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NEWSFLASH: Need-to-Know Stories 6/9 – 6/15

The NSA drama deepened as 29-year-old Edward Snowden admitted to leaking last week’s government surveillance documents, claiming that citizens deserved to know that their right to privacy was being violated. Meanwhile, wildfires in Colorado have claimed lives as they rage on, uncontained. In Syria, the UN has put the official death toll from the country’s civil war at a staggering 93,000…and counting.

Want more grim but important details? Read on for this week’s NEWSFLASH!

Edward Snowden Comes Forward as Source of NSA Document Leak

The U.S. intelligence service made headlines everywhere last week when it was revealed that the NSA authorized officials to collect citizens’ phone records and Internet data in the name of national security. Early this week, a former undercover CIA employee came forward and revealed that he leaked the documents.

Edward Snowden, 29, is currently being pursued by the U.S. government while he resides in Hong Kong. Snowden had apparently fled Hawaii with four laptops worth of classified information about the NSA security surveillance program, so reports The Guardian to whom Snowden gave his first interview.

“I’m not going to hide,” Snowden told The Washington Post. “Allowing the U.S. government to intimidate its people with threats of retaliation for revealing wrongdoing is contrary to the public interest.”

But some authorities have expressed their confusion over how Snowden obtained the documents, especially since his most recent work was with consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton and not the NSA. Snowden, however, has contracted for the NSA before.

The U.S. government is keeping Snowden under close watch, especially given fears that Snowden may defect to China with all the classified information he possesses.  

Death Toll in Syria Civil War Reaches 93,000

The United Nations has put the official death toll of Syria’s civil conflict at 93,000 following 25 months of ongoing war.

However, the number of casualties is expected to be much higher than the UN’s grim count, given that the ongoing war has made counting and keeping track of victims difficult. The high number of people who have simply “disappeared” also hint at the possibility of a death toll that is actually much larger than the official UN report.

Since the start of the Syrian conflict involving President Bashar al-Assad’s army and opposition rebels, the death toll has mounted at an average of 5,000 casualties per month. The number of victims now has the Syrian civil war on track to surpass the eight-year Iraq conflict in casualties, and has reached half the death toll of a few African civil wars and genocides.

The U.S. government is closely monitoring the situation to assess any available actions. President Obama’s administration has been clear about supporting the rebels in their fight against al-Assad.

2 Dead in Colorado Wildfire

Two people have been confirmed dead so far in the Black Forest Fire that sprung up near Colorado Springs on Tuesday. The bodies were discovered on Thursday in the fire’s burn area.

The Black Forest Fire is one of three forest fires that erupted in Colorado, but it is by far the most destructive. As of Saturday, the fire was only five percent contained and continued to ravage the region north of Colorado Springs.

473 homes have been destroyed and more than 34,000 have been evacuated, making the fire the worst in Colorado’s history. The Black Forest Fire has even eclipsed last year’s Waldo Canyon Fire, which destroyed 346 homes.

The government has sent in 1,000 personnel, including the National Guard, to help fight the fire. The fire is still expected to grow.

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Annie Pei

U Chicago

Annie is a Political Science major at the University of Chicago who not only writes for Her Campus, but is also one of Her Campus UChicago's Campus Correspondents. She also acts as Editor-In-Chief of Diskord, an online op-ed publication based on campus, and as an Arts and Culture Co-Editor for the university's new Undergraduate Political Review. When she's not busy researching, writing, and editing articles, Annie can be found pounding out jazz choreography in a dance room, furiously cheering on the Vancouver Canucks, or around town on the lookout for new places, people, and things. This year, Annie is back in DC interning with Voice of America once again!
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