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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Friday, February 21, 2014 at 9:38 AM

After a set of emergency talks involving multiple countries, the government of Ukraine has announced a tentative resolution to the bloody civil conflict centered in Kiev. The deal does not include President Viktor F. Yanukovych’s stepping down from power, which is likely to disappoint opposition protesters, but it hopefully avoids U.S. sanctions that were being prepared. The Ukrainian president has, however, agreed to an early presidential election as a compromise. An accord has now been signed with opposition leaders, reports the New York Times.

And while every major news outlet has covered the crisis in Ukraine, the violence in Venezuela has gone mostly ignored—both by the international media and Venezuelan news coverage. Protests in Venezuela started on February 12 over social and economic problems, and have grown in size and intensity since.

Pakistan has halted peace talks with the Taliban, after the set of strikes the Pakistani government carried out on Taliban targets that Jane told you about yesterday. The strikes were justified as an act of self-defense: the Pakistani government claims that Taliban fighters have killed over 100 soldiers in the past five months.

The United States and several allies have made some progress concerning targeting aid to rebel groups in Syria. Countries supplying aid to Syria will begin to differentiate between opposition groups to determine which groups should be ineligible to receive arms assistance due to extremist ties or policies.  

In what will surely be remembered as a huge blow to the NSA, the intelligence agency has conceded that it has no legal recourse to halt the production and sale of an NSA parody t-shirt.  

The Wall Street Journal explains why finding an alternative storage site for NSA telephony metadata is proving to be more difficult than President Obama suggested in his January speech.  

Meanwhile, internet security expert Bruce Schneier is calling for breaking up the NSA. Schneier argues that the agency has gotten to big to carry out all of its various functions, ultimately leaving Americans at risk. Schneier concedes his idea is probably out of the realm of immediate possibility, but offers a pretty clear sketch of what his alternate world would look like.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has announced a challenge contest—“Instinct”—to help find the key to understanding if people are trustworthy.  The contest calls on developers to develop an algorithm to predict the trustworthiness of an individual. The winner will win $25,000, with attractive prizes for second and third places to boot.

Loren Thompson has penned an opinion piece for Forbes calling into question the reliability of drones and asking why the U.S. military has been so keen to phase out more traditional, manned spying aircraft, like the U-2 Dragon Lady.

Connecticut-based journalist Pedro Rivera is suing his local police department after police officers launched an investigation into the Rivera’s use of a drone to capture newsworthy images and video. The police also informed Rivera’s employer of his use of drone technology, which ultimately led to a week-long suspension from work. Rivera claims that he was using his drone as a private citizen, and not for commercial use—the latter of which necessitates FAA approval.

Meanwhile, over at Politico, drones are serving as inspirations for art. Artist James Bridle created a project utilizing a “drone shadow” to depict how “the dehumanization of military tools has affected society.” Take a look at how a one-to-one representation of an MQ-1 Predator measures up to common, quotidian sites.

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