As Senate hearings heat up, Warner calls FBI nomination ‘an effort to distract’ the public

As Senate hearings heat up, Warner calls FBI nomination ‘an effort to distract’ the publicWarner made the comments on CBS’ “This Morning” after Trump tweeted that he would be nominating former Assistant Attorney General Christopher Wray to replace James Comey as head of the bureau. The Virginia Democrat is the top Democrat on the committee that is hearing testimony from National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers Wednesday, and ousted FBI Director James Comey Thursday.



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Senate Panel Authorizes Money For Mission To Mars

An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: With a new president on the horizon, a key Senate committee moved Wednesday to protect long-standing priorities of the nation’s space program from the potential upheaval of an incoming administration. Members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee passed a bipartisan bill authorizing $ 19.5 billion to continue work on a Mars mission and efforts to send astronauts on private rockets to the International Space Station from U.S. soil — regardless of shifting political winds. Under the Senate bill, NASA would have an official goal of sending a crewed mission to Mars within the next 25 years, the first time a trip to the Red Planet would be mandated by law. The legislation would authorize money for different NASA components, including $ 4.5 billion for exploration, nearly $ 5 billion for space operations and $ 5.4 billion for science. Beyond money, the measure would: Direct NASA to continue working on the Space Launch System and Orion multi-purpose vehicle that are the linchpins of a planned mission to send astronauts to Mars by the 2030s. The bill includes specific milestones for an unmanned exploration mission by 2018 and a crewed exploration mission by 2021. Require development of an advanced space suit to protect astronauts on a Mars mission. Continue development of the Commercial Crew Program designed to send astronauts to the space station — no later than 2018 — on private rockets launched from U.S. soil. Expand the full use and life of the space station through 2024 while laying the foundation for use through 2028. Allow greater opportunities for aerospace companies to conduct business in Low Earth Orbit. Improve monitoring, diagnosis and treatment of the medical effects astronauts experience from spending time in deep space.

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Senate sleuths focus on ex-State Department aide in Clinton email ‘cover-up’

Senate sleuths focus on ex-State Department aide in Clinton email ‘cover-up’As Hillary Clinton seeks to rebound from a highly critical report from the State Department’s inspector general, Senate investigators and a conservative group are zeroing in on newly revealed evidence about the activities of a now retired State Department computer specialist in orchestrating what they charge was a “cover-up” of the former secretary of state’s email practices. The role of John Bentel, whose identity as a key figure in the email probes was first reported by Yahoo News on Wednesday, is expected to be one focus of questioning today when Clinton’s former chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, is deposed in a lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch over the State Department’s handling of Freedom of Information Act requests relating to Clinton’s emails, according to a source close to the case.



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Senate Passes ‘No Microsoft National Talent Strategy Goal Left Behind Act’

theodp writes: Microsoft is applauding the Senate’s passage of the Every Child Achieves Act, a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act, saying the move will improve access to K-12 STEM learning nationwide. The legislation elevates Computer Science to a “core academic subject”, opening the door to a number of funding opportunities. The major overhaul of the U.S. K-12 education system, adds Microsoft on the Issues, also “advances some of the goals outlined in Microsoft’s National Talent Strategy,” its “two-pronged” plan to increase K-12 CS education and tech immigration. Perhaps Microsoft is tackling the latter goal in under-the-radar White House visits with the leaders of Mark Zuckerberg’s FWD.us PAC, like this one, attended by Microsoft’s William “It’s Our Way Or the Canadian Highway” Kamela and FWD.us President Joe “Save Us From Just-Sort-of-OK US Workers” Green.

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Senate Advances Plan To Make Email and Social Sites Report Terror Activity

Advocatus Diaboli sends news that the Senate Intelligence Committee has unanimously approved draft legislation that would requires email providers and social media sites to report any suspected terrorist activities to the government. While the legislation itself is classified until it reaches the Senate floor, Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) said, “America’s security depends on our intelligence community’s ability to detect and thwart attacks on the homeland, our personnel and interests overseas, and our allies. This year’s legislation arms the intelligence community with the resources they need, and reinforces congressional oversight of intelligence activities.” The legislation is based on 2008’s Protect Our Children Act, which required companies to report information about child porn to an agency that would act on it. One industry official told the Washington Post, “Considering the vast majority of people on these sites are not doing anything wrong, this type of monitoring would be considered by many to be an invasion of privacy. It would also be technically difficult.”

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