World News Brief, Thursday June 4

US puts end to post 9/11 bulk phone data collection; MERS hits South Korea; Philippine president compares China to Nazi Germany; Greece's creditors offer take-it-or-leave-it deal; wars in Pakistan and Afghanistan have killed 150,000; and more


U.S. Senate Curbs Post-9/11 Surveillance Program

The U.S. Senate voted 67 to 32 on Tuesday to pass the USA Freedom Act (Guardian), which effectively ends the National Security Agency's controversial bulk phone collection program and replaces it with more stringent checks on the government's access to communication data. President Barack Obama signed the legislation shortly after Senate approval, ending a heated debate in Congress (WaPo) that saw many Republicans cross party lines to vote in favor of the law. The act marks the first legislative overhaul (Reuters) passed after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden exposed the agency's bulk collection of telephone records, enabled by certain provisions in the post-9/11 Patriot Act.


"To libertarians and civil liberties advocates, the shift underscores an evolution in thinking about the risks and trade-offs of terrorism, a recognition that perhaps the country went too far out of fear and anxiety. To national security conservatives, it represents a dangerous national amnesia about the altogether real dangers still confronting the country," writes Peter Baker for the New York Times.

"In the end, both sides in the political debate can claim a partial victory. Privacy advocates will be satisfied that bulk data collection is no longer in realm of 'Big Brother', and law enforcement agencies will still have the tools necessary to track suspected terrorists, albeit with the additional burden of having to obtain court orders for telephone metadata," writes Martin Reardon for Al Jazeera.

"And yet the behavior of the Republicans in the Senate,  particularly of the Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in the past few weeks, has not only been an insult to the efforts of [Vermont Senator Patrick] Leahy and others, it has thrown the premise of the compromise—that with some tweaks, the N.S.A. can be trusted with broad access to Americans' phone records and metadata—into doubt," writes Amy Davidson for the New Yorker.


South Korea Battles MERS

South Korea closed more than two hundred schools (Yonhap) Wednesday to prevent the spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus, which has killed two South Koreans since the disease was confirmed in the country on May 20. The health ministry confirmed five more cases on Wednesday, bringing the total infection count in the country to thirty.

PHILIPPINES: Philippine President Benigno Aquino drew parallels between China and Nazi Germany (Reuters) during a speech in Japan, expressing discontent over China's recent land reclamation projects in regional waters.

CFR's Infoguide on China's maritime disputes delves into these regional maritime issues.


Greece's creditors offer take-it-or-leave-it deal

Wars in Pakistan and Afghanistan have killed 150,000

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