As Secret Pentagon Spending Rises, Defense Firms Cash in | Defense One


The share of Pentagon spending hidden from public view is rising, as are defense contractors’ revenues from it.

The U.S. Defense Department’s overall budget request increased nearly 5 percent from 2019 to 2020, but classified spending rose 6 percent, according to the consulting firm Avascent. It accounts for about $76 billion, or almost 11%, of the $718 billion requested for the current fiscal year.

Military officials say they can’t talk about classified aircraft, space, and missile projects, lest they cede advantage to America’s enemies. (Critics, including House Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith, D-Wash., say excessive hidden spending hinders oversight, leads to waste, and undermines public trust.)

But there is one group of people talking about classified spending: the executives of America’s largest defense firms.

Source: As Secret Pentagon Spending Rises, Defense Firms Cash in – Defense One

Trump’s new challenge is officials dishing dirt | TheHill


Current and former administration officials are increasingly offering dirt on President Trump, creating a serious challenge for the White House in the impeachment inquiry.

The dam seems to have broken in recent weeks, with several officials defying the administration’s efforts to block their testimony.

Separately, former Defense Secretary James Mattis and former ISIS envoy Brett McGurk have hammered the president in personal terms, and former national security adviser John Bolton and an anonymous senior administration official are penning tell-all books.

The developments underscore the threat posed by the sea of people who have filtered through the government during Trump’s three years in office. The administration has experienced a high turnover, especially in national security positions, and many now have stories to tell.

Source: Trump’s new challenge is officials dishing dirt | TheHill

What Elizabeth Warren’s K-12 plan reveals about education politics today


On Monday, Elizabeth Warren released her plan for K-12 education. It’s a striking set of proposals, remarkable in their breadth, that would dramatically reshape the federal role in education.

Despite concerns about the havoc she would wreak on K-12 education, DeVos has been a largely inconsequential education secretary, at least in terms of direct, lasting policy impact. Much of DeVos’s K-12 work has involved undoing sub-regulatory guidance (on issues such as student discipline), the type of work that could be undone by her successor with the stroke of a pen. Some of this is by design, since DeVos and the Republicans believe in a modest federal role in education.

However, DeVos surely would have liked to enact a federal tax-credit scholarship program back when Republicans had majorities in the House and Senate. Nothing came of that, nor of the other major policy ideas floated by DeVos and her team.

In fact, DeVos is likely to have a lasting effect on K-12 education policy in the U.S., but it will be defined by Democrats’ reaction to her time in office.

Source: What Elizabeth Warren’s K-12 plan reveals about education politics today

No going back: How America and the Middle East can turn the page to a productive future


Ever since President Trump abruptly decided to withdraw troops from northern Syria, there’s been growing debate about the role of America in the Middle East. And there should be. This is a region that about 400 million souls call home. And it’s right on Europe’s doorstep.

If we’ve learned anything since 9/11, it should be that, as Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere….Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” In other words, anger on one side of the world can strike at the hearts and lives of us here in America.

So what injustices are making folks angry in the Middle East today?

Source: No going back: How America and the Middle East can turn the page to a productive future

How the Air Force upgraded cyber testing for weapons systems | FCW


The Air Force is leaning on agile and DevOps methodologies to help boost cybersecurity while testing new weapons systems.

Brig. Gen. Scott Cain, commander of Air Force Materiel Command’s 96th Test Wing at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, told FCW that “agile development, having developers there alongside the testers” was one of the test center’s initiatives, along with increasing partnerships across the Air Force and with its software factories such as Kessel Run. Doing so in conjunction with using common industry techniques allow the service to “rapidly add capability and get it in the field,” he said.

That model is being pushed furthest with the 96th Test Wing in the Air Force Test Center’s cyber testing group, Cain said. The center’s portfolio largely consists of new capabilities focused on modernizing the Air Operations Centers, but networking aircraft to be efficient with multi-domain command and control will churn out key developments over the next six to 18 months, Cain said.

Source: How the Air Force upgraded cyber testing for weapons systems — FCW

California wildfires force evacuations, cause power outages | Reuters


California emergency officials on Thursday ordered hundreds of people to evacuate a historic wine country town north of San Francisco, and nearly 200,000 were without power, as a growing wildfire spread in Sonoma County.

Driven by strong winds, the Kincade fire engulfed some 10,000 acres (4,047 hectares) by Thursday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The Sonoma County Sheriff issued a mandatory evacuation order for the town of Geyserville, home to almost 900 people.

Source: California wildfires force evacuations, cause power outages – Reuters

AOC asks Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg if she can run fake political ads | Vox


If Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or any other Democrat wants to run an ad on Facebook saying a Republican lawmaker supports the Green New Deal, there’s nothing Mark Zuckerberg is going to do about it. Well, probably.

On Wednesday, Zuckerberg appeared in a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee that was supposed to be about Facebook’s Libra crypto project but that wound up being about pretty much any Facebook-related issue under the sun.

Members of Congress grilled the executive on the litany of controversies and questions the social media giant is facing, including hate speech, data privacy, diversity, content moderation, and more. Top of mind for some in Congress — not to mention the public — is Facebook’s policy that allows politicians to lie in their political ads.

And Ocasio-Cortez, the first-term Democrat from New York, drilled down on the matter.

“You announced recently that the official policy of Facebook now allows politicians to pay to spread disinformation in 2020 elections and in the future. So I just want to know how far I can push this in the next year,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

Source: AOC asks Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg if she can run fake political ads – Vox

California ‘veered’ out of its lane in climate pact with Quebec: U.S. lawsuit | Reuters


The United States on Wednesday sued California for entering a climate agreement with Canada’s Quebec province, saying the state had no right to conduct foreign policy, in the latest feud between the Trump administration and the state.

“The state of California has veered outside of its proper constitutional lane to enter into an international emissions agreement. The power to enter into such agreements is reserved to the federal government, which must be able to speak with one voice in the area of U.S. foreign policy,” Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark said in a statement.

Source: California ‘veered’ out of its lane in climate pact with Quebec: U.S. lawsuit – Reuters

‘Rewilding:’ One California man’s mission to save honey bees | Reuters


The staggering decline of honey bee colonies has alarmed experts across the United States, but an unconventional apiculturist in California thinks he has found a way to save them.

Michael Thiele has championed an approach he calls the “rewilding” of honeybees, allowing them to live as they did for millions of years — in natural log hives high above the ground.

“We can do this very, very simple thing — return bees into their natural nest environment, into their natural biosphere,” said German-born Thiele at his home in Sebastopol, California. “If we lose them due to human-induced mass extinction, will there be a tomorrow?”

Source: ‘Rewilding:’ One California man’s mission to save honey bees – Reuters

If Chile Can Erupt Over Inequality, Anywhere Can


Until just a few days ago, Chile probably looked to most people like the most stable country in Latin America, and the least likely to erupt in massive social unrest. Few if any countries in the region have experienced decades of economic growth and an expansion of the middle class, alongside reliably fair and competitive elections.

And yet last week, the streets of Santiago became the scene of violent clashes between thousands of protesters and security forces, leaving more than a dozen people dead and hundreds arrested. In response, President Sebastian Pinera deployed the military, imposed curfews and announced a state of emergency, declaring, “We are at war.”

The sudden, ferocious eruption of discontent caught just about everyone at home and abroad by surprise. If it can happen there, some observers noted, it can happen anywhere.

Source: If Chile Can Erupt Over Inequality, Anywhere Can