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Chatter: NSA in the hotseat, China cracks down on luxe, plus Weinergate 2

US lawmakers prepare to vote on whether to allow the NSA to continue gathering data on ordinary citizens, South Sudan's president fires his entire cabinet, and Anthony Weiner does it again.
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Graphic. (Antler Agency/GlobalPost)
           

                      

   

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NEED TO KNOW

Surveillance under scrutiny. US lawmakers will vote today on whether to rein in government intelligence agencies' power to snoop. If Congress approves an amendment proposed in the wake of the Snowden revelations, the National Security Agency will no longer be able to collect phone records willy-nilly, but will find its sights limited to individuals under investigation.

The measure's backers say it's a necessary check on Washington's license to spy on its own people. Its opponents — the White House first among them — say it's a knee-jerk reaction that could put American lives at risk. In case the House agrees, rest assured that the hacktivists of the world are working on more immediate options to shield us from the long eye of the law. Want to escape government prying? There's an app for that.

WANT TO KNOW

South Sudan no longer has a cabinet. President Salva Kiir, for reasons that are still unclear, has fired his deputy and all ministers by presidential decree. The dramatic move was billed as a "reshuffle," but with no replacements announced so far, it's a shuffle that only goes one way.

Soldiers and police are have been stationed outside government offices, as foreign embassies warn of possible confrontation. Just two years into South Sudan's independence, the country is facing the biggest political showdown in its brief history. 

Bulgaria besieged. More than 100 politicians and other unfortunates have been freed from the Bulgarian parliament after protesters blockaded the building. Anti-government demonstrators surrounded the complex in central Sofia throughout the night, only allowing police to escort out those trapped inside in the early hours of this morning.

It was a dramatic start to what is now their 40th day of protest. The president has called for calm; the protesters say they won't quit until the two-month-old government resigns.

Oops, he did it again. They say a name can determine your life choices. If so it seems that Anthony Weiner, no doubt the butt of many a schoolyard joke, is fated to spend his adult life giving awkward press conferences in which he apologizes for his latest online sexcapades.

The former US congressman — former, you'll remember, because he resigned after tweeting a picture we'd rather not have seen — has admitted to exchanging explicit photos with a woman not his wife as recently as last year. His wife, at least, insists she's forgiven him (twice). But will the New York City voters he's asking to elect him mayor?

STRANGE BUT TRUE

A palace fit for a bureaucrat. China has ordered a freeze on constructing, extending or redecorating government offices for the next five years, in a bid to curb spending on ever more extravagant public buildings.

The directive was prompted by such taxpayer-funded follies as a $4.89 million office building nicknamed "the White House," and a state-owned drug company headquarters decorated to look like France's Palace of Versailles. Back to the brown floor tiles it is.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/chatter/chatter-nsa-power-pry-debate