Links for 7-5-2015

  • The Intercept published additional information sourced from Edward Snowden describing how the NSA’s XKEYSCORE system works. XKEYSCORE is a Google-like web application that searches the Internet data collected by the NSA and its partner agencies. A companion article describes the software architecture of XKEYSCORE, at least in its 2013 incarnation. It was built on open source software, and even by 2013 standards it was somewhat crude; it may be something of a miracle that it worked at all.

  • New documents from WikiLeaks indicate the NSA eavesdropped on many Brazilian government officials, not just President Dilma Rousseff. The target list included the head of Brazil’s central bank, the foreign minister, several ambassadors, and an army general.

  • A progressive dark money group, CREDO Action, is threatening to punish Democrat members of Congress with the temerity to question President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, even before the deal is finalized.

  • Governor Scott Walker and Wisconsin state legislators quickly walked back from the state budget bill that curtailed the state’s open records laws. They released a statement saying the offending provisions would be removed from the budget bill, adding this: “The intended policy goal of these changes was to provide a reasonable solution to protect constituents’ privacy and to encourage a deliberative process between elected officials and their staff in developing policy. It was never intended to inhibit transparent government in any way.” And if you believe that…

  • China’s government is going to great lengths to arrest sliding stock prices – they’ve dropped more than 25% in three weeks:

    Skeptical investors have so far shrugged off each step the government has taken to keep share prices aloft: an interest rate cut, threats to punish rumormongers, allowing the national pension fund to buy stocks and even plans to investigate short-sellers who have placed bets that the market will fall. The faltering of these measures has put an embarrassing dent in the halo of unruffled supremacy built up around Mr. Xi’s administration, and this weekend his government doubled down again, betting that it could beat bearish market sentiment into submission.

    The government rolled out further initiatives in hopes of forestalling another market rout on Monday: 21 brokerages agreed on Saturday to set up a fund worth at least $19.4 billion to buy blue-chip stocks, and both of the country’s stock exchanges halted all new initial public offerings of shares.

    On Sunday, the government brought in the central bank, the People’s Bank of China, and an investment arm of the country’s sovereign wealth fund to support the effort.

  • A female suicide bomber attacked an evangelical Christian church in northeastern Nigeria, killing at least five people.