US ponders changes after insider attack in Afghanistan

first_imgIn this 1 July photo, police and firemen work at the site of a deadly suicide attack in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Photo: APIt’s too early to tell if training or other changes must be made in light of an insider attack in Afghanistan that killed one American soldier and wounded two others, because there’s some uncertainty about whether the assailant was a disgruntled Afghan soldier or an insurgent infiltrator, says a top officer of US army.Mark Milley, army chief of staff, said Friday that the three soldiers who were shot last weekend were protecting members of the new US advisory brigade that deployed to Afghanistan for the first time just five months ago. He said the Army is moving ahead with plans to create more of the training brigades and use them primarily in Afghanistan, although other locations could be considered in the future.According to officials, the attacker fired on the soldiers at the airfield on the base at Tarin Kowt, in southern Uruzgan Province, a hotbed of Taliban activity. He was taken into custody on the day of the attack on 7 July.It was the first death involving the advisory brigade, and the first insider attack in about a year. Joseph Maciel of South Gate, California, was shot by small arms fire and killed. The other two soldiers are in stable condition.In a message to the media last Saturday, Taliban spokesman Qari Yosuf Ahmadi said the shooting was carried out by a member of the Afghan security forces who acted alone, but the militant group “appreciated” his attack.The military, said Milley, is still trying to determine if the shooter was from the Taliban or another insurgency or just an angry Afghan soldier. Either way, he said, it doesn’t change the mission of the new advisory teams, working closely with their Afghan partners. Those jobs carry risk.”Those guys are out there, and they’re in exposed positons and it is a high-risk situation,” Milley said in an interview Friday with The Associated Press. “So casualties are going to occur.”That’s a reminder of the challenges facing US forces in Afghanistan in the 17th year of America’s military involvement there. The Trump administration is trying to boost the capabilities of Afghan security forces and increase military pressure on the Taliban in the hope of forcing them to negotiate a peace.During a surge in the US military presence in Afghanistan under the Obama administration, when American forces had a greater combat role, there were dozens of so-called insider attacks.Despite additional precautionary steps since then, the threat has continued. Last June, there were two insider attacks – in which a soldier in an Afghan uniform turns his weapon on US or other coalition troops – within a two-week period, killing three US soldiers and wounding another seven.Speaking to reporters last month, Scott Jackson, commander of the new security force assistance brigade, acknowledged the possible threat of a friendly fire attack.”I will tell you honestly, we have had our Afghan partners come to us with intelligence that pre-empted potential attacks, and they have been proactively taking care of their own problems,” Jackson said during a 13 June briefing.Jackson said that when the assistance brigade arrived in Afghanistan, they began vetting the higher-level Afghan forces and steadily worked their way down to the smaller units. That vetting, said Jackson, goes on continually as soldiers rotate in and out of the units, and has not delayed operations.Just six months ago, Jackson was at Fort Benning, Georgia, pulling together the new training brigade, working to make real the vision of senior Army leaders.The idea was formed early last year, as officials recognized the need for permanent military training teams that could be deployed worldwide to help local forces learn how to fight better. The plan was a reflection of the new reality of America at war: Army soldiers advising and building indigenous security forces, not doing the fighting for them on foreign soil.Under the plan, the Army will build six brigades over the next several years. And Milley said Friday that the second brigade is currently doing pre-mission training to replace Jackson’s unit when it’s time for them to come home.last_img read more

Robert Muellers Pace Measures Up With Best Prosecutors In Modern History

first_imgAlex Wong/Getty ImagesThen-FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on June 13, 2013, on Capitol HillThe man leading the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has been keeping busy.Special counsel Robert Mueller has been on the job for about nine months. But he has already charged 19 people with wrongdoing — and won guilty pleas from the president’s former campaign vice chairman and his former national security adviser.Scholars who focus on politically charged investigations that may lead into the White House have been taking note.“Robert Mueller’s pace in this investigation really is very similar to some of the best special prosecutors in modern history,” said Ken Gormley, the president of Duquesne University and the author of two books on special prosecutors.These investigations carry special burdens: to move forward quietly, with no leaks, and quickly, to prove guilt or innocence.“The whole point of appointing an independent counsel in these kind of instances is to deal with the fact that there’s a cloud over the highest levels of the executive branch and to restore public confidence, one way or the other,” Gormley said.For many people, the model prosecutor was Archibald Cox, who investigated Watergate for a little more than a year before he was fired.“I’m not looking for a confrontation,” Cox told reporters in 1973. “I’ve worried a good deal through my life about the problems of imposing too much strain upon our constitutional institutions and I’m certainly not out to get the president of the United States.”During his tenure, Cox developed evidence about obstruction of justice by President Richard Nixon. The prosecutor who replaced Cox built on that work, ultimately leading to Nixon’s resignation.Gormley said the current special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, is operating in that same mold.But at the White House, President Trump and his lawyers have been pressing the Mueller team to move faster. So is another familiar figure: former Whitewater independent counsel Ken Starr.“The American people, I think, want to know, was there collusion,” Starr told CNN last week. “Let’s get that answered. That would be my sense, if I were at the Justice Department.”Starr spent five years and more than $40 million investigating President Bill Clinton. Critics say Starr took too long and wandered away from his original mission. He was far from the only independent counsel to come under attack as a “roving Frankenstein monster,” Gormley said.In the category of “no end,” there was the investigation of Clinton’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Henry Cisneros. In 1995, then-Attorney General Janet Reno asked for an independent counsel to determine whether Cisneros should face prosecution for providing false information about payments to a former mistress.“I’m disappointed by that outcome but I’m hopeful that the investigation will be completed expeditiously,” Cisneros told reporters at the time.But any hope Cisneros had for a speedy resolution went bust. The independent counsel in his case, David Barrett, kept working even after the law authorizing his work expired. Cisneros pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and was later pardoned by the president. Still, Barrett’s work continued. The final report emerged in 2006, nearly 11 years after he took office.Robert Mueller is a hard-driving former FBI director, not known for dallying in his work. He’s already secured indictments against Russians for running an information warfare campaign aimed at the last presidential election.And yet, Wake Forest University professor Katy Harriger said measuring Mueller’s success will be a challenge.“For some people, success will only be if somehow the president gets impeached,” Harriger said. “And for other people, success is a complete exoneration.”Push away that cloud of politics, she said, and success may be a report or a set of conclusions that most people can believe.Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Sharelast_img read more

WATCH US Mayors Travel To Border To Demand Family Reunification

first_img Share Mayors from more than a dozen U.S. cities including New York and Los Angeles gathered near a holding facility for immigrant children on Texas’ border with Mexico to call for the immediate reunification of immigrant children with their families.Trump has ordered a halt to the separation minors from families that are detained crossing the U.S. border illegally. But concerns persisted Thursday about the emotional trauma inflicted on immigrant children under President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy for illegal border crossings.New York City’s Bill de Blasio, Los Angeles’ Eric Garcetti and Democratic mayors from new Mexico’s three most populous cities were among those who gathered near the facility on the outskirts of El Paso, Texas.Santa Fe, N.M. Mayor Alan Webber said the president’s zero-tolerance approach to illegal border crossings has traumatized children and remains a humanitarian threat.“You can’t backpedal on the damage you have already done to all of those children,” Webber said. “The fact that, at least for the moment, Trump has gotten a little less inhumane hardly solves the problem.”In the face of worldwide outrage, Trump on Wednesday reversed a policy that has already separated more than 2,300 children from their parents.In Washington D.C., the House of Representative prepared to vote Thursday on a Republican immigration bill. Trump suggested that any measure that is approved by the House would be doomed in the Senate anyway.last_img read more

Tonight AFROs First Edition with Sean Yoes Monday January 4

first_imgListen at WEAA Live Stream: http://amber.streamguys.com.4020/live.m3uMonday’s national politics discussion with our regular commentators Catalina Byrd and Sean Breeze, including Donald Trump’s attack on Bill Clinton and Isis using Trump’s vitriol to recruit for their terror missions. Also, the legacy of Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, author of the seminal Isis Papers, who died over the weekend, with Dr. Ray Winbush, the director of Morgan State University’s Institute for Urban Research and Kevin Washington, president of the Association of Black Psychiatrists.These stories and more coming up this evening on AFRO’s First Edition with Sean Yoes.last_img

Hybrid nanostructure with extreme light absorption looks promising for photovoltaics

first_img © 2013 Phys.org. All rights reserved. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. More information: Sander A. Mann and Erik C. Garnett. “Extreme Light Absorption in Thin Semiconductor Films Wrapped around Metal Nanowires.” Nano Letters. DOI: 10.1021/nl401179h The core-shell hybrid nanowire consists of a metal core wrapped with semiconductor thin films. Three different resonances excited at different wavelengths are shown. (b) The fraction of absorbed above-band gap photons in the silicon shell for a wide variety of configurations. Credit: Mann and Garnett. ©2013 American Chemical Society Now, somewhat counterintuitively, scientists have theoretically found that thin semiconductor films wrapped around metal nanowires have substantially better light absorption properties than solid semiconducting nanowires, despite the fact that they use less semiconducting material. At the same time, the metal core acts as a contact to efficiently extract charge carriers. By confronting the semiconductor thickness trade-off and offering exceptional performance, the nanostructures might become ideal building blocks for inexpensive photovoltaic and solar fuel applications.A paper on the new devices by Sander A. Mann and Erik C. Garnett at the Center for Nanophotonics at FOM Institute AMOLF in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, will be published in a future issue of Nano Letters.”The greatest significance to our work is that we provide a design for nanowire building blocks that incorporates both excellent light trapping properties and a local metal electrode contact (for current extraction),” Garnett told Phys.org. “Silver nanowire networks have already been used as high performance transparent electrodes and we expect that by coating them with thin semiconducting shells we will be able to make high-efficiency solar cells using cheap materials. It has now been observed in a number of papers that nanostructuring a material can increase light absorption even while using less semiconductor material. However, this paper takes the next step and starts thinking about how to design such structures with integrated electrical contacts.” One of the biggest advantages of the design is that it uses very thin semiconducting films while at the same time providing very good light absorption. As mentioned, thick semiconductor layers are needed for good light absorption, but high-quality semiconductor is very costly. This new core-shell geometry opens up a pathway to using cheap, abundant, and environmentally friendly semiconductors that previously were of too low quality for good charge extraction.In semiconductor objects smaller than the wavelength of light, as is the case with most nanowires for photovoltaic purposes, the optical properties are determined primarily by resonances. These resonances enhance absorption the most when they are critically coupled: the loss rates due to absorption in the semiconductor and due to radiative leakage (light escaping the nanowire before being absorbed) are equal. This is often the case near the band gap of the material, where absorption is weak, which leads to the highly counterintuitive result that absorption in the nanowire actually increases when the absorption coefficient decreases.As the scientists explain, in the core-shell geometry, extreme light absorption arises from increasing the number and strength of these resonances. Whereas in horizontal nanowires resonances are always spectrally separated (at different wavelengths), in the core-shell geometry they can overlap. Furthermore, horizontal solid seminconductor nanowires are very polarization-sensitive, but this is undesirable as light from the sun is unpolarized. The core-shell geometry gets rid of this polarization dependence by aligning resonances in both polarizations simultaneously.Overall, by demonstrating that excellent light absorption can be achieved in very thin semiconductor layers, this hybrid nanostructure offers an exciting new path toward realizing inexpensive solar technologies based on abundant and environmentally friendly semiconductors. The researchers plan to fabricate prototypes of the devices soon.”Our immediate plans are to make both single-nanowire and array solar cells based on these core-shell building blocks to verify our calculations experimentally,” Garnett said. Explore furthercenter_img Nanowire solar cells raise efficiency limit (Phys.org) —In photovoltaics, there is generally a trade-off in terms of semiconductor thickness, with thicker semiconductors offering better photon absorption and thinner ones offering higher charge carrier extraction efficiency. In recent years, scientists have begun investigating semiconductor nanowire solar cells, which tackle this tradeoff through morphology-dependent resonances that significantly enhance the absorption compared to a planar film. Journal information: Nano Letters Citation: Hybrid nanostructure with extreme light absorption looks promising for photovoltaics (2013, July 1) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2013-07-hybrid-nanostructure-extreme-absorption-photovoltaics.htmllast_img read more

Why AssistantAsApp Might Be the Next Big Tech Trend

first_img 8 min read Whenever I feel uncomfortable writing about a topic, that’s when I know I should write about it. So here goes. This article is about how a new way of designing apps changed my life. But to explain the power of this trend, I need to tell you about poop. That’s the uncomfortable part.For the past five years or so, I’ve struggled with intestinal discomfort. (I’ll spare you the gory details.) I spent countless hours crawling the web searching for a possible diagnosis and tried dozens of different remedies and diets. Nothing seemed to help.Finally, I saw a gastroenterologist. He listened for all of five minutes while I described my symptoms and quickly jotted down a prescription for antibiotics. They worked for a while but soon the symptoms returned. I went back to the doc. A few tests were done and more antibiotics were dolled out. But the problems came back. Then again. And again.After a few cycles, I could see he was running me through a gambit of various gut bug killers until my symptoms stopped or he was out of drugs. I decided I’d rather live with the problem (whatever it was) and hope for the best.Recently however, a chance encounter with a total stranger led me to start using a new kind of app that does things my physician and the specialist never could.Related: People Don’t Want Something Truly New, They Want the Familiar Done Differently.This app helped me get to the bottom of my problem. I’ll explain how later but what makes the design of this app important has implications in all sorts of industries, including outside health care. At its core, the app facilitates a conversation to solve a complex problem with greater ease than ever before.Over the next few years, smart entrepreneurs and savvy designers will use similar techniques to dramatically improve the way they connect and serve their customers.Going NativeApp makers are returning to the roots of what our phones are for. They are after all communications devices. So called “invisible apps” engaging in “conversational commerce” are popping-up in all sorts of unrelated industries.For example, a few weeks ago, my friend Stephen and I chatted at the park while we watched our kids play. As Silicon Valley tech geeks do, we got to talking apps. “Have you started using any good apps lately?” he asked. “Actually, yes.” I said. “Have you heard of Native?” I don’t usually recommend apps, but Native is special.What is Native? It’s a virtual travel agent. If you’re not impressed, neither was I the first time I heard the idea. But when I started using the service, I realized they were onto something.Here’s how Native works: every time I need to do anything related to travel, I just ask Tim to handle it. Tim lives inside Native and while he appears to be a human, I’m not 100% sure he is. For all I know he may be a bot, artificial intelligence, or any number of people working behind the scenes under the persona of the fresh-faced Tim. To be honest, I don’t much care. Every time I need him he’s there, ready to assist me.For example, I recently had to book a gnarly itinerary in and out of two countries using various airline loyalty points. Normally, booking this sort of trip would have taken me hours of comparing prices, flight times, connection difficulty, and frequent flyer point requirements. Instead, I just opened the app and told Tim what I needed in plain English — like sending a text message. Then, I went about my day and an hour later I received a notification from Tim telling me he found the best two options. Would I like itinerary A or itinerary B? I picked one and he booked the flight. Done!I didn’t have to use any dropdown menus, sift through hundreds of options, or spend half an hour attempting to pay for my ticket only to learn that the price I wanted was suddenly not available. Nope! I left it up to Tim to handle everything. Native charges $25 per month. Considering that Tim can complete any and all travel-related requests — from booking me on another flight if I miss a connector to calling the airline to request a seat change — it is well worth the money. Of course, whether Native can actually make money with this business model is an open question.As I described Native to my friend Stephen, a woman pushing her child on the swing next to us interjected. “Excuse me,” she asked, “What app are you talking about?” I showed her Native on my phone. “Funny,” she said “my company does the exact same thing but for health.”Related: 4 Ways to Use Psychology to Win Your Competition’s CustomersThe woman, I would come to learn, was Stephanie Tilenius, CEO of Vida Health. As she explained her app, Stephanie told me “Vida is great for irritable bowel syndrome if you happen to know anyone with that.”Did I ever!I told her I’d be interested in giving her app a try. “We’ll connect you with a coach to help you figure out what’s going on,” she said, and by the time I left the park I had received an invitation to use the service.Meeting MindyDiagnosing a digestive problem is fiendishly difficult. It requires looking back through a detailed log to find what might be causing symptoms that don’t manifest until the food has time to work it’s way through the body a day or so later. Finding a solution involves not only understanding what I ate that might be causing the symptoms, but also what I did not eat that I should have. I had done this sort of detailed record keeping before on my own but it was incredibly time consuming and I always gave up after a few days.I started using Vida. Over the next several weeks, I shared what I ate and how I was feeling with my coach Mindy who, like Tim from Native, was a helpful face on the other side of the app. Like Native, there was no complicated interface to learn. The app felt more like messaging with a friend than diagnosing a health problem.Along with helpful suggestions, Mindy sent me regular reminders to send her snapshots of what I was eating. She also requested I text a number from 1 to 10 to quantify my symptoms — my “poo score,” we called it.Soon, something interesting happened. Mindy started analyzing my diet in ways neither my doctor nor I ever could. She looked at the nutritional content of what I was eating and searched for correlations with how I felt. Like a detective, she was on the hunt for the intestinal who-done-it. She started eliminating suspects from the food line-up and narrowing in on what might be triggering my symptoms by looking for clues in my diet. She told me what I should eat instead and after changing my diet, I’m feeling better.Just the BeginningMindy’s ability to diagnose the source of my problem was something my physician just didn’t have the time or ability to address. Without a way to carefully monitor and analyze what was going in and coming out of my body, how could he? Conversational apps like Vida however are designed to always be accessible; allowing users to send the kind of information a professional can use to provide more insights in less time.Similarly, Native’s highly trained travel agent on the other side of the conversation allows the app to provide just the right itinerary, eliminating all the hours spent sorting and culling travel options I previously had to do myself.This trend is bigger than travel and diet apps. The fact that these two very different services both use what I call an “assistant-as-app” to help users accomplish complex tasks, makes me think there’s more to this trend.How About You?Do you use any assistant-as-app services? Do you have any favorites? Can you think of other products or services that should use the conversational interface but don’t yet? Where would you like to see an assistant-as-app service?Related: 5 Questions to Ask Before Developing a Mobile App Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals This story originally appeared on NirAndFar.com Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. July 9, 2015 Register Now »last_img read more

The Bluray Disc Association BDA has completed t

first_imgThe Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) has completed the specification for its new Ultra HD Blu-ray format and released the new logo that will delineate Ultra HD Blu-ray products. The move is seen a key step in the fight-back by the physical media industry against what is expected to be a sharp decline in physical media consumption as 4K/UHD gains adoption. In addition to delivering content in up-to 3840×2160 resolution, the Ultra HD Blu-ray format enables delivery of a significantly expanded colour range and allows for the delivery of high dynamic range (HDR) and high frame rate content. Next-generation immersive, object-based sound formats will also be delivered via the specification according to the BDA.An optional digital bridge feature is designed to enable the consumer to view their content across multiple in-home and mobile devices.The specification also mandates all new Ultra HD Blu-ray players be capable of playing back current Blu-ray Discs, ensuring that equipment can be used to view an extensive existing catalogue of content.Licensing of Ultra HD Blu-ray is scheduled to begin this summer. The BDA said it was working closely with industry leaders in the authoring, testing, certification and replication industries to develop the tools and process needed to ensure interoperability between players and software.Ultra HD Blu-ray discs will use the H.265 video format and will come as double- and triple-layer discs with 66GB and 100GB capacity respectively.“For years, Blu-ray Disc has set the standard for high definition picture and audio quality in the home. Ultra HD Blu-ray will do the same for UHD home entertainment,” said Victor Matsuda, chair, BDA Promotions Committee. “The technical capabilities of Blu-ray Disc, in particular its significant storage capacity and high data transfer rates, will enable the delivery of an unparalleled, consistent and repeatable UHD experience.”last_img read more

Altice France has unveiled a number of new valuea

first_imgAltice France has unveiled a number of new value-added services to its TV offering.The group has launched a new catch-up TV interface and services for its BFM TV, BFM Business, RMC Story and RMC Découverte channels.Altice said that its new offering included an immersive interface that gives rapid access to video-on-demand services. Catch-up availability will be extended beyond the current seven-day limit and other features are to follow in the coming weeks, including the ability to take up viewing from the point where it was left off, favourite lists and series linking.Altice will also provide all episodes of certain new series immediately.In addition to being accessible via Altice’s SFR set-tops, the new service will be extended to Bouygues Telecom’s TV offering in the near future.Altice France remains at loggerheads with rival ISP Free, which has refused to pay for carriage of its channels on the model successfully fought for by national broadcaster TF1. The pair have been in dispute over the terms of carriage of the channels since March.Altice’s current contract with Orange is meanwhile set to expire this month, leading to a potential clash with that operator over the terms of carriage of its services.last_img read more