According to Raw Story, an Iowa security guard – with a Facebook account loaded with open-carry and right-wing memes and photos of multiple weapons – is under arrest for shooting and killing a fellow mall worker after she filed sexual harassment complaints against him. A later report stated that the man was fired from his job before the shooting took place.
According to The Gazette newspaper, the man, Alex Kozak, was taken into custody after shooting 20-year-old Andrea Farrington three times in the back while she was at work at the Iowa Children’s Museum in the Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville, Iowa.
Police say that the 22-year-old Kozak left the mall, retrieved a 9mm Glock handgun from his home, and then returned to shoot Farrington late Friday night, writes Raw Story.
Are the Social Security projections biased? We often hear predictions about Social Security that either seem overly dire or optimistic, but never seem to come true.
The Social Security Administration projects that its “trust funds” will be depleted by 2033—not an optimistic forecast. But it may be even bleaker than that, according to CNBC network.
New studies from Harvard and Dartmouth researchers find that the SSA’s actuarial forecasts have been consistently overstating the financial health of the program’s trust funds since 2000.
“These biases are getting bigger and they are substantial,” said Gary King, co-author of the studies and director of Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science.
“[Social Security] is going to be insolvent before everyone thinks,” he said.
The Social Security and Medicare Trustees’ 2014 report to Congress last year found trust fund reserves for both its combined retirement and disability programs will grow until 2019. That’s good news. But program costs are projected to exceed income in 2020 and the trust funds will be depleted by 2033 if Congress doesn’t act.
Projections show that once the trust funds are drained, annual revenues from payroll tax would cover only three-quarters of scheduled Social Security benefits through 2088, according to CNBC.
Consistent reports on Social Security financial indicators started in 1978. The researchers examined forecasts published in the annual trustees’ reports from 1978 until 2013. They compared the forecasts made regarding variables like mortality and labor force participation rates and compared it to the actual observed data.
Forecasts from trustees reports from 1978 to 2000 were generally unbiased, researchers found.
During that time, the administrations made overestimates and underestimates, but the forecast errors appeared to be random in their direction.
“After 2000, forecast errors became increasingly biased, and in the same direction. Trustees Reports after 2000 all overestimated the assets in the program and overestimated solvency of the Trust Funds,” wrote the researchers, who include Dartmouth professor Samir Soneji and Harvard doctoral candidate Konstantin Kashin.
“In the 1980s, for example, their conservative projections underestimated revenues and overestimated costs, missing the mark for the period by $27 billion in all. In the 1990s, the actuaries were similarly conservative, this time erring by about $200 billion. But in the first decade of this century, the forecasters proved overly optimistic, overestimating revenue and underestimating costs, with the total error reached nearly $1 trillion. (All amounts are in constant 2010 dollars.)”
The research also points to the work of chief actuary of the Social Security Administration as being “systematically biased and overconfident.”
According to Wikipedia, the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights that “prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported…”
Wednesday, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) grilled Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson over the government’s surveillance capabilities, particularly questioning him about whether the practices adhere to the Fourth Amendment.
According to MediaITE, Paul asked Johnson if he believes the Fourth Amendment “applies to third party records,” specifically those of telephone companies. Johnson said that question is “beyond my competence as secretary of homeland security” to answer intelligently.
“Here’s the problem, though, your agency is in charge of cooperating and being part of this,” Paul said. “And that’s the whole debate we have in our country is over whether we should do this.”
In his earlier testimony, Johnson complained that telephone companies are moving toward more encryption of data. Paul said they are doing that because they feel as if the government is taking records without a warrant.
The talk seemed meaningful. Whether or not Rand Paul’s position on NSA phone and internet spying remains the same, though that remains to be seen.
Republicans caved in on funding for the Department of Homeland Security.
Sam Seder and Cliff Schecter of Majority Report discuss whether Democrats are now “showing spine.”
The New York Times:
“The fight over funding the Department of Homeland Security that began with Republicans thundering about a lawless president abusing power to change immigration policy ended with a quiet capitulation Tuesday when the House voted to fund the agency and avert a partial shutdown.”
The big story in right-wing media coverage is the security of Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail account and also whether there are any Benghazi-related e-mails.
The State Department requested all secretaries of state send in their documents in 2014, and Clinton and her lawyer team turned over 55,000 pages of emails to the State Department last December.
The former Secretary of State has said she wants those e-mails released to the public. They will first be scrutinized by the State Department, a process which could take months, according to Reuters.
Let’s look at the security situation regarding the e-mails. Were her e-mails secure?
According to The Miami Herald:
“But at least one expert who looked at the scant public records available on the account – firstname.lastname@example.org – said the arrangement would have permitted private spam and virus filter company McAfee to access her emails if it wanted to.
“‘The email traces all end at McAfee,’ said Brian Reid, a cybersecurity expert with Internet Systems Consortium. ‘If nothing else, they have and had the technical ability to read her email. This does not mean they did, only that they could have.’
“Experts said they still need to know whether and how her email was encrypted, who administered and had access to the account, and whether there was an authentication process.
“And they cautioned against assuming the private system was automatically more risky than government email. The State Department system in November was forced to briefly shut down its entire unclassified email system after an apparent hacker attack.
“‘We can’t assume that her email account was any less secure than a State Department account,’ said Reid. ‘At the same time, it’s possible it was less secure. We need to know more to know for sure.’
“…Obama administration officials refused to provide much detail on Clinton’s email arrangement, deferring security and technical questions to her office, which would not comment.
“The separate legal and ethical aspects of the matter, however, came under fresh scrutiny. The congressional committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks announced a subpoena for all correspondence from the server to investigate conduct it said ‘raises significant issues for transparency.'”
The FBI and Department of Homeland Security sent out a joint warning to law enforcement across the country last weekend concerning a growing trend of girls and boys wanting to fight with ISIS, according to CNN.
One official said there was no increase in U.S. government threat levels, although there is heightened concern lately about recruitment of American and other foreign fighters by Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
A DHS official, commenting on background, said the bulletin was issued “to provide further information on the continuing trend of Western youth being inspired by ISIL to travel to Syria to participate in conflict,” says Reuters.
The warning comes in the wake of the detention of a 17-year-old Northern Virginia teen last week, says a law enforcement official who has read the report.
The source says law enforcement is tracking “lots of cases” like that around the country and they’re growing increasingly concerned about the threat.
The warning lays out motivations for boys and girls to join ISIS.
Boys tend to be older when they leave to fight and be a part of foreign fighters, or they want to attack in the U.S. Girls tend to be younger and have a fanciful notion of what life is like in Syria, and they often want to go over and be Islamic brides.
Until late Friday afternoon, it looked like the House would pass a three-week continuing resolution, the Senate would approve it, and President Obama would sign it, and it would at least be better than a shutdown, according to Politico.
White House aides were paying attention to their vote, but not with a lot of suspense.
Then the House fumbled its funding bill, and suddenly White House and DHS officials were running around trying to figure out the next move.
By late Friday night, the sense of crisis passed as it became clear that the solution would be a one-week continuing resolution to keep the department’s doors open, for a while.
The House passed the one-week bill around 10 p.m., less than two hours after the Senate approved it. Obama signed the seven-day bill before midnight.
The legislation also leaves intact Obama administration executive actions on immigration, though Republicans have vowed to defund it.
The outcome means the White House and DHS will have to be prepared for another crisis in just a week, according to Politico.
A Pakistani army spokesperson said Thursday that 12 local Taliban militants have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the deadly school attack last year that killed at least 148 people.
The militants were part of what is believed to be a 27-member cell, of which nine others have been killed, according to jurist.org.
Pakistan credited the cooperation of Afghanistan, where six of the militants were arrested.
The spokesperson said that Pakistan has been working closely with the Afghan government to search for the Pakistani Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah, who allegedly ordered the school attack and assigned commanders.
The Pakistani Taliban have a history of fighting against the Pakistani government and have tried to overthrow the authorities and impose Sharia. Since it is the main place of operations of the Taliban, Pakistan has been a focal point of global anti-terrorism efforts.
The Washington Post states that NATO played a role: “At a news conference on the outskirts of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, the chief spokesman for the Pakistani military announced that six Taliban militants were arrested recently during a joint mission by NATO and Afghan troops in eastern Afghanistan.”
According to the Washington Post, the battle over the budget that President Obama will submit Monday is emerging as a proxy for the 2016 presidential election debate on national security.
The president will ask Congress to break through its own spending caps — commonly referred to as “sequestration” — and allocate about $561 billion for Pentagon expenditures, about $38 billion more than is currently allowed under the law.
There’s broad consensus in both parties that the military needs more money to modernize its forces and meet its responsibilities. For now, though, it’s unclear how Congress and the White House can come to an agreement on where to find the additional funds.
The situation could provide an opening for Republicans to make an argument that they are the party best positioned to keep the country safe.
“A lot of Republicans see opportunity in an election that’s a referendum on Obama’s foreign policy,” said Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
According to TPM, government shutdown wars are back with a vengeance.
House Republicans started up a possible new standoff on Wednesday with passage of legislation that overturns President Barack Obama’s executive actions on deportation relief for millions of undocumented immigrants.
The bill passed 236-191, with 10 Republicans voting against it and 2 Democrats supporting it.
The legislation passed on Wednesday is tied to the funding of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which expires on Feb. 28. According to TPM, the department will partially shut down if a bill isn’t enacted by then.
However, PoliticusUSA states that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) have toned down conservative expectations over the idea of a possible DHS shutdown.