*Another minor occurrence in the NSA surveillance scandal: Facebook, Microsoft, and Google were given permission last night to publish information about how many national security letters they receive under FISA and the PATRIOT Act, and vague details about the justification behind the secretive subpoenas.
Facebook said it received 9,000-10,000 NSL requests from federal, state, and local law enforcement officials about 18,000-19,000 users in the last six months of 2012. The requests, according to the AP, pertained to missing children, terrorist threats, and fugitive tracking. Microsoft received between 6,000 and 7,000 requests about 31,000-32,000 accounts. Google, meanwhile, declined to release numbers, saying that it’s “waiting to be able to reveal more specific and meaningful information.”
*Six Libyan soldiers were killed in Benghazi earlier today after fighting between special forces and armed protesters.
The demonstrators, according to Reuters, “had been demanding the disbanding of militias, and clashed with members of the Libya Shield brigade, which fought to oust former leader Muammar Gaddafi.” The protest came after fighting between militiamen and armed protesters backed by the Libyan military lead to at least 31 deaths and 100 injuries last week.
Of course, this is the real Benghazi scandal – U.S. interventionism can yield some messy, unpleasant results. But it’s one that trigger-happy Republicans struggle to exploit for fundraising off of tin-foil hatters.
*Early returns from Iran’s Presidential election on Friday show that moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani has a comfortable lead — “more than 49 percent of the votes cast in more than 5,800 polling stations.” If he doesn’t win over 50 percent of the vote there will be a run-off.
*At least 5,000 demonstrators have turned up in Belfast to protest the G8 meeting that starts there on Monday. March organizers said, according to the Guardian, that “social, economic and environmental justice must be central to political decision-making.”
Meanwhile, the topic of Syria is bound to generate protests from various leaders inside the summit. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has said that an Obama administration proposal to create a no-fly zone in Syria “will violate international law.”