How the shutdown would be reported if it happened elsewhere [Article]

The language used to report domestic events in Western nations is often wildly different to similar events happening in ‘hardline’ countries. Slate’s recent article shows the contrast from the US.

While the country’s most recent elections were generally considered to be free and fair (despite threats against international observers), the current crisis has raised questions in the international community about the regime’s ability to govern this complex nation of 300 million people, not to mention its vast stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

The octogenarian widow behind the DOMA case [article]

In a historic judgement, the US Supreme Court dismissed the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, thereby allowing same-sex couples in the US to be legally married. The reason it came to this? 84 year old Edith Windsor was ordered to pay a $363,000 estate tax when her partner of 40 years, Thea Spyer passed away, because the State did not recognise their marriage as legal. On Thursday, the Supreme Court of the US upheld their marriage.

Trusting Microsoft? How can anyone? [Article]

If you or your company uses Microsoft products, have a read through Glyn Moody’s article, in the wake of allegations that several companies in the US are complicit in helping the US government spy on the communications of people around the world.

Companies buy Microsoft products for many reasons, but they all assume that the company is doing its best to protect them. The latest revelations shows that is a false assumption: Microsoft consciously and regularly passes on information about how to break into its products to US agencies. What happens to that information thereafter is, of course, a secret. Not because of “terrorism”, but because almost certainly illegal attacks are being made against countries outside the US, and their companies.

Which is one of the other reasons why Bruce Schneir asks the question whether the US has started an Internet war.

Karzai, US, Taliban & Qatar: An interesting suggestion [Article]

Amid news that Hamid Karzai scuttled the planned meetings between the US & Taliban in Qatar (!), Richard Stallman has a radical idea for another Afghan problem:

The US should have armed Afghan women. Who knows what sort of gun a woman has under her burqa, and if a woman kills a talib, there will be no way to identify her afterward. Eventually the Taliban would be forced to order women not to wear burqas.

How one Irish woman made $22bn for Apple in a year [Article]

It is rather unlikely that the world speaks about Cathy Kearney in the same breath as Steve Jobs or Tim Cook. As Tim Cook appeared at the Senate committee hearing last week to explain Apple’s corporate tax avoidance affairs, Guardian profiles the Irish accountant who shuns publicity, and is thought to be brains behind the Cork office that helped Apple save billions in taxes.

Spending checks: US vs the rest of the world [Blog]

Economist Timothy Taylor puts the results of the one of the findings of the US Consumer Expenditure Survey into perspective – that the average US household spent $61.4 billion on their pets.

America spent about nine times as much on pet care as it did on choosing all its federally elections in 2012. 


the average U.S. household spends more on pets than the poverty line for humans in the developing world. And the statistics don’t include the fact that pets live rent-free. 

Guantanamo prison library books for detainees [Photoblog]

A photoblog by Pulitzer prize winning journalist Charles Savage – about the library in the Guantanamo bay prison.  Charles’ blog was part of his report into the hunger strike by the Gitmo prisoners – now numbering 93 inmates on strike.

..both military officials and lawyers for the detainees agree about the underlying cause of the turmoil: a growing sense among many prisoners, some of whom have been held without trial for more than 11 years, that they will never go home.