President Obama’s Speech and Other Fascinating News on the Web

January 17, 2014

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  1. Obama Defends NSA

    President Obama has announced a series of changes to the way the government will manage its surveillance, while insisting that the NSA is not guilty of any abuses: “They are not abusing authority in order to listen to your private phone calls or read your emails.”

    + “That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime.” That was candidate Barack Obama back in 2007. The NYT’s Peter Baker on Obama‚Äôs path from critic to overseer of spying. Seems like a predictable progression given his current gig.

    + WaPo: Five big takeaways from Obama’s speech.

    + The president’s address included a reference to Edward Snowden: “The sensational way in which these disclosures have come out has often shed more heat than light, while revealing methods to our adversaries that could impact our operations in ways that we may not fully understand for years to come.”

    + Some government employees have been less delicate in their comments directed towards Snowden: “I would love to put a bullet in his head.”

    + WNYC: A running list of what we know the NSA can do (so far).

  2. Waiting to Exhale

    You know how smoking is really bad for you? Well, it turns out it’s a lot worse. The Surgeon General has added to the already long list of health risks associated with smoking.

    + BusinessWeek: Fifty years of smoking in two charts.

  3. Weekend Reads

    “Hi sounds like you went thru a bit of a rough day. We are here to talk & assist if u like. Following u now. DM anytime.” You get bullied online. Then the anti-bullying vigilantes show up to help. Is that good news or bad? From Emily Bazelon in the NYT Magazine: The Online Avengers.

    + “There is only one given: On the afternoon of August 16, a 22-year-old from Australia named Christopher Lane, who had come to America to go to college and play baseball, went out running and, without warning or knowing why, was shot to death in Duncan.” Buzz Bissinger visits Duncan, Oklahoma to report on the Darkness in August.

    + “The night manager rushed over and helped him into a chair by the fireplace, and put a blanket on him. Cheseto was shaking violently. His hands were swollen to twice their normal size and his skin resembled thick plastic. His feet were hard as chunks of wood, and frozen to his running shoes.” What happens to a runner when he loses his feet? This is the story of Marko Cheseto: Runner, Interrupted.

    + Grantland: The odd story of Dr. V’s Magical Putter.

    + Modern Farmer: An Illustrated Account of the Great Maple Syrup Heist.

  4. Putin Clarifies Position on Gays

    In the lead up to Sochi, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been widely criticized for his anti-gay laws. So he’s decided to clarify his position. Gay people are welcome in Sochi, as long as they “leave kids alone.”

  5. Remembering a WWII Soldier

    A former Japanese intelligence officer named Hiroo Onoda has died at the age of 91. He lived a remarkably long life considering that he fought World War II for 29 years longer than anyone else.

  6. Play It Again

    Even with the rise of streaming services, most people still listen to music on the radio. And radio programmers have come up with a new way to compete: They play the same songs over and over. Being able to measure what people like ruins everything.

    + Kickin’ it old school: The resurgence of vinyl.

    + The New Yorker’s Joshua Hunt on The iPod of Prison. (As you might imagine, battery life is critical…)

    + The history of popular music, according to Google.

    + Why songs get stuck in your head.

  7. If It’s Yellow, Let It Mellow

    While many Americans have suffered through an unusually cold winter, out in California, it’s sunny and clear. Yesterday, it was a ridiculous 91 degree in San Luis Obispo. Yes, it’s hot. And it’s dry. California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a drought emergency and called on residents to cut water use by twenty percent.

    + I know it’s hard for folks in the rest of the country to feel bad that Californians are getting too much sun. Especially since the polar vortex is coming back.

  8. In Your Eyes

    What exactly are they up to over at Google? Maybe everything. The company’s latest test product is a pair of smart contact lenses that measure the level of glucose levels in tears. The lenses will ultimately enable Google to deliver customized advertisements based on what they see in your soul.

    + Can you wear Google Glass while driving? According to the first case, yeah, maybe.

  9. Blowing Off Steam

    It’s the curse of food delivery. The steam trapped in the container makes everything soggy. But maybe there’s hope. Wired’s Liz Stinson on the pizza geek who discovered the world’s smartest pizza box.

  10. The Bottom of the News

    Why is a tennis ball fuzzy? It’s probably a good idea to have a prepared answer for that and the other weird interview questions hiring managers ask.

    + Planning an infidelity? I’d suggest France.

    + 15 things to know about Popeye on his 85th anniversary.