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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Good Morning, News!

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 9:17 AM

Edward Snowden, the fellow who loudly blew the whistle on the National Security Agency's widepsread international spying programs, has taken a job as an IT consultant in Russia, where he remains hidden from American assassination squads.

But the spying! So much spying! Hopefully you read yesterday's scoop by the Washington Post—the one that detailed how the the NSA has "secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world," and how it's possibly reading your emails and looking at your web history. (I say "possibly," because you're not that important, and the NSA is combing through millions of records. But while that might be slim comfort for now, remember that they'll just keep getting better and faster at reading and analyzing. Which means, eventually, we'll all be important enough to monitor. Just in case!)

Britain has been helping with that newly revealed program, code-named MUSCULAR, just like me. But while our representatives in Congress mostly meek out, the British MPs have, in short order, already scheduled a three-hour public debate on oversight.

This adds to the pile of grievances facing the NSA, as if they care. (They don't.) Tech companies are enraged by the revelations. And here we are, still trying to soothe allied world leaders for what, apparently, have been phone taps stretching back for years. In fact, our spy net might be deeper than anyone ever imagined.

SO HERE'S SOME HAPPY FEELS SUGAR FOR YOU. The FAA, after years of putting its head in the sand and pretending that thousands of passengers (like me!) hadn't been pointedly ignoring their stupid rules anyway, has agreed to let us look at our phones, tablets, and Kindles the entire time we're on an airplane.

Syria's chemical weapons factories, almost two dozen of them, have reportedly been destroyed—the latest successful milestone in a Russian-American deal meant to spare the Mideast country an otherwise promised visit from US Tomahawk missiles.

Marriage equality is a bit closer in Hawaii, where state senators overwhelmingly approved a bill that would let all loving couples marry.

Bodies of 92 migrants were found rotting near the Algerian border in the Sahara desert, disturbing evidence of a human trafficking operation that meant to send them to the Mediterranean coast. Before their vehicle broke down, stranding them.

New Yorkers turning 18 are down to sex shops and voting, when it comes to exhilarating new freedoms. The state has raised the cigarette-buying age to 21.

Washington's vice lords have begun to get the idea that people shouldn't get to smoke their legal marijuana in bars. They'd like to tie the ban to clubs' and bars' liquor licenses.

The "throat-burning stench" spewing from California's Sriracha sauce plant—it's from all the chili peppers that make the shit taste so good—could get the factory shut down. Unless a judge, today, sides against angry neighbors.

Two very public suicide attempts had cops and negotiators standing by for hours on the Vista Bridge, where a man defeated the temporary anti-suicide barriers, and on the Fremont Bridge, where a woman took the ledge after reports of a car crash. Both were brought down safely.

And here's this big news for a bunch of people who, in their way, can be charmingly insufferable: The Boston Red Sox won the World Series for the third time since 2004, but this time at home, and can they finally please and thank you very much stop moaning about all the years when they weren't as lucky or well-run?

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