Pope denounces ‘sterile hypocrisy’ of anti-migrant policies
By NICOLE WINFIELD
Friday, July 6
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis thanked aid groups that rescue and care for migrants on Friday and denounced the “sterile hypocrisy” of those who turn a blind eye to the world’s poor seeking security and a dignified life.
Francis celebrated a special Mass for migrants and those who care for them in St. Peter’s Basilica, calling attention to their plight as Europe, the U.S. and other countries increasingly close their doors, ports and borders to them.
The intimate service marked the fifth anniversary of Francis’ landmark visit to Lampedusa, the Sicilian island that for years was the primary destination of migrants smuggled from Libya to Europe. During that trip, Francis’ first outside Rome after his 2013 election, the new pope denounced the “globalization of indifference” that the world showed migrants fleeing war, poverty and climate-induced natural disasters.
In the years since, and especially in recent months, governments in Italy, the U.S., Hungary and elsewhere have adopted tough anti-migrant policies that fly in the face of Francis’ oft-repeated call for governments to open their hearts and doors to those in need.
Italy and Malta, in particular, have closed their ports to aid groups that rescue migrants in the Mediterranean, while the Trump administration imposed a now-abandoned policy to separate children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Francis didn’t refer to any country by name in his homily, but he said the only “reasonable response” to the global migration phenomenon today is to show solidarity and mercy. The response, he said, must take into account equitable distribution of responsibilities while ensuring the rights and dignity of all.
Referring to the biblical story of the Good Samaritan, Francis denounced the “sterile hypocrisy of those who do not want to dirty their hands” by caring for the weakest and most marginal of society.
Such a temptation, he said, is “powerfully present” today as the world grapples with migration flows.
“It takes the form of closing our hearts to those who have the right, just as we do, to security and dignified living conditions. It builds walls, real or virtual, rather than bridges,” he said.
Speaking in his native Spanish, Francis thanked the representatives of aid groups in the pews for embodying the Good Samaritan “who stopped to save the life of the poor man beaten by bandits.”
“He didn’t ask where he was from, his reasons for travelling or his documents. he simply decided to care for him and save his life,” Francis said.
The mention was notable given Italy’s new anti-migrant interior minister, Matteo Salvini, has accused aid groups of essentially working as “taxi services” for Libyan-based smugglers, and has closed Italy’s ports to their rescue ships.
We Shouldn’t Be Surprised About Election Hacking in 2018. But Are We Prepared?
June 25, 2018 by Shyamala Ramakrishna
On the agenda this summer at one of the largest annual conventions for hackers: a session for kids in attendance on how to break into America’s voting machines. If a preteen computer whiz can crack a voting machine from a hotel in Las Vegas, what might someone more experienced — and less scrupulous — be able to do if they set their sights on the November general election?
As we all know, American elections have been targeted before. In 2016, Russia attacked election-related systems in at least 21 states. And reports indicate Moscow has tried to breach other election systems around the world. But while past attacks are certainly reasons for concern, cybersecurity risks exist in every field — they’re part of the world we live in. And the United States has knowledge and resources to mount a defense.
First, outdated voting machines should be replaced. Forty-one states will use equipment that’s a decade old in this fall’s elections. We’ve heard from officials that some of the machines they’re using run on Windows 2000, and they occasionally resort to buying spare parts on eBay. This is especially true of paperless voting machines, which are still used in 13 states. When an election system produces no voter-verified paper record, officials can’t audit results to help identify malfunctions or hacks. And the vote could be impossible to recover if any data is lost or tampered.
Aging voter registration databases, which store voters’ personal information from their registration applications, are also prime targets. We know Russian hackers breached Illinois’ database in 2016, and lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee have said a handful of other states were also targeted. To protect voters, and to prevent people from being disenfranchised if a hack manages to wipe the rolls, states need to upgrade or replace the most outdated systems.
State election websites, which provide information on where to vote and display vote totals, are also vulnerable to hacking. A recent attack in Knox County, Tennessee, provided a taste of the kind of effect such an intrusion could have: It shut down the site for an hour right when officials were about to post election results. Interfering with these websites can confuse voters who seek to find the right polling place, and can damage voters’ trust in the election. States need to make cybersecurity staffing a budgetary priority.
But even the most robust preventive measures can’t guarantee we will thwart every cyberattack. So it’s important to ensure that we can reliably confirm an accurate vote count. The most widely recommended process for this is a risk-limiting post-election audit, where auditors use statistical models to take a sample of ballots and hand count them, with the goal of providing a high-level of confidence in the accuracy of the outcome. Only three states mandate risk-limiting audits so far.
It is hard to know what candidate or issues an election hacker might favor in the coming years. But attempts to interfere in American elections share unmistakable common goals: disrupting protocol, stirring confusion and undermining confidence in key democratic institutions.
Fixing the issues outlined here, as well as providing additional backstops that add flexibility to the process and keep elections genuinely free and fair, is crucial for maintaining voters’ trust. These could include implementing reforms like early voting, which — besides making voting more accessible to working parents or people working long hours — could give states time to identify and respond to a breach before Election Day. Same-day voter registration is another common-sense reform that would allow citizens to verify their eligibility and enter the system right before voting, so they are not turned away if a hack compromises the rolls.
To be sure, intelligence officials say they have seen no evidence that votes themselves were changed in 2016. And, since then, many states have indeed invested in election security. Illinois is hiring new cybersecurity staff. Multiple localities in Virginia and California plan to conduct risk-limiting audit pilots this summer. And Congress has allocated $380 million for states to use to shore up their systems. That knowledge can and should calm alarmist rhetoric around election interference, but it doesn’t imply that the problem has gone away. The past two years have highlighted a critical issue of our time, and the public’s eyes are now open to an internet-age reality: Hackers are here to stay, and we have a continuing responsibility to stay ahead of them.
November promises bitterly contested races, and for voters to trust that their vote is counted as cast, states need to work to keep their elections secure, accessible and auditable. It’s safe to say the investments will be worth it.
About the Author
Shyamala Ramakrishna is a research and program associate in the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.
Lessons (Not) Learned From the ‘Project Maven’ Controversy
June 25, 2018 by Tim Greeff
For decades, the U.S. military and tech companies have worked to produce game changing technologies — from duct tape to the EpiPen to the internet — with benefits extending far beyond their initial purpose. Military spending and military requirements helped drive the meteoric rise of Silicon Valley.
The irony is that the engine responsible for sourcing game-changing technology and personal fortunes is now under fire from a small, but vocal, minority.
Over the last several months, a group of employees at Google battled the company’s leadership to cancel a contract with the Pentagon for Project Maven, an artificial intelligence software that interprets images from unmanned drones.
About 4,000 Google employees signed a letter arguing that the company should not get involved “in the business of war.” They demanded Google put in place a policy dictating that the company will never “build warfare technology.” The company’s leadership recently capitulated, announcing it would not renew the contract. Instead, it announced a policy to avoid controversial projects, but allow it to bid on other profitable ones.
From the point of view of a non-profit that works to connect innovative technology companies with the Department of Defense, I understand the concerns of individuals who don’t want to work on defense contracts. And I respect and support their right to act in the manner in which they did.
However, the letter from Google employees displays a remarkably myopic understanding of the work of our military. From disaster relief to protecting our diplomats, the U.S. military has a broad mission.
And we must remember who is ultimately harmed when companies with cutting-edge technologies refuse to partner in national defense efforts: our nation’s warfighters.
In fact, the Pentagon needs the technology community more today than it has at any time in the recent past. As Undersecretary of Defense Ellen Lord said in congressional testimony last December, “Inarguably … the current pace at which we develop advanced capability is being eclipsed by those nations that pose the greatest threat to security, seriously eroding our measure of overmatch.”
The partnership between government and the private sector has always been key to our technological edge, not only on the frontlines but also in the marketplace.
Employees at technology companies should be concerned about the end use of their technologies. But total disengagement is never the answer. Walking away from the table will not stop technology they develop from being used by adversaries around the globe in a manner they may find objectionable. After all, as Google’s own investigation unveiled, information (especially targeted advertisements displayed on their very own platforms), the very currency of Google, was weaponized to influence recent world events.
Just because someone used Google’s platform for evil ends does not make Google nor its technology evil. But because its platform and its business model was the vehicle, it does impart a responsibility on Google to support of national security efforts to stop information weaponry.
But in this case, the manner of the engagement matters. Technology companies, especially global giants with the reach and influence of Google, do not have the luxury of simply being good citizens. When it comes to technology-driven emerging threats such as artificial intelligence and information warfare, Google is not just in the arena. Google is the arena. They must be both an informed and engaged party in the intersection of technology and national security.
The AI Principles released last week by Google are a favorable sign that the company takes its responsibility to remain engaged seriously. However, Google cannot ignore its position in the world. There is no Switzerland in the information battlefield. Google must remain open to directly supporting national security efforts.
As Elie Wiesel famously said in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.”
It’s worth a read. Google it.
About the Author
Tim Greeff is founder and CEO of National Security Technology Accelerator, an Arlington, Va.-based non-profit company.
Featured artists announcement: Tibetan monks at Oct. 14 multicultural festival in Dublin
Multicultural B.R.E.A.D! Festival of arts and community
Featured artists: The Mystical Arts of Tibet
featuring the Monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery
Mandala Sand Painting, Oct. 10 – Oct. 14, 2018
DUBLIN, Ohio — (June 28, 2018) Dublin Arts Council will present the third multicultural B.R.E.A.D! Festival of arts and community in Coffman Park, 5200 Emerald Parkway, Dublin, Ohio, on Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018 from 12 to 9 p.m. Activities will include community booths, traditional music and dance, hands-on artmaking, international cuisine, bread vendors, food trucks, a fair trade global marketplace and more.
The B.R.E.A.D! Festival is free of charge and is being developed by a diverse group of community members to preserve cultural authenticity. The festival is designed to provide education and promote tolerance in the extended community through shared social and cultural experiences. Festival activities embrace the B.R.E.A.D. acronym: Bake, Reconnect, Educate, make Art & celebrate Diversity.
The festival will include The Mystical Arts of Tibet featuring the Monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery constructing a Mandala Sand Painting in the Coffman Park Pavilion from Oct. 10 through Oct. 14. Millions of grains of sand are painstakingly laid into place in this spiritual art form in order to purify and heal the environment and its inhabitants. The public is invited to an opening ceremony including chants, music and mantra recitation to consecrate the site, at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 10.
The mandala is dismantled shortly after its conclusion, symbolizing impermanence and change. The closing ceremony, which begins on Sunday, Oct, 14 at 7:30 p.m., includes disbursement of sand to members of the audience as blessings, and a procession with dispersal of the mandala sand into a nearby stream to share the healing energies of the mandala throughout the world. The dispersal practice is environmentally safe, according to the EPA.
The public is welcome to visit the Pavilion during the construction to watch the monks at work, Oct. 10 from 12 to 6 p.m., Oct. 11-13 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Oct. 14 during the B.R.E.A.D! Festival from 12 to 9 p.m. An interpreter will be available to answer questions. For more information, visit
https://www.mysticalartsoftibet.org/ and http://www.drepung.org/
A community sand painting project using authentic tools and led by local artist Hilary Frambes, will also take place during the festival.
The 2018 B.R.E.A.D! Festival is supported by grants from City of Dublin, Puffin Foundation West, Ltd., Dublin Community Foundation, Ohio Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Community sponsors include Sonesta ES Suites, Tuller Flats/CASTO and Haydocy Airstream & RV.
For more information, visit www.dublinarts.org/BREAD or contact Dublin Arts Council at 614.889.7444.
Westerville Earns Ninth Aaa Credit Rating
City Maintains Best Credit Ratings from Moody’s Investor Services, S&P Global
(Westerville, Ohio) – The City of Westerville has earned the Aaa bond rating from Moody’s Investors Services and S&P Global Ratings for the ninth consecutive year. Aaa represents the highest achievable bond rating, reserved for organizations that meet the highest quality, lowest credit risk criteria for investors.
Bonds with Aaa ratings are considered the best quality by all standards and comprise what are generally known as high investment-grade bonds. The Aaa rating designation provides access to the best interest rates available for debt issues.
The City sought the rating assignment for $20 million General Obligation Capital Facilities Bonds to be issued in conjunction with the Westerville Community Center Expansion Project. Both rating agencies affirmed their Aaa rating on existing General Obligation debt.
Westerville City Manager David Collinsworth says the City’s nine-year Aaa rating is rare in municipal settings and continues a tradition of responsible fiscal management and public resource management.
“Westerville would be at a disadvantage if we wanted to continue our momentum with facility projects and updates without the benefit of these ratings and the favorable interest rates we’ll pay on our debt,” said Collinsworth. “Because the City is able to issue debt for major capital improvement projects at lower interest rates, taxpayer dollars are optimized on public projects like road work, park development and utility infrastructure.”
Both reports highlight Westerville’s strong financial management practices as part of the basis for the Aaa rating. The Moody’s report also notes the City’s substantial tax base and healthy reserves.
“Westerville has a strong sense of stewardship when it comes to managing fiscal resources,” said Lee Ann Shortland, City of Westerville Director of Finance. “There are a couple major factors that affect the rate of interest the City pays when issuing bonds for capital projects, and the credit rating assigned by the rating agencies is chief among them. By continuing to secure the Aaa rating, we’re delivering on our promises to residents and income taxpayers to prudently and conservatively manage the City’s finances. The City’s debt is issued with a fixed rate over a 20-year term, thereby guaranteeing the favorable rate is in place for the full term of the financing.”
The full reports from both agencies are available on the City of Westerville website at www.westerville.org/finance.
Prevent injuries with these important fireworks safety tips from the Westerville Division of Fire.
Stay Cool: The forecast is calling for another hot 4th of July this year. Remember to protect your skin in the sun and to bring extra water with you to all Westerville festivities.
Attending with Kids? Westerville Police recommend you take a clear photo of your kids in their current outfits upon arrival. Should you become separated, this will help officers reunite your family faster.