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September 28, 2013 2:06 PM The Social Network, NSA style - Afternoon roundup

By Samuel Knight

A new revelation in the deluge of stories exposing NSA surveillance of American citizens: Laura Poitras and James Risen are reporting that the NSA has been using its big data, since at least January 2011, “to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information.”

The policy shift was intended to help the agency “discover and track” connections between intelligence targets overseas and people in the United States…The agency was authorized to conduct “large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness” of every e-mail address, phone number or other identifier.

*According to the Christian Science Monitor, “a Confederate history group is planning to unfurl a car dealership-size Battle Flag over I-95 near Richmond.”

Naturally, the Confederate flag’s supporters are trying to give the banner a benign veneer:

“If somebody broke into your house and robbed you, and they were wearing New York Giants attire, you wouldn’t assume that there was something evil in the Giants association,” Gene Hogan, chief of heritage operations for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, told the Daily News. “You would say, ‘No, that was an evil person that co-opted those garments.’ Same way with the battle flag.”

Meanwhile, history belies this childish ESPN style interpretation of the Civil War: The Ordinance of Secession ratified by Virginia on May 23, 1861, bemoaned “the oppression of the Southern slave-holding States” in its first explanatory paragraph.

*In response to the murder of a rapper critical of the fascist party, Greek authorities have arrested the leader of Golden Dawn and three of its MPs.

The BBC News’ Mark Lowen explains:

Some 154 racist attacks were recorded here last year and 104 so far this year - most attributed to Golden Dawn members. Two immigrants have been killed, again blamed on the party. But only now, after the killing of the hip hop artist Pavlos Fyssas, have authorities moved in hard and fast.

*The Foreign Minister of Egypt’s coup government said at the U.N. General Assembly today that it will step down “next spring.”

That’s all from me today. See you tomorrow. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you might even get drunk to cope with the emotions: Ted Cruz will be on Meet the Press.

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.

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