“It doesn’t matter … what you come up against because none of it’s going to be pleasant … you’re kind of suffering through the whole thing. So my thought was, ‘everything you come up against say — and this is why people are relating to my story — all of us suffer heartache. All of us suffer difficulties in our lives. And if you say to yourself ‘find a way,’ you’ll make it through.” Diana Nyad, on completing her fifth attempt to swim the 110 miles from Cuba to Florida at age 64 on September 2, 2013
WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 2, 2013
Nation: NSA still outsmarting online security.
According to former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden (yes, he’s still in Russia), for the past decade the NSA has led an “aggressive, multi-pronged” effort to crack widely used Internet encryption technologies. The NSA has worked closely with its British counterpart in the effort to break or get around the codes that protect the data that billions of people send across the Internet each day — including e-mails, bank transactions, Web searches, phone calls and chats; U.S. officials from President Obama down have repeatedly said that the NSA’s surveillance efforts target adversaries overseas to gather foreign intelligence and thwart terrorist plots.The NSA calls its decryption efforts the “price of admission for the U.S. to maintain unrestricted access to and use of cyberspace.”
World: Congress continues the debate on Syria.
Following the President’s decision to ask Congress to vote before moving forward, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted Wednesday to approve a resolution that would authorize the use of military force in Syria, in a “limited and tailored manner,” bringing Congress one step closer to a final authorization. The U.K. has also announced that it has fresh evidence of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. “We have just been looking at some samples taken from Damascus in the Porton Down laboratory in Britain which further shows the use of chemical weapons in that Damascus suburb,” said Prime Minister David Cameron, noting that the evidence of the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons was “growing all the time.” Congress could vote on a military strike as early as Monday, but with opposition growing in the House, nothing is certain.
Politics: Veterans benefits awarded to same sex couples.
Following on this year’s landmark Supreme Court ruling to strike down parts of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, the Obama administration has announced that it will begin to provide veterans benefits to same-sex couples. The move will apply only those married couples living in states that recognize gay marriage, which as of now includes 13 states and the District of Columbia. The limitation is part of a larger debate over extending benefits such as Social Security to same sex couples. Currently, many of these laws are written into bills passed by Congress, so they would need to be voted on to be changed.
Business: Car sales way up.
Time to buy a new car? Might not be as easy as you think right now. Vehicle sales are the best they have been in seven years with Ford, Chrysler and General Motors all posting double-digit gains in August. It’s a promising sign for the industry which has steadily increased production throughout the year to meet the rising demand but not as promising for car buyers, who can expect higher prices from dealers and more resistance to haggling. But interest rates are still low and the overall economy is getting a boost, both good things in our book.
Health: Check your Chobani.
If you love Greek yogurt as much as we do, you might be a bit concerned to learn that one major manufacturer issued a large recall this week. Chobani issued a voluntary recall on Thursday after reports of mold and some illness. “We won’t sugar coat it — this type of mold is not pleasant,” the company said. “While unlikely to have ill health effects upon consumption, nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our consumers, and we are taking all of the necessary steps to uphold our very rigid quality standard.” So take a look — affected products have a code of “16-012,” and expiration dates between 9/11/2013 and 10/7/2013.
Women’s Affairs: Diana Nyad finally did it!
In her fifth heroic attempt, Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage, completing the 110-mile distance in nearly 53 hours on Monday. At age 64, the endurance swimmer has inspired people everywhere to never give up on their dreams, especially since Diana began chasing hers 35 years ago at age 28 when she first swam the passage. She wore a bodysuit to protect herself from jellyfish stings and stopped to eat along the way, but she never left the water. When she touched ground in Key West she spoke briefly to her supporters saying, “I have three messages. One is we should never, ever give up. Two is you never are too old to chase your dreams. Three is it looks like a solitary sport, but it’s a team.” You’re an inspiration to us all, Diana!