Yesterday, we learned that our government has been spying on cell phone records. And, last night we found out that the National Security Agency and the FBI are mining data on the servers of at least nine major technology companies. Under a top-secret program, known as PRISM, our government has been collecting audio, video, e-mail, and more from companies like Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Skype, and Apple.
One of our nation's largest phone carriers, Verizon, is sharing information on millions of customers with the NSA. According to the Guardian newspaper, a secret court order issued in April requires Verizon to hand over all call records on an “ongoing, daily basis.”
Yesterday, President Obama dared Republicans to continue their obstruction by announcing three nominations to the DC District Court of Appeals. His nominees are U.S. District Court Judge Leon Wilkins, Georgetown law professor Cornelia Pillard, and Patricia Ann Millett, a partner at the prestigious law firm Akin Gump.
Yesterday, Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg passed away, after months of ailing health. The New Jersey Senator was 89, and he was the last remaining World War II veteran in the Senate. Throughout his five terms in office, Senator Lautenberg was a champion for progressive issues. He fought for causes ranging from women's health to LGBT equality to ending the subsidies for Big Oil.
Eleven days after a deadly tornado hit the city of Moore, Oklahoma, five more tornadoes hit that state, killing at least 13 people, and injuring more than one hundred. Among the lives lost were three Discovery Channel storm chasers, Carl Young, and Tim and Paul Samaras. The storms hit just as roads and highways were jammed with rush hour traffic, leaving many people stuck in the path of approaching twisters.
A week ago, the U.S. Senate voted down an amendment that would have required the labeling of genetically modified foods, but Senator Bernie Sanders said he's not giving up. In an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Senator Sanders said, “I have not the slightest doubt that the momentum is with us. There are about 27 states in this country that are moving forward on the labeling of GMO food.”
Yesterday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the non-profit group he founded called Mayors Against Illegal Guns, each received a letter containing the deadly poison ricin. The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Intelligence Division of the NYPD are investigating the letters, which ABC News reported were postmarked from Louisiana.
Yesterday, Wal-Mart pleaded guilty to criminal charges of dumping hazardous fertilizers and chemicals in California and Missouri. The retail giant will pay $81.6 million in fines for violating the Clean Water Act and other E.P.A. regulations. That fine is less than one tenth of one percent of the profits Wal-Mart made in 2012 alone.
Over the weekend, nearly two million people took part in world-wide protests against Monsanto and genetically modified food. Despite demonstrations in over 400 cities, in 52 countries, there was hardly a peep about the event in the corporate media. Apparently, a Koch-Brothers-funded Tea Party march of 300 people is news-worthy... but two million protesters aren't enough to risk upsetting the corporate masters.
Yesterday, President Obama spoke to a crowd at the National Defense University, and laid out his vision for the future of counter-terrorism. In his speech, the President addressed the controversial use of drones, the on-going fight to close Gitmo, and the need to repeal the Authorization for the Use of Military Force.