Need To Know
Big Brother can hear you now. Even when you're not using your cellphone, it broadcasts your location to nearby cellphone towers. That means you are trackable even when you're not actively talking on the phone or sending a text — and the NSA is likely doing just that. According to the latest from the Snowden files, the NSA collects 5 billion cellphones records a day (that's 3 trillion a year). Worried? The NSA would like to make you feel better. It says it's not interested in everyone's data and the massive surveillance program is meant to gather intelligence about foreign targets. It doesn't specifically target US location information but it does capture data as broadly as it can internationally, which then does "incidentally" capture the data of many US cellphones. Feeling any better? Among the surveillance operations revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, this one may have the broadest reach and the biggest impact on privacy. How about now?
Painful transitions. Remember Yemen? Remember how a national uprising forced President Saleh from power in February 2012? Well, it hasn't been pretty since then and today at least 20 people are dead after a suicide bomber and gunmen attacked the defense ministry in Sanaa. An explosives-laden car rammed into the ministry, which then paved the way for gunmen to storm in. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, though many suspect Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has been blamed for several hit-and-run attacks on officials in recent weeks. Yemen's political transition is set to culminate with elections in February 2014, but rampant violence and an active militancy — not to mention the fact that Saleh continues to be an active presence in politics — make polls seem a ways off.
Want To Know
Biden's back channels. The US vice president's visit to Beijing may not have gone exactly as Washington would have hoped, but that hasn't stopped Biden from working a little something on the side. His meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping was overshadowed by the diplomatic row over China's air defense zone in the East China Sea and Biden himself said he held "very direct" talks with Chinese leader on the matter. But China — wait for it — didn't give an inch. Was Biden discouraged? Maybe, but not bested. He told Chinese visa applicants to "challenge their government" outside the US Embassy in Beijing on Wednesday, and on Thursday before skipping town he publicly criticized China's persecution of journalists. China may have the top-down covered, but Biden's going for the ground-up.
Strange But True
Arabs got talent, so do non-Arabs. Non-Arabs like Jennifer Grout, a 23-year-old from Cambridge, Mass., who just might win Arabs Got Talent this Saturday. Grout is the first non-Arab to make it to the finals of the traditionally Arabs-only reality talent show, and what's more she has done so by playing classical Arabic music — something that hasn't been entirely welcomed, as you might imagine. The American living in Morocco has truly confounded audiences. Grout can't speak a word of Arabic, mind you, but sure can sing it. Will she win? See for yourself if you think she's worthy. And stay tuned.