Headlines from Around the World: 3-16-15

Four ExxonMobil workers have received minor injuries during a refinery explosion in Torrance, California. As of yet, the cause of the explosion has not been determined, though the California Department of Industrial Relations has opened a probe to investigate the matter. The explosion, as well as the recent walkout by United Steelworkers from a Tesoro Corp refinery, have made the price of California’s February gasoline deliveries rise to 40 cents compared to the expected price. Economic analysts predict higher prices in the rest of the United States as well.

Documents leaked by Edward Snowden to online periodical The Intercept has revealed that in a  joint operation, American and British spy agencies have stolen encryption keys from the world’s largest provider of SIM cards, Gemalto. With these keys, the two spy agencies will be able to monitor incoming traffic without the need for authorization or wiretaps and will not leave any trace of activity on the spied upon phone or network. The leaked documents reveal the hack was done through a combination of planted Malware, cyberstalking Gemalto engineers for their personal information, as well as by hacking into the emails that the spy agencies identified as the ones used to transfer the encryption keys.

The computer manufacturer Lenovo has been revealed to have installed an adware program by the name of Superfish to its consumer laptops. The program injects unwanted advertisements onto the laptop user’s Google searches and other viewed websites. Users are reporting that the software installs its own self-signed security certificate, which allows the software to spy on otherwise secure connections, such as banking websites and online shopping websites. When asked, representatives from Lenovo claim that the software was meant to “helps users find and discover products visually.” They have also said that Superfish will no longer be bundled with their products in the future.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have labeled “anti-petroleum” groups as a growing and violent threat to Canadian security. The move has raised concerns among environmentalists that this will lead to increased surveillance and possibly criminal association under the Harper government’s terrorism legislation. A report by the RCMP acquired by Greenpeace in early 2014 contains references to climate change skepticism within the Canadian government. These documents claim that Canadian environmentalist movements are backed by foreign money, and reveal the groundwork on a program designed to surveil Canadians associated with the environmentalist movements.

An Oklahoma legislative committee has approved a bill to cut funding for the teaching of Advanced Placement U.S. History. Representative Dan Fisher says his reasoning for the bill was that the class teaches too much of “what is bad about America” and doesn’t teach “American exceptionalism.” This complaint mirrors those by conservative school board members in Jefferson County last fall that led to a student protest because of school board members wanting to teach a history curriculum designed to promote patriotism and discourage civil disobedience.

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