Who is Edward Snowden and What Did He Do?

Some information for students (from a fellow student) to keep you up to date with this complicated current affair.

There’s been a lot of talk going around about Edward Snowden and his disclosure of NSA information, but with the amount of commentary in the media, it’s difficult to figure out even some basic information. The purpose of this post is to answer some of the basic questions revolving around Snowden and the NSA.

Who is Edward Snowden?

Born on June 21, 1983 in Wilmington, North Carolina, Edward Joseph Snowden is soon to be thirty years old. He studied computing at Anne Arundel Community College, but illness left him unable to complete his coursework, leaving him without a high school diploma until the later completion of his GED. In 2011, he participated in an online program, working towards a Masters Degree with the University of Liverpool. Seven years earlier, in 2004, Snowden had enlisted in the US Army as a Special Forces recruit, but according to his own reports, was discharged four months later after breaking both his legs in a training accident.

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Snowden during an interview with Poitras and Greenwald.

Snowden’s former positions include (in the order he held them):

·      Working for the NSA, he was a security guard for the Center for the Advanced Study of Language, a covert center.

·      He worked for the CIA in IT Security.

·      According to his own reports, the CIA placed Snowden in Geneva under diplomatic cover in 2007, where he oversaw network security.

·      He reports leaving the CIA to work for a private contractor inside a US military base in Japan for the NSA.

·      Until recently, Snowden held a position as a system administrator inside the NSA for consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii. He held this position for under three months and was fired on June 10th after his media disclosures.

What did Snowden disclose?

Through the disclosure of documents and an arranged meeting in Hong Kong with reporter Glen Greenwald, of The Guardian, and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, Snowden revealed the following pieces of information:

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16 Days of Summer

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eNotes’ editorial intern shares his tips of how to make the most of your high school summer. Or any summer, for that matter!

I’m a huge Harry Potter fan.  My grandma bought me the first book when I was 11, and from then on I read every book within the same week it was released.  My extreme anticipation and excitement for the release of the final installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, back in 2007 should be understandable then.  However, I was conflicted.  The release date for the 7th book was set for the end of July, which is far too close to the end of summer from a student’s perspective.  You see my dilemma.  As a typical high school student, I wanted the long carefree days of summer to last forever, however, I now had this exciting event to look forward to at the end of summer.  For the first time in my life, I was looking forward to summer ending.  This turned out to be the slowest summer ever.  My summer that normally felt like it was only 16 days long now felt like the setting of a slow-motion dream I couldn’t escape.  Ultimately, I became comfortable with the pace of that summer in 2007 and learned to enjoy my time and stay in the moment up until that long awaited release of the Deathly Hallows.

That summer was a stark contrast to a typical high school summer, which moves way too quickly and is filled with sobs of students during the final weeks.  The days meld together and may begin to pass you by.  Let’s take a look at some tips to ensure that you’re making the most of your summer and emerge into the next school year after a productive and fun vacation.

1. Break it down.  You have two and a half months ahead of you with no academic obligations.  Plan your summer by answering these basic questions which will provide an outline for your time ahead: 1. What will I do with my time?, 2. What are my obligations?, 3. What will be fun?, 4. What will be beneficial?

2. Travel.  One of my biggest regrets of high school is that I considered leaving my street to be “traveling”.  Travel and learn to be comfortable making your own decisions, being your own boss, and not having your mother force you to clean your room.  You will gain experience, confidence, and surely return a changed person.  More importantly, you will be better equipped to handle college. And anyways, girls like well-traveled men (and vice versa).  If a trip outside of the US isn’t plausible, spend a couple days in a neighboring city.

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Watch the World’s Longest Book Domino Chain

Last month the public library of eNotes’ very own hometown, Seattle, broke the world record for the world’s longest book domino chain. Check it out!

It took twenty-seven volunteers, seven hours, and five attempts in all, but on May 31st at approximately 11pm the Seattle Public Library successfully toppled 2,131 books, domino style. The awesome number of books used allowed the library staff to get creative with the pathway, too, as books climbed ramps, scaled stairs, and at one point spilled across the floor to spell ‘READ’ in giant letters. The books truly seem to have a life of their own as they bypass scenes like a couple sharing a picnic and a woman reading on the beach. In truth, these books were actually given a second life, as all of them had been “retired and donated” to the library. Now that they’ve had their moment in the spotlight, though, all should find a new home, thanks to the library’s ingenious way of getting the books back out there for public consumption:

Books used in the record-setting event can be purchased at upcoming Friends of The Seattle Public Library book sales. Each book will have a special sticker identifying that it helped set the book domino world record, as well as the Web address so the book buyer can watch the video.

Hopefully this attention-grabbing kickoff to the Seattle Public Library’s summer reading program will have a domino effect on the popularity of reading worldwide. Kudos to the two college students who masterminded the entire event: Laura D’Asaro and Luke Greenway of Harvard University and Middlebury College.

The Study Drug: Why Adderall Use Is Never Worth It

For those of you on the quarter system, finals are just around the corner. You’re likely feeling stressed at the end of this long year, and only just over the hurdle of your most recent midterms. You’ve heard stories of a friend of a friend who was able to stay up all night on energy drinks and Adderall, then aced his Organic Chemistry final. Sound familiar? What you may not be familiar with are the risks of  falling into such behavior yourself, the least of which is getting caught for a disciplinary offense. 

Adderall is a widely misused drug commonly referred to as the “study drug.” It’s most commonly abused by college students, though it is rapidly gaining in popularity with high school students across the country. In fact, according to data from Monitoring the Future, “10% of high school sophomores and 12% of high school seniors take these attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drugs without a prescription from their doctor.”

It’s unclear why many college and now high school students turn to Adderall use, but some claim it is the high expectations set upon them to get betters grades in school.  Many high school students also begin to feel the pressure to perform better on finals at the end of the year. This pressure can be from parents, academic advisors, or just the increased competition to get into the right college. No matter where the pressure comes from, students will often use Adderall to help them to focus better, have more energy and motivation or spend hours awake cramming in last minute studying.

If you or  your friends are thinking about trying Adderall to help you cram or write a last minute paper, know the facts first:

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How To Be Successful at a Large University

Success: “The accomplishment of an aim or purpose” (Merriam-Webster).  Success is what every person should strive to reach every day.  It is the backbone and motivator for all of our wants and needs.  Achieving success in college requires hard work and a little bit of knowledge about how to beat the system.  The university system differs from high school in a plethora of ways.  You don’t have the same classes every day, there are up to 500 students in your classes, there is no mandatory attendance, and your grade can be based on your performance on one or two tests.  If you just graduated from high school and are about to begin college, or are already in college and have a newfound resolve for success, read on to discover how to be successful at a large university.

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1. Define your success.  What are you looking to get out of college?  Is this just the next step in your educational journey?  Do you plan on using it as a stepping stone to a particular job or graduate program?  Do you just want to have fun?  Knowing what you want to get out of college before you begin is important.  Perhaps you want to make a difference on campus and run for a position on student government.  If you want a strong sense of fulfillment, giving back to the community and volunteering can get you there.  I was recruited at UCLA to play baseball, so my goal was to be as successful as I could in the classroom and on the field.

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A Day in the Life of a Student Researcher

Are you studying for a career in the sciences? Not sure where to begin to gather that lab experience that is oh so important for obtaining your degree and landing a great job? Our Math and Science intern Wilson shares his experiences of finding his place as a student researcher and shares the four lessons he’s learnt both inside and outside of the lab.

Lab work doesn’t always involve looking down the lens of a microscope, one thing I learnt in my work as a student researcher studying autism spectrum disorders in children.

For almost 2 years now, I have been a student researcher at UCLA studying the physiology of anxiety in youth with autism spectrum disorders. This position has opened my eyes up to the professional, research-oriented community and taught me to dismiss some of the common misconceptions I had before I received this opportunity. Here are a few things I learned on my way to becoming a student researcher.

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This is the Real World

And no, it’s not the kind where seven people are picked to live in a house. In our editorial intern’s final post, she tells you all the things you shouldn’t waste your time worrying about in this time of inevitable worries—graduation.

Hi all,

Today is my last day as an intern at eNotes. Because they’re promoting me to an EXECUTIVE POSITION.

Hah, just kidding. They’re kicking me out. My internship has run its course and now we must part ways (sigh).

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. As I walk away from this position and from my previous college lifestyle, I can’t help but feel like scissors are snipping at the ties that connected me to these things. Many things are finished and done. And it feels a little like that painful moment someone harshly yanks the blinds open after you’ve been sitting in a dark room for 5 hours.

Life after college…is a really strange thing. I’d like to equate it to a baby bird’s first flight. That moment you leave college is the same moment someone kicks you square in the back. You start to freefall downwards and it’s exhilarating but scary. You don’t know how to flap your wings or gain altitude because you’ve never done it before, but you’re trying with all your might to do something—anything. You know that you are capable of flight, you can feel it as the adrenaline rushes through you.

I think we are all humming Tom Petty in our heads right now.

When we leave college, we’re free for the first time. No homework, no essays, no school responsibilities. No strict guidance, no tunnel vision, no more college microcosm. We can take our lives in any direction we choose to. But that doesn’t mean we necessarily know how to handle the situation or understand it fully. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to know how to grasp the real world off the bat, or even comprehend it. We’re thrown into it, and told to make it work. We know we can because a lot of people can. We know we can because we have a desire to and that desire fuels us. But we’re young. I’m not talking about age. I’m talking about our understanding of the world and of who we are. We’re young. So, it seems, the freefall is the only way we can prompt self growth, but it’s definitely not the most comfortable of feelings.

I’m undeniably in this free fall right now. I’m actually writing to you as I pummel toward the earth.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve done a lot of worrying. A whole lot of worrying. To me, it makes perfect sense. New world, new life, new opportunities, and decisions that need to be made…these are all things that bring their own baggage—their own sets of worries and stressors. Throw ‘em all together and you’ve got one huge, heavy mess.

There’s a good chance this will happen to you at some point, so I’m going to go ahead and help you through it. There are some things that don’t need to be worried about. But we worry about them because we don’t realize we’re worrying about things that don’t need to be worried about. Let’s pretend like that sentence was really clear and not a run-on at all.

Here are some things you shouldn’t waste your time worrying about, like I did.

  1. Don’t worry about failing. If you’re chasing something—a goal, a dream, a degree, a career—just chase it, with all the gusto you have. Don’t let your mind be boggled by the potentiality of failing. It will distract. You likely won’t fail. And if you do, well…failure is also a good thing. It teaches. The best lessons are learnt from failing at something. Either you succeed at your dream, and move on, or you fail at it, and move on. Both of these things will leave you more knowledgeable about yourself, about life, and about what you really want from both of those things. Hello…this is a win-win.
  2. Don’t worry about what your life is going to look like in 25 years. Mini van. Dog. Three kids. A house. Early retirement. It’s good to have an idea of what you want your life to look like, and it’s good to take action to make those things more of a possibility. But stop stressing over them. Most of our plans are just rough drafts or sketches anyways. Things rarely happen the way we expect or plan on them to. So why dwell? Silly goose.
  3. Don’t worry about things that haven’t happened yet. “If I don’t get this job then I’ll be unemployed and I’ll lose all of my friends because I won’t be able to go out anymore and I’ll just have to hang out with a dog and talk to it and I’ll eventually lose all my money and my apartment and my ability to remain hygienic and basically my life is going to be OVER.” Yes, let’s not do this. Half of the things we worry about are things that haven’t come into fruition yet. They’re thoughts. Little puffs of air that we catch in jars and then stare at until our eyeballs hurt. There’s nothing there. Stop staring. Stop it! Be in the present, not trapped in the different futures you’ve managed to paint. If something worry-worth actually occurs, worry about it then, but only then.
  4. Don’t worry about what your friendships and relationships will look like as your life moves forward. Just keep in touch with your friends and loved ones. Those who remain in your life are meant to, those who don’t might turn up again later or might not. We can’t control these things except by how much effort we put forth. So show that you care and love these special people, but don’t worry that they’ll leave you. That just makes for messes, drama, and crying. The kinds of emotion you feel during the gut-wrenching, tear jerking portion of a rom-com. Yuck.
  5. Don’t worry about finding a perfect career that’ll last you a lifetime. This is just silly. In life, we change constantly, and so do our interests. It’s not really probable to assume that a career you pick now will make you happy forever. In all likelihood, it won’t. In order for you to actually succeed at and enjoy your career, you will need to find work based off of what you feel in the present—what’s driving you now. So, with that in mind, there’s no need to worry about finding the perfect career that’ll last forever. Just find yourself a path that feels right for right now. Don’t worry so much about what happens later.

A wise man and renowned poet named Robert Sylvester Kelly (commonly known as R. Kelly), once sang to the heavens these famous words: “I believe I can fly.”

Well, friends, I believe you can fly. 

It’s been nice knowing you, folks.

Good luck.