NEW: AFP: "The US National Security Agency has collected sensitive data on key telecommunications cables between Europe, north Africa and Asia, German news magazine Der Spiegel reported Sunday citing classified documents. Spiegel quoted NSA papers dating from February and labelled 'top secret' and 'not for foreigners' describing the agency's success in spying on the so-called Sea-Me-We 4 undersea cable system." ...
... The full Der Spiegel article (in English) is here. It covers other aspects of super-duper hacking done by an NSA unit called "Tailored Access Operations."
David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times has a Big Piece on Benghazi! ...
... Driftglass: "The New York Times just pulverized any last remnants of the wingnut fairy tale of Benghaaaaazi! But before you get too excited, do not for one minute imagine this will trigger a sudden outbreak of Conservative self-awareness." ...
... Yes, because there will always be Louie Gohmert.
Ernesto Londoño, et al., of the Washington Post: "A new American intelligence assessment on the Afghan war predicts that the gains the United States and its allies have made during the past three years are likely to have been significantly eroded by 2017, even if Washington leaves behind a few thousand troops and continues bankrolling the impoverished nation, according to officials familiar with the report." ...
... See Jeffrey Goldberg, August 2008. Also, Herman Melville, 1851.
Alice Marwick in the New York Review of Books: "... private companies systematically collect very personal information, from who you are, to what you do, to what you buy. Data about your online and offline behavior are combined, analyzed, and sold to marketers, corporations, governments, and even criminals. The scope of this collection, aggregation, and brokering of information is similar to, if not larger than, that of the NSA, yet it is almost entirely unregulated and many of the activities of data-mining and digital marketing firms are not publicly known at all."
The Pope of Janesville. Joan Walsh of Salon: As he prepares his new campaign to "help" he poor, Altar Boy Paul Ryan laments Pope Francis's ignorance of matters economic: "'The guy is from Argentina, they haven't had real capitalism in Argentina,' Ryan said (referring to the pope as 'the guy' is a nice folksy touch.) 'They have crony capitalism in Argentina. They don't have a true free enterprise system.'"
Lena Sun & Amy Goldstein of the Washington Post have a moving piece on people who are delighted to get health insurance coverage under the ACA.
Sean McElwee of the Atlantic: Vermont is finding out that switching to more-or-less a single-payer health insurance system is mighty difficult, too, even in a state as small, homogeneous & liberal as Vermont. Although the concept was signed into law in 2011, Jonathan Gruber -- who helped develop both the Massachusetts & U.S. plans -- says, “There is no Vermont plan. There are Vermont ideas, but there is no Vermont plan."
CW: Ross Douthat does a self-audit, which makes me like him a little better. Probably we could find more Mistakes Ross Made, but that would mean reading his columns. I would do one myself, except I can't recall all the stupid stuff I said. (Perhaps you'll want to remind me.) ...
... Here's Dave Weigel's "Everything I got wrong this year," which Douthat links.
... Not everybody admits his mistakes:
"The Year of the Weasel." Paul Krugman: "... we've now seen that one side of the debate [over monetary policy] not only refuses to take evidence into account, but tries to dodge personal responsibility for getting it wrong. This has gone from a test of ideas to a test of character, and a lot of people failed."
"Money Talks." Before we bid adieu to the "Duck Dynasty" clan, let give Driftglass the last word, the word which puts this squalid story in perspective: "Obviously, as 25 years of Rush Limbaugh has demonstrated, you can haul the poo-flingingest, bigoted loudmouth out of the dankest wingnut watering hole in America and stick a microphone in front of him, and nothing he says or does -- no matter how offensive or untrue -- will earn him more than token slap on the wrist just as long as he can generate ad revenue and hold an audience. So nothing new there. What is mildly interesting is the curve on which those wrist-slaps are graded." ...
... CW: After today, you will have to satisfy your thirst for "Duck Dynasty" news elsewhere, unless we learn that Phil has a black boyfriend, a development that will raise in me a brief stirring of schadenfreude somewhat vitiated by my sympathy for the young man.
Money Talks, Ctd. Tal Kopan of Politico: The right-wing bill mill ALEC has moved "toward greater openness ... in the wake of dozens of corporate members pulling out earlier this year after ALEC was drawn into the Martin case. By some estimates, as many as 400 lawmakers and 60 companies, including brand names like Coca-Cola, Pepsi and McDonald's, bolted. But critics say the transparency effort is a smokescreen, and they charge that ALEC remains the same corporate-driven 'bill mill' designed to push right-wing business interests in statehouses with as little notice as possible."
Ken Dilanian of the Los Angeles Times: "... at Shooters World, a Tampa-based temple of American gun culture..., about 50 people took turns on a recent Saturday firing pistols, military assault weapons, an Uzi machine gun and a .50-caliber sniper rifle. It was a charity event called Shooting With SOF, which stands for special operations forces. Organizers say they have raised $75,000 for military and veterans causes by allowing car dealers, insurance brokers, makeup artists and other ordinary folks to live out fantasies firing some of the world's deadliest guns while being tutored by 20 current and former commandos -- seasoned, seen-it-all veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and places they can't talk about." CW: The geniuses who participated in this event used the word "badass" a lot. I myself cannot think of a better way to show my charitable heart than by shooting & "reveling in the gun's destructive power."
AFP: "An Australian icebreaker was Monday battling against bad weather to reach a ship carrying a scientific expedition stranded off Antarctica, leaving open the possibility of a helicopter evacuation, authorities said."
AP: "Dozens of lawsuits seeking damages from the federal government for Hurricane Katrina-related levee failures and flooding in the New Orleans area are over. U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. has dismissed the cases. The move comes more than a year after a federal appeals court overturned his ruling that held the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers liable for flooding caused by lax maintenance of a shipping channel."
New York Times: "The detention of four American military personnel in Libya on Friday was preceded by a confrontation at a checkpoint in which gunshots were fired and a vehicle was damaged, a witness in Libya and an Obama administration official said on Saturday."
AFP: "At least 18 people were killed and dozens injured Sunday when a suicide bomber blew herself up in a train station in the Russian city of Volgograd ahead of February's Olympic Games in nearby Sochi. Regional officials said the woman set off her charge near the metal detectors stationed at the entrance to the city's main train station while it was packed with afternoon travellers."
AFP: "The Israeli military fired a barrage of shells into southern Lebanon in retaliation after five Katyusha-style rockets were launched against the Jewish state on Sunday, officials said. The attacks struck uninhabited areas of both Israel and Lebanon without causing any casualties or damage, officials on both sides said."