An American volunteer in the Peace Corps, Juliana Peluso, 24, lives in Kanel, Senegal, West Africa.
What does your life sound like? Or your job? Or the place where you live? Please send a recording of four sounds that tell the story of your life or job or town — at this moment in time — to email@example.com. Please include your name, age and where you live. You may be contacted for a follow-up interview.
If you're not sure what to do, listen to stories other people have recorded on NPR's How It Sounds Page. And if you're not sure how to record your own sound story, please go to NPR's Tumblr for instructions.
The Protojournalist: Experimental storytelling for the LURVers - Listeners, Users, Readers, Viewers - of NPR. @NPRtpj
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved the country's Parliament on Monday, and called early elections in the face of anti-government protests that began last month. But protest leaders said their goal was to rid Thai politics of her family's influence, and to that end they want to replace Yingluck's elected government with an unelected "people's council."
A government spokesman said a new vote would be held Feb. 2, but the date must be approved by Thailand's Election Commission. Yingluck says she'll remain as caretaker leader until a new prime minister is named.
Yingluck won the 2011 election in a landslide, and is expected to win in any new vote.
Protest leaders were unimpressed by her declaration. Suthep Thaugsuban, who has led the demonstrators since the protests began Nov. 24, said Monday his movement does "not consent to allowing the dictatorial majority ... to betray the people, to destroy the balance of democratic power."
Opposition supporters filled Bangkok's major street even as Yingluck announced early elections.
The Associated Press summarizes the root of the country's troubles:
"Thailand has been plagued by major bouts of upheaval since Yingluck's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was toppled in a 2006 army coup that laid bare a deeper conflict between the elite and educated middle class against Thaksin's power base in the countryside, which benefited from populist policies designed to win over the rural poor.
"An attempt by Yingluck's party last month to pass a bill through Parliament that would have granted amnesty to Thaksin and others triggered the latest round of unrest. Thaksin fled overseas in 2008 to avoid a corruption conviction he says was politically motivated."
The latest protests have so far killed at least five people and injured nearly 300 others. But the violence appeared to end last week ahead of the king's birthday.
As NPR's Scott Neuman noted, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in an address marking his 86th birthday, called on his people to do their duty "for stability, security of our nation" in an apparent reference to the protests. But the turmoil deepened on Sunday when the main opposition party, the Democrat Party, resigned en masse in protest from Parliament to join the anti-government demonstrations. The AP notes that the party hasn't won an election since 1992.
U.S. and British intelligence agencies have worked to infiltrate networks of violence-prone individuals who might unite for a common cause. And in some cases, the spies are also targeting networks that aren't regional terrorist cells — they're online gaming communities, according to the latest revelation from documents given to the media by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
"Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments" is the name of a 2008 NSA document being cited in coordinated reports from The Guardian, ProPublica, and The New York Times today, as the organizations published new details from the trove of documents provided by Snowden.
The reports describe spy agencies' push to infiltrate systems that allow millions of people to closely collaborate and even exchange money — all through a veil of alternate identities.
The project involved spies creating identities in networks that include Second Life and World of Warcraft, according to the reports. Another arm of the work is said to have collected massive amounts of data from Microsoft's Xbox Live network and elsewhere.
The effort was not a small one, the news agencies report. In fact, so much anti-terrorism work was being conducted in the virtual worlds that a separate "deconfliction" group was tasked with monitoring spies from the CIA, Pentagon, and FBI so that they wouldn't interfere with — or waste time spying on — one another, according to Pro Publica.
The Government Communications Headquarters, Britain's equivalent of the National Security Agency, also reportedly worked to insert its assets into the digital communities and review communications. And private contractors such as SAIC and Lockheed Martin "won contracts worth several million dollars, administered by an office within the intelligence community that finances research projects," ProPublica reports.
The Guardian explains what could motivate government agencies to spy on people in gaming environments:
"If properly exploited, games could produce vast amounts of intelligence, according to the NSA document. They could be used as a window for hacking attacks, to build pictures of people's social networks through "buddylists and interaction", to make approaches by undercover agents, and to obtain target identifiers (such as profile photos), geolocation, and collection of communications."
Britain's GCHQ evidently succeeded in getting details about a credit card-fraud group via an informant on Second Life. But as The Times notes, the records do not include a mention of any successful anti-terrorism operations that were based on intelligence gained in the virtual world.
It seems that proponents of spying on gaming networks struggled to find proof that terrorists have used gaming networks to communicate — and they suggested that the only way to find out was to conduct methodical research online, according to The Guardian.
News of the spy agencies' work in the gaming community comes as eight large tech companies have sent "an open letter to Washington" urging President Barack Obama and Congress to enact reforms in the practices of spy agencies such as the NSA.
The letter was signed by Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, Yahoo!, LinkedIn, and Microsoft.
"The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual — rights that are enshrined in our Constitution," the letter said, in arguing for laws that more tightly restrict the way surveillance is carried out on private citizens.
The large corporations posted the open letter at the Reform Government Surveillance website Monday.
Reacting to the letter, both the American Civil Liberties Union and WikiLeaks tell the AP that they would have preferred it if the Internet companies had spoken out in favor of individuals' privacy rights before Snowden exposed the spy agencies' tactics.
The disastrous rollout of the Obama administration's storefront for buying health coverage is now in a new phase — a slow recovery. But the questions about how something like this could happen and how a $600 billion technological failure can be prevented in the future made for dozens — dozens — of stories over the past two and a half months.
For our latest episode of the tech team podcast, a.k.a. "Our So-Called Digital Lives" — we take you through the failure of HealthCare.gov and explore the possibilities how to prevent it from happening again.
Special thanks to our West Coast-based producer, Cindy Carpien, for pulling this all together.
Good morning, here are our early stories:
And here are more early headlines:
South Africa Begins Week Of Mourning For Mandela. (NBC)
Hagel Arrives In Pakistan For Highly Anticipated Talks. (New York Times)
Senate Expected To Take Up Bill Banning Plastic Guns. (Gannett)
Former San Diego Mayor To Be Sentenced Today On Assault Charges. (Los Angeles Times)
Thailand's Embattled Prime Minister Dissolves Government, Calls New Elections. (CNN)
U.S. Asks French Auction House To Delay Sale Of Hopi Artifacts. (AP)
Several More Dead Whales Discovered In Florida Keys. (Sun Sentinel)
Survey Finds U.S. Gas Prices Rose In Last Two Weeks. (Bloomberg)
Kennedy Center Honors Awarded To Hancock, MacLaine, Santana, Others. (USA Today)
Huge Texas Gingerbread House With Edible Panels Sets Record. (Reuters)