A U.S. drone attack in Yemen killed four suspected al Qaeda militants on Saturday in the southern province of Shabwa, local Yemeni security officials told Reuters.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is considered one of the most powerful branches of the global militant group and claimed responsibility for deadly shootings in Paris on Jan. 7.
The attack targeted militants traveling in two vehicles in the Bihan region of Shabwa province, a local security official said, adding that several other suspected militants were injured.
For years, the United States has cooperated with Yemeni security forces to track and bomb AQAP members – a strategy that rights groups have criticized for causing repeated civilian deaths.
Uncle Sam’s growing student debt problem
If trends continue, by 2024 Washington could be on the hook for nearly $500 bln.
U.S. student loans could one day need nearly a $500 billion bailout – perhaps the biggest government rescue yet. Borrowing for education has soared over the past decade, ballooning to $1.2 trillion and growing far faster than GDP. With the feds on the hook for much of the debt, it’s a mess in the making.
The growth in student debt has several causes. Employers increasingly prefer to hire people with post-secondary degrees, boosting enrollment. Meanwhile, education costs have increased twice as fast as inflation since the 1990s. With the government backing some 90 percent of college loans, there’s also the danger of lax underwriting.
Over the past decade, student loan balances have averaged 13 percent annual growth and now roughly match credit card and home equity debt combined. A new Breakingviews calculator shows that if this pace persists, education debt would near $4 trillion by 2024. That’s over 14 percent of projected GDP, up from under 7 percent in 2014, using Federal Reserve estimates.
Sources familiar with the litigation confirm to me that the government confirmed that the IRS employee searching for the lost data was legally blind.
It was also revealed today that backup tapes of Lois Lerner’s emails were discovered in an off-site storage facility in West Virginia. The inspector general of the Treasury Department learned that the tapes existed and drove to West Virginia to retrieve them. Lawyers for the Justice Department as well as IRS officials have stated under oath or to the federal courts that no such backup tapes existed. They were “recycled,” DOJ lawyers told the court.
Haven’t we seen this movie before?
Now, of course, he was speaking to a group of young people who love big, paternalistic government.
Though Rand Paul will have his fans at any libertarian gathering, the senator was not the hero here. Nor was it one of the great thinkers whose writings have influenced libertarian thought, say, Milton Friedman or Friedrich Hayek.
The honor went to Edward Snowden.
The International Students for Liberty celebrated Snowden as their 2015 Alumnus of the Year because “there has been no individual in the past year who has done more for the cause of liberty than Mr. Snowden.”
Snowden’s subsequent remarks, delivered via telescreen from Moscow, were rewarded with “standing ovation after standing ovation,” according to a blog account at Reason.org, a libertarian Web site.
At the other end of the scale, the limit on Facebook’s maximum payout is pretty generous: there isn’t one.
So you can do quite nicely out of a reponsible vulnerablity report, as Facebook’s recently-released 2014 Bounty Statistics reveal.
The company paid out a total of $1,300,000 in 2014, which is actually slightly down from 2013’s total of $1.5M.
The average payout (we’re assuming this is a mean average) was $1788, meaning that just over 700 people submitted bugs that were new, relevant and responsibly disclosed.
Interestingly, that means most bug submitters came away empty handed, because Facebook reported a grand total of 17,011 reports.
Of course, that’s one of the downsides of a bug bounty programme: the need to sort the 96% of bug chaff from the 4% of exploitable wheat.
For that reason, we recommend taking a careful look at what does and doesn’t count for any bug bounty programme in which you are thinking of participating.
Facebook, for example, has published a handy list of “These Do Not Qualify” examples to help you avoid disappointment.
Attackers Kill American Writer at Bangladesh Book Fair
A Bangladeshi-American writer who endured threats from Islamists over his secular views was hacked to death in Dhaka late Thursday, reports say.
Avijit Roy, 42, was a naturalized American living in Georgia. He was a frequent critic of radical Islamic doctrine. At least two attackers descended on Roy and his wife, blogger Rafida Ahmed Bonna, near Dhaka University. She was hospitalized with several stab wounds and a severed finger.
No arrests have been made and no suspects identified. But police reportedly found two machetes and a finger at the scene. The couple was in Dhaka to attend an annual national book fair where two of Roy’s works were being promoted.
Two of the runners in the Tel Aviv Marathon on Friday morning collapsed from the unseasonable heat and were rushed to a hospital in critical condition. Four others were hurt less severely. Overall, about 90 runners needed some degree of medical treatment. Due to the rough weather conditions, the marathon was stopped by its organizers shortly before the original ending time.
An investigation into fraudulent applications for Vermont’s driver’s privilege cards has spread to multiple states and Department of Motor Vehicle branches, according to the department’s chief investigator.
When the Department of Motor Vehicles first reported receiving a rash of driver’s license applications from out-of-state illegal immigrants, it appeared the problem might be limited to a single license branch and involve one other state.
But the investigation’s chief inspector on Tuesday told Vermont Watchdog the scope of the investigation has widened to multiple states and to all DMV branches.
“It’s a blend of states. It’s been New York, it’s been Massachusetts, and there was New Jersey in there, as well,” said captain Drew Bloom, chief inspector at the Department of Motor Vehicles Enforcement Division.
“There’s no one particular branch that’s being investigated. It’s primarily been our branches in the southern part of the state, but there have been numerous branches where people have gone.”
Three men were arrested Wednesday on charges of plotting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group and wage war against the United States, and federal officials said one of them spoke of shooting President Barack Obama or planting a bomb on Coney Island.
Akhror Saidakhmetov was arrested at Kennedy Airport, where he was attempting to board a flight to Istanbul, authorities said. Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev had a ticket to travel to Istanbul next month and was arrested in Brooklyn, federal prosecutors said. The two were held without bail after a brief court appearance.
A third defendant, Abror Habibov, is accused of helping fund Saidakhmetov’s efforts and was ordered held without bail in Florida.
The three are charged with attempt and conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization. If convicted, each faces a maximum of 15 years in prison.
A mysterious Ohio nonprofit that attacked GOP opponents of Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner last year has been linked to a network of political operatives with close ties to Rauner’s own campaign. This is not the first time a shadowy outside group targeting Rauner’s opponents has been shown to have ties to the actual campaign, and the pattern is strikingly similar.
The Ohio group in question this time, the Mid America Fund, was formed in January 2014 as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit. Run by a former political aide turned university staffer named Roberta J. Mertz, within days it began lobbing sharp attacks at every Republican candidate for Illinois governor — except Rauner. The attacks immediately raised eyebrows because of their similarity to another mysterious Ohio nonprofit that attacked another potential GOP rival to Rauner a year earlier. In that case, as OpenSecrets Blog reported last summer, the nonprofit had very close ties to one of Rauner’s top campaign operatives.
The claim is a straightforward one: That under the so-called Affordable Care Act, the federal government will recognize and subsidize a great deal of hokum, things like naturopathic medicine and acupuncture that have no scientific basis, that have been clinically shown to be useless or worse, and that are rooted in rank mysticism, from the “qi” energy that acupuncturists claim to manipulate—and which does not, technically speaking, exist—to the “innate intelligence” underpinning chiropractic theory—which does not, in fact, exist, either.
… I read this and promptly cracked up.
Under pressure from Gov. Charlie Baker, four gubernatorial appointees on the Health Connector Board resigned today — including Jonathan Gruber.
George Gonser, Jr., John M. Bertko, Gruber and Rick Jakious all resigned from the board today, according to the Governor’s Office.
All four members were appointed by former Gov. Deval Patrick. The resignations give Baker control of the 11-member board, which also includes two Baker administration bosses. Board chairwoman Marylou Sudders is Baker’s secretary of health and human services and board member Kristen Lepore is the secretary of administration and finance.
The movement towards gender equality may be led by women, but male allies continue to make invaluable contributions to the cause. Some of these contributions are a bit more visible when the men in question put on women’s clothing, like the Turkish men who donned skirts in the streets and on social media to protest the brutal murder of a young woman last week. This trend in feminist protest has been going on for years now, most recently sweeping France, India, and Iran. While the results can often look funny, the intention is anything but humorous.
Tunisia arrested about 100 suspected militants in the last three days, some of whom were preparing attacks, officials claimed on Tuesday. The Tunisian government also published video footage showing evidence of an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) influence on some of those detained.
Tunisia is waging a campaign against hardline Islamist groups who emerged in the country during its transition to democracy after the 2011 uprising against autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.
News of the arrests came one week after four Tunisian policemen were killed by militants in the central region of Kasserine, close to the Algerian border.
“In the past three days we foiled terrorist operations and arrested about 100 jihadist elements,” Mohammed Ali Aroui, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said.
Former employees of the National Security Agency are becoming a hot commodity in Silicon Valley amid the tech industry’s battle against government surveillance.
Investors looking to ride the boom in cybersecurity are dangling big paydays in front of former NSA staffers, seeking to secure access to the insider knowledge they gained while working for the world’s most elite surveillance agency.