The US Senate on Tuesday advanced a landmark measure that ends the government's bulk data collection of Americans' phone records, while reauthorizing other surveillance powers that lapsed this week. The USA Freedom Act would halt the National Security Agency's dragnet of telephone data from millions of Americans who have no connection to terrorism, the most controversial surveillance program among several signed into law in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the United States in 2001. The reform bill would shift the storage of the metadata from the NSA to the telephone companies, allowing authorities to access the information only with a warrant from a secret counterterror court that identifies a specific person or group of people suspected of terrorist ties.
Gunmen killed nine Afghan employees of a Czech aid organisation in their beds during an overnight raid in northern Afghanistan Tuesday, one of the deadliest recent attacks on humanitarian workers in the war-battered country. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the killings in the relatively tranquil Balkh province, but the Taliban are intensifying their annual spring offensive despite repeated government attempts to reopen peace talks. The nine victims were shot as they slept in a guesthouse belonging to People in Need (PIN), a Czech organisation that has been active in Afghanistan since 2001, delivering aid to remote communities in the east and north.
The White House signaled its intent Monday to veto legislation that would stymie President Barack Obama's push to open travel to Cuba, the latest political clash over his landmark foreign policy goal. The transportation bill includes measures designed to scupper Obama's broader effort to thaw Cuba ties that were set in deep freeze during the Cold War. "His senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill," the White House said in a statement.