The Afternoon Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Daily Debrief hosts Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris discuss throughout their show each day. The Newscast is designed to give FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.
Saying they obtained new evidence, senior White House officials said Sunday that the Pakistani Taliban were behind the failed Times Square bombing. The attempt marks the first time the group has been able to launch an attack on U.S. soil. And while U.S. officials have downplayed the threat _ citing the bomb’s lack of sophistication _ the incident in Times Square and Christmas Day airline bomber indicate growing strength by overseas terrorist groups linked to al-Qaida even as the CIA says their operations are seriously degraded. The finding also raises new questions about the U.S. relationship with Pakistan, which is widely known to have al-Qaida and other terrorist groups operating within its borders.
Attorney General Eric Holder said Sunday he does not think Arizona’s law cracking down on illegal immigrants is racially motivated but voiced concern that its enforcement could lead to racial profiling. Holder said the U.S. has a national immigration problem that cannot be cured with a “state-by-state solution.” The top U.S. prosecutor said he understands the frustration behind the Arizona law, but he warned during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” that “we could potentially get on a slippery slope where people will be picked on because of how they look as opposed to what they have done.”
In a major victory for organized labor, unions will have an easier time signing up airline and railroad workers after the Obama administration Monday changed a 76-year-old rule on union elections. The change is the most significant so far in a string of White House moves designed to boost unions, which are struggling to reverse years of decline in membership. The new rule, announced by the three-member National Mediation Board, would recognize a union if a simple majority of workers who cast ballots approve organizing. The previous rule required a majority of the entire work force to favor unionizing. That meant workers choosing not to vote at all were effectively counted as “no” votes.
In 1998, a hacker told Congress that he could bring down the Internet in 30 minutes by exploiting a certain flaw that sometimes caused online outages by misdirecting data. In 2003, the Bush administration concluded that fixing this flaw was in the nation’s “vital interest.” Fast forward to 2010, and very little has happened to improve the situation. The flaw still causes outages every year. Although most of the outages are innocent and fixed quickly, the problem still could be exploited by a hacker to spy on data traffic or take down websites. Meanwhile, our reliance on the Internet has only increased. The next outage, accidental or malicious, could disrupt businesses, the government or anyone who needs the Internet to run normally. The outages are caused by the somewhat haphazard way that traffic is passed between companies that carry Internet data. The outages are called “hijackings,” even though most of them are not caused by criminals bent on destruction. Instead the outages are a problem borne out of the open nature of the Internet, a quality that also has stimulated the Net’s dazzling growth.
** More than a fifth of federal inspectors generals, chief auditors and whistleblower protection jobs are still vacant. John Solomon, journalist-in-residence at the Center for Public Integrity, tells us what affect this is having on the Obama administration.