U.S. outsources Iraq duties

first_imgWASHINGTON – The United States has assembled an imposing industrial army in Iraq larger than its uniformed fighting force and responsible for such a broad swath of responsibilities that the military might not be able to operate without its private-sector partners. More than 180,000 Americans, Iraqis and nationals from other countries work under a slew of federal contracts to provide security, gather intelligence, build roads, forge a financial system, and transport needed supplies in a country the size of California. That figure contrasts with the 163,100 U.S. military personnel, according to the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., the organization responsible for military operations in the Middle East. The Pentagon puts the military figure at 169,000. There are an additional 12,400 coalition forces in Iraq. But it has its dangers. Employees of Blackwater USA were involved in a weekend shooting that left 11 Iraqis dead. The heavy reliance on contractors in a war zone is partly the result of a shrinking of the armed forces after the Cold War and the Bush administration’s preference for contracting out government functions to the corporate world. It’s also because of the compressed nature of the war in Iraq. Combat operations are ongoing at the same time as the reconstruction of Iraq’s infrastructure and assorted economic development efforts, pushing the number of contractors to high levels. While having contractors on and around the battlefield is not new, the situation in Iraq raises questions about whether U.S. troops have become so dependent on contract help that they could not function properly in their absence. “If the contractors turn tail and run, we’ve still got to be able to fight,” said Steve Schooner, co-director of the government procurement law program at George Washington University and a former military lawyer. The presence of thousands of private-sector security guards adds another component to the debate. Employees of Blackwater and other companies are engaging the enemy in combat, a sharp departure from previous conflicts. “It’s pretty clear that line has been crossed in Iraq,” Schooner said. “And it’s been crossed because we don’t have enough horses left, and we have all kinds of problems in terms of coordination.” As the military leans on the private sector, there’s a push to hold contract employees to the same legal standards as military personnel. A measure proposed by Rep. David Price, D-N.C., would require all government contractors to be covered by federal criminal codes, a shortcoming revealed by the conflict in Iraq. Presidential candidate Barack Obama, D-Ill., is promoting similar legislation in the Senate. “One suspects that contractors are being used to mask the true extent of our involvement in Iraq,” Price said in an interview Wednesday. “How else are you going to interpret it when the number of contractors exceeds the number of troops?” Groups representing federal contractors rejected the idea the war is being outsourced. “In Iraq, we’re doing something that’s never been done before – there’s three concurrent missions going on,” said Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council in Washington. “Normally, this would be a sequential process. You achieve a degree of security, and then you start reconstruction, and then you build the infrastructure. But it’s all being done at the same time, which is one of the reasons the number (of contractors) is so high.” According to Central Command, there are 137,000 contractors working in Iraq under Defense Department contracts, and almost half of those are Iraqis. More than 22,000 are U.S. citizens, and the remainder hail from other countries. Close to 7,300 are security workers. Under separate contracts, the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development employ thousands more workers, including security guards. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Monday that the department does not release the number of contract employees because of concerns that their safety could be compromised. However, a July report from the Congressional Research Service said the State Department has hired more than 2,600 private guards to protect U.S. diplomatic personnel and to guard the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad as well as other key sites inside the city’s Green Zone. The Agency for International Development has more than a dozen contracts and grants for services from electrical-power generation to sanitation to water supply. There are 3,200 contractors helping to manage these projects, which have employed more than 50,000 Iraqis, according to USAID’s public affairs office. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Wednesday that military contractors fill necessary roles but ones that would distract combat troops from their primary mission. “You don’t necessarily need to take a rifleman and turn him into a cook if you can contract for a cook,” he said. Angela Styles, director of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the Office of Management and Budget from 2001 to 2003, said the challenge is determining where to draw the line. If it is strictly a combat operation, the military can sustain itself, she said. In Iraq, where several missions are jumbled together and call for skills the armed forces don’t have, the answer is different. “Could the military function without contractors on a sheer military mission? I think so,” Styles said. “But could they in a reconstruction mission? No.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Khatron Ke Khiladi 10 Bigg Boss 8 winner Gautam Gulati to perform

first_imgGautam GulatiGautam Gulati/InstagramHost Rohit Shetty is returning with yet another new set of daredevil stunts in Khatron Ke Khiladi 10. In fact, the makers of the stunt-based show are leaving no stone unturned to make the show more entertaining and engaging by getting on board some of the highly popular celebrities.While several names have started floating around as probable participants, the latest addition in the list is Gautam Gulati.Yes, the Bigg Boss 8 winner, who enjoys a massive fanbase, is likely to showcase some power pack stunts in the adventure reality show, ABP News reported. Gautam has been away from the screens since his Bollywood films Behen Hogi Teri (2017) and Azhar (2016).Meanwhile, Naagin actress Adaa Khan has been approached by the makers of the adventure reality show. Also, Yuvraj Singh, who retired from International cricket recently, is likely to participate as well.Television celebrities Krystle D’Souza and Karan Patel, who plays the lead role in Yeh Hai Mohabbatein, had also confirmed being approached by the makers of Khatron Ke Khiladi 10. However, he did mention that nothing was finalised until then.A source revealed to Mumbai Mirror, “They are yet to sign on the dotted line, but all the three celebrities (Yuvraj, Karan and Krystle) are in advanced talks for the show and the channel is keen to get them on board by next week.”Karishma Tanna, Kavita Kaushik of FIR fame, choreographer Dharmesh Yelende and comedian Balraj Sayal are likely to join as well.This year, Khatron Ke Khiladi 10 will be shot in Bulgaria and the new team is expected to fly to the location soon. Khatron Ke Khiladi 9 grand finaleTwitterlast_img read more

Citys Arts Agency Pushing Houston As A Cultural Destination

first_img Listen Pexels To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: X center_img Share John Abodeely has long been a champion of the arts.He formerly served as deputy director for the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities under the Obama administration, during which he helped organize the first cultural delegation to Cuba in decades and established a program for chronically struggling schools called Turn Around Art.Now, Abodeely is the CEO of Houston Arts Alliance, the agency tasked with implementing the City of Houston’s vision for the arts. A big part of his mission is to expand Houston’s cultural identity and to help the city become a destination for arts and culture.In the audio above, Houston Matters host Craig Cohen talks with Abodeely about how he’s working toward that goal and how HAA is helping local arts organizations be better prepared for disasters like Hurricane Harvey. 00:00 /07:55last_img read more

US Consul General of Kolkata meets Tourism minister in Siliguri

first_imgDarjeeling: Patti Hoffman, US Consul General, Kolkata made a stopover at Siliguri on the way to Sikkim. In Siliguri, the Consul General met Tourism Minister Goutam Deb and discussed different issues pertaining to tourism on Tuesday.”The Consul General wanted to know about different festivals of the state. I apprised her that Durga Puja is the most important festival. However, festivals like Gangasagar Mela and Rash Mela in Cooch Behar draw lakhs of tourists from all over the country,” stated Minister Deb. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeConsul General Hoffman wanted to know about the tourism potential of the state, the amount of investment in the tourism sector and the foreign tourist footfall in the State. “She wanted to know of the air and road connectivity along with the type of accommodations available for the tourists. I apprised her of the improvement in air and road connectivity in the State. Our Government under the able leadership of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has given a lot of impetus on road and air connectivity for the benefit of locals and tourists alike,” stated Deb. The Consul General suggested that an increase in direct flights connecting Netaji International Airport, Kolkata to important cities throughout the globe would increase foreign tourist footfall. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killedIn another development, the Airport Authority of India jointly with the Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority (SJDA) is all set to start a Perishable Cargo unit at Bagdogra Airport. This would be the only Perishable Cargo unit in this region including the North East, Nepal and Bhutan. “No Airport in this region has the capability to handle perishable cargo. The unit will emerge as a very profitable component to Bagdogra,” stated Sourav Chakraborty, Chairman, SJDA.last_img read more

This Polymer Device Can Walk When Illuminated

first_imgJune 30, 2017 This story originally appeared on PCMag Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. Scientists in the Netherlands and US have created what they’re calling the world’s first “light powered walking device.”The tiny device, developed by scientists at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands and Kent State University in Ohio, is about the size of a paperclip and can “walk” at the speed of a caterpillar when illuminated. The device itself has just two parts: a rectangular frame and a piece of special polymer material that can “undulate and … propel itself forward under the influence of light,” according to a news release. When exposed to light, one side of this new type of liquid crystal polymer contracts while the other side expands, causing it the material to “bulge.” When the light goes away, the deformation “disappears instantaneously.”The material looks transparent, but fully absorbs violet light, which the scientists used in their tests, creating a shadow. The research team, led by Eindhoven University of Technology professor Dick Broer, managed to get their device to move continuously on its own using this so-called “self-shadowing” effect.”They attached a strip of the material in a frame shorter than the strip itself,” the release explains. “Then they shone a concentrated … light on it, from in front. The part of the strip that is in the light starts to bulge downward, creating a ‘dent’ in the strip. As a consequence, the next part of the strip comes in the light and starts to deform. This way the ‘dent’ moves backwards, creating a continual undulating movement. This sets the device in motion, walking away from the light.”When the device is placed upside down, the wave travels in the opposite direction, causing it to move towards the light. The scientists, who published their findings today in the scientific journal Nature,say that in the future, their device could possibly be used to transport small items in hard-to-reach places, or clean the surface of solar cells. “The mechanism is so powerful that the strip can even transport an object that is much bigger and heavier than the device itself, uphill,” according to the release. 2 min read Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals Register Now »last_img read more

Googles Project Zero reveals a High severity copyonwrite security flaw found in

first_imgA Security researcher from Google’s Project Zero team recently revealed a high severity flaw in the macOS kernel that allows a copy-on-write (COW) behavior, a resource-management technique, also referred to as shadowing. The researcher informed Apple about the flaw back in November 2018, but the company is yet to fix it even after exceeding the 90-day deadline. This is the reason why the bug is now being made public with a “high severity” label. According to a post on Monorail, the issue tracking tool is for chromium-related projects, “The copy-on-write behavior works not only with anonymous memory but also with file mappings. This means that, after the destination process has started reading from the transferred memory area, memory pressure can cause the pages holding the transferred memory to be evicted from the page cache. Later, when the evicted pages are needed again, they can be reloaded from the backing filesystem.” “This means that if an attacker can mutate an on-disk file without informing the virtual management subsystem, this is a security bug. MacOS permits normal users to mount filesystem images. When a mounted filesystem image is mutated directly (e.g. by calling pwrite() on the filesystem image), this information is not propagated into the mounted filesystem”, the post further reads. According to a Google project member, “We’ve been in contact with Apple regarding this issue, and at this point no fix is available. Apple is intending to resolve this issue in a future release, and we’re working together to assess the options for a patch. We’ll update this issue tracker entry once we have more details.” A user commented on HackerNews, “Given the requirements that a secondary process should even be able to modify a file that is already open, I guess the expected behavior is that the 1st process’s version should remain cached in memory while allowing the on-disk (CoW) version to be updated? While also informing the 1st process of the update and allowing the 1st process to reload/reopen the file if it chooses to do so. If this is the intended/expected behavior, then it follows that pwrite() and other syscalls should inform the kernel and cause prevent the origional cache from being flushed.” To know more about this news, head over to the bug issue post. Read Next Drupal releases security advisory for ‘serious’ Remote Code Execution vulnerability Google’s home security system, Nest Secure’s had a hidden microphone; Google says it was an “error” Firedome’s ‘Endpoint Protection’ solution for improved IoT securitylast_img read more