placed the decision not so much on states as on federal circuit courts.

Regardless of your position on the issue, it looks as though the sun is setting on “one man one woman” as the definition of marriage.

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Pennies Cost 1.6 Pennies to Make. It’s Time to Ditch them Altogether

The price of Zinc is rising, taking the production price of a penny with it. With each coin costing 1.6 cents to make, the U.S. Mint stands to lose $55 million this year.

It’s time to get rid of them altogether.

Source: USA Today / U.S. Mint

Other countries have done so. The most recent of which was our Northern neighbor, Canada, who stopped making one cent coins in 2012 because they cost 1.6 Canadian cents to make. New Zealand, Australia, Finland, and The Netherlands have also eliminated their once cent coins (or stopped circulating one cent Euros.)

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