President Barack Obama talks with, from left, Samantha Power, former Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, and Ambassador Susan Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, in the Oval Office, June 5, 2013.
Important Events From This day in History February 5th
Celebrating Birthdays Today
Born: Henry Louis Aaron 5th February 1934 Mobile, Alabama
Known For : Hank Aaron was a professional Baseball Player who played in Major League Baseball for 22 years from 54 - 76. Many believe he is one of the greatest baseball players of all time, breaking records in all areas including setting the MLB record for most career home runs with 755 before losing it to Barry Bonds in 2007, he was also the first player in history to hit 500 home runs and reach 3,000 hits. As a testament to his consistency he made the All-Star team every year from 1955 until 1975. He is in the top 10 and often top 5 for dozens or records. He started his career with the Milwaukee Braves in 1954 and in 1957 was part or the Milwaukee Braves team winning the World Series against the New York Yankees. After the 1965 season the Milwaukee Braves moved to Atlanta taking their star hitter Hank Aaron with them. On April 8th, 1974 playing at the Atlanta Braves Stadium Hank Aaron hit career home run number 715 breaking the record set by Babe Ruth. He spent his last two years back with the Milwaukee Brewers before retiring.
When is Dragon Boat Festival? &ndash June 14th, 2021
Chinese Dragon Boat Festival is on 5th day of the 5th lunar month.
In Gregorian calendar, it varies every year, generally falling in June and in a very few years in late May.
The dragon boat holiday is 3 days long. In 2021, the festival date is June 14 and the holiday lasts from June 12 to 14. In 2022, it falls on June 3 and the holiday is June 3 to 5.
|2020||June 25||June 25 - 27|
|2021||June 14||June 12 - 14|
|2022||June 3||June 3 - 5|
|2023||June 22||June 22 - 24|
|2024||June 10||June 8 - 10|
|2025||May 31||May 31 - June 2|
Progress and Info
The socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 have adversely affected progress made in recent years in relation to gender equality: violence against women and girls has intensified child marriage, on the decline in recent years, is also expected to increase whilst increased care work at home is affecting women disproportionately. The pandemic has highlighted the need to act swiftly to address existing gender inequality that remains pervasive globally and get back on track to achieve the goal of gender equality. Women have played a critical role in the response to COVID-19, as frontline health providers, care providers and as managers and leaders of the response and recovery efforts. Yet, they remain under-represented in critical leadership positions and their rights and priorities are often not explicitly addressed in response and recovery measures. The crisis presents the opportunity to re-shape and rebuild systems, laws, policies and institutions to advance gender equality.
Discriminatory laws and legal gaps continue to prevent women from enjoying their human rights. Based on 2020 data from 95 countries and territories, more than half of them lacked quotas for women in national parliament while 83% of the countries included budgetary commitments to implement legislation addressing violence against women, 63% continued to lack rape laws based on the principle of consent although over 90% of countries and territories mandate nondiscrimination on the basis of gender in employment, almost half of them continued to restrict women from working in certain jobs or industries and almost a quarter of countries and territories, did not grant women equal rights with men to enter marriage and initiate divorce.
New estimates based on surveys from 2000 to 2018 confirm that nearly 1 in 3 women, that is 736 million women, have been subjected to physical and/or sexual violence by a husband or intimate partner or sexual violence by a non-partner at least once in their lifetime since the age of 15 – a number that has remained largely unchanged over the past decade. Intimate partner violence starts early with nearly 24% of adolescent girls 15-19 years old and 26% of young women aged 20-24 years who have ever had a partner or been married being subjected already to this violence.
Over the past decade, the practice of child marriage has declined significantly, with the global proportion of young women who were married as children decreasing by 15%, from nearly 1 in 4 in 2010 to 1 in 5 in 2020. Thanks to this progress, the marriages of some 25 million girls have been averted. However, the profound effects of COVID-19 are threatening this progress, with up to 10 million additional girls at risk of child marriage in the next decade as a result of the pandemic.
Based on data from 31 countries where the practice is concentrated, at least 200 million girls and women have been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). Despite progress, there are still countries where FGM is almost universal – where at least 9 in 10 girls and women aged 15 to 49 years have been cut.
On an average day, women spend about 2.5 times as many hours on unpaid domestic work and care work as men, according to the latest data from 90 countries and areas collected between 2001 and 2019.
As of 1 January 2021, the global average of women in the single or lower chamber of parliaments reached 25.6%, continuing a slow upward trend that will allow achieving gender parity no sooner than in 40 years, and 36.3% in local deliberative bodies (in 135 countries and territories with data). Only 23 countries have 40% or more women in their lower or single chambers, and 20 countries in local government, most of them through the use of gender quotas.
By 2019, women, accounted for nearly 39% of the global labour force, but occupied only 28.3% of managerial positions. This share rose by 3 percentage points since 2000. The pandemic’s disproportional impact on women in the workforce, and especially on female entrepreneurs, threatens to roll back the little progress that has been made in reducing the global gender gap in managerial positions.
Data for 2020 from 36 countries show substantial improvement has been achieved in equal inheritance rights (69%) and to a lesser extent in spousal consent for land transactions (61%), while areas pertaining to land registration, customary law and women’s representation in land governance, among others, are lagging behind.
Empowering more women with mobile phones has been shown to accelerate social and economic development. However, in the 66 countries and territories with data for 2017 to 2019, mobile phone ownership among women was on average 8.5 percentage point lower than for men.
In 2018, 81% of 69 countries with data required improvements to track budget allocations for gender equality. In the COVID-19 context, strengthening these systems, through comprehensive use of gender budgeting tools, will contribute to better targeting of resources for gender responsive recovery.
Source: Advance unedited copy of 2021 report of the Secretary-General on Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals
The commitment to advancing gender equality has brought about improvements in some areas, but the promise of a world in which every woman and girl enjoy full gender equality and all legal, social and economic barriers to their empowerment have been removed remains unfulfilled. The current pandemic is also hitting women and girls hard. Globally, women make up three quarters of medical doctors and nursing personnel. Women already spend three times as many hours as men on unpaid care work at home. The closure of school and day-care centres requires parents, women in particular, to care more for children and facilitate their learning at home. Reports from several countries suggest that domestic violence against women and children is also rising during the global lockdown.
In 2019, one in five young women 20 to 24 years of age throughout the world was married in childhood, down from one in four in 2004 and with the highest figure in sub-Saharan Africa, with more than one in three young women.
At least 200 million girls and women have been subjected to female genital mutilation, according to recent data from the 31 countries where the practice is concentrated. The harmful practice is becoming less common, but progress is not fast enough to meet the global target of its elimination by 2030.
As at 1 January 2020, representation by women in single or lower houses of national parliament reached 24.9 per cent, up slightly from 22.3 per cent in 2015. Women have better access to decision-making positions at the local level, holding 36 per cent of elected seats in local deliberative bodies, based on data from 133 countries and areas.
In 2019, 28 per cent of managerial positions in the world were occupied by women, a small increase from 25 per cent in 2000, while women represented 39 per cent of the world’s workers and half of the world’s working-age population.
Based on data from 57 countries for the period 2007–2018, only 55 per cent of married or in-union women 15 to 49 years of age made their own decisions regarding sexual and reproductive health and rights, ranging from less than 40 per cent in Central and Western Africa to nearly 80 per cent in some countries in Europe, South-Eastern Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean.
In 2019, in the 75 countries with data, on average, 73 per cent of the laws and regulations needed to guarantee full and equal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights were in place. The findings are particularly encouraging with regard to HIV: on average, countries achieved 87 per cent of enabling laws and regulations for HIV counselling and test services, 91 per cent for HIV treatment and care services and 96 per cent for HIV confidentiality.
Empowering women with mobile telephones has been shown to accelerate social and economic development. However, in the 66 countries with data for the 2016–2018 period, the rate of mobile telephone ownership among men was on average 6.8 percentage points higher than the rate among women.
Source: Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, Report of the Secretary-General, https://undocs.org/en/E/2020/57
While some indicators of gender equality are progressing, such as a significant decline in the prevalence of female genital mutilation and early marriage, the overall numbers continue to be high. Moreover, insufficient progress on structural issues at the root of gender inequality, such as legal discrimination, unfair social norms and attitudes, decision-making on sexual and reproductive issues and low levels of political participation, are undermining the ability to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5.
- Recent data from 106 countries show that 18 per cent of ever-partnered women and girls aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical and/or sexual partner violence in the previous 12 months. The prevalence is highest in least developed countries, at 24 per cent.
- The practice of child marriage has continued to decline around the world, largely driven by progress in South Asia, where a girl’s risk of marrying in childhood decreased by about one quarter between 2013 and 2018. In sub-Saharan Africa, levels of child marriage have declined at a more modest rate.
- At least 200 million girls and women have been subjected to female genital mutilation, based on data from 30 countries where the practice is concentrated and where nationally representative prevalence data is available. In these countries, the prevalence of this harmful practice declined by one quarter between approximately 2000 and 2018.
- According to recent data from some 90 countries, women devote on average roughly three times more hours a day to unpaid care and domestic work than men, limiting the time available for paid work, education and leisure and further reinforcing gender-based socioeconomic disadvantages.
- Women continue to be underrepresented at all levels of political leadership. As at 1 January 2019, women’s representation in national Parliaments ranged from 0 to 61.3 per cent, with the average standing at 24.2 per cent, an increase from 19 per cent in 2010. At the local level, data from 99 countries and areas show that women’s representation in elected deliberative bodies varies from less than 1 per cent to 48 per cent, with the median of the distribution at 26 per cent. When legislated gender quotas are adopted, significantly higher proportions of women are elected at both national and local levels.
- While women represented 39 per cent of world employment, only 27 per cent of managerial positions in the world were occupied by women in 2018, up only marginally from 26 per cent in 2015. The proportion of women in management has increased since 2000 in all regions except in least developed countries.
- In 51 countries with data on the subject, only 57 per cent of women aged 15 to 49, married or in union, make their own decisions about sexual relations and the use of contraceptives and health services.
- Over the past 25 years, there has been progress in reforming laws towards improving gender equality, yet discriminatory laws and gaps in legal protection remain in many countries. On the basis of data collected across four areas of law in 2018 from 53 countries, almost a third have legal gaps in the area of overarching legal frameworks and public life (e.g., constitutions, antidiscrimination laws, quotas, legal aid) more than a quarter have legal gaps in the area of violence against women and 29 per cent and 24 per cent have legal gaps in the employment and economic benefits area and in the marriage and family area, respectively.
- Despite progress in implementing gender-responsive budgeting globally, gaps remain in country efforts to establish comprehensive and transparent tracking systems. Based on 2018 data from 69 countries, 13 countries fully met the criteria of having in place a tracking system that measures and makes publicly available gender budget data, and 41 countries approached the requirements.
While some forms of discrimination against women and girls are diminishing, gender inequality continues to hold women back and deprives them of basic rights and opportunities. Empowering women requires addressing structural issues such as unfair social norms and attitudes as well as developing progressive legal frameworks that promote equality between women and men.
- Based on 2005–2016 data from 56 countries, 20 per cent of adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 who have ever been in a sexual relationship experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the 12 months prior to the survey.
- Globally, around 2017, an estimated 21 per cent of women between 20 and 24 years of age reported that they were married or in an informal union before age 18. This means that an estimated 650 million girls and women today were married in childhood. Rates of child marriage have continued to decline around the world. In Southern Asia, a girl’s risk of marrying in childhood has dropped by over 40 per cent since around 2000.
- Around 2017, one in three girls aged 15 to 19 had been subjected to female genital mutilation in the 30 countries where the practice is concentrated, compared to nearly one in two around 2000.
- Based on data between 2000 and 2016 from about 90 countries, women spend roughly three times as many hours in unpaid domestic and care work as men.
- Globally, the percentage of women in single or lower houses of national parliament has increased from 19 per cent in 2010 to around 23 per cent in 2018.
Gender inequality persists worldwide, depriving women and girls of their basic rights and opportunities. Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will require more vigorous efforts, including legal frameworks, to counter deeply rooted gender-based discrimination that often results from patriarchal attitudes and related social norms.
- On the basis of data from 2005 to 2016 for 87 countries, 19 per cent of women between 15 and 49 years of age said they had experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the 12 months prior to the survey. In the most extreme cases, such violence can lead to death. In 2012, almost half of all women who were victims of intentional homicide worldwide were killed by an intimate partner or family member, compared to 6 per cent of male victims.
- Child marriage is declining, but not fast enough. Around 2000, nearly 1 in 3 women between 20 and 24 years of age reported that they were married before 18 years of age. Around 2015, the ratio was just over 1 in 4. The decline is driven by an even steeper reduction in the marriage rate among girls under 15 years of age during that period.
- The harmful practice of female genital mutilation/cutting has declined by 24 per cent since around 2000. Nevertheless, prevalence remains high in some of the 30 countries with representative data. In those countries, survey data from around 2015 indicate that more than 1 in 3 girls between 15 and 19 years of age have undergone the procedure compared to nearly 1 in 2 girls around 2000.
- The average amount of time spent on unpaid domestic and care work is more than threefold higher for women than men, according to survey data from 83 countries and areas. Available data indicate that time spent on domestic chores accounts for a large proportion of the gender gap in unpaid work.
- Globally, women’s participation in single or lower houses of national parliaments reached 23.4 per cent in 2017, just 10 percentage points higher than in 2000. Such slow progress suggests that stronger political commitment and more ambitious measures and quotas are needed to boost women’s political participation and empowerment.
- Women are still underrepresented in managerial positions. In the majority of the 67 countries with data from 2009 to 2015, fewer than a third of senior- and middle-management positions were held by women.
- Just over half (52 per cent) of women between 15 and 49 years of age who are married or in union make their own decisions about consensual sexual relations and use of contraceptives and health services. That statistic is based on available data from around 2012 for 45 countries, 43 of which are in developing regions.
Source: Report of the Secretary-General, "Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals", E/2017/66
- Gender equality and women’s empowerment have advanced in recent decades. Girls’ access to education has improved, the rate of child marriage declined and progress was made in the area of sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, including fewer maternal deaths. Nevertheless, gender equality remains a persistent challenge for countries worldwide and the lack of such equality is a major obstacle to sustainable development.
- Assuring women’s rights through legal frameworks is a first step in addressing discrimination against them. As of 2014, 143 countries guaranteed equality between men and women in their constitutions another 52 countries have yet to make this important commitment. In 132 countries, the statutory legal age of marriage is equal for women and men, while in another 63 countries, the legal age of marriage is lower for women than for men.
- Violence against women and girls violates their human rights and hinders development. Most such violence is perpetrated by intimate partners, with available data from surveys conducted between 2005 and 2015, in 52 countries, (including only one country from the developed regions) indicating that 21 per cent of girls and women aged between 15 and 49 experienced physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner in the previous 12 months. Estimates on the risks of violence experienced by women with disabilities, women from ethnic minorities and among women above the age of 50 are not yet included, owing to data limitations. Additionally, human trafficking disproportionately affects women and girls, since 70 per cent of all victims detected worldwide are female.
- Globally, the proportion of women aged between 20 and 24 who reported that they were married before their eighteenth birthday dropped from 32 per cent around 1990 to 26 per cent around 2015. Child marriage is most common in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, with 44 per cent of women married before their eighteenth birthday in Southern Asia and 37 per cent of women married before their eighteenth birthday in sub-Saharan Africa. The marriage of girls under the age 15 is also highest in those two regions, at 16 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively. Social norms can and do change, however, with the rate of marriage of girls under the age of 15 declining globally from 12 per cent around 1990 to 7 per cent around 2015, although disparities are found across regions and countries. The most rapid reduction in child marriage overall was recorded in Northern Africa, where the percentage of women married before the age of 18 dropped by more than half, from 29 per cent to 13 per cent, over the past 25 years.
- The harmful practice of female genital mutilation/cutting is another human rights violation that affects girls and women worldwide. While the exact number of girls and women globally who have undergone the procedure is unknown, at least 200 million have been subjected to the procedure in 30 countries with representative prevalence data. Overall, rates of female genital mutilation/cutting have been declining over the past three decades. However, not all countries have made progress and the pace of decline has been uneven. Today, in the 30 countries, for which data were available, around 1 in 3 girls aged 15 to 19 have undergone the practice, versus 1 in 2 in the mid-1980s.
- In every region, women and girls do the bulk of unpaid work, including caregiving and such household tasks as cooking and cleaning. On average, women report that they spend 19 per cent of their time each day in unpaid activities, versus 8 per cent for men. The responsibilities of unpaid care and domestic work, combined with paid work, means greater total work burdens for women and girls and less time for rest, self-care, learning and other activities.
- Globally, women’s participation in parliament rose to 23 per cent in 2016, representing an increase by 6 percentage points over a decade. Slow progress in this area is in contrast with more women in parliamentary leadership positions. In 2016, the number of women speakers of national parliaments jumped from 43 to 49 (out of the 273 posts globally) women accounted for 18 per cent of all speakers of parliament in January 2016.
Source: Report of the Secretary-General, "Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals", E/2016/75
We wear orange to fight for a future free from gun violence
We organize Wear Orange events to remember lives lost to gun violence and to raise awareness about this public health crisis. Every day, more than 100 Americans are killed with guns and more than 230 are shot and wounded. These survivors are faced with a life-long process of physical and emotional healing.
Gun suicide claims the lives of over 23,000 people in the United States each year. More than 14,000 people die in gun homicides. The United States gun homicide rate is 25 times higher than that of other high-income countries.
Firearms are the leading cause of death for children and teens in the United States. Every year, more than 3,000 children and teens are shot and killed, and another 15,000 are shot and wounded – an average of nine children and teens shot and killed and 42 shot and wounded every day.
Fifty-eight percent of American adults or someone they care for have experienced gun violence in their lifetime. Approximately three million American children witness gun violence every year.
Together, we can build a future free from gun violence. Stand up, speak out, and participate in Wear Orange events to raise awareness.
Take the Impossible “Literacy” Test Louisiana Gave Black Voters in the 1960s
This week’s Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder overturned Section 4(b) of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which mandated federal oversight of changes in voting procedure in jurisdictions that have a history of using a “test or device” to impede enfranchisement. Here is one example of such a test, used in Louisiana in 1964.
After the end of the Civil War, would-be black voters in the South faced an array of disproportionate barriers to enfranchisement. The literacy test—supposedly applicable to both white and black prospective voters who couldn’t prove a certain level of education but in actuality disproportionately administered to black voters—was a classic example of one of these barriers.
The website of the Civil Rights Movement Veterans, which collects materials related to civil rights, hosts a few samples of actual literacy tests used in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi during the 1950s and 1960s.
In many cases, people working within the movement collected these in order to use them in voter education, which is how we ended up with this documentary evidence. Update: This test—a word-processed transcript of an original—was linked to by Jeff Schwartz, who worked with the Congress of Racial Equality in Iberville and Tangipahoa Parishes in the summer of 1964. Schwartz wrote about his encounters with the test in this blog post.
Most of the tests collected here are a battery of trivia questions related to civic procedure and citizenship. (Two from the Alabama test: “Name the attorney general of the United States” and “Can you be imprisoned, under Alabama law, for a debt?”)
But this Louisiana “literacy” test, singular among its fellows, has nothing to do with citizenship. Designed to put the applicant through mental contortions, the test’s questions are often confusingly worded. If some of them seem unanswerable, that effect was intentional. The (white) registrar would be the ultimate judge of whether an answer was correct.
Try this one: “Write every other word in this first line and print every third word in same line (original type smaller and first line ended at comma) but capitalize the fifth word that you write.”
NSA Prism program taps in to user data of Apple, Google and others
The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.
The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called Prism, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.
The Guardian has verified the authenticity of the document, a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation – classified as top secret with no distribution to foreign allies – which was apparently used to train intelligence operatives on the capabilities of the program. The document claims "collection directly from the servers" of major US service providers.
Although the presentation claims the program is run with the assistance of the companies, all those who responded to a Guardian request for comment on Thursday denied knowledge of any such program.
In a statement, Google said: "Google cares deeply about the security of our users' data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government 'back door' into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data."
Several senior tech executives insisted that they had no knowledge of Prism or of any similar scheme. They said they would never have been involved in such a program. "If they are doing this, they are doing it without our knowledge," one said.
An Apple spokesman said it had "never heard" of Prism.
The NSA access was enabled by changes to US surveillance law introduced under President Bush and renewed under Obama in December 2012.
Prism Photograph: Guardian
The program facilitates extensive, in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information. The law allows for the targeting of any customers of participating firms who live outside the US, or those Americans whose communications include people outside the US.
It also opens the possibility of communications made entirely within the US being collected without warrants.
Disclosure of the Prism program follows a leak to the Guardian on Wednesday of a top-secret court order compelling telecoms provider Verizon to turn over the telephone records of millions of US customers.
The participation of the internet companies in Prism will add to the debate, ignited by the Verizon revelation, about the scale of surveillance by the intelligence services. Unlike the collection of those call records, this surveillance can include the content of communications and not just the metadata.
Some of the world's largest internet brands are claimed to be part of the information-sharing program since its introduction in 2007. Microsoft – which is currently running an advertising campaign with the slogan "Your privacy is our priority" – was the first, with collection beginning in December 2007.
It was followed by Yahoo in 2008 Google, Facebook and PalTalk in 2009 YouTube in 2010 Skype and AOL in 2011 and finally Apple, which joined the program in 2012. The program is continuing to expand, with other providers due to come online.
Collectively, the companies cover the vast majority of online email, search, video and communications networks.
Prism Photograph: Guardian
The extent and nature of the data collected from each company varies.
Companies are legally obliged to comply with requests for users' communications under US law, but the Prism program allows the intelligence services direct access to the companies' servers. The NSA document notes the operations have "assistance of communications providers in the US".
The revelation also supports concerns raised by several US senators during the renewal of the Fisa Amendments Act in December 2012, who warned about the scale of surveillance the law might enable, and shortcomings in the safeguards it introduces.
When the FAA was first enacted, defenders of the statute argued that a significant check on abuse would be the NSA's inability to obtain electronic communications without the consent of the telecom and internet companies that control the data. But the Prism program renders that consent unnecessary, as it allows the agency to directly and unilaterally seize the communications off the companies' servers.
A chart prepared by the NSA, contained within the top-secret document obtained by the Guardian, underscores the breadth of the data it is able to obtain: email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP (Skype, for example) chats, file transfers, social networking details, and more.
PRISM slide. Photograph: Guardian
The document is recent, dating to April 2013. Such a leak is extremely rare in the history of the NSA, which prides itself on maintaining a high level of secrecy.
The Prism program allows the NSA, the world's largest surveillance organisation, to obtain targeted communications without having to request them from the service providers and without having to obtain individual court orders.
With this program, the NSA is able to reach directly into the servers of the participating companies and obtain both stored communications as well as perform real-time collection on targeted users.
The presentation claims Prism was introduced to overcome what the NSA regarded as shortcomings of Fisa warrants in tracking suspected foreign terrorists. It noted that the US has a "home-field advantage" due to housing much of the internet's architecture. But the presentation claimed "Fisa constraints restricted our home-field advantage" because Fisa required individual warrants and confirmations that both the sender and receiver of a communication were outside the US.
"Fisa was broken because it provided privacy protections to people who were not entitled to them," the presentation claimed. "It took a Fisa court order to collect on foreigners overseas who were communicating with other foreigners overseas simply because the government was collecting off a wire in the United States. There were too many email accounts to be practical to seek Fisas for all."
The new measures introduced in the FAA redefines "electronic surveillance" to exclude anyone "reasonably believed" to be outside the USA – a technical change which reduces the bar to initiating surveillance.
The act also gives the director of national intelligence and the attorney general power to permit obtaining intelligence information, and indemnifies internet companies against any actions arising as a result of co-operating with authorities' requests.
In short, where previously the NSA needed individual authorisations, and confirmation that all parties were outside the USA, they now need only reasonable suspicion that one of the parties was outside the country at the time of the records were collected by the NSA.
The document also shows the FBI acts as an intermediary between other agencies and the tech companies, and stresses its reliance on the participation of US internet firms, claiming "access is 100% dependent on ISP provisioning".
In the document, the NSA hails the Prism program as "one of the most valuable, unique and productive accesses for NSA".
It boasts of what it calls "strong growth" in its use of the Prism program to obtain communications. The document highlights the number of obtained communications increased in 2012 by 248% for Skype – leading the notes to remark there was "exponential growth in Skype reporting looks like the word is getting out about our capability against Skype". There was also a 131% increase in requests for Facebook data, and 63% for Google.
The NSA document indicates that it is planning to add Dropbox as a PRISM provider. The agency also seeks, in its words, to "expand collection services from existing providers".
The revelations echo fears raised on the Senate floor last year during the expedited debate on the renewal of the FAA powers which underpin the PRISM program, which occurred just days before the act expired.
Senator Christopher Coons of Delaware specifically warned that the secrecy surrounding the various surveillance programs meant there was no way to know if safeguards within the act were working.
"The problem is: we here in the Senate and the citizens we represent don't know how well any of these safeguards actually work," he said.
"The law doesn't forbid purely domestic information from being collected. We know that at least one Fisa court has ruled that the surveillance program violated the law. Why? Those who know can't say and average Americans can't know."
Other senators also raised concerns. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon attempted, without success, to find out any information on how many phone calls or emails had been intercepted under the program.
When the law was enacted, defenders of the FAA argued that a significant check on abuse would be the NSA's inability to obtain electronic communications without the consent of the telecom and internet companies that control the data. But the Prism program renders that consent unnecessary, as it allows the agency to directly and unilaterally seize the communications off the companies' servers.
When the NSA reviews a communication it believes merits further investigation, it issues what it calls a "report". According to the NSA, "over 2,000 Prism-based reports" are now issued every month. There were 24,005 in 2012, a 27% increase on the previous year.
In total, more than 77,000 intelligence reports have cited the PRISM program.
Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU's Center for Democracy, that it was astonishing the NSA would even ask technology companies to grant direct access to user data.
"It's shocking enough just that the NSA is asking companies to do this," he said. "The NSA is part of the military. The military has been granted unprecedented access to civilian communications.
"This is unprecedented militarisation of domestic communications infrastructure. That's profoundly troubling to anyone who is concerned about that separation."
A senior administration official said in a statement: "The Guardian and Washington Post articles refer to collection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This law does not allow the targeting of any US citizen or of any person located within the United States.
"The program is subject to oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Executive Branch, and Congress. It involves extensive procedures, specifically approved by the court, to ensure that only non-US persons outside the US are targeted, and that minimize the acquisition, retention and dissemination of incidentally acquired information about US persons.
"This program was recently reauthorized by Congress after extensive hearings and debate.
"Information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats.
"The Government may only use Section 702 to acquire foreign intelligence information, which is specifically, and narrowly, defined in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This requirement applies across the board, regardless of the nationality of the target."
About Section 5 Of The Voting Rights Act
On June 25, 2013, the United States Supreme Court held that it is unconstitutional to use the coverage formula in Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act to determine which jurisdictions are subject to the preclearance requirement of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Shelby County v. Holder, 133 S. Ct. 2612 (2013). The Supreme Court did not rule on the constitutionality of Section 5 itself. The effect of the Shelby County decision is that the jurisdictions identified by the coverage formula in Section 4(b) no longer need to seek preclearance for the new voting changes, unless they are covered by a separate court order entered under Section 3(c) of the Voting Rights Act.
Coverage Under the Special Provisions of the Voting Rights Act
Section 5 was enacted to freeze changes in election practices or procedures in covered jurisdictions until the new procedures have been determined, either after administrative review by the Attorney General, or after a lawsuit before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, to have neither discriminatory purpose or effect. Section 5 was designed to ensure that voting changes in covered jurisdictions could not be implemented used until a favorable determination has been obtained.
The requirement was enacted in 1965 as temporary legislation, to expire in five years, and applicable only to certain states. The specially covered jurisdictions were identified in Section 4 by a formula. The first element in the formula was that the state or political subdivision of the state maintained on November 1, 1964, a "test or device," restricting the opportunity to register and vote. The second element of the formula would be satisfied if the Director of the Census determined that less than 50 percent of persons of voting age were registered to vote on November 1, 1964, or that less than 50 percent of persons of voting age voted in the presidential election of November 1964. Application of this formula resulted in the following states becoming, in their entirety, "covered jurisdictions": Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia, In addition, certain political subdivisions (usually counties) in four other states (Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, and North Carolina were covered. It also provided a procedure to terminate this coverage.
Under Section 5, any change with respect to voting in a covered jurisdiction -- or any political subunit within it -- cannot legally be enforced unless and until the jurisdiction first obtains the requisite determination by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or makes a submission to the Attorney General. This requires proof that the proposed voting change does not deny or abridge the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group. If the jurisdiction is unable to prove the absence of such discrimination, the District Court denies the requested judgment, or in the case of administrative submissions, the Attorney General objects to the change, and it remains legally unenforceable.
In 1970, Congress recognized the continuing need for the special provisions of the Voting Rights Act, which were due to expire that year, and renewed them for another five years. It also adopted an additional coverage formula, identical to the original formula except that it referenced November 1968 as the date to determine if there was a test or device, levels of voter registration, and electoral participation. This additional formula resulted in the partial coverage of ten states.
In 1975, the special provisions of the Voting Rights Act were extended for another seven years, and were broadened to address voting discrimination against members of "language minority groups." An additional coverage formula was enacted, based on the presence of tests or devices and levels of voter registration and participation as of November 1972. In addition, the 1965 definition of "test or device" was expanded to include the practice of providing election information, including ballots, only in English in states or political subdivisions where members of a single language minority constituted more than five percent of the citizens of voting age. This third formula had the effect of covering Alaska, Arizona, and Texas in their entirety, and parts of California, Florida, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, and South Dakota.
In 1982, Congress extended Section 5 for 25 years, but no new Section 5 coverage formula was adopted. Congress did, however, modify the procedure for a jurisdiction to terminate coverage under the special provisions.
In 2006, Congress extended the requirements of Section 5 for an additional 25 years.
Judicial Review of Voting Changes
Section 5 provides two methods for a covered jurisdiction to comply with Section 5. The first method mentioned in the statute is by means of a declaratory judgment action filed by the covered jurisdiction in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. A three-judge panel is convened in such cases. The defendant in these cases is the United States or the Attorney General, represented in court by attorneys from the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division. Appeals from decisions of the three-judge district court go directly to the United States Supreme Court.
The jurisdiction must establish that the proposed voting change "does not have the purpose and will not have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color or [membership in a language minority group]." The status of a voting change that is the subject of a declaratory judgment review action is that it is unenforceable until the declaratory judgment action is obtained and the jurisdiction may not implement or use the voting change.
Administrative Review of Voting Changes
The second method of compliance with Section 5 is known as administrative review. A covered jurisdiction can avoid the potentially lengthy and expensive litigation route by submitting the voting change to the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, to which the Attorney General has delegated the authority to administer the Section 5 review process. The jurisdiction can implement the change if the Attorney General affirmatively indicates no objection to the change or if, at the expiration of 60 days, no objection to the submitted change has been interposed by the Attorney General. It is the practice of the Department of Justice to respond in writing to each submission, specifically stating the determination made regarding each submitted voting change.
Well over 99 percent of the changes affecting voting are reviewed administratively, no doubt because of the relative simplicity of the process, the significant cost savings over litigation, and the presence of specific deadlines governing the Attorney General's issuance of a determination letter.
Over the last decade, the Attorney General received between 4,500 and 5,500 Section 5 submissions, and reviewed between 14,000 and 20,000 voting changes, per year.
The Attorney General may interpose an objection by informing the jurisdiction of the decision within 60 days after a completed submission of a voting change is received. Most voting changes submitted to the Attorney General are determined to have met the Section 5 standard. Since Section 5 was enacted, the Attorney General has objected to about one percent of the voting changes that have been submitted.
The Attorney General has published detailed guidelines that explain Section 5. Additional information about the submission process is available here. The Attorney General has posted notices of Section 5 submissions.
In conducting administrative review, the Attorney General acts as the surrogate for the district court, applying the same standards that would be applied by the court. The burden of establishing that a proposed voting change is nondiscriminatory falls on the jurisdiction, just as it would on the jurisdiction as plaintiff in a Section 5 declaratory judgment action.
There are occasions when a jurisdiction may need to complete the Section 5 review process on an accelerated basis due to anticipated implementation before the end of the 60-day review period. In such cases, the jurisdiction should formally request "Expedited Consideration" in its submission letter, explicitly describing the basis for the request in light of conditions in the jurisdiction and specifying the date by which the determination must be received. Although the Attorney General will attempt to accommodate all reasonable requests, the nature of the review required for particular submissions will necessarily vary and an expedited determination may not be possible in certain cases.
A determination by the Attorney General not to object removes the prohibition on enforcement imposed by Section 5. This decision not to object to a submitted change cannot be challenged in court. Morris v. Gressette, 432 U.S. 491 (1977). Although the jurisdiction may then implement that change, the change remains subject to a challenge on any other grounds. For example, a redistricting plan may still be challenged in court by the Attorney General as violating Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, or any other applicable provision of federal law which the Attorney General is authorized to enforce. Similarly, private individuals with standing may challenge that practice under any applicable provision of state or federal law.
The declaratory judgment route remains available to jurisdictions even after the Attorney General interposes an objection. The proceeding before the three-judge D.C. District Court, is de novo and does not constitute an appeal of the Attorney General's determination.
Lawsuits to Prevent the Use of Voting Changes Not Reviewed under Section 5
Voting changes that have not been reviewed under Section 5 are legally unenforceable. Section 12(d) of the Act authorizes the Attorney General to file suit to enjoin violations of Section 5. A private right of action to seek injunctive relief against a Section 5 violation was recognized by the Supreme Court in Allen v. State Board of Elections, 393 U.S. 544, 554-57 (1969). Any person or organization with standing to sue can challenge a Section 5 violation in the United States District Court in the judicial district where the violation is alleged to have occurred. Whether brought by the Attorney General or by private parties, these cases are commonly known as Section 5 enforcement actions.
Section 5 enforcement cases are heard by three-judge district court panels, whose role is to consider three things only:
- whether a covered voting change has occurred
- if so, whether the requirements of Section 5 have been met preclearance has been obtained and
- if not, what relief by the court is appropriate.
Lopez v. Monterey County, 519 U.S. 9, 23 (1996). The only court that can make the determination that change is not discriminatory is purpose or effect is the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
Upon finding non-compliance with Section 5, the local federal court will consider an appropriate equitable remedy. The general objective of such remedies is to restore the situation that existed before the implementation of the change. Thus, the typical remedy includes issuance of an injunction against further use of the change. In certain circumstances, other remedies have included voiding illegally-conducted elections, enjoining upcoming elections unless and until the jurisdiction complies with Section 5, or ordering a special election in some cases courts have also issued orders directing the jurisdiction to seek Section 5 review of the change from the Attorney General or the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
The Speech Eisenhower Never Gave On The Normandy Invasion
Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower addresses American paratroopers in England on the evening of June 5, 1944, as they prepare for the Battle of Normandy.
Sometimes history gets revealed in small, nearly forgotten scraps.
The Allied invasion of Normandy took place this week in 1944. On the evening of June 5, the largest armada in history began to churn through heavy swells in the English Channel, and pink-cheeked young paratroops prepared to board airplanes that would fly through heavy gales to drop them in darkness on Occupied France.
The weather was so vicious, German generals were sure they could rule out any invasion — which convinced Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, that he could no longer keep 160,000 American, British and Canadian soldiers, sailors and fliers bottled up in ships and bases. "I don't like it," he told his generals, "but we have to go."
Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote this speech on June 5, 1944, to deliver in case the invasion failed. According to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, the president mistakenly dated the message July 5 instead of June 5. Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library hide caption
So Eisenhower paid his respects to U.S. and British paratroopers as they lined up to fly into battle that night. Their faces were smudged with ash, soot and tea for camouflage their helmets sported twigs and leaves. It was a kind of dress-up that seemed to remind Ike, as he was known, how young were the men he was sending against a raging sea and scalding fire.
He told his driver, Kay Summersby, "I hope to God I'm right."
And that night in a drafty cottage, under the roar of wind and planes, Eisenhower penciled a note on a small pad in his tight, precise, hand that he would need to deliver if the invasion went wrong.
"Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops," Eisenhower wrote. "My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone."
It's telling to see today where Eisenhower made changes in his note. He crossed out "This particular operation" to write "My decision to attack," which is emphatic and personal.
And he drew a long, strong line under "mine alone." When you see those words and that thick line on the note today, in the Eisenhower Library, you might feel some of the steel of a man who would so unflinchingly accept responsibility. Ike didn't try to camouflage failure in phrases like, "Mistakes were made," "Our projections were not met" or "I will say nothing pending investigation." He wrote, "any blame or fault . is mine alone."
Dwight Eisenhower put the note into his wallet. The invasion succeeded, and although a lot of dying was ahead, his note never had to be used. But it revealed a character that was enduring.
A matter of principle
As strong as those beliefs are, there still remains the question: why did he do it? Giving up his freedom and a privileged lifestyle? “There are more important things than money. If I were motivated by money, I could have sold these documents to any number of countries and gotten very rich.”
For him, it is a matter of principle. “The government has granted itself power it is not entitled to. There is no public oversight. The result is people like myself have the latitude to go further than they are allowed to,” he said.
His allegiance to internet freedom is reflected in the stickers on his laptop: “I support Online Rights: Electronic Frontier Foundation,” reads one. Another hails the online organisation offering anonymity, the Tor Project.
Asked by reporters to establish his authenticity to ensure he is not some fantasist, he laid bare, without hesitation, his personal details, from his social security number to his CIA ID and his expired diplomatic passport. There is no shiftiness. Ask him about anything in his personal life and he will answer.
He is quiet, smart, easy-going and self-effacing. A master on computers, he seemed happiest when talking about the technical side of surveillance, at a level of detail comprehensible probably only to fellow communication specialists. But he showed intense passion when talking about the value of privacy and how he felt it was being steadily eroded by the behaviour of the intelligence services.
His manner was calm and relaxed but he has been understandably twitchy since he went into hiding, waiting for the knock on the hotel door. A fire alarm goes off. “That has not happened before,” he said, betraying anxiety wondering if was real, a test or a CIA ploy to get him out onto the street.
Strewn about the side of his bed are his suitcase, a plate with the remains of room-service breakfast, and a copy of Angler, the biography of former vice-president Dick Cheney.
Ever since last week’s news stories began to appear in the Guardian, Snowden has vigilantly watched TV and read the internet to see the effects of his choices. He seemed satisfied that the debate he longed to provoke was finally taking place.
He lay, propped up against pillows, watching CNN’s Wolf Blitzer ask a discussion panel about government intrusion if they had any idea who the leaker was. From 8,000 miles away, the leaker looked on impassively, not even indulging in a wry smile.
Snowden said that he admires both Ellsberg and Manning, but argues that there is one important distinction between himself and the army private, whose trial coincidentally began the week Snowden’s leaks began to make news.
“I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest,” he said. “There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn’t turn over, because harming people isn’t my goal. Transparency is.”
He purposely chose, he said, to give the documents to journalists whose judgment he trusted about what should be public and what should remain concealed.
As for his future, he is vague. He hoped the publicity the leaks have generated will offer him some protection, making it “harder for them to get dirty”.
He views his best hope as the possibility of asylum, with Iceland – with its reputation of a champion of internet freedom – at the top of his list. He knows that may prove a wish unfulfilled.
But after the intense political controversy he has already created with just the first week’s haul of stories, “I feel satisfied that this was all worth it. I have no regrets.”