► The United Nations has appealed for $6.5 billion in aid for Syria and its neighboring countries in an attempt to help 16 million people in 2014, Reuters reports. The request for funds to aid the victims of the ongoing conflict in Syria is part of the U.N.’s larger annual appeal, totaling $12.9 billion this year to help 52 million people in 17 countries. According to the news report, the money for Syria would go toward food, clean drinking water, shelter, education, health services and polio vaccines to those both inside and outside of the nation that has been ravaged by civil war in the last two and a half years. Neighboring nations Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, and Iraq would also receive some of that aid to fund its ongoing support of Syrian refugees. At a meeting of donor countries in Geneva today, U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said the funds requested for Syria is the largest amount ever of a U.N. appeal for a single crisis. The larger appeal would go toward countries including Sudan, South Sudan, Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan and the Philippines.
► “A principled and ultra-competent, if somewhat eccentric employee, and one who earned the access used to pull off his leak by impressing superiors with sheer talent.” That is how former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden is described in an article taking a closer look at the man behind the largest data leak in NSA history, published today on Forbes.com. Author Andy Greenberg wrote the piece after meeting with a former colleague of Edward Snowden at NSA Hawaii, who wished to remain anonymous. The source reveals that, contrary to many popular myths that have surfaced as to how Snowden actually obtained the classified information he later disclosed publicly, Snowden was given access to the documents. Snowden, who came on at NSA Hawaii to work as a cybersecurity expert for Dell’s services division, was reassigned to manage Microsoft Sharepoint after there was an issue with his first contract. “Impressed with his technical abilities, Snowden’s managers decided that he was the most qualified candidate to build a new web front-end for one of its projects, despite his contractor status,” the article states. The piece also describes that Snowden was offered a position on the elite team of NSA hackers, Tailored Access Operations, but he turned it down to work at the agency’s threat operations center.
►Two Lebanese soldiers were shot by Israeli troops just a few hours after an Israeli soldier was shot and killed along the unstable border overnight. According to CBS News, “The Israeli soldier, Shlomi Cohen, 31, was fatally shot late Sunday near Rosh Hanikra, by a Lebanese army sniper, the Israeli military said.” No clear motive was given for the act, but Lebanese soldiers have opened fire in the past when Israeli soldiers made attempts to infiltrate the nation. The shootings could be a sign of escalating tensions in the area; seven years ago extremist group Hezbollah started a war that lasted one month, but there has been relative peace ever since. An Israeli army spokesperson said they saw “suspicious movement” along the border and opened fire on the two Lebanese soldiers. Another army spokesperson added that while they “maintain the right to exercise self-defense against perpetrators of attacks against Israel and its civilians,” he said they “have no interest in further escalation of violence.”