According to the New York Times, “officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications—including encrypted email transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct “peer to peer” messaging like Skype—to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.”
The Obama administration plans to submit the bill early next year. Opponents of the bill say that its passage will have widespread implications. “They basically want to turn back the clock and make Internet services function the way that the telephone system used to function,” said James X. Dempsey, president of the Center for Democracy and Technology. Officials have yet to agree on how they will word the statutory language of the bill.
The government wants U.S. banks to report every money transfer in and out of the country of more than $1,000. They believe that this will help to prevent against the financing of terrorist attacks like 9/11. Under the plan, all money-transfer transactions under $1,000 would be funneled into a database to be used by law enforcement and regulatory agencies. It also calls for an annual report containing the social security numbers behind each transfer.
Not surprisingly, critics contend that this could lead to an invasion of personal privacy. They say that the information could end be used for something other than anti-terrorism. “This regulation is outrageous,” said Peter Dijinis, a lawyer and advisor to financial institutions. “Consider me old-fashioned, but I believe you need to show some evidence of criminality before you are granted unfettered access to the private financial affairs of every individual and company that dares to conduct financial transactions overseas.”
On Tuesday, the “Dear Leader,” is expected to name his successor. Details of the move are hard to come by, but a certain son is expected to take over his father’s position. “[T]he people are already being groomed for a phased transition,” according to the Guardian, “supporting the widespread belief that the leader, Kim Jong-il, will use Tuesday’s Workers’ party assembly to signal he has chosen his youngest son (Kim Jong-un) to succeed him. One Pyongyang student says there is already a song dedicated to the heir apparent.”
Despite widespread hunger and poverty, a South Korean news agency reports that there are rumors of a record-breaking military parade as part of Tuesday’s announcement. “We were told at university that Kim Jong-un is very intelligent,” said a North Korean woman, “that he has a military background, and that he is very young.” Despite Kim Jong-Il’s recent stroke, civilians do not believe his frail health to be the reason he’s naming a successor. “Our leader is in good shape and is energetic,” said a North Korean guide.
Um, a whale rider? There isn’t much information about this person other than the word of an eyewitness who turned over a picture to Australian authorities. The teenage “whale rider” is believed to have mounted a right whale about 20 meters off the beach. “Adult southern right whales can reach 18 meters (59 feet) in length and weigh up to 80 tons,” said Mike Shephard, district manager for the Australian Department of Environment and Conservation. “If you are in the way of a tail slap or when it breaches, you are unlikely to survive.”
Right whales migrate along the southern Australian coast from June to October. According to officials, people who come within 100 feet of a whale risk a $10,000 fine, in addition to their lives.