World News Brief, Thursday July 25

White House lobbies to keep National Security Agency programme amid Snowden fallout; China bans construction of new government buildings; Beijing closes visa office in Manila after South China Sea protests; South Sudan president sacks entire cabinet; UN in Syria to investigate chemical weapons claims; and more

Top of the Agenda: White House Lobbies to Keep NSA Program

National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith B. Alexander attempted on Tuesday to slow Congressional opposition (NYT) to the NSA's domestic spying programs, meeting with Democrats and Republicans before a vote on a proposed amendment to a military appropriations bill that would block financing for the agency's data collection program. The Republican-sponsored legislation (BBC) is one of the first efforts to curb the agency's domestic spying efforts since they were leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The amendment, along with another that limits funds for the NSA, drew criticism (AP) from the Senate Intelligence committee, which argued that the surveillance programs were crucial to disrupting terrorist attacks. The House will likely to vote on those amendments Wednesday.


"Many libertarians are quick to condemn the NSA's collection of telephone metadata as an example of government overreach and encroachment into Americans' private freedom. But protecting the United States from foreign attack is the core mission of the federal government, and a catastrophic failure in that mission could threaten the liberties we all cherish," writes Steven Bradbury for the Washington Post.

"It is not the surveillance program per se that is concerning; we agree that authorized and monitored surveillance is necessary. It is the sheer magnitude of the program and the lack of debate that worry us," write Thomas Kean for Politico.

"Despite receiving bipartisan support, the Amash amendment will almost certainly not receive enough votes to pass in the House. Even if it did so, it's unlikely that the Senate would adopt it, and it's less likely that Obama would sign an appropriations bill with that contingency," writes Philip Bump for The Atlantic Wire.



China Bans New Government Buildings

China on Tuesday banned the construction of government buildings (NYT) for the next five years, marking the latest initiative in a series of moves by President Xi Jinping to tamp down corruption and enforce frugality. China has seen popular resentment against its bureaucrats.

This CFR Backgrounder explains China's Communist Party.

PHLIPPINES: Philippine protestors demonstrated in Manila on Wednesday against China's claims to the South China Sea (al-Jazeera), triggering Beijing to close its visa office there.

This CFR Backgrounder delves into the territorial disputes riling the region.


South Sudan president sacks whole cabinet

UN in Syria to investigate chemical weapons claims


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