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‘Law & Order: SVU’ star running for New York Congress

Actress Diane Neal played a district attorney for over 100 episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Now she wants to be come a lawmaker in real life.

Neal, who played Assistant District Attorney Casey Novak on Law & Order: SVU, took to Twitter on Tuesday to announce her independent run for New York’s 19th Congressional District seat.

“Ok, so it’s ON!!! But I’m doing with nearly no staff, no donations (yet), with no party,” Neal tweeted. “Website will be up later today (fingers crossed) and all ready to go. But goal is bigger than parties. Goal is no negativity. Goal is HIGH ROAD all the way.”

The 42-year-old is running for the congressional seat currently held by Rep. John Faso (R) who was elected in 2016. Neal’s own political beliefs are a mix, she told The Daily Freeman.

“I’m a little Libertarian, I’m a lot liberal, mostly progressive, but I have this amazing ability to be able to take really complicated policy and break it down into edible sound bites, which is something most progressive liberals cannot do,” she said.

Neal needs 3,500 signatures in order to secure a spot as independent on the November ballot.

Six Democratic candidates have already announced their intention to against Faso run for the congressional seat, according to The Daily Freeman. A Democratic will take place June 26th.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says U.S. diplomats ‘traeted badly’ in Pakistan

States are being “treated badly” in Pakistan, adding that the South Asian country would continue to receive diminishing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told a U.S. congressional hearing that diplomats from the United U.S. aid.

Pompeo who was testifying before the U.S. house foreign affairs committee on Thursday, made the remarks as relations continues to deteriorate between the once allies.

“My officers, our state department officers, are being treated badly as well, folks working in the embassies and councils [and] in other places are not being treated well by the Pakistani government either,” Pompeo said, during a debate on the US State Department’s budget for the 2019 fiscal year.

Earlier this month, the United States issued new restrictions for Pakistani diplomats posted in the country, requiring them to remain with a 25-mile (40.2km) radius of the city to which they were posted.

Pakistan says the restrictions are due to security reasons.

The spokesperson for the U.S embassy in Pakistan said in a statement to Al Jazeera, alleged that “the harassment faced by American and local U.S. Embassy and Consulate personnel in Pakistan restricts their ability to carry out their mission.

“We have also documented numerous cases in which ordinary Pakistani citizens participating in our educational, cultural, and development programs have faced harassment by Pakistani government officials.”

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Business TECH TECH_Social TECH_Technology TSC_Congress

Facebook reveals data-sharing VIPs

Facebook has revealed business and organization names in which special rights to access users’ data was yielded, according to a publishing by the Wall Street Journal on Sunday.

The list exposure and publicized content transpire as a continued response to US congressional inquiries involving the social media company’s practices.

Reportedly, 61 companies were provided with a temporary exemption from a block on apps accessing details about users’ friends, while identifying 52 additional authorizations to tap data in an effort to “recreate Facebook-like experiences”.

Following a critical review of the practice by the Irish data protection commissioner, Facebook announced that access would be blocked from April 2015.

Presently, Facebook explains how a San Francisco-based company specializing in software for visually impaired users, named Serotek, was given an extra eight months access.

60 additional companies had been given shorter extensions to the deadline.

As part of a separate scheme, Facebook allowed certain hardware and software companies to access its members’ personal details in order to build their own “versions of Facebook or Facebook features”, according to Wall Street Journal reports.

Numerous “partnerships” remain active despite claims that they might breach privacy commitments made by Facebook to US watchdogs and the public.

In an earlier statement, Facebook reported its partnerships and engineering teams had reviewed and approved all the data-sharing agreements and had found no evidence of abuse.

The technology company also provided an update on its efforts to identify other Cambridge-Analytica-like situations, in which data about its users had been obtained “through improper means”.

While suspending nearly 200 apps to date, relating to five developers, Facebook confirmed various apps involved were described as “tests”, and never released to the public.

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Comey used personal email to conduct FBI business, report says

A report released Thursday from the Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general says that former FBI Director James Comey used personal email accounts to conduct government business, The Hill reports.

The use of personal emails marks a seemingly ironic breach of protocol from Comey, given he oversaw the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of State.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his anticipated report Thursday afternoon about the FBI’s handling of the investigation in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

“We identified numerous instances in which Comey used a personal email account to conduct unclassified FBI business,” the report states.

In November 2016, Comey forwarded an email with the subject line “Midyear thoughts” to his personal account from his government account. The email detailed Comey’s reasoning for informing Congress that the FBI had restarted its Clinton investigation after originally finding no wrongdoing.

A month later, he forwarded another email to his personal account that proposed responses to two requests for information from the office of special counsel.

Comey told the inspector general he did not use his personal email or laptop for sensitive or classified information and had no security concerns about the practice of using a personal account.

“It was incidental and I was always making sure that the work got forwarded to the government account to either my own account or [Jim] Rybicki, so I wasn’t worried from a record-keeping perspective,” he told investigators.

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TECH TSC_Congress

Worker errors repeatedly postpone NASA’s new telescope

NASA has announced an extended postponement Wednesday for the James Webb Space Telescope. The space agency reports that the observatory will now fly no earlier than 2021, with previous launch dates established for 2018.

With foreseen telescope expenses reaching $10 billion, concerns now arise as development costs singly exceed the $8 billion cap set by Congress by more than $800 million and require reauthorization.

An independent review board cites worker error and embedded hardware problems for much of the escalating costs and delays.

In a vibration test of the telescope earlier this year in California by prime contractor Northrop Grumman, dozens of loose fasteners — some 70 pieces in all — came off. A few pieces are still missing and could well be inside the observatory. The lock nuts were not tightened properly before the test, according to a report by the board.

In another mishap, the wrong solvent was used to clean spacecraft propulsion valves. No one bothered checking to see whether the cleaner might damage the equipment, said review board chairman Tom Young. The valves had to be repaired or replaced.

“We will not sacrifice quality for schedule. Mission success is our number one priority,” spokesman Tim Paynter said in a statement.

Amid numerous and repetitive problems, the review board urges that the project continues given its “compelling” scientific potential and national importance.

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Federal debt set to surpass record, CBO says

The U.S. debt is on track to hit historically high levels and at its current growth rate will be nearly equal in size to the U.S. economy by 2028, the Congressional Budget Office warned Tuesday.

The Washington Post reports the CBO’s findings that by the end of this year, the ratio of federal debt to the United States’ gross domestic product will reach 78 percent — the highest ratio since 1950. Debt is projected to grow to 96 percent of GDP by 2028 before eventually surpassing the historical high of 106 percent it reached in 1946.

The federal government’s current debt burden is about $15 trillion, according to Marc Goldwein, senior vice president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan think tank.

The “debt-to-GDP” measurement compares the overall amount of debt held by the federal government with the size of the entire U.S. economy. Economists use the measurement, which takes into account inflation and overall economic growth, to portray the scope of the deficit.

The CBO projects the Republican tax law passed last fall will add $1.84 trillion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years. The GOP has argued the cuts will jump-start the economy and create enough economic growth to offset much of the additions to the debt. However, CBO and other nonpartisan analysts have repeatedly rejected that claim, according to The Post.

U.S. interest costs are expected to nearly double over the next decade and even overtake the cost of funding Social Security — the biggest expenditure in the federal budget — by 2048, according to CBO.

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Likely successor to Pelosi defeated in primary by young newcomer

Representative Joseph Crowley of New York, once seen as the successor to Nancy Pelosi as Democratic leader of the House, was defeated in a primary on Tuesday in the most significant loss for a Democratic giant in recent years.

The New York Times reports that Crowley, 56, was defeated by a 28-year-old political newcomer, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a former organizer for Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign and democratic socialist, who ran on a message that it was time for generational, racial and ideological change.

The race was not close. Ocasio-Cortez had more than 57 percent of the vote, with almost all precincts reporting.

Crowley, the No. 4 Democrat in the House, overwhelmingly outspent his lesser-known rival, as Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign was lifted by an aggressive social media presence and fueled by attention from national progressives hoping to stand a chance in a race against the potential future speaker.

“It’s surreal,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said in a live television interview as the votes were being counted. At that time, no television showed results at what was supposed to have been Crowley’s victory party.

Crowley is the first House Democrat to lose a primary in 2018. His loss is most significant for a congressional incumbent since Eric Cantor, then the No. 2 Republican in the House, was defeated in 2014 to a Tea Party activist, David Brat, according to The Washington Post.

Ocasio-Cortez will face Anthony Pappas, the Republican candidate, in the November general election.

 

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Amazon investors demand halt in AI surveillance system sales to governments

An assembly of Amazon investors has petitioned the American electronic commerce and cloud company’s CEO Jeff Bezos, requesting the discontinuance of Rekognition facial recognition system sales to governments.

The American Civil Liberties Union delivered a letter, joined by an online petition and a second letter signed by almost 70 US organizations voicing similar concerns.

Concerned organizations and shareholders signed the petition, demonstrating concerns with regards to methods in which the Rekognition tool could be used to automate widespread surveillance, in addition to the identification and tracking of citizens.

According to a testimonial page of customers on Amazon’s website, Rekognition is used by at least one law enforcement agency, which includes the Washington County Sheriff Office in Oregon,

In a statement, the ACLU said, “Today’s actions mark mounting pressure on Amazon to end its practice of selling its dragnet surveillance system, Rekognition, to local enforcement following the release of emails and other documents obtained by the ACLU revealing how the company has been pushing its face recognition product.”

The investors’ petition explains Rekognition “may not only pose a privacy threat to customers and other stakeholders across the country, but may also raise substantial risks for our company, negatively impacting our company’s stock valuation and increasing financial risk for shareholders.”

Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts’ Technology for Liberty program Kade Crockford said, “We cannot blindly stumble into an artificial intelligence-powered surveillance state overseen by corporations interested in expanding their profit margins and police departments committed to exercising limitless power. True public safety – especially for people of color, Muslims, immigrants, and dissidents – requires that we stop the spread of face surveillance before it’s too late.”

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HEALTH SPORT TSC_Congress

Louisiana lawmakers consider Steve Gleason for Congressional Gold Medal

NEW ORLEANS — A collection of state legislators from Louisiana have recently submitted a proposal to award former New Orleans Saints and Washington State football player Steve Gleason the Congressional Gold Medal. They hope to honor Gleason with this award — the highest of civilian Congressional honors — for his work and advocacy for those suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS.

Gleason, most famous for his 2006 punt block that came on the first night of the Superdome’s reopening following Hurricane Katrina, was diagnosed with ALS in 2011. Through his own partnership with the Team Gleason Foundation, he has led efforts to provide medical research and technology to allow ALS patients to live longer and healthier in the face of their condition.

Just this year, Congress approved the Gleason Act, which provided greater funding to the allocation of new technology to ALS patients, including intuitive communication devices that allow paralyzed individuals to transform text into speech with eye movements.

The legislation was submitted this past Thursday and is sponsored by many Washington and Louisiana congressmen.

Senator Patty Murray of Washington, one co-sponsor, praised of Gleason “his biggest impact as a tireless advocate in the health world” and his efforts to “[change] countless lives for the better.”

The bill must be passed by the House and Senate, and later must be signed into law by the president before the medal can be awarded, but support for his consideration holds strong in the halls of Congress

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Mobile TECH TSC_Congress

Samsung’s ISOCELL Plus camera sensor upgrades low light performance

Samsung unveiled the new ISOCELL Plus technology today, touting sharper images and more accurate photos involved in simple and challenging light environments.

ISOCELL Plus predictably resulted from its first emphasis of ISOCELL in 2013, followed by last year’s focus-boosting imaging sensor that could be positioned agilely into ultra slim phones.

Distinctively, the 16-megapixel Slim 3P9 launched in early 2018, boasting a plug-and-play solution for mobile devices, leaving ISOCELL Plus to increase through innovation and generational development.

ISOCELL technology works by creating a physical barrier between pixels, which reduces color crossover and allows each pixel to absorb more light than the typical backside-illuminated image sensors. However, as this barrier is made up of a metal grid, some light can be inadvertently absorbed or reflected. In ISOCELL Plus, the metal barrier has been replaced with a new material, developed by Fujifilm, which minimizes any optical loss.

As a result, consumers experience a higher color fidelity, in addition to Samsung’s 15 percent boost in light sensitivity. Users experience compatibility with super-resolution cameras over 20 megapixels, representing better phone pictures on demand.

“Through close collaboration with Fujifilm, an industry leader in imaging and information technology, we have pushed the boundaries of CMOS image sensor technology even further,” said Ben K. Hur, vice president of System LSI marketing at Samsung Electronics. “The ISOCELL Plus will not only enable the development of ultra-high-resolution sensors with incredibly small pixel dimensions, but also bring performance advancements for sensors with larger pixel designs.”

The ISOCELL Plus will be showcased at the Mobile World Congress Shanghai, held from June 27 to 29.