This Week in the Mercury


Friday, January 17, 2014

Good Morning, News!

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Fri, Jan 17, 2014 at 9:15 AM

Today's the day we get to see Barack Obama order up some changes for the National Security Agency. He's still a fan of letting the NSA collect Americans' telephone calls, to fight terrorism, but he's going to suggest the NSA get a court order. And maybe find some way to not keep all that data hanging around, ready to be abused. Also? No more eavesdropping on foreign heads of state, you guys.

Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who worked with Edward Snowden to first expose the depth and breadth of the NSA's bulk collection of national and international communications data, says the speech is still just a bunch of PR.

Another report on the NSA, quite well-timed, finds the agency has perfected a system for harvesting what's been close to 200 million text messages every day. The texts, including things like missed-call alerts and other automated notices, are picked clean for details leading to a target's whereabouts or credit card number.

Protesters in Thailand have been taking to the streets of Bangkok for days, in hopes of toppling the country's current government. This morning, two blasts went off among the crowds, injuring nearly 30, according to early figures.

Vladimir Putin came up with a helpful rhyme for any LGBTQ tourists headed to bigoted, mob-ruled Russia for the winter Olympics: “One can feel calm and at ease. Just leave kids alone, please.”

Uganda's president, meanwhile, has a better idea for curing the "abnormality" of homesexuality than a new law that just puts everyone in jail forever: Fix the African economy so people have a financial incentive to be straight. (Among several other nonsensical utterings.) I can hear the slow-clap from admiring American conservatives—jobs and "values"!—all the way from Washington.

The famed Japanese soldier who spent 29 years hiding out after World War II ended, never realizing his country had surrendered under threat of continued nuclear bombardment, has died at age 91.

"I was just devastated," said a 77-year-old neighbour, Dorothy Jameson. "I was wondering why two four-year-olds have access to a gun in the first place."

In tolerant Houston, a man who gave a homeless man 75 cents was angrily stopped by a cop, accused of selling the homeless man drugs, handcuffed, and forced to sit and watch while a bunch of cops descended and tore up his car in vain. Worst of all? The man says the cops laughed it all off at the end.

Roman Polanski might be able to return to the United States. Emails show the judge who presided over the director's decades-old rape conviction—Polanski raped a teenage girl—may have committed misconduct strong enough to get the conviction tossed.

A state judge has tossed Pennsylvania's new voter-identification law. Because it's terrible.

A murder convict in Ohio "made guttural noises, gasped for air and choked for about 10 minutes before succumbing" to an untested cocktail of lethal injection drugs. Corrections officials turned to the drugs after manufacturers stopped selling the drug they used to use to silently kill prisoners.

THE MODERN WORLD NEVER STOPS HELP ANNOYING PEOPLE BECOME EVEN MORE ANNOYING. THANKS, THE MODERN WORLD!

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