28 Dec

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

The Guardian home

Cell phone data records

Judge said the phone data-collection system could have helped investigators connect the dots before the 9/11 attacks. Photograph: Lucas Jackson /Reuters


NSA mass collection of phone data is legal, federal judge rules

• Dragnet program deemed ‘controversial but lawful’

• Lawsuit brought by ACLU dismissed

A legal battle over the scope of US government surveillance took a turn in favour of the National Security Agency on Friday with a court opinion declaring that bulk collection of telephone data does not violate the constitution.

The judgement, in a case brought before a district court in New York by the American Civil Liberties Union, directly contradicts the result of a similar challenge in a Washington court last week which ruled the NSA’s bulk collection program was likely to prove unconstitutional and was “almost Orwellian” in scale.

Friday’s ruling makes it more likely that the issue will be settled by the US supreme court, although it may be overtaken by the decision of Barack Obama on whether to accept the recommendations of a White House review panel to ban the NSA from directly collecting such data.

NSA phone data collection deemed legal: full ruling

African leaders broker South Sudan government ceasefire 

28 Dec 2013: Video (1min 44sec) A delegation of African leaders who are trying to broker a peace deal in South Sudan, claim on Friday that South Sudanese president, Salva Kiir, has agreed to an immediate cessation of hostilities. The US envoy to South Sudan, Donald Booth, says the South Sudanese government will also release 11 politicians who were arrested after violence erupted on 15 December


20 Photos: A Roma family of Turkish origin in Eforie Sud, Romania

A Roma family of Turkish origin sits under an improvised shelter during heavy rain in Eforie Sud, Romania, on 30 September. ‘It wasn’t long after I arrived in Eforie Sud that I approached the family of Memet Ali portrayed in this photograph. Forced evictions had been carried out by the local authorities three days before I took this image. More than 50 children were brutally dragged out into the street by riot police and abandoned to face extreme weather conditions with virtually no shelter. The families lost their homes and all their possessions. The pouring rain made it extremely difficult for the mothers to bake bread, the only foodstuff available, albeit in scarce quantities. It broke my heart to witness such human rights violations and I was scared when I realised that I was the only photojournalist covering the events. I was scared because it shows how little the media, the Roma NGOs and the authorities care for the Roma people in Romania.’

The Observer’s 20 photographs of the year

From the image of an evicted Roma family sheltering from a storm to the death of Nelson Mandela, the world’s leading photojournalists describe how they captured 20 defining images from 2013……………………..

Other News

  1. 1.50pm

    Malala Yousafzai, Alex Ferguson, Jeremy Paxman, Miley Cyrus

    The best quotes of 2013: what they said, and what they wished they hadn’t said

    Responses to deaths of Nelson Mandela and Margaret Thatcher, the confession of Lance Armstrong and some Twitter blunders all deserve a mention…………………..

    1. 10.52am

      Big Foot Lying in Snow Near Soldiers

      Wounded Knee – a picture from the past

      Picture Picture On 29 December 1890, at Wounded Knee creek on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, the US 7th Cavalry Regiment surrounded the Lakota Sioux encampment and, after a small scuffle, opened fire with four Hotchkiss guns. At least 150 men women and children were massacred, many who were unarmed and fleeing. Some 20 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor……………………

      1. 5.49am

        Libya checkpoint

        US military personnel detained in Libya are released

        Four service personnel were investigating escape routes when they were briefly taken into custody, says US Defence Department official…….
        1. colin russell

          Arctic 30: activist Colin Russell returning home after Russia grants visa

          Greenpeace protester finally receives exit stamp three months after arrest for boarding oil rig………………..


*Amien Essif hitchhiking in yellowstone

Amien Essif and a woman who gave him a ride to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Photograph: Guardian

What I learned about freedom from hitchhiking around America

To be ‘free’ in America is at risk of becoming meaningless. Our choices are often limited to two: to exploit or be exploited


  • In July, I found myself knocking on doors at dusk in a strange neighborhood. I was over a thousand miles from home on the first night of a hitchhiking trip from Denver, Colorado, to Portland, Oregon, and I was going porch to porch to ask if I could pitch my tent in someone’s backyard.

    Two neighborhood watch signs threatened that “neighbors have been trained to report suspicious activity” to law enforcement. Evidently, it helps to be white and outfitted like an adventurer. After just one refusal, a retired couple welcomed me onto their back porch where we ate blueberries and talked about Yellowstone National Park and forest fires and the natural gas industry…………………….



Israel boycott

Demonstrators wearing suits covered in fake blood lie with posters in Basque reading

“Up with Palestinians. Boycott Israel” and “No to war” during a pro-Palestinian demonstration at Plaza Moyua in Bilbao, Spain, in 2012.Vincent West/Reuters


Why I changed my mind about the ASA boycott

The action clearly targets Israeli institutions, not individuals

In November the National Council of American Studies Association (ASA), an organization devoted to interdisciplinary study of American history and culture, passed a resolution endorsing a call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The proposal was initiated earlier this year by the ASA’s caucus on academic and community activism in solidarity with Palestinian civil-society organizations that are campaigning for a boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. The ASA put the National Council resolution to a vote by the membership at large. On Dec. 16 the resolution passed, with 66 percent voting yes. The ASA is now the second U.S. academic institution to endorse an academic and cultural boycott of Israel, after the Association for Asian American Studies, which did so in April.

For many, the death of Nelson Mandela — whose anti-apartheid struggle led to international calls for boycotts against South Africa — was a profound reminder of the power of such an act of solidarity. Israel’s segregation of and discrimination against the Palestinian people meets international conventions’ criteria for apartheid. For example, the 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court defines apartheid as a crime against humanity “committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups.”



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