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FCC kept 'Obamaphone' fraud under wraps until after it expanded program | Fox News

Federal regulators were instructed to keep a massive fraud investigation – concerning the “Obamaphone” program, meant to help get low-income families cellphone access – under wraps until a day after a controversial vote to expand the program, one of those regulators claims.

via www.foxnews.com


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Senate Bill Draft Would Prohibit Unbreakable Encryption - ABC News

CORALVILLE COURIER EDITOR'S NOTE: There are some in government who just can't stand the thought of not having control over something.  THAT is what this is really about, not security, that's just the window dressing.

A draft version of a Senate bill would effectively prohibit unbreakable encryption and require companies to help the government access data on a computer or mobile device with a warrant.

The draft is being finalized by the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and the top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.

Their goal, they said in a statement, is to ensure adherence to any court order that requires helping law enforcement or providing decrypted information. "No individual or company is above the law."

It was not immediately clear when they would introduce the bill.

The draft language ran into opposition from another committee member, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who said the proposal would require "American companies to build a backdoor" into devices.

"They would be required by federal law per this statute to decide how to weaken their products to make Americans less safe," he said. Wyden pledged to do "everything in my power" to prevent the plan from passing.

via abcnews.go.com


Marijuana activists smoke weed outside White House, no arrests made | Fox News

Activists smoked marijuana outside the White House to send their message that the drug shouldn't be considered dangerous.

Protesters planned to display a 51-foot-long inflatable "joint" at Saturday's demonstration. However, protest organizer Adam Eidinger said the Secret Service wouldn't allow it, citing security concerns.

Possession of up to 2 ounces of pot is legal in the nation's capital, but smoking in public is illegal. However, U.S. Park Police Sgt. Anna Rose says her agency made no arrests. Eidinger said police "were very respectful."

Protest organizers say President Barack Obama should remove pot from the list of Schedule 1 controlled substances, which includes heroin and other addictive drugs. Obama has maintained that pot advocates should try to lobby Congress to pass a bill reclassifying the drug.

via www.foxnews.com


White House censors French president for saying ‘Islamist terrorism’ | New York Post

CORALVILLE COURIER EDITOR'S NOTE: This is America right? We're not supposed to censor the news right?..... We don't spoon-feed people the news in this country, right?.....

President Obama is so paranoid about linking terrorists to the Muslim faith that when French President François Hollande used the phrase “Islamist terrorism” at a meeting in Washington, White House officials posted their official press video with audio of the words cut out completely.

The 8-minute clip was posted on the White House Web site and showed Hollande discussing the global terror threat at a Nuclear Security Summit meeting with Obama and advisers Thursday.

via nypost.com


Republican senators skipping recess to block Obama Supreme Court appointment - Washington Times

Senators are scheduled to be on a break from Washington for the next two weeks, but they have left behind a rearguard to keep the chamber running on low gear, denying President Obama a chance to install his Supreme Court nominee.

It’s part of Republicans’ vow to do everything to keep Mr. Obama from replacing the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whose death last month left the court divided 4-4, and left Democrats salivating over the opportunity to replace the conservative Scalia with a liberal.

via www.washingtontimes.com


Obama poised to unveil Supreme Court selection | Reuters

President Barack Obama was poised to announce his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday at the White House, setting the stage for a potentially ferocious political showdown with Senate Republicans who have pledged to bar anyone Obama selects.

Obama said in a statement released by the White House that he will unveil his nominee at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT) in the White House Rose Garden. He is likely to announce one of two federal appeals court judges, Sri Srinivasan or Merrick Garland, as his choice, a source familiar with the selection process told Reuters.

The Indian-born Srinivasan, 49, would be the first Asian-American and first Hindu Supreme Court justice. Garland, 63, is a long-time appellate judge and former prosecutor who Obama also considered when he filled two previous Supreme Court vacancies.

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Obama has been searching for a repl

via www.reuters.com


White House narrows search to three for U.S. Supreme Court | Reuters

The White House has narrowed its search for a U.S. Supreme Court nominee to three federal appeals court judges, Sri Srinivasan, Merrick Garland and Paul Watford, a source familiar with the selection process said on Friday.

Srinivasan, an Indian-American who served under presidents of both parties before President Barack Obama named him as an appellate judge, and Garland, considered but passed over for the Supreme Court twice before by Obama, are considered the leading contenders, according to the source and two other sources close to the process.

via www.reuters.com


Mike Rogers and Jason Grumet on CNN.com: "Apple vs. FBI is a sign of a dangerous divide"

Apple's decision to fight a court order to unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the terrorists involved in the San Bernardino, California, attack last year is just the latest example of the dangerous divide between Washington and Silicon Valley.

The FBI was unable to access the encrypted smartphone to map the terrorist's connections to ISIS and find any other accomplices in the United States, so the government sought help from the tech giant. While details of this specific phone are not known, the iPhone in general has built-in security features that will erase the phone's data after a certain number of unsuccessful log-in attempts.

This case highlights how Washington needs the private sector in the fight against terrorism and how the private sector still has to work through questions about the effect to its business when helping the government. We must find a way to bridge this gap so we can protect both our citizens and the economic interests of our technology sector while adhering to our founding principles.

In rejecting the court order, Apple CEO Tim Cook stated, "We have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help," adding, "but now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create."

What is truly dangerous is the divide between our security needs and the economic interests of industry.

It is time for Washington and Silicon Valley to realize that it is to their benefit to get along and work together on shared interests. Bridging this gap is not just an exercise in overcoming differences; it is critical for America's continued international competitiveness, economic growth and national security. The U.S. economy will not grow if the nation is unable to protect its assets.

For example, everyone can agree that preventing hackers from infiltrating networks to steal intellectual property or personal information is imperative. No one is going to argue against stopping terrorists from recruiting online and hiding other activities on the Internet. The government and private sector must become more closely aligned if we are to continue to protect our country from growing threats in an increasingly technological world.

Similarly, encryption advocates have a strong case; as encryption is necessary to protect political dissidents in authoritarian countries and civil liberties for everyone. The American people and the business sector clearly need reassurances that their data will be protected from illegal intrusions, whether from digital theft by criminals or unwarranted access by government officials.

Privacy and security are not mutually exclusive, nor are the aims of business and government. There are, or should be, legal mechanisms to provide for both.

Sadly, the debate has reached a stalemate with each side retreating behind their ramparts and raising their drawbridges. It has been less of a dialogue than one side "talking at" the other, issuing demands or expectations without offering much in return.

The current struggle between the FBI and Apple is a clear example of how this distrust is becoming a vicious cycle. By turning to court orders to compel Apple's cooperation, the FBI is perpetuating Silicon Valley perceptions of the government as a heavy-handed bully. But by refusing to comply, Apple is making it more likely that Congress will resort to the very sort of blunt force regulation that the technology industry fears the most.

It will take time for the government and Silicon Valley to find an agreeable balance, but it can be done.

An alignment of interests can be found if both are able to sit down and engage in a meaningful dialogue that seeks to resolve challenges rather than impose the will of one over the other. By working for a basic set of principles, from the broad to the specific, we should be able to find avenues of alignment within the privacy and security debate.

Washington and Silicon Valley need to get along to navigate the shoals of government and economic interests to ensure they don't collide but rather find a mutually beneficial way forward.

Otherwise, the growing divide between the government and technology industry may become an unbridgeable chasm between the East and West coasts. And that would unnecessarily endanger both the security and prosperity of our country.

CNN Commentator Mike Rogers is the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Jason Grumet is president of the Bipartisan Policy Center. 




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Ernst Demands Answers from VA over Significant Veterans Crisis Hotline Failures

“There is simply no excuse for VA to allow calls from veterans reaching out to the Department for lifesaving assistance to go unanswered.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) today sent a letter to the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Robert McDonald, expressing her outrage over a recent Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (OIG) report that found at least 23 veterans who contacted the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) were transferred to a voicemail system and never received a returned phone call.

As Senator Ernst wrote, “There is simply no excuse for VA to allow calls from veterans reaching out to the Department for lifesaving assistance to go unanswered. I remain deeply disturbed that the Department continues to allow itself to fail our veterans when they are most at need—particularly those veterans who are facing imminent crises such as a potential suicide. Often, when our veterans reach out to VA for help—whether it be through VCL or in attempting to schedule an appointment to see a mental health professional—it can be at a time when they have reached the breaking point.”

The Iowa Senator called for “swift action to hold those VA employees accountable who were directly responsible for this inexcusable lapse in care, as well as the VA’s Director of the Office of Mental Health Operations who oversees VCL.”

Senator Ernst also emphasized the need to "immediately implement the recommendations provided by VA OIG to ensure veterans who reach out for help through VCL are receiving the care they deserve,” and once again called on the VA to implement the “previous VA OIG recommendations to improve overall mental health care for our veterans.”

The full text of the letter is below, and a signed copy can be found here.

The Honorable Robert McDonald
Secretary
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20420

Dear Secretary McDonald:

I am appalled by the poor management at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and a recent Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (OIG) report which found that at least 23 veterans who contacted VA’s Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) were transferred to a voicemail system and their calls never returned. This is a crisis for far too many of our bravest men and women and cannot be ignored.

There is simply no excuse for VA to allow calls from veterans reaching out to the Department for lifesaving assistance to go unanswered. I remain deeply disturbed that the Department continues to allow itself to fail our veterans when they are most at need—particularly those veterans who are facing imminent crises such as a potential suicide. Often, when our veterans reach out to VA for help—whether it be through VCL or in attempting to schedule an appointment to see a mental health professional—it can be at a time when they have reached the breaking point.

As you know, it is widely reported that every day our country loses to suicide 22 men and women who once wore our nation’s uniform. The VA must be part of the solution to reduce that number of veteran suicides, and not part of the problem where it contributes to unnecessary delays for veterans to receive the potentially lifesaving care they need and deserve.

As a Member of the U.S. Senate, and as a veteran, it is my duty to ensure our nation lives up to the promises it has made to our veterans. I urge you to take swift action to hold those VA employees accountable who were directly responsible for this inexcusable lapse in care, as well as the VA’s Director of the Office of Mental Health Operations who oversees VCL. I also urge you to immediately implement the recommendations provided by VA OIG to ensure veterans who reach out for help through VCL are receiving the care they deserve as well as previous VA OIG recommendations to improve overall mental health care for our veterans.

Sincerely,

Joni K. Ernst
United States Senator