Category Archives: News

worldwide news

Homeless Crisis in Los Angeles Worsens

Nearly 554,000 people were living on America’s streets last year, according to a government survey. That’s the first increase since 2010, driven, experts say, by a surge in the homeless in Los Angeles and other West Coast cities. Homelessness has been a serious problem for Los Angeles for years, but as the housing crisis intensifies, it seems to have gotten worse. Some say it’s time to cut municipal funding for the homeless, but others want to help. Angelina Bagdasaryan has more.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Chanda Choun Chose Arlington, Wants Its Voters to Choose Him

Located just outside Washington, Arlington County, Virginia, is one of the richest, most educated and mostly white counties in the United States. It didn’t matter to Cambodian-American Chanda Choun that less than 11 percent of the population is Asian. When a seat opened on the Arlington County Board after the November 2017 election, he decided to run.

Choun, who the Arlington County Department of Voter Registration and Elections believes is the first Asian-American to run for office there, saw his opportunity to be of service to a place he now calls home.

“I didn’t see anybody with a military background, I didn’t see anybody with an immigrant background, and I didn’t see anybody with a tech background stepping up,” he said. “That’s all it came down to.”

But it wasn’t quite so cut and dried. Arlington exerts a pull on Choun, who calls the place “the love of my life.”

“I didn’t get to choose where I was born. I didn’t get to choose where the refugee resettlement agency placed my family. I didn’t get to choose where the Army sent me. But I can choose where I am now. And I choose Arlington,” according to Choun’s campaign website. “I will get married in Arlington. My children will run through the parks of Arlington. I will die in Arlington and be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.”

Part-time position

The five-member Arlington County Board is the jurisdiction’s governing body. Being a board member is a part-time job, one that can be the first rung in the political career ladder. But Choun says he has no aspiration to higher office.

Choun, a 30-year-old program manager at the cybersecurity company Securonix, came to the United States as a baby when his family fled Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge, which ruled from 1975-1979, a time when 1.7 million people died.

Grateful that his family was chosen for resettlement in Connecticut from a Thai refugee camp for Cambodians, Choun enlisted in the U.S. Army at 17. He rose from private to staff sergeant and left after 12 years, although he remains on part-time reserve duty.

Choun began campaigning in February to “Make Arlington the North Star of Virginia,” as his campaign literature proclaims.

He secured by the March 29 deadline 125 signatures of registered Arlington County voters, which is required to get on the primary ballot. He believes he can defeat in November independent John Vihstadt, an established incumbent county board member.

First, however, Choun must defeat fellow Democrat Matt de Ferranti in the June 12 primary. Choun and de Ferranti have already faced off in party-sponsored public debates.

Choun says his background has prepared him for working on two critical issues facing the county: the budget shortfall and attracting more tech companies to fill Arlington’s many vacant offices.

He’s also aware of the importance of raising money and has raised more than $28,000, largely through a personal loan. De Ferranti has raised more than $35,000 from small donors.

​Cambodian-Americans

Rithy Uong, the first Cambodian-American elected to any U.S. public office, served three terms on the City Council in Lowell, Massachusetts, which has the second-largest Cambodian community in the nation.

Uong, who says he is tracking Choun’s run, says a candidate must be able to raise funds, but it is critical for a candidate to build trust and rapport with voters. Voters, he says, care less about a candidate’s background and more about issues particular to their community.

Choun says his most immediate priority is building a nimble election campaign organization.

“Essentially, just as in any new endeavor, any sector, it’s a business startup,” he says. “I’d group it down to three domains: people, process, tools.”

Choun is self-managing his campaign until the voters decide his future in the June primary. However, he has hired creative director Minh Pham, a Vietnamese-American, who is also new to political campaigning. Pham also likens their effort to a startup. Choun has also hired a field manager, John Victoria.

While social media is an important tool for reaching out to voters, Choun says that to be seen as a member of the community, he needs to attend as many meet-and-greet events as possible in the 26-square-mile county.

“I’m bringing my message, my person to the community,” he says. “I don’t want the community to come to me.”

​VFW meet-and-greet

To that end Choun asked to hold his first meet-and-greet event at John Lyon Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3150, a veteran’s community meeting post in Arlington.

An Air Force veteran with 28 years of service, Patrick Pope met Choun before the event and said Arlington voters are open to candidates like Choun who don’t mirror the county’s white majority.

“I think a lot of Arlington voters are looking for somebody fresh, with some fresh ideas and fresh perspective, looking for someone who doesn’t have deep ties with a political machine, but instead speaks to power as a person of the community,” Pope said.

​Lynn Borton, 56, another Arlington resident, has lived in the county since 1985. She learned about Choun’s event from Facebook and, like Pope, believes that voters need to get to know first-time candidates.

“I think there is value in meeting people,” Borton says. “You can learn something, you can make an assessment that is unmediated, literally un-media-ated, but I don’t know that that’s everything.”

Choun’s main challenges as a first-time candidate, Pope notes, will be getting Democratic Party support and name recognition.

But Pope believes voters also need to make an effort to meet the candidates.

“I think it’s important to get to know who your candidates are. You can’t do that just by watching the television ad or looking at a newspaper advertisement. You’ve got to get out and be engaged,” he says. “If you expect your representative to be engaged, then you need to be engaged as [an] informed voter.”

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Chanda Choun Chose Arlington, Wants Its Voters to Choose Him

Located just outside Washington, Arlington County, Virginia, is one of the richest, most educated and mostly white counties in the United States. It didn’t matter to Cambodian-American Chanda Choun that less than 11 percent of the population is Asian. When a seat opened on the Arlington County Board after the November 2017 election, he decided to run.

Choun, who the Arlington County Department of Voter Registration and Elections believes is the first Asian-American to run for office there, saw his opportunity to be of service to a place he now calls home.

“I didn’t see anybody with a military background, I didn’t see anybody with an immigrant background, and I didn’t see anybody with a tech background stepping up,” he said. “That’s all it came down to.”

But it wasn’t quite so cut and dried. Arlington exerts a pull on Choun, who calls the place “the love of my life.”

“I didn’t get to choose where I was born. I didn’t get to choose where the refugee resettlement agency placed my family. I didn’t get to choose where the Army sent me. But I can choose where I am now. And I choose Arlington,” according to Choun’s campaign website. “I will get married in Arlington. My children will run through the parks of Arlington. I will die in Arlington and be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.”

Part-time position

The five-member Arlington County Board is the jurisdiction’s governing body. Being a board member is a part-time job, one that can be the first rung in the political career ladder. But Choun says he has no aspiration to higher office.

Choun, a 30-year-old program manager at the cybersecurity company Securonix, came to the United States as a baby when his family fled Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge, which ruled from 1975-1979, a time when 1.7 million people died.

Grateful that his family was chosen for resettlement in Connecticut from a Thai refugee camp for Cambodians, Choun enlisted in the U.S. Army at 17. He rose from private to staff sergeant and left after 12 years, although he remains on part-time reserve duty.

Choun began campaigning in February to “Make Arlington the North Star of Virginia,” as his campaign literature proclaims.

He secured by the March 29 deadline 125 signatures of registered Arlington County voters, which is required to get on the primary ballot. He believes he can defeat in November independent John Vihstadt, an established incumbent county board member.

First, however, Choun must defeat fellow Democrat Matt de Ferranti in the June 12 primary. Choun and de Ferranti have already faced off in party-sponsored public debates.

Choun says his background has prepared him for working on two critical issues facing the county: the budget shortfall and attracting more tech companies to fill Arlington’s many vacant offices.

He’s also aware of the importance of raising money and has raised more than $28,000, largely through a personal loan. De Ferranti has raised more than $35,000 from small donors.

​Cambodian-Americans

Rithy Uong, the first Cambodian-American elected to any U.S. public office, served three terms on the City Council in Lowell, Massachusetts, which has the second-largest Cambodian community in the nation.

Uong, who says he is tracking Choun’s run, says a candidate must be able to raise funds, but it is critical for a candidate to build trust and rapport with voters. Voters, he says, care less about a candidate’s background and more about issues particular to their community.

Choun says his most immediate priority is building a nimble election campaign organization.

“Essentially, just as in any new endeavor, any sector, it’s a business startup,” he says. “I’d group it down to three domains: people, process, tools.”

Choun is self-managing his campaign until the voters decide his future in the June primary. However, he has hired creative director Minh Pham, a Vietnamese-American, who is also new to political campaigning. Pham also likens their effort to a startup. Choun has also hired a field manager, John Victoria.

While social media is an important tool for reaching out to voters, Choun says that to be seen as a member of the community, he needs to attend as many meet-and-greet events as possible in the 26-square-mile county.

“I’m bringing my message, my person to the community,” he says. “I don’t want the community to come to me.”

​VFW meet-and-greet

To that end Choun asked to hold his first meet-and-greet event at John Lyon Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3150, a veteran’s community meeting post in Arlington.

An Air Force veteran with 28 years of service, Patrick Pope met Choun before the event and said Arlington voters are open to candidates like Choun who don’t mirror the county’s white majority.

“I think a lot of Arlington voters are looking for somebody fresh, with some fresh ideas and fresh perspective, looking for someone who doesn’t have deep ties with a political machine, but instead speaks to power as a person of the community,” Pope said.

​Lynn Borton, 56, another Arlington resident, has lived in the county since 1985. She learned about Choun’s event from Facebook and, like Pope, believes that voters need to get to know first-time candidates.

“I think there is value in meeting people,” Borton says. “You can learn something, you can make an assessment that is unmediated, literally un-media-ated, but I don’t know that that’s everything.”

Choun’s main challenges as a first-time candidate, Pope notes, will be getting Democratic Party support and name recognition.

But Pope believes voters also need to make an effort to meet the candidates.

“I think it’s important to get to know who your candidates are. You can’t do that just by watching the television ad or looking at a newspaper advertisement. You’ve got to get out and be engaged,” he says. “If you expect your representative to be engaged, then you need to be engaged as [an] informed voter.”

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Trump Promotes ‘America First’ in Ohio Ahead of Primaries

President Donald Trump said Saturday “we want to make everything here” as he promoted his “America First” agenda during an appearance in Cleveland, days before the state’s primary election. 

 

Trump spent several hours in Ohio meeting with supporters and participating in a roundtable designed to highlight the benefits of the new Republican tax law. Striking a celebratory tone, Trump listed his poll numbers and recounted the successes of his first year in office. He also looked ahead to his meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

 

Trump criticized U.S. immigration policy, saying people entering the U.S. illegally are taking advantage of “catch-and-release” practices and don’t show up for their immigration court dates. He said: “We may have to close up our country to get this straight.” 

 

He also said U.S. protectionist trade policies and his more isolationist policies would benefit Americans. Trump pledged a strong stand on trade to achieve “a level playing field,” saying that “other countries, they put themselves first. … The fact is we want to be first.” 

 

“We’ll be taking care of our people,” he added.

Fundraisers

 

Trump also attended a fundraiser for Trump Victory, the joint committee funding his campaign and the Republican National Committee, meeting first with high-dollar givers and then addressing a larger group of about 250 donors. The RNC said Trump raised $3 million during the events.

 

Trump sought to boost Republican lawmaker Jim Renacci in his bid for the Senate, saying “we need his vote very badly.”

 

Renacci, a member of the House, is running for the Senate against Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown. Trump predicted: “He’ll be fantastic.”

 

At the official taxpayer-funded event, Trump also criticized Brown, saying he shares Democrats’ “deep-seated” support for what he claims are looser immigration policies. Renacci greeted Trump on the tarmac in Cleveland and was seated next to the president at the event.

Midterm challenges

 

Trump’s visit comes as Republicans are facing an increasingly challenging midterm election environment.

 

Ohio has several competitive races this November. The GOP is placing its election hopes on convincing Americans that the tax law is improving their lives, as the party seeks to skirt political headwinds emanating from the White House.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Rights Groups Seek Help Keeping Messaging Apps ‘Disguised’

Digital civil rights groups are writing to Congress next week to ask for help persuading internet giants Google and Amazon to reverse decisions they made that will make it harder for people to get around censorship controls worldwide.

At issue is the ongoing cat-and-mouse game between governments, such as Russia, Iran and China, and internet and messaging communications technology like Telegram and Signal, which are used to communicate outside of censors’ oversight.

In this case, encrypted messaging apps, such as Telegram and Signal, have been using a digital disguise known as “domain fronting.”

​Disguising the final destination

As the encrypted message moves through networks, it appears to be going to an innocuous destination, such as google.com by routing through a Google server, rather than its true destination.

If a government acts against the domain google.com, it conceivably shuts down access to all services offered by the internet giant for everyone in the country.

Russia crackdown

Russia did just that in mid-April when it sought to crack down on Telegram.

But hackers can also use this disguise to mask malware, according to ZDNet. 

In recent weeks, first Google and then Amazon Web Services said they would close the loopholes that allowed apps to use the disguise.

“No customer ever wants to find that someone else is masquerading as their innocent, ordinary domain,” said Amazon in a press release announcing better domain protections. Neither Google or Amazon responded for a request to comment.

Companies vote against being a disguise

Matthew Rosenfield, a co-author of the Signal protocol, said that “the idea behind domain fronting was that to block a single site, you’d have to block the rest of the internet as well. In the end, the rest of the internet didn’t like that plan.” 

Amazon sent Signal an email telling it that its use of circumvention was against Amazon’s terms of service. In Middle East countries, such as Egypt, Oman and Qatar, Signal disguised itself as Souq.com, Amazon’s Arabic e-commerce platform.

​Letter to Congress

The letter being sent to Congress will remind members of their stated support for encrypted communication tools and call on them to contact the technology giants to change their decision, according to sources.

Access Now, a digital-rights organization based in New York, identified about a dozen “human rights enabling technologies” that rely on domain fronting using Google.

Peter Micek, general counsel of Access Now, said in a statement that Google and Amazon have an obligation “to meet their human rights responsibilities and protect users at risk.”

“The market leaders that have the resources to fight for human rights must be just that — leaders,” he said.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Rights Groups Seek Help Keeping Messaging Apps ‘Disguised’

Digital civil rights groups are writing to Congress next week to ask for help persuading internet giants Google and Amazon to reverse decisions they made that will make it harder for people to get around censorship controls worldwide.

At issue is the ongoing cat-and-mouse game between governments, such as Russia, Iran and China, and internet and messaging communications technology like Telegram and Signal, which are used to communicate outside of censors’ oversight.

In this case, encrypted messaging apps, such as Telegram and Signal, have been using a digital disguise known as “domain fronting.”

​Disguising the final destination

As the encrypted message moves through networks, it appears to be going to an innocuous destination, such as google.com by routing through a Google server, rather than its true destination.

If a government acts against the domain google.com, it conceivably shuts down access to all services offered by the internet giant for everyone in the country.

Russia crackdown

Russia did just that in mid-April when it sought to crack down on Telegram.

But hackers can also use this disguise to mask malware, according to ZDNet. 

In recent weeks, first Google and then Amazon Web Services said they would close the loopholes that allowed apps to use the disguise.

“No customer ever wants to find that someone else is masquerading as their innocent, ordinary domain,” said Amazon in a press release announcing better domain protections. Neither Google or Amazon responded for a request to comment.

Companies vote against being a disguise

Matthew Rosenfield, a co-author of the Signal protocol, said that “the idea behind domain fronting was that to block a single site, you’d have to block the rest of the internet as well. In the end, the rest of the internet didn’t like that plan.” 

Amazon sent Signal an email telling it that its use of circumvention was against Amazon’s terms of service. In Middle East countries, such as Egypt, Oman and Qatar, Signal disguised itself as Souq.com, Amazon’s Arabic e-commerce platform.

​Letter to Congress

The letter being sent to Congress will remind members of their stated support for encrypted communication tools and call on them to contact the technology giants to change their decision, according to sources.

Access Now, a digital-rights organization based in New York, identified about a dozen “human rights enabling technologies” that rely on domain fronting using Google.

Peter Micek, general counsel of Access Now, said in a statement that Google and Amazon have an obligation “to meet their human rights responsibilities and protect users at risk.”

“The market leaders that have the resources to fight for human rights must be just that — leaders,” he said.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

US Trade Delegation to Brief Trump After Talks in China

The U.S. and China ended the second day of high level talks Friday aimed at avoiding a possible trade war.

The U.S. delegation, headed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, will brief President Donald Trump Saturday and “seek his decision on next steps,” the White House said in a statement, adding that the administration had “consensus” for “immediate attention” to change the U.S.-China trade and investment relationship.

“We will be meeting tomorrow to determine the results, but it is hard for China in that they have become very spoiled with U.S. trade wins!” Trump said in a Twitter post late Friday.

“Both sides recognize there are still big differences on some issues and that they need to continue to step up their work to make progress,” China said in a statement released by Xinhua state news agency.

An editorial Saturday by China’s ruling Communist Party newspaper, the People’s Daily, however, said that “in the face of the U.S.’s fierce offensive of protectionism, China resolutely defends its national interest,” adding that Beijing “will never trade away its core interests and rejects the U.S.’s demand for an exorbitant price.”

The announcement followed comments by Mnuchin earlier in the day that the two sides were having “very good conversations.”

Trump has threatened to levy new tariffs on $150 billion of Chinese imports while Beijing shot back with a list of $50 billion in targeted U.S. goods.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

US Trade Delegation to Brief Trump After Talks in China

The U.S. and China ended the second day of high level talks Friday aimed at avoiding a possible trade war.

The U.S. delegation, headed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, will brief President Donald Trump Saturday and “seek his decision on next steps,” the White House said in a statement, adding that the administration had “consensus” for “immediate attention” to change the U.S.-China trade and investment relationship.

“We will be meeting tomorrow to determine the results, but it is hard for China in that they have become very spoiled with U.S. trade wins!” Trump said in a Twitter post late Friday.

“Both sides recognize there are still big differences on some issues and that they need to continue to step up their work to make progress,” China said in a statement released by Xinhua state news agency.

An editorial Saturday by China’s ruling Communist Party newspaper, the People’s Daily, however, said that “in the face of the U.S.’s fierce offensive of protectionism, China resolutely defends its national interest,” adding that Beijing “will never trade away its core interests and rejects the U.S.’s demand for an exorbitant price.”

The announcement followed comments by Mnuchin earlier in the day that the two sides were having “very good conversations.”

Trump has threatened to levy new tariffs on $150 billion of Chinese imports while Beijing shot back with a list of $50 billion in targeted U.S. goods.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

NASA Mission to Peer Into Mars’ Past

A powerful Atlas 5 rocket was poised for liftoff early Saturday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, carrying to Mars the first robotic NASA lander designed entirely for exploring the deep interior of the red planet.

The Mars InSight probe was scheduled to blast off from the central California coast at 4:05 a.m. PDT (1105 GMT), creating a luminous predawn spectacle of the first U.S. interplanetary spacecraft to be launched over the Pacific.

The lander will be carried aloft for NASA and its Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) atop a two-stage, 19-story Atlas 5 rocket from the fleet of United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co.

The payload will be released about 90 minutes after launch on a 301-million-mile (484 million km) flight to Mars. It is scheduled to reach its destination in six months, landing on a broad, smooth plain close to the planet’s equator called the Elysium Planitia.

InSight’s mission

That will put InSight roughly 373 miles (600 km) from the 2012 landing site of the car-sized Mars rover Curiosity. The new 800-pound (360-kg) spacecraft marks the 21st U.S.-launched Martian exploration, dating to the Mariner fly-by missions of the 1960s. Nearly two dozen other Mars missions have been launched by other nations.

Once settled, the solar-powered InSight will spend two years, about one Martian year, plumbing the depths of the planet’s interior for clues to how Mars took form and, by extension, the origins of the Earth and other rocky planets.

Measuring marsquakes

InSight’s primary instrument is a French-built seismometer, designed to detect the slightest vibrations from “marsquakes” around the planet. The device, to be placed on the surface by the lander’s robot arm, is so sensitive it can measure a seismic wave just one-half the radius of a hydrogen atom.

Scientists expect to see a dozen to 100 marsquakes over the course of the mission, producing data to help them deduce the depth, density and composition of the planet’s core, the rocky mantle surrounding it and the outermost layer, the crust.

The Viking probes of the mid-1970s were equipped with seismometers, too, but they were bolted to the top of the landers, a design that proved largely ineffective.

Apollo missions to the moon brought seismometers to the lunar surface as well, detecting thousands of moonquakes and meteorite impacts. But InSight is expected to yield the first meaningful data on planetary seismic tremors beyond Earth.

Insight also will be fitted with a German-made drill to burrow as much as 16 feet (5 meters) underground, pulling behind it a rope-like thermal probe to measure heat flowing from inside the planet. 

Meanwhile, a special transmitter on the lander will send radio signals back to Earth, tracking Mars’ subtle rotational wobble to reveal the size of the planet’s core and possibly whether it remains molten.

Hitching a ride aboard the same rocket that launches InSight will be a pair of miniature satellites called CubeSats, which will fly to Mars on their own paths behind the lander in a first deep-space test of that technology.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

NASA Mission to Peer Into Mars’ Past

A powerful Atlas 5 rocket was poised for liftoff early Saturday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, carrying to Mars the first robotic NASA lander designed entirely for exploring the deep interior of the red planet.

The Mars InSight probe was scheduled to blast off from the central California coast at 4:05 a.m. PDT (1105 GMT), creating a luminous predawn spectacle of the first U.S. interplanetary spacecraft to be launched over the Pacific.

The lander will be carried aloft for NASA and its Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) atop a two-stage, 19-story Atlas 5 rocket from the fleet of United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co.

The payload will be released about 90 minutes after launch on a 301-million-mile (484 million km) flight to Mars. It is scheduled to reach its destination in six months, landing on a broad, smooth plain close to the planet’s equator called the Elysium Planitia.

InSight’s mission

That will put InSight roughly 373 miles (600 km) from the 2012 landing site of the car-sized Mars rover Curiosity. The new 800-pound (360-kg) spacecraft marks the 21st U.S.-launched Martian exploration, dating to the Mariner fly-by missions of the 1960s. Nearly two dozen other Mars missions have been launched by other nations.

Once settled, the solar-powered InSight will spend two years, about one Martian year, plumbing the depths of the planet’s interior for clues to how Mars took form and, by extension, the origins of the Earth and other rocky planets.

Measuring marsquakes

InSight’s primary instrument is a French-built seismometer, designed to detect the slightest vibrations from “marsquakes” around the planet. The device, to be placed on the surface by the lander’s robot arm, is so sensitive it can measure a seismic wave just one-half the radius of a hydrogen atom.

Scientists expect to see a dozen to 100 marsquakes over the course of the mission, producing data to help them deduce the depth, density and composition of the planet’s core, the rocky mantle surrounding it and the outermost layer, the crust.

The Viking probes of the mid-1970s were equipped with seismometers, too, but they were bolted to the top of the landers, a design that proved largely ineffective.

Apollo missions to the moon brought seismometers to the lunar surface as well, detecting thousands of moonquakes and meteorite impacts. But InSight is expected to yield the first meaningful data on planetary seismic tremors beyond Earth.

Insight also will be fitted with a German-made drill to burrow as much as 16 feet (5 meters) underground, pulling behind it a rope-like thermal probe to measure heat flowing from inside the planet. 

Meanwhile, a special transmitter on the lander will send radio signals back to Earth, tracking Mars’ subtle rotational wobble to reveal the size of the planet’s core and possibly whether it remains molten.

Hitching a ride aboard the same rocket that launches InSight will be a pair of miniature satellites called CubeSats, which will fly to Mars on their own paths behind the lander in a first deep-space test of that technology.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!