A group of nearly 40 representatives, from the Congressional Black, Hispanic, and Asian Pacific American Caucuses, wrote to Attorney General Loretta Lynch Wednesday morning, requesting that the Department of Justice do more to address gun violence in minority communities across the country.
"We believe the administration, working with its state and local partners, should examine new policies to reduce gun violence that can be implemented without the need for legislative action," the group wrote. "Specifically, we strongly encourage your Department to consider stronger enforcement efforts directed at the relatively small number of dishonest dealers who sell the vast majority of firearms used in crimes."
Star trails are seen in the sky over Naramata, British Columbia.
A group of scientists and academics from around the world has launched a new effort called UFODATA, which stands for UFO Detection and Tracking, to apply some rigorous scientific research to the study of UFOs. This all-volunteer, nonprofit project that includes scientists from the United States, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Chile intends to use scientific data and research methods to advance an issue that has largely been confined to the margins (at best) of the traditional scientific community.
"It's abundantly clear that we're not going to make progress in understanding whatever is causing the unknown UFO reports and sightings without getting the type of data we want to collect," says Mark Rodeghier, scientific director and president of the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies in Chicago, and now a UFODATA board member. "More witness testimony, where they fill out a form and tell you what they saw, is not going to help us solve the problem," he says. The problem that Rodeghier is referring to is the frequent, inexplicable sightings of aerial phenomena.
On Thursday, the Intercept published a major package of stories that reveals the inner workings of the US military's drone program, including how and why people are targeted for assassination on the amorphous battlefields of Yemen, Somalia, and other countries. "The Drone Papers," according to the Intercept, is based on a trove of a classified documents leaked by a whistleblower who grew concerned by the government's methods of targeting individuals for lethal action.
"This outrageous explosion of watchlisting—of monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers, assigning them 'baseball cards,' assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefield—it was, from the very first instance, wrong," the source said.
The package is a deep look into how the US military has conducted its counterterrorism operations around the world, and it comes on the same day that President Barack Obama cited the counterterrorism mission against Al Qaeda as one of the two reasons to keep nearly 10,000 soldiers in Afghanistan for at least another year.
Amnesty International called for an immediate congressional inquiry into the drone program, saying the leaked documents "raise serious concerns about whether the USA has systematically violated international law, including by classifying unidentified people as 'combatants' to justify their killings."
The entire series is worth your time, so please go read it. But for now, here are some key takeaways:
Sen. Bernie Sanders delivered one of the most enthusiastic applause lines of the first Democratic presidential debate when he came to Hillary Clinton's defense over her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state. After CNN's Anderson Cooper asked Clinton about her upcoming testimony in front of Congress related to her emails, she offered the same answer she has repeatedly given in response.
"I've taken responsibility for it," she said. "I did say it was a mistake." She then employed her recent campaign strategy of linking the criticism of her email setup to the heavily politicized House Select Committee on Benghazi, which she described as "basically an arm of the Republican National Committee."
But before everybody moved on, Sanders weighed in. "I think the secretary is right," he said. "And that is, I think the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails." Clinton smiled and thanked him, and the crowd roared its approval.
When CNN's Anderson Cooper asked the Democratic presidential candidates if they considered National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden to be a "hero," former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this:
"He broke the laws of the United States. He could’ve been a whistleblower…He could’ve raised all the issues that have been raised…He stole very important information that has fallen into the wrong hands. I think he should not come up without being made to face the music."