Sunday, December 15, 2013

Selected RT News Headlines

NSA has ability to decode phone conversations, texts

The NSA easily breaks the privacy technology popularized by encryption services throughout the world, meaning the intelligence agency can subvert such security tactics and sift through the billions of private texts and calls that are transmitted each day.

AFP Photo / Mario Tama Observers have long known that military and law enforcement officials are capable of hacking into a suspect’s mobile phone, yet a report from the Washington Post based on documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden indicate that the NSA’s power may in fact be more expansive because of the global signals intelligence, or SIGINTs, techniques it employs.

Current US law makes it illegal for the NSA to monitor phone conversations between American citizens without a court order, yet these documents reveal that the agency is capable of overriding encryption and listening in on international citizens. The Post warned that the intelligence agencies of other nations likely have the same technology, and may even listen in on American phone calls. 


‘Lie of the Year’ prize goes to Obama

It’s probably not the kind of recognition he wanted to receive, but President Barack Obama has been awarded PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year” for 2013.

The infamous prize, handed out annually by the fact-checking website PolitiFact, was given to Obama because of his statements claiming that Americans would be able to keep their health insurance under the Affordable Care Act if they liked their plan.

US President Barack Obama (AFP Photo / Jewel Samad)“If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” Obama said on numerous occasions over the years. Soon after cancellation notices began arriving in American mailboxes this fall – more than four million people have seen their coverage cancelled at this point, largely due to the fact that their coverage did not reach the ACA’s minimum requirements – Obama denied that such a promise was made, saying he actually meant that plans could be kept only if they hadn’t changed since the health care law was passed.

Obama’s explanation didn’t pass muster, however, especially since he’d been captured on video promising that health care plans would stay in place at least two dozen times. Facing public backlash, Obama apologized and unveiled a one-year plan to allow insurers keep selling existing plans that are about to be cancelled.


US, Chinese warships nearly collide in South China Sea

(FILES) The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens (CG 63) (Reuters / U.S. Navy Photographer)

Tensions in East Asia spiked once again when a Chinese naval vessel attempted to stop a US guided missile warship in international waters in early December.

According to American defense officials, the USS Cowpens was conducting surveillance of Beijing’s new aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, when Chinese warships ordered it to stop in its tracks.

However, the Cowpens refused to comply with the order because it was in international waters. When Chinese ships responded by moving in front of the Cowpens and stopping in front of its route, the American vessel was forced to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision.

“On December 5th, while lawfully operating in international waters in the South China Sea, USS Cowpens and a PLA Navy vessel had an encounter that required maneuvering to avoid a collision,” a Navy official told the Washington Free Beacon.


Lawmakers overseeing NSA receive millions from private intelligence contractors

US President Obama said last week that reforming the NSA in the midst of a major surveillance scandal could restore confidence in the government. Newly revealed connections between Congress and the private sector, however, may not do the same.

(FILES) Committee chairman Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (C), ranking member Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) (R) and Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WV) (L) listen during a hearing before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Officials from the executive and legislative branches have expressed an interest in reforming the NSA, especially in light of the ongoing and highly damaging leaks disclosed to the media by former contractor Edward Snowden. But a recent report has shed light on some ties between those in Washington who watch over the intelligence community and their financial bankers - the likes of which raise questions about just how serious lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives are about reigning in the NSA.

A study by Donny Shaw at the nonpartisan research organization MapLight was published this week, and in it he explored the connections between the major industry players that provide the intelligence community with tools and the lawmakers that look over the NSA and other agencies.


Physics breakthrough: Is the universe a giant hologram?

Scientists have found the “clearest evidence yet” that the universe we inhabit is a giant hologram, paving the way towards reconciling one of physics’ most pressing issues: the relationship between Einstein’s theory of relativity and quantum physics.

Artist’s impression shows the surroundings of the supermassive black hole at the heart of the active galaxy NGC 3783 in the southern constellation of Centaurus (The Centaur) (AFP Photo) In other words, we could be living inside a giant 3D projection of what is actually a two-dimensional space, similar to an IMAX movie theater screen or a painting. Or one could simply imagine the experience of looking at a three-dimensional object from various angles and seeing it change shape according to the point of observation.

The new experimental simulations proposed by Japanese scientist, Yoshifumi Hyakutake, and his team at the Ibaraki University of Japan tackle the varying energies of black holes discovered in parallel universes. But it also goes a long way towards marrying Einstein’s theory of general relativity and the theory of quantum mechanics as the two main theories describing our universe.
The findings were published in the journal, Nature, on December 10.