Posts by Aaron Pressman

  • NSA wants interns to help communicate 'accurate' public info

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo News 1 yr ago

    The reputation of the National Security Agency has taken quite a hit this year, what with fresh revelations from Edward Snowden hitting the press every week or two. The agency clearly needs some help on the public relations front, so how about some well-trained college students?

    That’s right, the NSA posted a call for students to join its “Summer Strategic Communications Intern Program” to help with messaging.

    Interns will assist the agency in crafting “accurate and timely information on NSA’s signals intelligence and information assurance missions and accomplishments to a variety of audiences using state-of-the-art messaging products.”

    The agency could certainly use help with accuracy. Top NSA officials have routinely had to go back on the agency's prior assurances after being contradicted by materials from the Snowden files and related disclosures. For instance, claims that personal information hadn't been misused fell by the wayside after revelations that employees had spied on former lovers and secret court rulings disclosed the agency exceeded its legal authority.

  • NSA helpfully declassified holiday 'talking points' for staff

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo News 1 yr ago

    Explaining a rough patch at work to sympathetic family and friends over the holidays can be tough when your job is classified top secret.

    So the National Security Agency helpfully gave employees a list of authorized talking points ahead of the Thanksgiving break, according to the blog Firedoglake, which obtained a purported copy of the memo. The Washington Post also posted a copy of the memo on its blog The Switch.

    The memo follows months of shocking revelations about the NSA's massive surveillance network as described in internal reports and documents leaked by former government contractor Edward Snowden. The agency gathered phone records and Internet communications from hundreds of millions of people, sometimes misleading its government overseers in the process.

    But there’s also a lot of pretty wiggly-worded, lawyerese that Cousin Sally might not grasp.

  • Team Caramel or Team Popcorn? Vote for Thanksgiving turkey pardon

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo News 1 yr ago

    A couple of 2-foot-tall, feathery rivals are facing off for President Barack Obama's affections.

    Popcorn and Caramel, two male turkeys born in July, are vying for the president's ceremonial Thanksgiving Day pardon in polls the White House organized across social networks Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

    Farmer John Burkel of Badger, Minn., raised both birds. Caramel has a steady temperament, prefers soybean meal and the music of Lady Gaga, Burkel reports. Popcorn snacks on his namesake, corn, and favors Beyonce's hit song "Halo."

    The deadline for voting is Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET. Obama is to announce the winner at a White House ceremony on Wednesday.

    So far, at least on Facebook, Popcorn was ahead with 745 likes vs. 491 for his rival.

    Animal lovers need not fear about the fate of the loser. After starring in some Christmas pageantry, both winner and loser alike will live out their remaining days at Morven Park's Turkey Hill, a Leesburg, Va., farm at the home of former Virginia Gov. Westmoreland Davis.

  • Comet will light up the sky if it survives close encounter with the sun

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo News 1 yr ago

    Some astronomers have already dubbed the ball of dirt and ice the “Comet of the Century,” but ISON could break apart as it passes through the sun’s atmosphere on Nov. 28.

    Scientists hope that remote spacecraft that monitor the sun will be able to get a close look at ISON as the comet is baked by the sun’s radiation and buffeted by solar ejections.

    "We're going to be roasting a ball of ice while people are roasting their turkeys,” Karl Battams, an astrophysicist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, in Washington, D.C., told NPR.

    If the comet survives its encounter with the sun, Earth watchers will have an incredible view in the early weeks of December as ISON emerges from behind the sun and approaches closer and closer, scientists say.

    NASA has even created the hashtag #WillItBreakUp so Twitter users interested in the comet can find one another and share their observations.

  • Banksy's valuable graffiti needs security guards in wilds of New York City

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo News 1 yr ago

    New Yorkers lucky enough to own a building with one of street artist Banksy's newest works have taken to hiring security guards. And with good reason -- similar works in England have sold for more than $1 million.

    In the South Bronx, building owner David Damaghi hired two guards to protect a Banksy work depicting a small boy spray painting while a butler held his paint cans, the web site Gothamist reported. In the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, a building owner hired a guard after a different graffiti artist painted his own tag under a Banksy red balloon. And in Williamsburg, owners installed a pull-down metal gate and hired guards to protect a piece after it was almost defaced.