No facility is more important at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the nuclear weapons research facility, than the so-called "Superblock." Situated at the heart of the 820-acre complex, the Superblock handles the facility's plutonium, a key component in nuclear weapons. The facility is protected by a mesh fence to guard against airplanes, ultra-thick walls, and Gatling guns.
But one recently spotted feature at the Superblock probably isn't part of those security arrangements. Someone -- it's unclear who -- has added a beach volleyball court inside its premises.
John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, appears to have run into a bit of trouble during a purported trip to the Philippines.
According to an email sent from Bolton's account Tuesday afternoon, the cantankerous former diplomat and his family were robbed at gunpoint in Manila. "Everything was going on fine until last night when we got attacked by some unknown gunmen," he writes in the email. "All our money, phones and credit cards was stolen away including some valuable items, It was a terrible experience but the good thing is they didn't hurt anyone or made away with our passports."
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In the war of words over the nuclear deal with Iran, any metaphor is fair game.
Skeptics of the agreement hashed out in Geneva see parallels between this deal and, well, just about every bad, no good, awful, catastrophic moment in international politics since 1914. Meanwhile, its defenders have run out of breathless adjectives with which to describe a deal that just, maybe, might, possibly be similar to President Nixon's opening to China.
In short, the debate over how to interpret the Geneva agreement has descended into a fun house of dueling metaphors. This is your guide to those metaphors -- and the argument -- that will surely dominate the next few months as the world debates whether the Geneva agreement represents a bona fide diplomatic breakthrough.
Get ready to hear a lot about Neville Chamberlain and "peace in our time." Oh, also: Appeasement.
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For weeks, Western negotiators have huddled in a luxury hotel in Geneva with their Iranian counterparts to defuse tensions over Tehran's nuclear program. In the early hours Sunday, the diplomats finally secured their long-sought prize: a deal that puts the breaks on Iran's nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief.
Now comes the hard part. With the details of the agreement public, skeptics of Iran's sudden willingness to compromise with the West have been handed heaps of ammunition with which to attack the Obama administration as a sell-out to Tehran. The Geneva deal bears the hallmarks of a compromise solution, the terms of which do not require Iran to dismantle its nuclear program -- as Israel has demanded -- but to scale back activities over the next six months that are most useful for producing a nuclear weapon. The diplomats who drafted the agreement are describing it as an interim, confidence-building measure. Iran skeptics are describing it as hopelessly naïve. "If five years from now a nuclear suitcase explodes in New York or Madrid, it will be because of the deal that was signed this morning," Naftali Bennett, Israel's economic minister, said in a statement.
At the center of that debate -- whether the agreement represents a clear-eyed test of Iran's true intentions or a victim of Iran's savvy bait-and-switch negotiating tactics -- is the question of whether the document recognizes what Tehran describes as its right to enrich uranium. Immediately after the agreement was announced, Fars News, the Iranian state-sponsored news outlet, proclaimed that the accord "includes recognition of Tehran's right of uranium enrichment" and that the "right to enrichment has been recognized in two places of the document." Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile, made exactly the opposite claim on ABC's This Week on Sunday: "There is no right to enrich. We do not recognize a right to enrich."
Over the next few weeks one of these two narratives will become the dominant interpretation of the Geneva agreement -- and which one catches on will go a long way toward determining its ultimate success. Either the West has by force and calculation compelled Iran into accepting a change in its strategic outlook and abandoned its nuclear ambitions. Or the West has backed down -- "appeased" Iran, if you will -- and allowed Tehran to hold on to its nuclear program in the hopes of avoiding war in the Middle East.
The problem for the ideologues on either side of this debate is that the text of the agreement provides no clear answer on whether Iran does or does not have the right to enrich uranium. And that piece of diplomatic maneuvering provides important clues about what lies ahead for President Obama's effort to defuse the stand-off with Iran.
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The Pope is being targeted by U.S. eavesdroppers. Julian Assange is sending packages with video cameras and GPS trackers. The Russians are using teddy bears to snoop on G-20 officials. Spy chips are popping up in electric irons. Oh, and the NSA, it turns out, has broken into Google and Yahoo's datacenters.
In short, this is the week the torrent of spying allegations went totally over the top.
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On Monday, Google rolled out three new initiatives to ensure the openness of the Internet and access to the service -- even in the face of government crackdowns on the web.
One of those tools is a proxy plug-in -- creatively titled uProxy -- that uses a peer-to-peer system to create secure Internet connections. By linking a user in, say, China with her trusted friend in the United States, the browser plug-in allows the user in China to access her American friend's Internet via an encrypted connection that should, in theory, allow her to bypass the Great Firewall.
Another tool, Project Shield, promises to protect human rights organizations and NGOs from so-called DDoS attacks, which take down a website by directing a flood of traffic toward it and overwhelming it or rendering it unusable. DDoS attacks have become the preferred method for knocking out a pesky, unwanted site, and while big sites like Google are able to protect themselves from such attacks, independent groups, including media organizations and election monitors, frequently find themselves unable to fight back when targeted. "If you think about all of the organizations around the world that use a website as their modern-day office -- NGOs, businesses, governments -- it's not OK to have this many digital office raids shutting them down," Jared Cohen, the director of Google Ideas, told Time in an interview.
The last project rolled out this week is something called the Digital Attack Map, which is embedded at the top of this post. It's a fascinating, interactive map that monitors DDoS attacks around the world -- an effort Google hopes will raise awareness about the problem. The map, which draws on data collected by the network security firm Arbor Networks, provides a nifty visualization of an issue that's been in the headlines constantly over the last year or so.
The result is the first real visualization of what cyberwar looks like in real time. So what can we learn from the effort? Here are some incidents that jump out in playing around with the map.
Ninety-five Kalashnikovs and $70,000 in burial money. That's the price of 12 dead civilians in America's shadow war on terror.
On Sept. 2, 2012, 14 people were traveling in a Toyota Land Cruiser near Radaa in central Yemen when the missile struck. Three children and a pregnant woman were among the 12 dead. "About four people were without heads. Many lost their hands and legs," Nawaf Massoud Awadh, a local sheikh, told Human Rights Watch. "These were our relatives and friends." The day after the attack, which was intended for an al Qaeda militant, the deputy governor of the province arrived to offer the victims blood money: the Kalashnikovs and cash.
This episode is but one small part of America's covert war on al Qaeda, the civilian costs of which two reports released on Tuesday -- one from Human Rights Watch (HRW) focusing on Yemen, the other from Amnesty International focusing on Pakistan -- document through several individual stories. The reports depict a drone war that has become at times unhinged, one in which civilians frequently find themselves in the crossfire and President Obama's pledges to curtail the use of these weapons go unrealized. They also depict in vivid detail the difficult battlefield choices that have led U.S. commanders to rely on drones, even if individual strikes resulting in civilian casualties point to problems in the way drones are being deployed.
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Glenn Greenwald -- the prominent journalist and columnist -- is leaving the Guardian to form an independent news site, and there's a wonderful irony to the news that he will be striking out on his own.
"Because this news leaked before we were prepared to announce it, I'm not yet able to provide any details of this momentous new venture, but it will be unveiled very shortly," Greenwald said in a statement. After making himself a household name by exposing the true reach of the National Security Agency, Greenwald had his big news -- and it's certainly a major announcement -- scooped by a disgruntled associate. Dare we speculate an unhappy editor at the Guardian?
After a spectacular run at the British newspaper, during which Greenwald delivered a series of bombshell scoops about the NSA, the Brazil-based journalist has now decided to form his own news site, which he says has secured major funding and will cover everything from politics to sports to entertainment. That development represents an intriguing turn in a story that has been as much about the media as it's been about U.S. intelligence. With his outspoken left-wing politics and platform as a columnist, Greenwald was an unlikely person to emerge as the primary reporter on a story about the NSA's misdeeds. His involvement caused many observers to question the objectivity of the Guardian's coverage and exposed the deep tension at play in today's media world between establishment outlets and reporters, and a new breed of journalists willing to make their political ideals and opinions a central part of their reportage.
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