Daily Dispatches
Internet users gather at a
Associated Press/Photo by LM Otero
Internet users gather at a "cryptoparty" in Dallas to talk about electronic security.

Midday Roundup: NSA bores ‘gobsmacking’ security hole in the internet


Nothing to hide? The latest leaks from former CIA analyst Edward Snowden reveal U.S. and British spy agencies have cracked encryption codes used to keep personal data private on the internet. In addition to cracking the codes, the National Security Agency has used “covert measures” to influence encryption standards and established partnerships with technology companies to put secret vulnerabilities into commercial encryption software. The NSA spends about $250 million a year on the program, which made a breakthrough in 2010 that left its British counterparts “gobsmacked.” According to one expert, the security agency has done much more than try to track down suspicious activity. It has undermined “the very fabric of the internet.” Government officials say they need the ability to break encryption codes so they can see what we’re all trying to hide.

Virtual vice. Teens are usually in to all things electronic, so it shouldn’t be surprising that they’re turning to a digital delivery device to get their nicotine fix. But then, I’m still surprised young people pick up the smoking habit at all. According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, 1 out of 10 American high school students used a battery-powered electronic cigarettes, along with about 3 percent of middle school students. The numbers come from a new federal report and have officials worried about the future health risks. Although they’re not “real” cigarettes, the electronic varieties still contain nicotine and traces of cancer-causing compounds. Experts say once the “cool factor” of electronic cigarettes wears off, teens will be left with an itch for nicotine that drives them to regular cigarettes. Tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States.

Split. After hinting at it a week ago during a national television interview, George Zimmerman’s wife filed for divorce yesterday. During another interview this morning, Shellie Zimmerman said her husband was selfish and reckless, especially now that he feels invincible after his acquittal. “I stood by my husband through everything and I kind of feel like he left me with a bunch of broken glass that I'm supposed to now assemble and make a life,” she told ABC News. “It’s just heartbreaking,” Last week, Shellie Zimmerman pleaded guilty to perjury for her part in trying to hide her husband’s assets from the judge setting his bail. A Florida jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager Zimmerman claimed attacked him.

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Public confession. A 22-year-old Ohio man took to YouTube this week to confess to killing another man in a drunken driving incident for which police hadn’t made any arrests. In the video, the somber man says, “My name is Matthew Cordle, and on June 22nd, 2013, I hit and killed Vincent Canzani. This video will act as my confession.” Cordle, who drove home after a night of heavy drinking, crossed into an oncoming lane of traffic, and struck Canzani’s vehicle, said he was willing to accept full responsibility for his actions. Prosecutors have downloaded the video and plan to ask a grand jury to indict Cordle for aggravated vehicular homicide. The charge carries a maximum of eight years in prison. At the end of the video, Cordle pleads with viewers not to drink and drive.

Leigh Jones
Leigh Jones

Leigh lives in Houston with her husband and daughter. She is the managing editor of WORLD's website.


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