PROJO:Democrats’ guests will promote diversity at Trump speech

PROJO:Democrats’ guests will promote diversity at Trump speech

By Karen Lee Ziner

When President Trump addresses a joint session of Congress for the first time on Feb. 28, Dr. Ehsun Mirza of East Greenwich will be Congressman James Langevin’s honored guest.

But not just any guest.

Mirza, a critical-care doctor at Kent Hospital who immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan, has been a prominent voice in Rhode Island’s Muslim community. He is on Langevin’s Diversity Advisory Committee and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza’s Muslim-American Advisory Board.

Langevin has invited Mirza as part of a Democratic effort to show support for “marginalized communities” by inviting guests who have — despite discrimination — made positive impacts.

Joining the Langevin-led effort are Representatives David Cicilline (RI), Jared Polis (CO), Judy Chu (CA), Cedric Richmond (LA), and Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM). Cicilline expects to name his guest later this week or next, a spokesman said.

Langevin said, “As a candidate for President, Donald Trump mocked a reporter with a disability and made statements that were offensive to so many Americans, including women, members of the LGBTQ community, people of color, immigrants, and people of differing faiths. Once he assumed the highest office in the land, his first order of business was to close our borders to immigrants and refugees, particularly those from Muslim-majority countries.”

Langevin said diversity “makes our nation stronger, and I believe it should be celebrated. I am proud to call Dr. Mirza a friend, and I hope that his presence on February 28th will serve as a reminder to the President that true Americans come in every color and creed — and not all are born here.”

Mirza said Monday, “This is so historic. I don’t have words to describe that I will be part of history. It is truly an honor to be there regardless of what my position is.”

A U.S. citizen, Mirza said he and his family and friends in the Muslim community “are here trying their best to make a living and make this nation strong. We are dedicated Americans. Regardless of whether we are Muslims, conservatives, liberals or however we identify ourselves — there is one thing common in all of us; that is, we are loyal to this nation.”

Trump’s “dehumanizing rhetoric” hurts, Mirza said. “So that’s why I’m going. Maybe Mr. Trump will see me. Maybe he will shake my hand. Maybe he will change his mind. Maybe.”

Cicilline, who co-chairs the LGBT Equality Caucus, said Trump’s campaign for president, his Cabinet picks and first actions in office have left millions of Americans “fearful of what his administration will mean for their families and their communities.”

Cicilline added, “Our nation’s strength lies in its ability to accept and celebrate the differences among us, and it is my hope that our guests remind the President that, no matter what, we will always stay true to our fundamental values.”

JNS: US-Israel cybersecurity ties grow as common enemies move battlefield online

JNS: US-Israel cybersecurity ties grow as common enemies move battlefield online

By Ariel Ben Solomon

Israel’s standing as a global cybersecurity powerhouse advanced in recent weeks, with the U.S. House of Representatives passing new legislation that would improve American-Israeli cooperation in that sector.

“Cybersecurity is the preeminent national security issue of the Information Age. Working together with our allies will be essential to preserving our collective defense in this new domain,” U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) told JNS.org.

“Israel is already a leader on cybersecurity, and by enhancing collaboration, we will be able to push the frontiers in protecting our respective homelands,” he said.

U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) and Langevin introduced the United States-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act of 2017 (H.R. 612), which passed in the House Jan. 31. The measure creates a cybersecurity grant program for joint research and development projects. Under the legislation—which resulted from a visit to Israel last May by a congressional delegation including Ratcliffe and Langevin—the secretary of homeland security would determine research parameters with an advisory board of American and Israeli members.

Ratcliffe, who chairs the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection, said, “After Jim and I traveled to Israel last year to discuss this important aspect of our national security with top officials, we defined key areas where we could boost our collaboration to strengthen our countries’ cybersecurity posture.”

The legislation’s advancement comes as cybersecurity is one of the world’s fastest-growing security fields—not just for governments, but also for terrorist groups.

In January, Israeli security authorities revealed a Hamas operation on social networks attempting to lure Israel Defense Forces soldiers into downloading viruses by using fake accounts with pictures of attractive young women. A number of soldiers fell for the trick and downloaded the viruses.

The Hamas-funding nation of Iran, meanwhile, tested its cyberwarfare systems in a Feb. 4 drill that intended to “showcase the power of Iran’s revolution and to dismiss the sanctions” that the U.S. levied against the Islamic Republic a day earlier, according to Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps website.

Steven Stalinsky, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Middle East Media Research Institute, which monitors jihadist activity online, told JNS.org that the new legislation is an important development for bilateral relations in the cybersphere.

“Israel and the U.S. share the same enemies in the cyber realm, consisting of both jihad groups as well as hacktivist groups associated with the likes of [the international hacker network] Anonymous, who also target the Jewish community worldwide online,” said Stalinsky.

Gabi Siboni, head of the Cyber Security Program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Israel, told JNS.org that cooperation in the constantly changing cybersecurity sector is not Israel’s most important partnership area with the U.S., with the top areas remaining intelligence and other forms of defense cooperation, yet cybersecurity ties are rising in importance.

Regarding terror groups’ use of cyberspace to launch attacks, Siboni said, “They are doing as much as they can, but for now are mainly manipulating social media platforms to promote their interests.”

“It is premature to speak of these groups launching complex cyberattacks, though they are trying to gain this capability,” he said. “Things are changing as we speak.”

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the Jewish state’s largest aerospace and defense company, is adapting to that shifting landscape. The company announced this month that it is making significant gains in the cybersecurity field, with contracts totaling more than $100 million in 2016.

IAI created a cyber division, appointing Esti Peshin as its general manager, and works on cyber-related solutions in the technology areas of intelligence, monitoring, identification and combating cyberthreats.

“We consider cyber to be a strategic field of activity and a growth-engine at IAI, and expect it to continue to expand significantly in the coming years,” IAI President and CEO Joseph Weiss said in a statement, adding that the company “will continue to invest in cyber companies and research and development centers in order to continue to expand in this field.”

Israel hosted Cybertech 2017, the world’s second-largest cybertechnology exhibition, from Jan. 30-Feb. 1 in Tel Aviv. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the gathering that it is “no coincidence that you are here in Israel” and “not an accident” that the Jewish state is a world leader in cybersecurity.

“I think we’re truly on the cutting edge of this new technology and we’ve had many successes in ensuring our security,” said Netanyahu. “It’s not an accident, as one would say. It’s not an accident that in the froth and gushing of this entire Middle East and beyond, Israel is a secure and safe environment. We have invested in our security in creative ways, successful ways…We stand, all of us, at the nexus of big data, connectivity and artificial intelligence. Great opportunities, but also great challenges. And in Israel, we’re exploiting these opportunities and we’re meeting these challenges.”

In a further sign of the shared U.S.-Israel vision on cybersecurity, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder told conference attendees that “in Michigan, we also have a national service cyber unit, much like the IDF (Israel Defense Forces). We established the Michigan Cyber Civilian Corps, gathering talented individuals who can respond if anything occurs, which I am very excited about, because I believe it is the forefront of the future.”

As they deepen their cybersecurity ties, Israel and the U.S. may also be well-served to keep an eye on regional developments such as the ongoing Iranian-Saudi cyberwar. According to a recent report by the McClatchy chain of American newspapers, Iran and Saudi Arabia “have been lobbing digital artillery fire at each other in a simmering conflict” that started when Iranian hackers destroyed more than 30,000 computers belonging to the Saudi Aramco energy company. The cyberwar flared up in January, with Saudi Arabia issuing an “urgent call” to domestic network systems operators to be on alert for Iranian cyberattacks.

“As the Trump administration casts about for a cybersecurity policy,” wrote McClatchy national security reporter Tim Johnson, “the byte battle between Iran and Saudi Arabia may well be a harbinger for conflicts to come.”

The Hill: Reps urge Trump administration to fix cyber trade agreement

The Hill: Reps urge Trump administration to fix cyber trade agreement

By Joe Uchill

A bipartisan slate of representatives with cybersecurity chops is pressuring President Trump’s top national security adviser, Michael Flynn, to change an export agreement many believe weakens international cybersecurity.  

The Wassenaar Arrangement is an annual nonbinding agreement among around 40 nations that creates export policies for civilian technologies with military uses.

In 2013, Wassenaar made efforts to add militarized spyware to that list.

But the rules did not take the subtleties of cybersecurity into account, and some of its restrictions can prevent the sharing of cybersecurity research and information about threats.

In 2015, 125 members of Congress wrote a letter to national security adviser Susan Rice to pressure the State Department to renegotiate the arrangement. On Friday, seven key representatives sent a letter her successor, Flynn, to do the same.

“The U.S. stands only to disadvantage itself strategically and economically against foreign competitors by subjecting its firms to the administrative burden involved in applying for an export license each time they wish to conduct simple information sharing activities with international subsidiaries, partners, or clients,” reads the letter.

Signing the letter were Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), co-founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus; Reps. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) and John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) of the House Homeland Security subcommittee on cybersecurity; House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and ranking member Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.); House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah); and Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), chairman of the Oversight subcommittee on information technology.

The House initially pushed for Rice’s involvement because the State Department appeared hesitant to renegotiate an agreement already implemented in nearly all of the other Wassenaar countries.

In 2016, State renegotiated the rules, but critics felt the changes left many of the same problems as the 2013 version.

The letter says Flynn should quickly reconvene an interagency force to develop a firm stance for Wassenaar’s 2017 plenary. Action is urgent, it says, because proposals for agenda items are due this month. The representatives ask Flynn for an update no later than Friday of next week.

RINPR: RI Lawmakers Applaud Appeals Court Decision To Not Reinstate Travel Ban

RINPR: RI Lawmakers Applaud Appeals Court Decision To Not Reinstate Travel Ban

Rhode Island lawmakers commended the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to continue to block President Donald Trump’s travel ban Thursday night.

Congressman Jim Langevin said, “Today’s appeals court ruling supports what I know to be true: that President Trump’s executive action is unconstitutional and un-American.”

“This was a rebuke of President Trump’s Muslim ban and a win for our independent judiciary,” said Sen. Jack Reed. “They made the right call.”

The travel ban affecting seven predominantly Muslim countries drew criticism from voters and lawmakers across the country. Protests erupted in Logan International and airports across the country the weekend of the ban’s rollout, questioning its constitutional merits.

President Trump defended the executive order in a series of tweets arguing the need to keep the country safe from terrorism. Lawmakers like Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said it did the opposite.

“If anything, it [travel ban] gives terrorists a convincing sales pitch to new recruits, that the President’s religious test is evidence that America is a hating, anti-Muslim country,” said Whitehouse.

The federal appeals court is not the end of the legal battle for the ban. President Trump has already tweeted his intentions to fight the decision in court.

For Sen. Reed, Thursday’s ruling is indicative of the executive order’s legal and moral standing.

“The President should rescind this executive order and start working toward a more rational policy that will actually make us safer without undermining our principles,” said Reed.

PROJO: R.I. delegation applauds court’s refusal to reinstate travel ban

PROJO: R.I. delegation applauds court’s refusal to reinstate travel ban

By Katherine Gregg

PROVIDENCE — “This was a rebuke of President [Donald] Trump’s Muslim ban and a win for our independent judiciary. They made the right call,” said U.S. Sen. Jack Reed Thursday night after a federal appeals court refused to reinstate Trump’s executive order temporarily barring travelers from seven predominantly Muslin countries — and refugees — from entering the United States.

Trump vowed Thursday to contest the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, tweeting at 6:35 p.m.: “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!”

Reed, D-R.I., acknowledged that “This is not the end of the legal road, the Trump Administration could appeal. But I think the legal and moral case is clear. The President should rescind this executive order and start working toward a more rational policy that will actually make us safer without undermining our principles.”

Here are comments from other Rhode Island delegation members:

U.S. Rep. David Cicilline: “President Trump’s Muslim Ban is not a national security strategy. It does not make our country safer. It jeopardizes the safety of our brave men and women in uniform. It makes it harder for intelligence operatives to collect information to keep America safe.”

“The president is not a king,” said Democrat Cicilline. “Our system of checks and balances ensures the judiciary can intervene when a president oversteps their authority, which President Trump clearly has done.”

“The president should stop listening to Steve Bannon. He should get serious about protecting our country in a way that upholds our values.”

U.S. Rep. James Langevin: “Today’s appeals court ruling supports what I know to be true: that President Trump’s executive action is unconstitutional and unAmerican.

“We have strong vetting processes in place for immigrants coming to America,” the 2nd District Congressman, a Democrat, said. “The most intense checks are given to refugees — many of whom are women and children fleeing unspeakable violence. The president’s claims that visitors from these Muslim majority nations are pouring into our country with malicious intent are factually inaccurate and serve only to fan the flames of intolerance.

“We cannot let fear alter the principles of religious freedom and equality that this nation was built upon, and I applaud the appeals court for this swift and just decision.”

U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse: “Tonight, the Ninth Circuit denied the Trump administration’s appeal and joined the growing list of authorities questioning the legality of this order and whether it does anything to make us safer. That’s because it doesn’t make us safer. If anything, it gives terrorists a convincing sales pitch to new recruits, that the President’s religious test is evidence that America is a hating, anti-Muslim country.”

“‎Right now, the President is all-caps on Twitter. I hope he calms down, respects the constitutional judiciary, and considers whether maybe this travel ban wasn’t such a great idea.”

Earlier, Reed posted an uncharacteristically sharp retort on Twitter to Trump’s latest round of criticism of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Responding to McCain’s public comments about the United States’ Jan. 28 raid against al-Qaida militants in central Yemen that killed several women, children and a Navy SEAL, Trump tweeted: “Sen. McCain should not be talking about the success or failure of a mission to the media. Only emboldens the enemy! He’s been losing so long he doesn’t know how to win anymore, just look at the mess our country is in — bogged down in conflict all over the place.”

Reed’s retort: “You know what really emboldens the enemy? An uninformed & inexperienced leader who tries to bully Americans while cozying up to [Russian leader Vladimir] Putin.”

On Thursday, the appeals court upheld the ruling last week of U.S. District Judge James Robart that placed Trump’s temporary travel ban on hold.

While federal immigration law gives the president broad authority, lawsuits across the country have alleged that Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order ran afoul of the Constitution in that it was aimed at Muslims.

The Hill: Important lessons on cybersecurity

The Hill: Important lessons on cybersecurity

By Jim Langevin

Dear President Trump:

In my eight terms in Congress, I have seen cybersecurity explode onto the national stage as an issue of paramount importance to our national security. As you begin to craft your legacy in this emerging domain, I encourage you to use the successes and failures of your predecessor to guide your efforts.

From my perspective, three characteristics defined President Obama’s approach to cybersecurity across the first six years of his administration: It was centrist, decentralized and incremental.First, Obama pursued a centrist approach on matters of cybersecurity, manifested through the use of multistakeholder processes to set policy. In this model, the government acts as a convener of interested parties to help develop guidance, best practices or other voluntary policies.

A prime example is the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework for critical infrastructure, also known simply as the Framework. Following the issuance of Executive Order 13636 in 2013, NIST spent a year holding meetings with stakeholders to discuss ways to think about cybersecurity risk management. NIST consolidated the feedback, incorporated other practices from existing standards, and synthesized the Framework, which provides broad strategies for identifying, understanding and mitigating cybersecurity risk.

As this example also shows, the Obama administration’s approach was largely decentralized: It was up to individual departments and agencies to develop cybersecurity policy. While Executive Order 13636 did call upon NIST to publish a voluntary framework, it sketched out only the broadest of strategic guidance on how it was to be developed. Similarly, although Obama did make his cybersecurity adviser a special assistant to the president, he remained just that: an adviser, lacking independent policy or budgetary authority.

The Obama doctrine prior to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) data breach also emphasized incremental change and capacity expansion. This is clear from the nature of the Framework, which has led to gradual adoption. On the capacity-building side, U.S. Cyber Command is set to become its own full-fledged unit after eight years of development, and the National Protection and Programs Directorate has matured to the point that it is ready to become an operational arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). All of these are important changes, but they are largely the result of gradual evolution.

I supported Obama’s efforts throughout his first six years, even if I was frustrated by the pace. In the last two years, however, his administration’s approach began to shift. Part of this can be seen in the priority placed on cybersecurity issues. Chinese economic espionage was a perennial point of contention between our nations; only after the OPM hack was it placed at the top of the agenda. The 2015 Obama–Xi summit resulted in an agreement by the Chinese on certain fundamental norms in cyberspace, and I consider it one of Obama’s biggest achievements in this sphere.

But the core tenets of the doctrine itself also began to shift. Capabilities developed throughout his administration began to be used as offensive cyber tactics against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Indictments of hackers in China and Iran, and the identification of Russia as the sponsor of recent attacks against the Democratic National Committee, are examples of our increased ability to attribute attacks. Incremental change also gave way to initiatives like the Cyber Sprint, an effort to identify and secure core assets at federal agencies. The OPM was Obama’s wake-up call that incrementalism could not keep pace with the rapidly evolving threats we face.

The biggest change, though, was the move toward greater centralization. The Cyber Sprint was led by the Office of Management and Budget and supported by binding operational directives from the DHS. This was not something that could be left to each agency — that was what led to the OPM mess in the first place. The creation of a federal chief information security officer, the development of a robust national incident response plan, and the creation of a dedicated IT modernization fund are all components of Obama’s Cybersecurity National Action Plan, a central directive that applies across the federal government.

I welcomed this new sense of urgency. Obama made it clear that he had no intention of making the same mistake twice, and I think his legacy in cyberspace will be greatly burnished by the last 20 months of increased focus.

These achievements were difficult. As you begin your term, I encourage you to take the lessons learned from your predecessor to heart when crafting cybersecurity policy. This means adopting the recommendations of the national action plan and going beyond them. It means ensuring there is an advocate for cybersecurity in the room when budget and policy decisions are made. It means working with Congress to implement existing law on information sharing and to pass new legislation on developing the workforce needed to address these issues and securing the internet of things.

Cybersecurity has never been a partisan issue, and I hope it remains that way over the next four years.

Langevin is a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Homeland Security, and is the co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus.

PROJO: Betsy DeVos sworn in as education secretary

PROJO: Betsy DeVos sworn in as education secretary

By Maria Danilova | The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Charter school advocate Betsy DeVos won confirmation as education secretary Tuesday by the slimmest of margins, pushed to approval only by the historic tie-breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence.

Two Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, joined Democrats in a marathon effort to derail the nomination of the wealthy Republican donor. The Senate historian said Pence’s vote was the first by a vice president to break a 50-50 tie on a Cabinet nomination.
Despite the win, DeVos emerged bruised from the highly divisive nomination fight. Opposed by half the Senate, she faced criticism, even ridicule for lack of experience and confusion during her confirmation hearing. At one point, she said some schools should have guns because of the threat of grizzly bears.

And there has been scathing opposition from teachers unions and civil rights activists over her support of charter schools and her conservative religious ideology.

President Donald Trump accused Democrats of seeking to torpedo education progress. In a tweet before the vote, he wrote, “Betsy DeVos is a reformer, and she is going to be a great Education Sec. for our kids!”

DeVos was sworn in hours after the Senate vote by Pence, who told the new Cabinet member: “I wasn’t just voting for you. Having seen your devotion to improving the quality of education for some of our most vulnerable children across the nation for so many years, I was also casting a vote for America’s children.”

“I can tell you, my vote for Betsy DeVos was the easiest vote I ever cast,” Pence said.

She now takes the helm of a department charged with implementing laws affecting the nation’s public schools with no direct experience with traditional public schools. Her opponents noted that she has no experience running public schools, nor has she attended one or sent her children to one

She also will have to address several hot-button issues in higher education, such as rising tuition costs, growing student debt and the troubled for-profit colleges, many of which have closed down, leaving students with huge loans and without a good education or job prospects.
Close attention also will be paid to how DeVos deals with sexual assault and freedom of speech on campuses.

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, emotions ran high as constituents jammed senators’ phone lines. Protesters gathered outside the Capitol, including one person in a grizzly bear costume to ridicule DeVos.

Democrats and labor unions vigorously fought the nomination, suggesting that DeVos would defund traditional public schools by diverting taxpayers’ money to charter and private institutions. They cited her financial interest in organizations pushing for charter schools, though she has said she will divest those interests.

Collins and Murkowski said they feared her focus on charter schools will undermine remote public schools in their states.

DeVos supporters, however, saw her confirmation as an occasion to breathe new life into a troubled American school system and a chance to shift power from Washington to the local level.

“She has been a leader in the movement for public charter schools — the most successful reform of public education during the last 30 years,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Education Committee. “And she has worked tirelessly to help low-income children have more choices of better schools.”

DeVos has her work cut out.
“She will have to make it a priority to reach out to educators and education policy makers to reassure them that she is committed to working to improve education for all students including the vast majority who attend and will continue to attend traditional public schools,” said Martin West, associate professor of education at Harvard University. “My view is that she is committed to doing that.”

Members of Rhode Island’s all-Democrat congressional delegation have been uniformly critical of DeVos.

“Vice President Pence’s trip down Pennsylvania Avenue today shows just how hard Republicans have had to work to stack and jam President Trump’s underqualified and conflicted nominees through the Senate,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

“Mrs. DeVos had every opportunity to make a convincing case to be Secretary of Education. But, over the course of her confirmation process, she demonstrated a startling lack of understanding of fundamental education issues and laws, including those about students with disabilities, school safety, protecting civil rights, and how to measure success in education As far as I can tell, she has very few ideas at all for improving American higher education.”

“The confirmation hearing of Betsy DeVos as the potential Secretary of Education painted an alarming picture,” added Rep. James Langevin. “She is, quite simply, unqualified for the job, with no real education experience and very little understanding of the complex and critical issues facing the department she hopes to lead. While I do not have a role in the confirmation process, I have received many phone calls, emails and social media feedback from constituents who are overwhelmingly opposed to Mrs. DeVos, and I share their concerns. I applaud Senators Reed and Whitehouse for their strong opposition to Betsy DeVos, and I implore Senate Republicans to heed the outcry from educators and the American people.”

Sen. Jack Reed, speaking at 6 a.m. Tuesday from the Senate floor described his father, a janitor in Rhode Island, who would spend Sundays after a snowstorm shoveling out his school.”I lived with that kind of commitment,” Reed said. “It’s what has driven millions of Americans to reject this nomination.”

Reed said he has received over 12,500 phone calls from Rhode Islanders asking him to oppose her nomination.
“A free, public education has always been a hallmark of this country,” he said. “Without a good public education, how can we be equal? Our constituents want a champion committed to public education. Betsy DeVos is not that person. She is the wrong choice to lead the Department of Education.”

Representative David N. Cicilline, speaking after the vote today added, “It’s disappointing that only two Republicans found the courage to vote against President Trump’s nomination today.”

“As all of us saw during her confirmation hearing, Betsy DeVos is the most unqualified person in history to serve as Secretary of Education. She is the first secretary who has no experience or training in public education. She never worked in a public school. In fact, she never even attended a public school.”

“What Betsy DeVos has done is devote her life to defunding public schools in order to undermine their effectiveness. She is a billionaire lobbyist and Republican donor who has called public schools a ‘dead end’ and argued that ‘we don’t fire teachers enough.’ And since 2000, she and her husband have given millions of dollars to undermine public education and expand unregulated, for-profit charter schools.”

“Republicans should have joined with Democrats to defeat this nomination today. But that would have required real courage. So instead, they once again fell in line behind President Trump and his pro-Wall Street, anti-worker agenda.”

— With reporting by Providence Journal Staff writer Linda Borg

Northside Neighbor: Lewis makes friendly Super Bowl bet with fellow Congressmen

Northside Neighbor: Lewis makes friendly Super Bowl bet with fellow Congressmen

By Neighbor Staff

District 5 U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, who represents Brookhaven and part of Buckhead, has made a friendly bet with two fellow members of Congress – District 2 Rep. Jim Langevin, D-Rhode Island, and District 6 U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Massachusetts – regarding Super Bowl LI between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots.

“Two of my colleagues reached out to me to take a chance on the Super Bowl,” Lewis said in a news release. “I warned them it wasn’t wise to bet against Atlanta, but they insisted. They think experience will win over the rising star. I reminded them that a rising star can be blinding. They told me to check their team’s record, consult the history. That’s when I knew we had it in the bag. I’d match Atlanta’s history against the best any day. Only time will tell, but it may be time for America’s team to move south for the winter. Rise up, Falcons!”

Said Langevin, “With four Super Bowl titles under our belt and an impressive 14-2 season this year, I have no doubts: the Patriots are going to bring another Vince Lombardi Trophy back to New England. I look forward to another year of bragging rights over Congressman Lewis and all of my colleagues who aren’t fortunate enough to be a part of Pats Nation,. Go Pats!”

Langevin bet Lewis a New England lobster dinner, and Lewis bet a signed copy of a historic Life magazine featuring Atlanta’s civil rights history.

When the Patriots and Falcons go head to head Feb. 5, Moulton said, “I’m confident that the Patriots will do their job. So I’m very excited to welcome Congressman Lewis to Massachusetts for a day of service.”

Moulton bet Lewis a service day in each other’s district. If the Falcons win, Moulton will help out somewhere in Atlanta’s 5th District, and if the Pats win, Lewis will travel to Massachusetts to lend a hand.

May the best team win!

HPN: US-Israeli cybersecurity cooperation bill advances the House

HPN: US-Israeli cybersecurity cooperation bill advances the House

By HPN News Desk

The United States-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act, which aims to create a cybersecurity grant program for joint research and development initiatives between American and Israeli organizations, advanced the U.S House of Representatives earlier this week.

The bill was introduced by U.S. Reps. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) and Jim Langevin (D-RI).

“Israel is America’s strongest and most strategic ally in the Middle East, and I’m glad the House just passed our bill to further fortify this strategic partnership through enhanced joint cybersecurity efforts,” Ratcliffe said.

Under provisions included in the legislation, the cybersecurity grant program will determine research requirements with help form an advisory board made up of members from the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation and the United States-Israel Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation.

“The United States and Israel have an opportunity here to work together to develop innovative solutions to the threats we face in cyberspace,” Langevin said. “We have a mutual interest in strengthening our cyber defenses, and I believe this legislation will fortify our productive partnership in tackling the cyber threats of today and the future.”

Similar legislation, the United States-Israel Advanced Research Partnership Act of 2016, was also authored by Ratcliffe and Langevin and was signed into law during the 114th Congress.

The Hill: Democrats plot protest for Trump’s speech to Congress

The Hill: Democrats plot protest for Trump’s speech to Congress

By Mike Lillis and Rafael Bernal

House Democrats are rallying behind a plan to make President Trump’s first speech to Congress as uncomfortable as possible by inviting guests they say will suffer under new White House policies. 

The strategy means Trump will likely face a crowd including ethnic minorities, LGBT people, undocumented immigrants, the disabled and others when he addresses a joint session on Feb. 28.

It’s a shift in tactics for Democrats, some of whom skipped Trump’s inauguration last month in protest.Democrats say there are no plans to stage a similar boycott of Trump’s speech, but they want to put him face-to-face with people who feel alienated and targeted by his controversial executive orders.

In a letter circulating on Capitol Hill, a group of liberals is urging fellow Democrats to bring guests who have made “a positive impact” on the community “despite discrimination or marginalization.”

“It is our hope that their presence in the House Gallery will remind President Trump that he is not the arbiter of patriotism,” reads the letter. “This country belongs to all of us, and his rhetoric of intolerance will not stand.”

The authors of the letter are as diverse as the crowd they’re seeking to assemble.

They include Reps. Jim Langevin (R.I.), who was shot accidentally as a teen and became the first quadriplegic to serve in Congress; Michelle Lujan Grisham (N.M.), head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus; Cedric Richmond (La.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus; Judy Chu (Calif.), head of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus; and David Cicilline (R.I.) and Jared Polis (Colo.), the co-chairman of the LGBT Equality Caucus.

“We want to send a strong message to the [president] that he cannot push these communities aside, and he cannot change the fabric of this country,” they wrote.

Some liberals are also eyeing another form of protest during the speech: When Trump walks down the center aisle of the House chamber on the way to the dais, they’re hoping no Democrats scramble to get in the picture for the traditional handshake.

“We have to have a higher standard,” Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) said.

“For sure I will not be nearby,” Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas) echoed.

Trump’s campaign rhetoric was combative from the very start, and he’s brought that approach with him to the White House.

Most recently, he temporarily banned all refugees from entering the U.S. — and Syrian refugees idefinitely — as well as immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. The move sparked an outcry from Democrats and human rights groups, and drew thousands of protestors to airports and streets across the country.

It’s that spirit of protest the Democrats are hoping to sustain as Trump prepares for his speech to Congress.

“Instead of celebrating the very diversity that makes our country a beacon of inclusion and equality, he has chosen to vilify, bully and alienate women, immigrants, people of color, people with disabilities, and people of differing faiths,” the Democrats wrote in their letter.

“His rhetoric emboldens those who seek a scapegoat for the challenges this country faces.”