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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Ethiopie : nouvelles violences autour du conflit territorial de Wolkait - RFI




Ethiopie : nouvelles violences autour du conflit territorial de Wolkait

En Ethiopie, depuis le début de la semaine, de violentes manifestations agitent la ville de Gondar, dans le nord du pays, autour d'un conflit territorial. Au moins dix personnes ont été tuées dans des affrontements entre la police et des membres de la communauté Ahmara. Le différend porte sur le district de Wolkait où vivent des Amhara et des Tigréens. Depuis des années, la localité est rattachée à la région du Tigré, ce que contestent certains membres de la communauté Ahmara.

Tout commence par une tentative d'arrestations qui dégénère. La police éthiopienne tente d'arrêter six membres du « Comité Wolkait », une organisation qui se bat pour que la localité de Wolkait ne soit plus rattachée à la région du Tigré, comme c'est le cas actuellement, mais à celle de l'Amhara.
Le porte-parole du gouvernement, Getachew Reda, raconte la fusillade et suggère la piste érythréenne.
« La fusillade a éclaté quand les policiers ont tenté d'arrêter les six individus. Quatre ont été arrêtés, mais deux autres ont résisté avec des armes. Cinq policiers sont morts et cinq civils ont été tués par des balles perdues. Nous suspectons ces individus d'être liés à des groupes terroristes, financés, entraînés et parrainés par l'Erythrée. Nous pensons qu'il y a des connexions avec le régime d'Asmara », a déclaré le porte-parole du gouvernement éthiopien, Getachew Reda.
Les jours suivants, des gangs armés venus principalement des alentours de Gondar ont déclenché des émeutes dans la ville. Les habitants de Gondar ont alors travaillé étroitement avec la police pour les maîtriser.
La presse locale évoque entre dix et vingt morts lors de ces émeutes.
« Il y a eu des victimes », reconnaît le ministre, « mais Gondar a retrouvé son calme », a-t-il ajouté.
Les ambassades des Etats-Unis et d'Israël ont pris des mesures pour sécuriser leurs ressortissants.
Entre novembre et mars derniers, l'Ethiopie a été le théâtre de violentes manifestations anti-gouvernementales dans la région Oromo contre un projet d'appropriation de terres. Ces heurts ont fait plusieurs centaines de morts, selon des organisations de défense des droits de l'homme.
Speech by NSA Director Michael Rogers on Cyber Security Challenges

House Republicans Vote Favor More Pollution




House passes Interior, EPA spending bill


The House passed a $32.1 billion bill funding the Interior Department and environmental programs next year, the first time the legislation has cleared the House since 2009. 
The bill would cut spending for Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other programs by $64 billion over current levels, and is $1 billion less than what President Obama requested in his budget. 
It includes a handful of policy riders to block EPA regulations, including those dealing with water, power plant emissions and coal mining near waterways.
"There is a great deal of concern over the number of regulatory actions being pursued by EPA in the absence of legislation and without clear congressional direction," said. Rep. Ken Cavert (R-Calif.) during floor debate this week. 
"For this reason, the bill includes a number of provisions to stop unnecessary and damaging regulatory overreach by the agency."
Because of the funding levels and the riders, most Democrats opposed the bill; it passed 231-196. The White House threatened to veto the bill earlier this week, and environmental groups encouraged members to vote against it.
The bill will "impact the [EPA's] ability to protect human health and the health of our environment and to ensure clean air and clean water for our  families and future generations," said Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.). 
Democrats also hit the bill for reducing clean water funding and endangered species provisions, though both sides spoke highly of funding levels for Native American programming and the National Parks components of the bill.
The House hasn't approved an Interior and EPA spending bill in years. Republicans brought it up last summer and were anticipating passage, but leadership pulled it before the vote to avoid a floor fight over the display of the Confederate flag at national cemeteries. 
This year, the bill came up under a rule limiting amendments to it. The House voted down on Thursday Democratic amendments to undo some of the policy riders, but it also defeated Republican measures to further cut the EPA's budget and undo other environmental rules. 
Members adopted a measure to fund water testing in Flint, Mich., and forgive some of the city's loans as it recovers from a drinking water crisis. A Republican also withdrew his amendment to block EPA officials from traveling by plane for official business. 
The House passed the bill on the last day before its seven-week recess and the start of summer and fall campaigning season. That, combined with long-standing differences on environmental policy between Republicans and Democrats, makes it highly unlikely Congress will pass a final Interior and EPA spending bill this year. 

Calgary area hit by torrential rain, flooding CBC News




Calgary area hit by torrential rain, flooding


The Elbow River was running high through Calgary on Friday. (Mark Matulis/CBC)
Heavy rain and thunderstorms continue to cause problems in southern Alberta Friday afternoon.
As of 5:00 p.m. there were tornado warnings for the M.D. of Willow Creek near Claresholm and Stavely and for Lethbridge and several surrounding communities.
Tornado warnings were lifted hours later.
There are also numerous thunderstorm watches and warnings across the south of the province.

There are thunderstorm watches and warnings across Southern Alberta Friday. These clouds passed over Airdrie, just north of Calgary, on Friday. (Heather Bhatty)
The Calgary Fire Department reported a spike in flood-related calls Friday afternoon.
There's been some overland flooding in Shawnessy that's resulted in water in some basements.
Manhole covers floated off in the northwest, while in the community of Hawkwood, a vehicle got trapped in deep water.
There are also reports of problems with street lights in parts of the city.

Levels on the Elbow River have increased after water released from Glenmore Reservoir. (Mark Matulis/CBC)
The City of Calgary says up to 90 mm of rain is expected from midday Friday through to Sunday.
City staff have been releasing water from the Glenmore Reservoir to accommodate the forecasted rainfall, which has resulted in flows on the Elbow River increasing.
People are being warned to keep a safe distance from the banks of the Elbow until further notice.
Calgary Transit is urging people to give themselves extra travel time, as unpredictable weather can create major delays, especially on city buses.

A car sits abandoned next to a flooded road at Redstone Street and 128 Ave NE. (Mark Matulis/CBC)
The Calgary Stampede is a washout again Friday with only the brave venturing down to the grounds in wet weather gear.
"There are lots of indoor activities to take advantage of," says Stampede spokesperson Jennifer Booth.  

The Calgary Stampede under dark skies Friday. (Terri Trembath/CBC)
"We know we're an outdoor show, so we've always had a really good balance of indoor and outdoor activities for visitors."
The Stampede is again offering $5 entry between 5-7 p.m. to try to boost attendance.

USA Plans Deny Visas Country Refuse to Take Deported

https://www.dhs.gov/news/2016/07/14/written-testimony-ice-house-committee-oversight-and-government-reform-hearing-titled



Release Date: 
July 14, 2016
2154 Rayburn House Office Building
Chairman Chaffetz, Ranking Member Cummings, and distinguished Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the ongoing challenge of uncooperative and recalcitrant countries as we carry out the critical mission of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). I look forward to discussing our operations and highlighting our continued efforts to bring such countries back into compliance, in partnership with the U.S. Department of State (DOS).
I am very proud to represent the dedicated men and women of ICE. ICE promotes homeland security and public safety through broad criminal and administrative enforcement of approximately 400 federal laws governing border control, customs, trade, and immigration. The agency carries out its mission through four principal components: Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA), and Management and Administration (M&A). Additionally, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) investigates allegations of administrative and criminal misconduct at ICE, and performs important inspection and oversight functions across the agency. Today, ICE has approximately 20,000 law enforcement, attorney, and support personnel in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, three U.S. territories, and strategically stationed positions in 46 countries worldwide.

Enforcing Immigration Laws

The nearly 6,000 law enforcement officers of ERO identify removable aliens and make arrest, detention, and removal determinations in a manner designed to best promote national security, public safety, and border security while remaining consistent with the following Department of Homeland Security (DHS) enforcement priorities:
  • Priority 1 includes those who pose a threat to national security, border security, or public safety (including those convicted of felonies or aggravated felonies);
  • Priority 2 includes those who have been convicted of significant or multiple misdemeanors, those who have significantly abused the visa or visa waiver programs, and those apprehended who unlawfully entered the United States after January 1, 2014; and
  • Priority 3 focuses on those individuals who have been issued a final order of removal on or after January 1, 2014.
ERO works to identify foreign nationals who may be subject to immigration enforcement actions in a number of ways, including working with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to identify, locate, arrest, and remove convicted criminal aliens who pose a threat to the public. Throughout the process, ERO works closely with ICE OPLA, which represents the Department in removal proceedings in the immigration court system, administered by the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). Once individuals are ordered removed by EOIR immigration judges, it is ICE’s responsibility to execute those orders, which includes obtaining the necessary travel documents from the countries to which they are being returned.
The revised priorities noted above have intensified ICE’s focus on removing aliens convicted of serious crimes as well as public safety and national security threats, and recent border entrants. ICE’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 removal statistics illustrate our commitment to ensuring that individuals who pose a threat to public safety are not released from ICE custody, and our review processes demonstrate ICE’s commitment to public safety.
In FY 2015, ICE conducted 235,413 removals: 59 percent of all ICE removals, or 139,368, involved individuals who were previously convicted of a crime. Of the 96,045 individuals removed who had no criminal conviction, 94 percent, or 90,106, were apprehended at or near U.S. borders or ports of entry. The leading countries of origin for removals were Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
ICE continued to prioritize its removals in FY 2015 by focusing on serious public safety and national security threats, increasing by 3 percent over FY 2014 the percentage of removals that involved convicted criminals. More specifically, of the total ICE removals, 86 percent (202,152) fell into Priority 1, which includes national security and public safety threats; 8 percent (18,536) fell into Priority 2, which includes individuals convicted of serious or multiple misdemeanors; and 4 percent (9,960) fell into Priority 3, or those who received a final order of removal on or after January 1, 2014. Thus, 98 percent of all ICE removals met one or more of ICE’s stated immigration enforcement priorities.
While ICE remains firmly committed to enforcing the immigration laws effectively and sensibly, ICE does face significant challenges in obtaining travel documents from some of its foreign partners, which are necessary to effectuate the removal of individuals ordered removed from the United States.

Dealing with Recalcitrant and Uncooperative Countries

The removal process is impacted by the level of cooperation offered by our foreign partners. As the Committee is aware, in order for ICE to effectuate a removal, two things are generally required: (1) an administratively final order of removal and (2) a travel document issued by a foreign government. Although the majority of countries adhere to their international obligation to accept the return of their citizens who are not eligible to remain in the United States, ICE faces unique challenges with those countries that systematically refuse or delay the repatriation of their nationals. Such countries are considered to be uncooperative or recalcitrant, and they significantly exacerbate the challenges ICE faces in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678 (2001).
In Zadvydas, the Court effectively held that aliens subject to final orders of removal may generally not be detained beyond a presumptively reasonable period of 180 days, unless there is a significant likelihood of removal in the reasonably foreseeable future. Regulations were issued in the wake of Zadvydas to allow for detention beyond that period in a narrow category of cases involving special circumstances, including certain terrorist and dangerous individuals with violent criminal histories. Those regulations have faced significant legal challenges in federal court. Consequently, ICE has been compelled to release thousands of individuals, including many with criminal convictions, some of whom have gone on to commit additional crimes.

Determining Whether a Country is Uncooperative or Recalcitrant

Countries are assessed based on a series of tailored criteria to determine their level of cooperativeness with ICE’s repatriation efforts. Some of the criteria used to determine cooperativeness include: hindering ICE’s removal efforts by refusing to allow charter flights into the country; country conditions and/or the political environment, such as civil unrest; and denials or delays in issuing travel documents. This process remains fluid as countries become more or less cooperative. ICE’s assessment of a country’s cooperativeness can be revisited at any time as conditions in that country or relations with that country evolve; however, ICE’s current standard protocol is to reassess bi-annually. As of May 2, 2016, ICE has found that there were 23 countries considered recalcitrant, including: Afghanistan, Algeria, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, and Zimbabwe. As a result of their lack of cooperation, ICE has experienced a significant hindrance in our ability to remove aliens from these countries. In addition, ICE is also closely monitoring an additional 62 countries with strained cooperation, but which are not deemed recalcitrant at this time.

Negative Impact on ICE Resources and Public Safety

DHS as a whole, and ICE specifically, takes very seriously its mission to remove foreign nationals in a timely and efficient manner and any challenges associated with limitations on the ability to do so. As a result, DHS works both directly with foreign governments and through DOS to improve cooperation with countries that systematically refuse or delay the repatriation of their nationals.

Resource Implications

Whether a foreign government wholly refuses to take back one of its nationals or simply refuses to take back its nationals in a timely manner, there are significant resource implications for ICE.
ICE begins the removal process with requests for travel documents to the appropriate foreign government. If a travel document is not issued and reasonable efforts to secure the issuance of such a document are not fruitful, then ICE can take action pursuant to its own authorities, such as recommending non-inclusion of recalcitrant countries on the H-2 Eligible Countries List as well as, in appropriate circumstances, sending a letter to the nation’s Embassy in the United States seeking cooperation with the removal process. Such letters, referred to as “Annex 9 letters,” are issued to countries that are International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Member States. Pursuant to Article 37 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, signed at Chicago on December 7, 1944, in order to facilitate and improve air navigation, ICAO promulgates international standards and recommended practices addressing, inter alia, customs and immigration procedures. ICE has sent 125 such letters as of July 7 of this fiscal year, which is more than any other year on record.
Another possible tool is ICE requesting the issuance of a Demarche to the recalcitrant country by DOS. If that does not achieve results, a joint meeting between ICE, DOS Consular Affairs, and the Ambassador of the uncooperative nation can occur. Within the last two fiscal years ICE has worked with DOS to issue 17 Demarches to Iraq, Algeria, Bangladesh, Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Eritrea, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sierra Leone, Senega, Cuba and St. Lucia. Although Algeria remains on the list of recalcitrant countries, the Algerian government committed to address the issue and has issued a handful—but not all—or the required travel documents since then.
Responses to a country’s recalcitrance are, in part, guided by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between ICE and DOS Consular Affairs, signed in April 2011. Pursuant to this MOU, ICE continues to work through U.S. diplomatic channels to ensure that other countries accept the timely return of their nationals in accordance with international law by pursuing a graduated series of steps to gain compliance with the Departments’ shared expectations. The measures that may be taken when dealing with countries that refuse to accept the return of their nationals, as outlined in the 2011 MOU, include:
  • issue a demarche or series of demarches;
  • hold a joint meeting with the Ambassador to the United States, Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, and Director of ICE;
  • consider whether to provide notice of the U.S. Government’s intent to formally determine that the subject country is not accepting the return of its nationals and that the U.S. Government intends to exercise authority under section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to encourage compliance;
  • consider visa sanctions under section 243(d) of the INA; and
  • call for an interagency meeting to pursue withholding of aid or other funding.
While this process sets forth a general protocol, specific steps—including the invocation of visa sanctions under INA section 243(d)—are considered by the DHS Secretary in consultation with DOS. Section 243(d) states that, upon notification from the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of State shall direct consular officers to stop issuing visas to immigrants, nonimmigrants, or both, from countries that unreasonably delay or fail entirely to repatriate their nationals. As such, use of this authority must be considered in light of both the potential impact it could have on U.S. foreign and domestic policy interests, particularly with respect to adverse effects on bilateral relations with a foreign partner, and whether visa restrictions will be an effective tool in gaining the country’s compliance. In addition to the ICE and DOS MOU-guided process outlined above, on occasion, Secretaries Johnson and Kerry have also personally engaged with their foreign counterparts to underscore the need for compliance with international repatriation obligations.

Public Safety

There is a clear public safety threat posed to the United States by the failure of uncooperative or recalcitrant countries to accept the timely return of their nationals who have committed crimes in this country. Such countries’ unwillingness to comply with their international obligations to promptly facilitate repatriation of their nationals, coupled with ICE’s obligation to comply with the Supreme Court’s Zadvydas decision, has required ICE to release thousands of dangerous individuals, including criminal aliens. many with criminal convictions for serious crimes like arson, assault, property damage, extortion, forgery or fraud, homicide, kidnapping, weapons offenses, embezzlement, controlled substance offenses, and sexual offenses. Sadly, ICE records indicate a number of these aliens have gone on to commit additional crimes while in the United States.
Recognizing this public safety threat, in recent years, ICE has worked aggressively to secure some progress in removing aliens to recalcitrant countries, albeit slow and with significant costs in terms of time and resources. In FY 2015, ICE was able to remove convicted criminals to ten countries, including Uganda and Sudan, which did not previously permit ICE to conduct removals by charter flight. Through negotiations, ICE was able to remove individuals to those countries via ICE Air Operations charters for the first time. This effort allowed ICE to remove an individual to Uganda convicted of selling drugs, resisting arrest, driving under the influence, and criminal trespassing, and another individual to Sudan who had been convicted of an attempted bombing. ICE remains firmly resolved to engage all foreign counterparts that deny or unreasonably delay the acceptance of their nationals. We continue to address foreign government representatives, both in Washington, D.C. and abroad, along with interagency partners, in an effort to improve cooperation with ICE removals.
However, despite ICE’s continued efforts, there are a number of factors that constrain ICE’s ability to improve the number and timeliness of repatriations to recalcitrant or uncooperative nations. Such factors include limited diplomatic relations with some countries; the countries’ own internal bureaucratic processes, which foreign governments at times utilize to delay the repatriation process; and the views of some foreign governments that repatriation is simply not a priority.

Conclusion

ICE will continue to play a critical role in fulfilling DHS’s national security, border security, and public safety mission. Thank you again for the opportunity to testify today and for your continued support of ICE and its critical mission. I look forward to answering your questions.

US Homeland Security Testimony USA Threats

https://www.dhs.gov/news/2016/07/14/written-testimony-dhs-secretary-jeh-johnson-house-committee-homeland-security



Chairman McCaul, Representative Thompson, and members of the Committee, thank you for holding this annual threats hearing with me, the FBI Director and the Director of NCTC. I believe this annual opportunity for Congress to hear from us, concerning threats to the homeland is important. I welcome the opportunity to be here again.

Counterterrorism

San Bernardino and Orlando are terrible reminders of the new threats we face to the homeland.
We have moved from a world of terrorist-directed attacks, to a world that also includes the threat of terrorist-inspiredattacks – attacks by those who live among us in the homeland and self-radicalize, inspired by terrorist propaganda on the internet. By their nature, terrorist-inspired attacks are often difficult to detect by our intelligence and law enforcement communities, could occur with little or no notice, and in general, make for a more complex homeland security challenge.
This threat environment has required a whole new type of response.
As directed by President Obama, our government, along with our coalition partners, continues to take the fight militarily to terrorist organizations overseas. ISIL is the terrorist organization most prominent on the world stage. Since September 2014, air strikes and special operations have in fact led to the death of a number of ISIL's leaders and those focused on plotting external attacks in the West. At the same time, ISIL has lost about 47% of the populated areas it once controlled in Iraq, and thousands of square miles of territory it once controlled in Syria. But as ISIL loses territory, it has increased its plotting on targets outside of Iraq and Syria, and continues to encourage attacks in the United States.
On the law enforcement side, the FBI continues to, in my judgment, do an excellent job of detecting, investigating, preventing, and prosecuting terrorist plots here in the homeland.
Following the attacks in Ottawa, Canada in 2014, and in reaction to terrorist groups’ public calls for attacks on government installations in the western world, I directed the Federal Protective Service to enhance its presence and security at various U.S. government buildings around the country.
The Department of Homeland Security has intensified our work with state and local law enforcement, and strengthened our information sharing efforts. Almost every day, we share intelligence and information with Joint Terrorism Task Forces, fusion centers, local police chiefs and sheriffs. And we are now able to instantly cross-reference suspects against law enforcement and counterterrorism databases and share information—often in almost real-time—with our domestic as well as international partners. We are also enhancing information sharing with organizations that represent businesses, college and professional sports, community and faith-based organizations, and critical infrastructure.
And, since 2013 we’ve spearheaded something called the “DHS Data Framework” initiative. We are improving our ability to use DHS information for our homeland security purposes, and to strengthen our ability to compare DHS data with other travel, immigration, and other information at the unclassified and classified level. We are doing this consistent with laws and policies that protect privacy and civil liberties.
We also provide grant assistance to state and local governments around the country, for things such as active shooter training exercises, overtime for police officers and firefighters, salaries for emergency managers, emergency vehicles, and communications and surveillance equipment. We helped to fund an active shooter training exercise that took place in the New York City subways last November, a series of these exercises earlier this year in Miami and Louisville, and just last month at Fenway Park in Boston. In February, and last month, we announced another two rounds of awards for FY 2016 that will fund similar activities over the next three years.
We are enhancing measures to detect and prevent travel to this country by foreign terrorist fighters.
We are strengthening the security of our Visa Waiver Program, which permits travelers from 38 different countries to come to the U.S. for a limited time period without a visa. In 2014, we began to collect more personal information in the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or “ESTA” system, that travelers from Visa Waiver countries are required to use. ESTA information is screened against the same counterterrorism and law enforcement databases that travelers with traditional visas are screened, and must be approved prior to an individual boarding a plane to the United States. As a result of these enhancements, over 3,000 additional travelers were denied travel here through this program in FY 2015. In August 2015, we introduced further security enhancements to the Visa Waiver Program.
Through the passage in December of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, Congress has codified into law several of these security enhancements, and placed new restrictions on eligibility for travel to the U.S. without a visa. We began to enforce these restrictions on January 21, 2016. Waivers from these restrictions will only be granted on a case-by-case basis, when it is in the law enforcement or national security interests of the United States to do so. Those denied entry under the Visa Waiver Program as a result of the new law may still apply for a visa to travel to the U.S. In February, under the authority given me by the new law, I also added three countries – Libya, Yemen and Somalia – to a list that prohibits anyone who has visited these nations in the past five years from traveling to the U.S. without a visa. In April, DHS began enforcing the mandatory use of high security electronic passports for all Visa Waiver Program travelers. In both February and June, CBP enhanced the ESTA application with additional questions.
We are expanding the Department’s use of social media for various purposes. Today social media is used for over 30 different operational and investigative purposes within DHS. Beginning in 2014 we launched four pilot programs that involved consulting the social media of applicants for certain immigration benefits. USCIS now also reviews the social media of Syrian refugee applicants referred for enhanced vetting, and is extending this review to additional categories of refugee applicants. Based upon the recommendation of a Social Media Task Force within DHS, I have determined, consistent with relevant privacy and other laws, that we must expand the use of social media even further.
CBP is deploying personnel at various airports abroad, to pre-clear air travelers before they get on flights to the United States. At present, we have this pre-clearance capability at 15 airports overseas. And, last year, through pre-clearance, we denied boarding to over 10,700 travelers (or 29 per day) before they even got to the United States. As I said here last year, we want to build more of these. In May 2015, I announced 10 additional airports in nine countries that we’ve prioritized for preclearance. In May, CBP announced an “open season,” running through August 1, for foreign airports to express interest in participating in the next round of preclearance expansion. I urge Congress to pass legislation enabling preclearance operations in Canada, by providing legal clarity to CBP officials who are responsible for the day-to-day operation of preclearance facilities there.
For years Congress and others have urged us to develop a system for biometric exit – that is, to take the fingerprints or other biometric data of those who leave the country. CBP has begun testing technologies that can be deployed for this nationwide. With the passage of the FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Act, Congress authorized up to $1 billion in fee increases over a period of ten years to help pay for the implementation of biometric exit. In April, the Department delivered its Comprehensive Biometric Entry/Exit Plan to Congress, which details CBP’s plan for expanding implementation of a biometric entry/exit system using that funding. I have directed that CBP redouble its efforts to achieve a biometric entry/exit system, and to begin implementing biometric exit, starting at the highest volume airports, in 2018.
Last January I announced the schedule for the final two phases of implementation of the REAL ID Act, which go into effect in January 2018 and then October 2020. At present, 24 states are compliant with the law, 28 have extensions, and 4 states or territories are out of compliance without an extension. Now that the final timetable for implementation of the law is in place, we urge all states, for the good of their residents, to start issuing REAL ID- compliant drivers’ licenses as soon as possible.
In the current threat environment, there is a role for the public too. “If You See Something, Say Something”™ must be more than a slogan. We continue to stress this. DHS has now established partnerships with the NFL, Major League Baseball and NASCAR, to raise public awareness at sporting events. An informed and vigilant public contributes to national security.
In December we reformed “NTAS,” the National Terrorism Advisory System. In 2011, we replaced the color-coded alerts with NTAS. But, the problem with NTAS was we never used it, it consisted of just two types of Alerts: “Elevated” and “Imminent,” and depended on the presence of a known specific and credible threat. This does not work in the current environment, which includes the threat of homegrown, self-radicalized, terrorist-inspired attacks. So, in December we added a new form of advisory – the NTAS “Bulletin” – to augment the existing Alerts, and issued the first Bulletin providing the public with information on the current threat environment and how they can help. The December Bulletin expired last month, and we issued a new and updated Bulletin on June 15.
Given the nature of the evolving terrorist threat, building bridges to diverse communities is also a homeland security imperative. Well informed families and communities are the best defense against terrorist ideologies. Al Qaeda and ISIL are targeting Muslim communities in this country. We must respond. In my view, building bridges to our communities is as important as any of our other homeland security missions.
In 2015 we took these efforts to new levels. We created the DHS Office for Community Partnerships (OCP), which is now the central hub for the Department’s efforts to counter violent extremism in this country, and the lead for a new interagency Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Task Force that includes DHS, the Department of Justice (DOJ), the FBI, the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) and other agencies. We are focused on partnering with and empowering communities by providing them a wide range of resources to use in preventing violent extremist recruitment and radicalization. Specifically, we are providing access to federal grant opportunities for state and local leaders, and partnering with the private sector to find innovative, community-based approaches.
Ensuring that the Nation’s CVE efforts are sufficiently resourced has been an integral part of our overall efforts. Last week, on July 6, I announced the CVE Grant Program, with $10 million in available funds provided by Congress in the 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Act. The CVE Grant Program will be administered jointly by OCP and FEMA. This is the first time federal funding at this level will be provided, on a competitive basis, specifically to support local CVE efforts. The funding will be competitively awarded to state, tribal, and local governments, nonprofit organizations, and institutions of higher education to support new and existing community-based efforts to counter violent extremist recruitment and radicalization to violence.
Finally, given the nature of the current threat from homegrown violent extremists, homeland security must include sensible gun control laws. We cannot have the former without the latter. Consistent with the Second Amendment, and the right of responsible gun owners to possess firearms, we must make it harder for a terrorist to acquire a gun in this country. The events of San Bernardino and Orlando make this painfully clear.

Aviation Security

As we have seen from recent attacks in Egypt, Somalia, Brussels, and Istanbul, the threat to aviation is real. We are taking aggressive steps to improve aviation and airport security. In the face of increased travel volume, we will not compromise aviation security to reduce wait times at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening points. With the support of Congress we are surging resources and adding personnel to address the increased volume of travelers.
Since 2014 we have enhanced security at overseas last-point-of-departure airports, and a number of foreign governments have replicated those enhancements. Security at these last-point-of-departure airports remains a point of focus in light of recent attacks, including those in Brussels and Istanbul.
As you know, in May of last year a classified DHS Inspector General’s test of certain TSA screening at eight airports, reflecting a dismal fail rate, was leaked to the press. I directed a 10-point plan to fix the problems identified by the IG. Under the new leadership of Admiral Pete Neffenger over the last year, TSA has aggressively implemented this plan. This has included retraining the entire Transportation Security Officers (TSO) workforce, increased use of random explosive trace detectors, testing and re-evaluating the screening equipment that was the subject of the IG’s test, a rewrite of the standard operating procedures manual, increased manual screening, and less randomized inclusion in Pre-Check lanes. These measures were implemented on or ahead of schedule.
We are also focused on airport security. In April of last year TSA issued guidelines to domestic airports to reduce access to secure areas, to require that all airport and airline personnel pass through TSA screening if they intend to board a flight, to conduct more frequent physical screening of airport and airline personnel, and to conduct more frequent criminal background checks of airport and airline personnel. Since then employee access points have been reduced, and random screening of personnel within secure areas has increased four-fold. We are continuing these efforts in 2016. In February, TSA issued guidelines to further enhance the screening of aviation workers in the secure area of airports, and in May, TSA and airport operators completed detailed vulnerability assessments and mitigation plans for nearly 300 federalized airports.
We will continue to take appropriate precautionary measures, both seen and unseen, to respond to evolving aviation security threats and protect the traveling public.
Without short-cutting aviation security, we are also working aggressively to improve efficiency and minimize wait times at airport security check points in the face of increased air travel volumes. I thank Congress for approving our two reprogramming requests that have enabled us to expedite the hiring of over 1,300 new TSOs, pay additional overtime to the existing TSO workforce, and convert over 2,700 TSOs from part-time to full-time.
We have also brought on and moved canine teams to assist in the screening of passengers at checkpoints, solicited over 150 volunteers from among the TSO workforce to accept temporary reassignment from less busy to busier airports, deployed optimization teams to the Nation’s 20 busiest airports to improve operations, and stood up an Incident Command Center at TSA headquarters to monitor checkpoint trends in real time.
We continue to encourage the public to join TSA Pre✓®. The public is responding. While enrollments a year ago were at about 3,500 daily, now enrollments are exceeding 15,000 a day. For 90% of those who are enrolled and utilize TSA Pre✓®, wait times at TSA checkpoints are five minutes or less.
Airlines and airports are also assisting to address wait times. We appreciate that major airlines and airport operators have assigned personnel to certain non-security duties at TSA checkpoints, and are providing support in a number of other ways. Longer term, we are working with airlines and airports to invest in “Innovation lanes” and other technology to transform the screening of carry-on luggage and personal items.
Our efforts are showing results. Nationwide, the wait time for more than 99% of the traveling public is 30 minutes or less, and more than 90% of the traveling public is waiting 15 minutes or less. But we are not taking a victory lap. Over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, TSA screened 10.7 million travelers. June 30 and July 1 were the highest-volume travel days we have seen since 2007. During this period, however, the average wait time nationwide in standard security lines was less than ten minutes, while those in TSA Pre-check lines waited an average of less than five minutes.
We plan to do more. The summer travel season continues, followed by holiday travel in the fall and winter. We are accelerating the hiring of an additional 600 TSOs before the end of the fiscal year. And we will continue to work with Congress to ensure TSA has the resources it needs in the coming fiscal years.
As I have said many times, we will keep passengers moving, but we will also keep them safe.

Cybersecurity

Along with counterterrorism, cybersecurity remains a cornerstone of our Department’s mission. Making tangible improvements to our Nation’s cybersecurity is a top priority for President Obama and for me to accomplish before the end of the Administration.
On February 9th, the President announced his “Cybersecurity National Action Plan,” which is the culmination of seven years of effort by the Administration. The Plan includes a call for the creation of a Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity, additional investments in technology, federal cybersecurity, cyber education, new cyber talent in the federal workforce, and improved cyber incident response.
DHS has a role in almost every aspect of the President’s plan.
As reflected in the President’s 2017 budget request, we want to expand our cyber response teams from 10 to 48.
We are doubling the number of cybersecurity advisors to in effect make “house calls,” to assist private sector organizations with in-person, customized cybersecurity assessments and best practices.
Building on DHS’s “Stop. Think. Connect” campaign, we will help promote public awareness on multi-factor authentication.
We will collaborate with Underwriters Laboratory and others to develop a Cybersecurity Assurance Program to test and certify networked devices within the “Internet of Things” -- such as your home alarm system, your refrigerator, or even your pacemaker.
I have also directed my team to focus urgently on improving our abilities to protect the Federal Government and private sector. Over the past year, the National Cybersecurity Communications Integration Center, or “NCCIC,” increased its distribution of information, the number of vulnerability assessments conducted, and the number of incident responses.
I have issued an aggressive timetable for improving federal civilian cybersecurity, principally through two DHS programs:
The first is called EINSTEIN. EINSTEIN 1 and 2 have the ability to detect and monitor cybersecurity threats attempting to access our federal systems, and these protections are now in place across nearly all federal civilian departments and agencies.
EINSTEIN 3A is the newest iteration of the system, and has the ability to automatically block potential cyber intrusions on our federal systems. Thus far E3A has actually blocked over a million potential cyber threats, and we are rapidly expanding this capability. About a year ago, E3A covered only about 20% of our federal civilian networks. In the wake of the malicious cyber intrusion at the Office of Personnel Management, in May of last year I directed our cybersecurity team to make at least some aspects of E3A available to all federal departments and agencies by the end of last year. They met that deadline. Now that the system is available to all civilian agencies, 50% of federal personnel are actually protected, including the Office of Personnel Management, and we are working to get all federal departments and agencies on board by the end of this year.
The second program, called Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation, or CDM, helps agencies detect and prioritize vulnerabilities inside their networks. In 2015, we provided CDM sensors to 97% of the federal civilian government. Next year, DHS will provide the second phase of CDM to 100% of the federal civilian government.
I have also used my authorities granted by Congress to issue Binding Operational Directives and further drive improved cybersecurity across the federal government. In May 2015, I directed civilian agencies to promptly patch vulnerabilities on their Internet-facing devices. These vulnerabilities are accessible from the Internet, and thus present a significant risk if not quickly addressed. Agencies responded quickly and mitigated all of the vulnerabilities that existed when the directive was issued. Although new vulnerabilities are identified every day, agencies continue to fix these issues with greater urgency then before the directive.
Last month, I issued a second binding operational directive. This directive mandated that agencies participate in DHS-led assessments of their high value assets and implement specific recommendations to secure these important systems from our adversaries. We are working aggressively with the owners of those systems to increase their security.
In September 2015, DHS awarded a grant to the University of Texas at San Antonio to work with industry to identify a common set of best practices for the development of Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations, or “ISAOs.” The University of Texas at San Antonio recently released the first draft of these best practices. They will be released in final form later this year after public comment.
Finally, I thank Congress for passing the Cybersecurity Act of 2015. This new law is a huge assist to DHS and our cybersecurity mission. We are in the process of implementing that law now. As required by the law, our NCCIC has built a system to automate the receipt and distribution of cyber threat indicators at real-time speed. We built this in a way that also includes privacy protections.
In March, I announced that this system was operational. At the same time, we issued interim guidelines and procedures, required by this law, providing federal agencies and the private sector with a clear understanding of how to share cyber threat indicators with the NCCIC, and how the NCCIC will share and use that information. We have now issued the final guidelines and procedures consistent with the deadline set by the law.
I appreciate the additional authorities granted to us by Congress to carry out our mission. Today, we face increasing threats from cyber-attacks against infrastructure and I strongly believe that we need an agency focused on cyber security and infrastructure protection.
I have asked Congress to authorize the establishment of a new operational Component within DHS, the Cyber and Infrastructure Protection agency. We have submitted a plan which will streamline and strengthen existing functions within the Department to ensure we are prepared for the growing cyber threat and the potential for large scale or catastrophic physical consequences as a result of an attack. I urge Congress to take action so we are able to ensure DHS is best positioned to execute this vital mission.

Conclusion

I am pleased to provide the Committee with this overview of the progress we are making at DHS on countering threats. You have my commitment to work with each member of this Committee to build on our efforts to protect the American people.
I look forward to your questions.

Mexican Migrant Dies After Conflict US Border Police

Release Date: 
July 15, 2016
On July 15, 2016, at approximately 5:30 a.m., Laredo Sector Border Patrol agents encountered a male subject near the river in Laredo, Texas, who entered the U.S. illegally and apprehended him.  Border Patrol agents subdued the man, after he became combative.  While escorting him to a Border Patrol vehicle for transportation and processing, the man became unresponsive; Border Patrol agents immediately provided medical attention until Laredo Emergency Medical Services arrived and transported the man to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. The man was determined to be from Mexico. The Laredo Sector Border Patrol regrets the loss of life and will work with the appropriate agencies to further investigate this incident.

Possible Terrorism Incident on US Mexico Border

HIDALGO, Texas - A 2004 Chevy Cavalier entered the Hidalgo International Bridge shortly before 4 p.m. on Friday, June 15, 2016 at a high rate of speed, attempting to run the port and nearly striking a CBP officer. In response to the immediate threat to the lives of fellow officers and travelers, a CBP officer fired with a service-issued shotgun. A CBP pursuit vehicle followed the Chevy Cavalier, which abruptly made a U-turn and struck the pursuit vehicle head-on. The 22-year-old female U.S. citizen driver of the Cavalier was secured by CBP officers, apprehended by McAllen police officers and transported by paramedics to a local hospital. The extent of injuries of the arrestee remains unknown. No CBP officers were injured. The incident is under investigation by McAllen Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations and CBP Office of Professional Responsibility.

Land abuses thwart Indian Kashmir's energy ambitions




Land abuses thwart Indian Kashmir's energy ambitions

Low revenues from mismanaged scheme hold back Kashmir's plan to exploit its hydropower potential
By Athar Parvaiz
SRINIGAR, India, July 15 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Mismanagement of a flagship land ownership scheme in India's northern Jammu and Kashmir state, banked on by the regional government to generate cash to build its own power plants, is holding back local ambitions for energy independence.
The Roshni (Light) scheme was originally expected to bring INR 250 billion ($3.73 billion) into state coffers, enabling the Kashmir authorities to avoid doing deals with India's National Hydro-electric Power Corporation (NHPC).
But the region's government revealed last month that only INR 780 million had been collected so far, amid accusations of corruption.
In response, irate members from all parties at a recent session of Kashmir's legislative assembly forced the government to agree to order a thorough probe of irregularities laid out in a 2014 report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, who holds the rank of a Supreme Court judge.
In 2000, Kashmir's National Conference government at the time conceived a scheme in which people who had illegally occupied government land would be given ownership rights to that land in return for payment of its market value.
Revenue from transferring ownership rights over 102,579 hectares (253,478 acres) of land was earmarked for construction of hydropower projects intended to generate huge state revenues from energy exports, as well as meeting Kashmir's own energy requirements.
But in 2014, the Comptroller and Auditor General revealed the land transfer scheme had suffered irregularities, including the transfer of land at rates far below the market value and non-payment by many land occupants, including political leaders.
Since then, Kashmir's corruption watchdog, the State Vigilance Organisation (SVO), has indicted 49 officials, including two top-ranking bureaucrats and dozens of revenue officials, on related charges.
Many members of the current assembly also accuse some politicians, including a former speaker and a few legislators, of acquiring land at dirt-cheap rates.
"Ministers in previous governments were also involved in the Roshni land scam," Kavinder Gupta, speaker of Kashmir's legislative assembly, told members.

A 450-megawatt hydropower project located at Baglihar Dam on the Chenab river, which flows from Indian Kashmir into Pakistan, is seen at Chanderkote, about 145 km north of Jammu, Oct. 10, 2008. REUTERS/Amit Gupta
TREATY IN HOT WATER
The Roshni scheme was intended to assuage Kashmiri anxiety over the 1960 World Bank-mediated Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) between India and Pakistan, which many feel disregarded Kashmir's economic interests.
That treaty allowed India and Pakistan to share the Indus River and its five tributaries - the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej - and provided mechanisms for settling disputes.
Under the treaty, Pakistan received exclusive use of the waters from the Indus and its west-flowing tributaries, the Jhelum and Chenab, while the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej rivers were allocated for India's use.
The treaty also stated that upper riparian India could build run-of-the-river projects only on the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum, which flow through Kashmir. The NHPC has constructed seven power projects in the region and plans more in the future.
The NHPC, which generates over 2,000 MW of hydropower in Kashmir, gives just 12 percent of the electricity it produces there to the state government, evoking strong local criticism.
As of now, the state itself generates only 761 MW, given its lack of resources to exploit the region's hydro-electric potential, against peak demand of 2,600 MW.
In 2002, Kashmir's legislative assembly passed a resolution seeking the termination of the Indus treaty on the basis that Kashmiris were not consulted when India and Pakistan signed it. Ever since, the treaty and the NHPC's operations in Kashmir have been a topic of hot debate.
Sensing the mood, a committee formed by then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh suggested in a 2007 report that the NHPC should transfer at least two power projects to Kashmir, but that has yet to happen.
In 2009, National Conference leader Nazir Gurezi, speaking in Kashmir's legislative assembly, called the treaty "a sign of slavery" for Kashmiris.
And two years later, Taj Mohi-ud-Din, Kashmiri leader for the Indian National Congress and then irrigation minister, drew an analogy between the NHPC in Kashmir and Britain's erstwhile East India Company, a comparison that has come to symbolise Kashmiri resentment over the use of its water resources.
LOCAL DEVELOPMENT
Zahoor Ahmad Chat, former executive director of projects at the State Power Development Corporation, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that if the Kashmir government could muster the resources to harness the region's energy potential of around 15,000 MW, it would provide economic stability and spur development.
Chat said exploiting projected surplus power could earn the region annual revenue of some INR 150 billion, and make the most of Kashmir's renewable energy sources for its people.
"We have the luxury of having clean over-ground energy resources like water - one of the most preferred energy resources in the age of climate change," he said.
"Even if a small percentage of the expected (Roshni scheme) revenue was realised, we would be able to create small power projects in all of our rural areas." ($1 = 67.0650 Indian rupees)
(Reporting by Athar Parvaiz; editing by Megan Rowling; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Kenya, companies liable climate change damages




In Kenya, companies now liable for climate change damages

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Could the risk of having to make payouts drive quick action on climate change by Kenyan companies?
Climate change lawsuits are gaining momentum as citizens are increasingly turning to domestic courts to hold governments and corporations accountable for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. With the passing of its 2016 Climate Change Act, Kenya is among the few countries globally to directly regulate on climate change, signaling strong political will to pursue low-emission development.
The act allows citizens to sue private and public entities that frustrate efforts to reduce the impacts of climate change.
The law establishes the National Climate Change Council, which has the power to impose climate change obligations on private establishments, including regulations on the nature and procedure for reporting on performance.
The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), on behalf of the council, is charged with monitoring, investigating and reporting on compliance. An organisation that fails to comply may incur a fine of up to a million Kenyan shillings ($9,900) and officers risk five years imprisonment if they withhold or gives false information to NEMA.
An interesting feature of this law is the lenient standard required to prove liability. It is enough to prove that a corporation is not doing enough to address climate change without having to also demonstrate that a person has suffered loss or injury.
COMPENSATION ON THE HORIZON?
Traditionally, in public interest environmental cases, though the law waives the requirement of demonstrating direct harm, there is still a requirement that an applicant establish that a section of society will suffer harm. Perhaps the indulgence granted to climate suits demonstrates the severity and urgency that we should all exercise when tackling a global crisis that threatens the survival of humanity.
The consequences of liability may be exceedingly costly for corporations as Kenya's Environment and Land Court has the power to order compensation for climate victims where it deems appropriate. Once a company becomes included within a climate change regime, the likely substantial compliance requirements will entail significant, related ongoing costs of operation and management that could affect returns and competitiveness.
An example of liability arising from climate change disclosures is the Volkswagen scandal. "We've totally screwed up," said Volkswagen's America boss Michael Horn, when the car-manufacturing giant ran into serious problems in 2015 for falsifying carbon dioxide emission tests of their vehicles.
Recalling and modifying the vehicles has resulted in massive losses of approximately $2.8 billion and likely fines of up to $20 billion may be incurred.  Additionally, VW stated in its quarterly report that it anticipates facing criminal and civil charges from national regulatory authorities and lawsuits from customers and investors.
CASH TO DO THE RIGHT THING?
So how do you navigate the pitfalls of climate change liability? In the corporate world, companies and their shareholders are increasingly addressing climate change by conducting research and adopting explicit policies and practices as part of sound environmental and risk management practices.
Shareholder proposals submitted to major corporations such as Phillips, Gillette and Reebok state that corporate boards of directors and managers have a "fiduciary duty" to be informed, and to inform shareholders, about potential climate change risks and opportunities.
This involves careful assessment and disclosure to shareholders of information on significant risks associated with climate change, and warrants precautionary, prudent and early actions to enhance competitiveness and protect profitability in a world moving away from fossil fuels.
Public disclosure of uncertainties that are likely to result in significant changes in a company's liquidity because of climate change is essential. Furthermore, factors affecting sales or revenues that may have a current or future effect on the company's financial condition, results of operations, liquidity, or capital resources are equally important to consider.
Nevertheless, it's not all gloom and doom, as the act creates opportunities for the private sector by advocating for incentives to pursue low-carbon development and promotion of research and development on clean technologies.
This indicates that there will be significant financing channeled towards tax reliefs to promote uptake of clean energy, energy efficiency, and to encourage sustainable architecture. Consequently, the future promises numerous business prospects for members of the private sector who are willing to embrace sustainable development pathways for posterity.

UK Carney warns $7 trillion green infrastructure need world wide




BoE's Carney warns of $7 trillion green infrastructure need

Climate change and funding of "green" initiatives to form a major part of G20 summit in China: central bank head
* Says $5-7 trillion investment over 15-20 years needed
* Says green finance to be big part of G20 discussions
* Carney does not comment on UK Brexit aftermath (Recasts, adds comments on need for infrastructure investment)
By Matt Scuffham and Fergal Smith
TORONTO, July 15 (Reuters) - As much as $7 trillion will need to be spent building new infrastructure around the world that will make it possible to cut carbon emissions over the next 15 to 20 years, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney warned on Friday.
Carney, speaking with Canadian Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna at an event in Toronto, said measures to finance green initiatives would form a major part of this year's G20 summit in China in September, and encouraged investors to back them.
"In terms of what is the magnitude of clean energy or lower- carbon energy infrastructure and cleaner water sanitation, etc., that will be put in place over the next 15 to 20 years ... it's somewhere in the order of $5 to $7 trillion," Carney said. "The question is how much of that is going to be financed through capital markets."
China, one of the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters, is eager to be seen taking a leadership role in global action to combat climate change and has said it will push for efforts to encourage green investment while leading the G20 group of developed and emerging market countries.
Carney said the Bank of England had been working with the People's Bank of China over the past 18 months to develop a "green" bond market that could finance environmentally friendly projects, part of a broader set of initiatives.
The former Bank of Canada governor said about $500 billion will be raised each year in China through capital markets to finance environmentally friendly projects.
He said those instruments could be attractive to global investors, many of whom are struggling to generate required returns against the backdrop of government bond yields at record lows and volatile global equity markets.
"How are your yields these days?" Carney asked fixed-income investors at the event.
"It won't surprise you that yields in China are considerably higher than those in Canada and the UK and elsewhere. It also won't surprise you that they are keen to open up this market."
Carney also backed efforts to launch programs that put a price on carbon dioxide emissions, saying it was the "cleanest" way to regulate to stabilize emissions.
Carney was Bank of Canada governor before being recruited in 2012 to head the Bank of England.
He did not discuss Britain's recent vote to leave the European Union and did not take questions from reporters. (Reporting by Matt Scuffham and Fergal Smith; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Jonathan Oatis)

New app maps disasters, conflicts Disease




New app lets public help map disasters, conflicts and outbreaks

By rewarding users with virtual badges, MSF hopes the app will be as engaging as Angry Birds or Candy Crush
By Lin Taylor
LONDON, July 15 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Swiping right or tapping on a mobile phone are not typical ways of helping poor communities, but a new app launched by a medical charity on Friday aims to use technology to help aid workers map areas at risk of conflict, disasters and disease.
Using the latest in mobile gaming technology, MapSwipe lets users map remote, rural regions vulnerable to humanitarian crises.
Hundreds of millions of people in crisis-prone communities are not mapped, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said, and without this data, aid agencies are unable to effectively plan for emergencies.
"If you can't visualise where your patients are when they're in the middle of a cholera outbreak you're missing a huge trick, because you can't predict the behaviour of the disease," said MSF's Pete Masters, who helped create the app.
Users will swipe through a series satellite images on their phone, and tap the screen when they see buildings, houses or other signs of human activity.
In essence, the public can help filter out uninhabited areas, such as deserts or bushland, so aid workers can concentrate on mapping places where people actually live.
MapSwipe was developed as part of the Missing Maps Project, a collaboration between MSF, the British and American Red Cross and mapping platform Open Street Map.
Masters, project manager of Missing Maps, said having accurate mapping data before a crisis hits is essential.
"It's not a reaction tool," he said. "What we're really trying to do is identify vulnerable places (with) ongoing, forgotten crises, and map them ahead of time.
"So when the cholera outbreak happens, you're not trying to map it now, you can say, 'Here's the data.' And you can use it immediately."
The app will let users participate in current mapping projects in northern Nigeria, Madagascar and the border region between Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea which was hit by the Ebola virus outbreak.
By rewarding users with virtual badges, Masters said he hopes the app will be as engaging as popular mobile games such as Angry Birds, Pokemon Go or Candy Crush.
But ultimately, he said the app is about letting ordinary people participate in humanitarian work, even if they are unable to give money or volunteer on the ground.
"We're trying to provide meaningful engagement for people who have a few minutes to spare," he said. "We don't want to pretend maps save thousands of lives - doctors save thousands of lives.
"But any increase in the support that we can give to the medical teams in terms of the data they can use... is an improvement."
(Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian issues, conflicts, global land and property rights, modern slavery and human trafficking, women's rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org to see more stories)

Expanding farms harm nature on 58 pct of world's land - ...



OSLO, July 14 (Reuters) - An expansion of farmland has damaged nature beyond a "safe" limit on 58 percent of the world's land surface, threatening natural services such as crop pollination by insects, scientists said on Thursday.
Grasslands, such as in United States, Argentina, South Africa or Central Asia, are among natural systems most affected by declines in animals and plants caused by human activities, they wrote in the journal Science.
Northern pine forests and tundra are least affected, they said.

http://news.trust.org/item/20160714180034-qsjdj/