Government

  • Iran dealKerry tells Israelis: U.S. “guarantees” it can prevent Iran from getting the bomb

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry tried to assuage concerns in Israel over the nuclear deal with Iran, saying in a Sunday interview on Israel’s Channel 10 TV that “There is a lot of hysteria about this deal.” He added: “I say to every Israeli that today we have the ability to stop them if they decided to move quickly to a bomb, and I absolutely guarantee that in the future we will have the ability to know what they are doing so that we can still stop them if they decided to move to a bomb.”

  • Law enforcementOhio to develop state-wide standards for police use of deadly force

    Ohio governor John Kasich has created a 12-member group of community and law enforcement leaders to help draft statewide standards on how police departments should use deadly force. The move comes in the wake of a series of police shootings involving black males.Most police departments in Ohio already have their own policies for deadly force, and some claim a statewide standard might not be an effective solution. Kasich said he would use his powers to pressure police departments in the state to follow the standards recommended by the group.

  • InfrastructureU.S. must invest in energy infrastructure to upgrade outdates systems

    Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz is calling for a renewed focus on U.S. energy infrastructure, saying new and improved oil pipeline projects are just a portion of a long list of work needed to modernize the country’s outdated system for transporting oil, natural gas, and electricity.In the government’s first Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), an almost 500-page analysis released last week, Moniz calls for building new pipelines, repairing old ones, and insulating electric grids and transformers from storms and terrorist attacks.”It is the right time, maybe it’s a little after the right time, for us to make these kind of investments in energy infrastructure,” he said.

  • Suicide bombers4,300 people in more than fifteen countries killed in 504 suicide bombings in 2014

    A new report on global trends in suicide terrorism shows that during 2014 more than 4,300 people in more than fifteen countries were killed in 504 suicide bombings. Out of the fifteen countries, Afghanistan and Iraq led the world last year in suicide attacks with an increase in Iraq. The report highlights key data on world hot spots for attacks and also shows that, with the exception of Nigeria, the majority of suicide bombers were males. The researchers also found that car bombs were the most prevalent weapons, and the targets were overwhelmingly security forces.

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  • TerrorismFriends recall indications of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s growing radicalization

    In the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, FBI agents interviewed two friends of Tamerlan Tsarnaev who, with his brother Dzhokhar, planted bombs at the marathon on 15 April. A paralegal on the defense team read aloud portions of notes from the interviews at the sentencing phase of Dzhokhar’s trial on Tuesday. Both friends — Viskhan Vakhabov, who was born in Chechnya and who lived in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan before moving to Chelsea in 2004, and Russian-born Magomed Dolakov – said they noticed Tamerlan’s growing radicalization.

  • CybersecurityLawmakers reintroduce “Aaron’s Law” to curb CFAA abuses

    A bipartisan group of lawmakers have reintroduced a bill known as “Aaron’s Law,” which aims to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). CFAA has been cited by civil libertarians (EFF) as having been abused to the point where it now stifles research and innovation, as well as civil liberties. the measure is intended to honor Aaron Swartz, the Reddit co-founder who was apprehended after downloading millions of scholarly articles from a Massachusetts Institute of Technology database in 2011. Following his arrest, with charges under the CFAA which might lead to a maximum sentence of thirty-five years in prison, Swartz committed suicide at age 26, leading some to charge that the aggression of prosecutors led to the his decision.

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  • BoycottsU.S. consumer boycott of French-sounding products during 2003 Iraq War

    Remember “freedom fries?” In 2002, as the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush was gearing up to invade Iraq, tensions were rising in the U.N. Security Council, where France, deeply opposed to an attack on Iraq, threatened to use its veto power to stop the action. In the United States, sentiment toward Paris plummeted, particularly among conservative Americans. Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly announced on the air he was boycotting French products, and Capitol Hill cafeterias famously renamed French fries as “freedom fries,” in an edible admonishment of the French government. Do U.S. consumers boycott products in response to international conflict? Two professors at the University of Virginia say that in the case of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the answer is “yes.”

  • WaterCalifornia drought highlights the state’s economic divide

    As much of Southern California enters into the spring and warmer temperatures, the effects of California’s historic drought begin to manifest themselves in the daily lives of residents, highlighting the economic inequality in the ways people cope. Following Governor Jerry Brown’s (D) unprecedented water rationing regulations,wealthier Californians weigh on which day of the week no longer to water their grass, while those less fortunate are now choosing which days they skip a bath.

  • CybersecurityBreach of background-checks database may lead to blackmail

    Newly released documents show how hackers infiltrated servers used by US Investigations Services(USIS), a federal contractor which conducts background checks for DHS. In a House Oversight and Government Reform Committeehearing last week, Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) said more than 27,000 personnel seeking security clearances likely were affected by the USIS breach. Similar hacks also affected servers at the Office of Personnel Management(OPM), which holds information on security clearance investigations. Once hackers have a list of employees who possess government security clearances, they can exploit other aspects of those employees’ lives for malicious gain.

  • Water & conflictWater scarcity increase Middle East instability

    At least1.6 billion people worldwide face water scarcity because their countries lack the necessary infrastructure to move water from rivers and aquifers. In the Middle East, this lack of water infrastructure combines with the effects of global warming — including prolonged in droughts — to make the entire region politically and economically unstable. Food supplies are diminished as farmers find it difficult to find water for crops, and even basic sanitary requirements are not met due to poor access to clean water, thus increasing the spread of disease.

  • Nuclear whistleblowingMan who revealed Israel’s nuclear secrets detained in Jerusalem for talking to foreigners

    Nearly thirty years ago, in the fall of 1986, MordechaiVanunu, a low-level technician at Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor, left Israel for a trip to the Far East. He settled in Australia, converted to Christianity, and sometime in August that year began to talk with Peter Hounam, a London Sunday Times reporter, about what he saw at Dimona. He spent eighteen years in jail, eleven of these years in solitary confinement, and was released, under severe restrictions, in 2004. Last Thursday he was detained in Jerusalem for violating one of his release conditions: he talked with two foreigners, that is, non-Israelis, for more than half-an-hour.

  • CBPCBP IA eliminates Tomsheck’s integrity program division

    Customs and Border Protection Internal Affairs (CBP IA) created a new division named the Threat Mitigation Division (TMD). According to an internal document, this new division — officially launched on 13 April — merges the Integrity Program Division (IPD) with the Counterintelligence and Operations Liaison Group (CIOLG).The stated mission of the new Threat Mitigation Division at CBP IA is, “To identify internal and external threats to CBP’s mission, information and people, and to develop and implement strategies to mitigate the identified threat.”

  • Basic researchNew MIT report details benefits of investment in basic research

    By Abby Abazorius

    In 2014, European researchers discovered a fundamental new particle which sheds light on the origins of the universe; the European Space Agency successfully landed the first spacecraft on a comet; and Chinese researchers developed the world’s fastest supercomputer. As these competitors increase their investment in basic research, the percentage of the U.S. federal budget devoted to research and development has fallen from around 10 percent in 1968 to less than 4 percent in 2015. A new report by MIT researchers examines how funding cutbacks will affect the future of scientific studies in the United States. The report also highlights opportunities in basic research which could help shape and maintain U.S. economic power, and benefit society.

  • CybersecurityEfforts to improve cyber information sharing between the private sector, government

    Lately, Obama administration officials having been venturing West to encourage tech firms to support the government’s efforts to improve cyber information sharing between the private sector and government agencies. The House of Representatives last week passed two bills to advance such effort. The Protecting Cyber Networks Act and the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act of 2015 authorize private firms to share threat data such as malware signatures, Internet protocol addresses, and domain names with other companies and the federal government. To the liking of the private sector, both bills offer companies liability protection for participating in cyberthreat information sharing.

  • DronesDespite persistent questions, support for use of drones against terrorists remains strong

    The CIA counterterrorism program which captured, interrogated, and tortured al-Qaeda suspects in secret prisons was criticized by lawmakers, including Senate Democrats who questioned the secrecy of the program. Many of those same lawmakers overwhelmingly support CIA targeted drone missions aimed at killing terror suspects and militants in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, and Somalia. Some lawmakers say it is time to move the drone program to the Pentagon. “I can understand when it was a very small operation why it would be done by the intelligence agency, such as U-2s and other reconnaissance aircraft, for many years,” says Senator John McCain (R-Arizona). “Now it’s reached the point where it’s an integral part of the conflict and a very essential one, so I think it should be conducted and oversight and administered by the Department of Defense.”