• U.S. yet to develop a strategy to secure nation’s critical infrastructure

    For years, the U.S. government has warned federal and state agencies about the threat posed by hackers who may target computer systems responsible for operating nuclear plants, electric substations, oil and gas pipelines, transit systems, chemical facilities, and drinking water facilities. In February 2013, President Barack Obama issued a directive stating, “It is the policy of the United States to strengthen the security and resilience of its critical infrastructure against both physical and cyber threats.” Two years later the federal government has yet to develop or adopt a consensus on how to secure America’s critical infrastructure from cyber criminals.

  • Thousands of undocumented immigrants see court hearings delayed to 2019 or later

    Thousands of undocumented immigrants seeking legalization through the U.S. court system have had their hearings canceled, and may have to wait until 2019 or later before an immigration judge hears their case. The surge in cancellations began late last summer when the Justice Department prioritized the roughly 60,000 Central American immigrants, specifically women and children, who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border.

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  • In U-Visa limbo: Undocumented immigrants who are victims of crimes

    Many immigrants who are victims of crimes, along with their close family members, remain at risk and are denied the opportunity to live and work in the United States as long as Congress fails to increase the number of U-visaswhich immigration authorities can grant per year. Congress established the program in 2000 as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Actto provide an incentive for immigrant victims to report crimes to law enforcement without fear of deportation. Applicants must allege that they have been the victim of a serious crime and provide a certification form signed by law enforcement confirming the applicant’s help or potential help in investigating the crime. USCIS, which processes the applications in the order they were received, has not evaluated any applications submitted after December 2013.

  • Projects using federal funds to adopt siting, building codes informed by sea-level rise

    Following remarks about climate change in his recent State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama issued an executive orderlast week directing federal, state, and local government agencies, using federal funds, to adopt stricter building and siting standards to reflect scientific projections that future flooding will be more intense and frequent due to climate change. Already, post-Superstorm Sandy, FEMA and (HUD) developed updated elevation standards for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and Rhode Island based on climate change projections, and required any approved projects to reflect those projections or local elevation requirements if they were tougher.

  • Patriot Act’s reauthorization an obstacle for cyber information sharing bill

    Recent cyber hacking incidents have persuaded lawmakers to pass a cyber information sharing bill which will help protect U.S. private sector networks. Business groups and federal intelligence agencies insist that information exchange is critical to protecting the nation’s cyber infrastructure. One of the hurdles to passing such a bill is that by 1 June, Congress must reauthorize sections of the Patriot Act which are the basis for the NSA’s most controversial surveillance programs. Many lawmakers consider NSA reform to be essential before they can support the White House’s cybersecurity proposal, which would allow cyber information sharing between the public and private sector.

  • OBL’s assistant on trial in New York for 1998 bombing of U.S. Nairobi embassy

    Yesterday’s jury selection in a Manhattan courtroom brought tears to the eyes of many victims of the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi. Khalid al-Fawwaz, alleged assistant to Osama Bin Laden, will stand trial for his part in helping plan the attack and for operating an al-Qaeda media office in London between 1994 and the time of his arrest. Prosecution of those involved in the 1998 attack has been slow, but progress has been made. Six men involved in the bombing were sentenced to life sentences in November 1998, several other participants of the attack have been killed abroad, including Bin Laden, but four remain at large.

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  • Proposed changes to CFAA, RICO would criminalize cybersecurity research: Critics

    Cybersecurity professionals are concerned that the White House’s proposed changes to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, could criminalize cybersecurity research. The legislative proposals would make accessing public documents illegal if the documents’ owner would not have approved; create stricter punishments for anyone convicted of a cybercrime; and would allow the government to seize assets connected to cybercrimes. The White House also proposes upgrading hacking to a “racketeering” offense.

  • Police chiefs, sheriffs in major U.S. cities support immigration executive order

    Twenty-seven chiefs of police and sheriffs from U.S. cities — including Los Angeles, Dallas, Denver, and Washington, D.C.— have joined the Major Cities Chiefs Associationto defend President Barack Obama’s executive order which extends deferred deportation to about five million undocumented immigrants. Many law enforcement officers around the country argue that Obama’s order will improve public safety by allowing many undocumented immigrants to feel secure enough to approach local police. They are more likely to report crime without fear of deportation, police chiefs and sheriffs assert.

  • A first: PA, PLO on trial in New York for supporting terrorism

    On Tuesday, a New York federal court opened a trialwhich will decide whether the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) should be held responsible for seven shootings and bombings that killed thirty-three people and wounded more than 450, some of them Americans, in Jerusalem between 2002 and 2004. The lawsuit was launched in 2004 by victims and families of victims, and was filed under the Antiterrorism Act of 1991. It seeks up to $1 billion from the PA and the PLO.

  • The ICC may be asked to classify IS's actions against the Yazidis as genocide

    Genocide is defined as the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national ethnical, racial, or religious group. Proving such a case against IS might seem easy enough, but doing so would require complex investigative, analytical, and legal work that Iraq may not have the resources for. Last August, Islamic State (IS) militants seized control of villages in Sinjar, northern Iraq, home to thousands of Yazidis, a minority group who IS has attempted to wipe out due to the group’s religious beliefs. Women and children were raped and sold as slaves, and thousands of Yasidi men were shot or imprisoned. Many were given an ultimatum to convert to Islam or be executed. A new campaign is underway to get the International Criminal Court(ICC) to classify IS’s actions as genocide.

  • FAA would allow four private companies to operate drones in U.S. airspace

    The Federal Aviation Administration(FAA) announced the other day that it would allow four private companies to operate drones in U.S. airspace. The drones will be used to survey land, inspect remote oil rigs, perform agricultural and environmental research, monitor construction projects, and collect geographical data. The FAA has banned most drone flights as they pose a risk to the safety of manned aircrafts, and in some cases to privacy. The drone industry says that if drones are integrated into U.S. civilian airspace, the domestic economic impact would surpass $82.1 billion between 2015 and 2025, while creating more than 100,000 high-paying jobs.

  • U.K. government's sweeping new counterterrorism bill unveiled today

    The U.K. government unveils today (Wednesday) sweeping new measures to combat extremism and terrorism, and tackle radicalization, in the United Kingdom. Among other measures, the new counterterrorism bill will require schools and universities to exclude radical speakers from their campuses, and give the home secretary the powers to deny entry (or re-entry) to the United Kingdom to U.K. British citizens suspected of involvement in terrorism-related activity abroad. These citizens’ travel documents will be cancelled and their names placed on no-fly lists for up to two years. Home Secretary Theresa May said: “We are engaged in a struggle that is fought on many fronts and in many forms. It is a struggle that will go on for many years. And the threat we face right now is perhaps greater than it ever has been. We must have the powers we need to defend ourselves.”

  • Obama’s executive action may divert resources from handling legal immigrants

    Critics of President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration are worried that shifting immigration resources from work done on behalf of legal immigrants to applications filed by those in the country illegally would discourage future immigrants from entering the United States legally.A former federal immigration official compares the new immigration effort to the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program (DACA), which drew more than 600,000 applications from Dreamers.One of the effects of DACA was an increase in the wait time for green cards for immigrant spouses of U.S. citizens from five months to fifteen months, which critics blame on personnel being diverted to work on the DACA program.

  • Obama’s executive order will shield 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation

    In the face of bitter protests from Republicans in Congress, President Obama will soon announce that he will be using executive orders to launch a broad overhaul of the U.S. immigration enforcement system. One of the immediate results of the overhaul would be to shield up to five million undocumented immigrants – nearly half of the estimated 11.5 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States — from the threat of deportation. The president’s orders will also provide many of these undocumented immigrants with work permits.

  • Vets, victims’ family members suing European banks for supporting terrorism

    About 200 U.S. veterans and family members of soldiers killed in Iraq filed a lawsuit on Monday in the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, New York, claiming five European banks were partly responsible for a series of shootings and roadside bombings in Iraq. The lawsuit brought under the 1992 U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act, which permits victims to bring private suits against alleged financiers of militant and terrorist operations.