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The Edge

Angry Birds, Squeaky Dolphins, and an Annotated State of the Union Address — THE EDGE

January 27, 2014

By Jack Fitzpatrick (@jackfitzdc)

TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: President Obama's State of the Union speech Tuesday is more likely to energize liberals than to compromise with conservatives. In a program called Squeaky Dolphin, the British government spied on major sites like YouTube and Facebook, according to documents released by Edward Snowden. The NSA has collected data from smartphone apps at least since 2007. Two operators of bitcoin exchanges have been arrested for allegedly laundering more than $1 million through the now-defunct Silk Road website. Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., is resigning after being charged with buying cocaine, and his seat is attracting Republican candidates. And Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey hasn't tweeted in three weeks.

NJ'S TECH EDGE: President Obama has chosen the next Cyber Command chief, Google is investing in robots, Congress is holding back our future of self-driving cars, and the IRS doesn't know what to do about bitcoins. Tech Edge, National Journal's new morning tipsheet, rounds up the best coverage of technology policy. Sign up here, and view today's issue here.



SOTU WILL LIKELY PLAY TO PROGRESSIVES' HOPES: Policy and strategy require that Obama play up the contrast between Democrats and Republicans rather than seeking compromise. One senior administration official confirmed that the president will focus on "issues that progressives care most about." (Stanage/Parnes, The Hill)

FATHER OF BENGHAZI VICTIM TO ATTEND SPEECH: Charles Woods, father of Navy SEAL Ty Woods, will attend the State of the Union speech as a guest of Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., who has been urged by outside groups to run for Sen. Tom Coburn's seat. (Elahe Izadi, NJ)

BRITISH GOVERNMENT SPIED ON YOUTUBE AND FACEBOOK: New documents released by Edward Snowden show that the British government can spy on what people are doing on YouTube, Facebook, and other popular sites without any knowledge or consent. A program called Squeaky Dolphin even monitored links that were "liked" on Facebook. (NBC News)

NSA IS TAKING DATA FROM ANGRY BIRDS: The agency and its British counterpart have been working at least since 2007 to collect and store data from smartphone apps, according to documents provided by Snowden. A Google Maps app, for example, can provide the agencies a user's location, while Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn apps can provide much more. (NYT)

2 BITCOIN-EXCHANGE OPERATORS ARRESTED FOR MONEY LAUNDERING: Authorities arrested Charlie Shrem, CEO of BitInstant, and Robert Faiella, also known as "BTCKing," on charges of laundering more than $1 million for drug trafficking on the now-offline Silk Road website. The two are alleged to have used the website to anonymously buy drugs with bitcoins. (Dustin Volz, NJ)

REPUBLICANS JUMP AT RADEL'S SOON-TO-BE-OPEN SEAT: Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., is resigning after pleading guilty to buying cocaine last year, leaving open his seat in a heavily Republican district. Former state representative Paige Kreegel has decided to run and state Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto has started spending on ads. Former Rep. Connie Mack may also try to make a comeback. (Scott Bland, NJ)

TOMORROW IN ONE PARAGRAPH: President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address at 9 p.m. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a full hearing on the nomination of Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to be ambassador to China, Arnold Chacon to be director general of the Foreign Service, and Daniel Bennett Smith to be assistant secretary of State for intelligence and research. The House and Senate are in session.


LAST YEAR'S STATE OF THE UNION, ANNOTATED: Many of the goals from last year's speech did not come to fruition. (Marina Koren, NJ)

CONGRESS IS IN THE WAY OF SELF-DRIVING CARS: The technology of autonomous cars is not far away, but most states still have no regulations for them. (Alex Brown, NJ)

DO WE CARE ABOUT JACK DORSEY NOT TWEETING IN 3 WEEKS? It is tempting to try to interpret the Twitter cofounder's social-media drought. (Zachary Seward, Quartz)

BENGHAZI IS HILLARY CLINTON'S BIGGEST REGRET: When asked what she would use a "do-over" on, Clinton said that the Benghazi attack was a "terrible tragedy." (Julian Pecquet, The Hill)


IS ASSAD IN LEAGUE WITH AL-QAIDA? Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has claimed to be fighting terrorists, but some Western officials say he is colluding with extremists. (Aryn Baker, Time)

HOW ISTANBUL WILL DEFINE THIS DECADE: The city will soon become Europe's most populous, and it faces some of the most important challenges of a growing metropolis. (Feargus O'Sullivan, The Atlantic Cities)


LAST NIGHT'S LATE-NIGHT FUNNIES IN UNDER 3 MINUTES: Mitt Romney joins Jimmy Fallon to slow jam the State of the Union. (Reena Flores, NJ)

AUTOCOMPLETE EXPLAINS AMERICA, IN ONE MAP: Why is Nevada so empty? Why is Ohio so important? A map of the U.S. based on Google's autocomplete suggestions. (Megan Garber, The Atlantic)
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