Government

  • U.S. curbing intelligence sharing with Israel as discord over Iran talks deepens

    As a result of the growing tensions between the United States and Israel, and what the United States views as an improper use by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of sensitive information regarding the nuclear negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran, the White House last week begun to limit the scope, quality, and depth of the information it shares with Israel regarding the talks with Iran about the Iranian nuclear program. A senior Israeli official said that U.S. representatives continue to meet with and update their Israeli counterparts, but are passing on information about the talks “at a lower resolution.”

  • FAA proposes rules for integrating drones into U.S. airspace

    In an effort to integrate UAVs, or drones, into U.S. airspace, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) plans to allow small commercial drones weighing up to fifty-five pounds to fly within sight of their remote pilots during daylight hours, according to the agency’s proposal for governing commercial drone flights. The drones must remain below 500 feet in the air and not exceed 100 mph.Industry advocates warned that drone research could move overseas if the U.S. government fails to quickly accept the widespread use of commercial drones.

  • Undocumented immigrants begin application process as Congressional impasse continues

    While Congress remains in a stalemate on DHS funding and immigration reform, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, on Wednesday, will begin accepting applications from those eligible for an expanded program granting work permits and deportation deferrals to undocumented immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children (DREAMers).

  • Obama signs cybersecurity executive order, promotes information-sharing hubs

    President Barack Obama, at last week’s White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection, reiterated the need for more companies to collaborate with each other as well as with the federal government to develop cybersecurity solutions that protect consumer privacy while keeping hackers out of network systems.One strategy Obama encouraged in his speech was the creation of information-sharing groups, called hubs, built around vertical industry sectors.

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  • Sandia Labs anthrax detector wins national technology transfer award

    Bacillus anthracis, the anthrax bacteria, is found in soils worldwide and can cause serious, often fatal, illness in humans and animals. It can survive in harsh conditions for decades. Humans can be exposed through skin contact, inhalation of spores or eating contaminated meat. Currently, samples for testing must be propagated in a laboratory that uses specialized tools requiring a consistent power supply, something often unavailable in the developing world. Sandia National Laboratories won the Federal Laboratory Consortium’s (FLC) 2015 Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer for a credit-card-size device that can detect bacteria that cause anthrax.

  • Blocking cash transfers to Somalia may help, rather than hinder, terrorism: Experts

    In an effort to curb the flow of cash to terror networks in Somalia, U.S. treasury officials have pressured banks to cut off money transfers to the country. The move follows growing concerns among U.S. law-enforcement agencies about Somali émigrés with extremist Islamic views supporting Somali-based terror group al-Shabaab. Officials of several humanitarian groups worry that the move may backfire, as some Somalis who can no longer rely on cash transfers from the United States may soon join al-Shabaab or other criminal groups to make ends meet.

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  • U.K. stepping up effort to prevent radicalization of vulnerable Muslim youths

    The British government has stepped up its efforts to prevent more vulnerable Muslim youths from adopting jihadist views and joining terrorist groups, specifically the Islamic State (ISIS) and al-Qaeda. The government’s Prevent initiative, which aims to “stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism,” funds community campaigns that mentor young people at risk of jihadist recruitment. Now it also encourages local officials and community leaders to identify and report evidence of radicalization in at risk neighborhoods throughout the United Kingdom.

  • Lone-wolf domestic terrorism on the rise

    As the White House prepares to host a major summit this week examining the threat of violent extremism, a new study of domestic terrorism released last week finds that the vast majority of this violence is coming from “lone wolves” or “leaderless resistance” groups composed of no more than two people. The report examines more than sixty domestic terror incidents. Almost three-quarters of the incidents were carried out, or planned, by a lone wolf, a single person acting without accomplices. Ninety percent of the incidents were the work of no more than two persons.

  • The politics of (not) counting: why war on terror’s civilian toll matters

    Since 2007, a growing body of literature has emerged from inside the U.S. military that stresses the importance of tracking civilian casualties on strategic rather than moral grounds. A key component of the counterinsurgency doctrine (COIN) developed under General David Petraeus’s auspices was that the United States needed to move away from enemy-centric operations and embrace a more population-centric approach. By focusing on winning the hearts and minds of ordinary people, it was argued that the insurgency’s support structure could be removed without having to confront them head-on. The overall aim is not to gain control of territory as you would in a conventional war, but to win the local population’s support by convincing them that you can protect and provide. Within this framework, civilians’ deaths become a strategic consideration rather than a purely legal one. Avoiding civilian casualties was not simply a matter of adhering to international law, but an essential part of winning the war. Lieutenant-General James L. Terry, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria, recently admitted, however, that he had no idea how many civilians have died as a result of coalition airstrikes in the region. As well as being questionable on moral grounds, the refusal to count civilian casualties could be seen as a strategic mistake on the military’s own terms — fanning the flames of resentment in a region already in the midst of a violent war.

  • Senate Democrats block vote on House’s DHS budget bill

    In late 2014, Republicans decided to fund DHS only through the end of February 2015 in hopes of using further funding request conditioned on defunding the implementation of President Barack Obama’s executive order to halt deportations for many undocumented immigrants. Senate Democrats, on the other hand, are demanding a DHS funding bill which does not interfere with Obama’s immigration plans. On Thursday, for the fourth time, Senate Democrats blocked the Republican move to pass a bill which defunds Obama’s executive order.

  • Earthquake early-warning system to be deployed in Washington, Oregon

    California has been testing ShakeAlert, an earthquake early-warning system. Emergency officials and first responders in Washington and Oregon have been working with their counterparts in California to design a similar system specifically for the Pacific Northwest. The project, estimated to cost roughly $16 million a year, has received $6 million from a private foundation, $5 million from Congress for the coming year, and the White House’s new budget calls for another $5 million.

  • Boko Haram militants launch first attack against targets in Chad

    Boko Haram is continuing to expand its campaign of terror beyond Nigeria: Overnight, Boko haram militants have attacked a Chadian village, killing several people in the first attack by the Nigerian Islamist group against a target in Chad. Boko Haram militants, in control of a vast swath of territory in north-east Nigeria, have already launched a number of cross-border attacks in recent weeks against two other neighbors of Nigeria – Cameroon and Niger. The group’s declared goal is to carve out an Islamist emirate around the Lake Chad area which borders Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger.

  • CEO responsibilities for data breach

    The job of a chief executive officer (CEO) is becoming more difficult every year. Today, in addition to being strategic visionaries and leaders, most CEOs must deal with complex legal issues surrounding their organizations. More often they are being held personally responsible for mistakes made by their organizations. Security breaches are one of the fastest growing legal issues facing many C-level executives. All C-level executives need to be prepared to handle a potential security crisis with the help of IT, legal, and PR (public relation) teams.Taking rapid countermeasures and openly communicating about breaches are key factors in effectively managing expectations of a company’s shareholders and customers.

  • Alarm in Israel: Hezbollah, Assad army fight to take areas near Israel border from rebels

    In a move viewed with growing alarm in Israel, Syrian and Hezbollah forces, under the command of senior Iranian officers from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, have launched a sweeping campaign to take over areas on the Syrian side of the Israel-Syria border on the Golan Heights. These areas have been under the control of moderate anti-Assad rebels since the spring of 2014. Iran, eager to increase the military pressure on Israel, has decided to gain control of areas to the east of Israel’s northern Galilee, now under the control of moderate Syrian rebels. Hezbollah’s control of south and south-east Lebanon already allows Iran presence immediately to the west and north Israel’s northern Galilee region.

  • Most DHS employees would go on working even if budget is not approved

    The critical responsibilities of many DHS components require approximately 200,000 of the agency’s 230,000 employees to continue working even if Congress fails to fund the agency, as most DHS employees perform work considered necessary to protect human life and property. Still, withholding funding for DHS could delay the department’s employees’ paychecks until the shutdown ends.