Among the more fascinating facts discovered in Brookings analyst Neil Ruiz's research on the geography of foreign students in the U.S. is where they decide to stay after they get their degree.

A plurality stay in New York City — or move there.

New York, it turns out, is very sticky. Foreign students are more likely to stay in New York City after graduation than anywhere else in the country. We all love New York, and it's the biggest city in the country, but there's no reason why it should be so magnetic, unless the city (and New York state) do things to make it attractive for foreign students to stay there after they study....  More»


How does a biologist, or a computational neuroscientist, possibly have the wherewithal to stay current on all aspects of his field?

Nature, one of the world's top journals for peer-reviewed scientific breakthroughs, does what it can to encourage cross-discipline knowledge sharing by publishing non-technical essays from the leading lights in particular fields. For a lay person, this is often the best way to become current, very quickly, on very difficult subjects.

This week's topic, when boiled down to its essence, is: how small, how fast, how powerful can computers possibly get?...  More»


"There are no boots on the ground."

I don't care for the phrase. Never did. Wearing boots is what combat forces do in certain circumstances. Using it as synecdoche for "troops in harm's way" warps the scope of what the U.S. military does. It may also give the Pentagon an easy out, because certain forces wear sneakers, not boots.

A very brave Ford Sypher, writing for The Daily Beast, saw suspiciously Western-looking commandos race by him in their heavy trucks, and was given word by his Kurdish escorts that these were indeed foreigners:

Contacts in the Kurdish intelligence service and Peshmerga leadership confirmed what we saw....  More»


Forget summer. The best books for political junkies usually arrive with the turning of the leaves. Here are three of the juiciest and most interesting titles that soon will be available for your purchase.

Next week, the peripatetic Lawrence Wright will publish Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David, a sure-to-be riveting, moment-by-moment history of a time when peace was both the means to an end and an end in itself, and when political leaders could be brave and forgo politics, grudges, religious attachments, and even the strong lure of national myth-making....  More»


Shares of Apple's stock bounced up three percent when Tim Cook unveiled the latest evolution of the iPhone on Tuesday, and then felt gravity when, later in the presentation, he introduced the Apple Watch to the world. The verdict of the market? Hard to say. I was watching the stock price of one of the iPhones' carriers. T-Mobile's shares dropped about 1.66 percent today, to 30.28.

I'd had a sense that T-Mobile is the company best positioned to take quick advantage of consumer stuff-lust to get the latest iPhone (and with it, in January, the Apple Watch....  More»


President Obama will make the case tonight for his decision to unleash the U.S. military on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the al Qaeda off-shoot that has torn through territory in the Mideast and proclaimed itself the stewards of a new caliphate.

Obama has used the bully pulpit to explain his choices before, but this speech belongs in a category that includes three other major foreign policy issues — his 2009 explanation for a temporary troop surge in Afghanistan, his 2011 decision to assist NATO in ousting Moammar Gadhafi, and his decision last year not to seek congressional permission to bomb Syria (and his subsequent decision...  More»


Under what authority is President Obama going to war against ISIS, the omnivorous octopus that has ruthlessly gobbled up territory in the Middle East? His advisers cite the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force against al Qaeda. That's somewhat confusing, because al Qaeda has become an ISIS antagonist.

Indeed, there is quite a bit about the fight against ISIS that remains opaque. What is it "we" are doing, exactly? Does it compare to what we've already done in Iraq and in Afghanistan? If the threat is not imminent, why would we want to do anything?...  More»


Finally, an honest answer from the U.S. government about the likelihood of Americans ever fighting on the ground in Iraq against ISIS:

We're going to defeat ISIS. That's what we're going to do. We're going to do it together. We're going to bring in coalition forces. We don't think it's going to need big units, like the 101st Airborne Division, the 1st MEF, we don't believe that, but it may require our special capabilities, soldiers, and intelligence officials, going downrange, if you will, to make sure that we are effective in what we're going to do.

Kudos to the presidential speechwriter for injecting some clarity and perspective....  More»


When we iPhone users download the latest iOS software update, the first thing many of us do is scour geek websites for lists of hidden, cool features. And sure enough, there are dozens of such lists already, because iOS8 is packed with helpful goodies. I've read nearly all of these lists, and below I've distilled what I think are the most useful hidden features — the stuff that gets lost behind the glamor of, say, enhancements to the camera app, widgets, intuitive keyboards, Continuity, and third-party app-sharing.

1. Automatic notifications for important emails....  More»

September 19, 2014, at 9:15 AM

The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf says I give President Obama too much leeway to wage war without having to explain why. That's not exactly my position.

For the record, I think the president should ask Congress for its approval on his ISIS campaign. I also think the 2002 Authorization For the Use of Military Force against al Qaeda and associates should be declared null and void. These are not political judgments; they are judgments based on my evaluation of what seem to be the most persuasive arguments. And I am open to revising them.

I also think that the president's constitutional authority is broad enough to cover a campaign like this without going...  More»


When it comes to White House security, I'm an amateur. Though I've written quite a bit about the United States Secret Service, there's a lot I don't know about the complicated, multi-layered web of security procedures and protocols that compromise the White House Security Plan.

That said, you don't have to be an expert to know that the uproar over Friday's breach is understandable, and that the concern about Secret Service tactics is quite kosher. Some of the speculation about what should have been done, however, defies common sense. So let's roll through some of the questions — some good, some bad — that naturally arise in the wake of this ...  More»

September 25, 2014, at 9:04 AM

Chief Warrant Officer John A. Walker, who died in federal prison late last month at the age of 77, was the most consequential spy in American history. Over the course of seven years, from 1967 to 1975, he turned over some of the country’s most significant military secrets to the Soviet Union. When he retired, his friend, Jerry Whitworth, continued where he left off. Walker was arrested in 1985. His wife Barbara turned him in.

Walker’s motive was money. He spent lots on prostitutes and lots more to try and keep his wife happy. When a woman looked at him crossways, a fellow sailor said, "he would unzip his breeches" in a heartbeat....  More»


Why is the White House protected by an entity called the "Uniformed Division of the Secret Service?" The naming convention is important. It certifies that its officers are not regular Secret Service agents. Depending on what you associate with the word "uniformed," you might think they perform a service function somehow — but they don't.

They regularly interact with the public, something most special agents don't do.

Their history is also unique. What is now the U.D. has ping-ponged between the Secret Service and other law-enforcement entities in the Washington area for more than a century....  More»


On November 11, 2011, Oscar Ortega-Hernandez opened the driver's side window of his S.U.V. and fired high-velocity rounds from a semi-automatic rifle at the White House as he drove past the complex on Constitution Avenue. This week, The Washington Post published an article suggesting that the Secret Service ignored contemporaneous reports that his bullets struck the executive mansion. At Tuesday's hearing, director Julia Pierson struggled to explain why it took agents four days to discover that, yes, the White House was Ortega-Hernandez's target.

An internal timeline of the Secret Service's response obtained by TheWeek....  More»

October 3, 2014, at 3:35 PM

With Secret Service Director Julia Pierson out, and the Joe Clancy interregnum upon us, there will be a lot of calls for the Secret Service to go back to the way things were. Back when the Secret Service had a sterling reputation. Back when, apparently, no one ever cut corners. No one ever hid discipline problems. When presidential events were secured airtight. A time when the Secret Service brooked no compromise. When it was independent enough to do its job without a big bureaucracy to interfere. When Secret Service agents looked like Secret Service agents....  More»


A top Secret Service official ordered its Washington Field Office to protect an employee whose family had been threatened by a neighbor, a job that probably fell outside the scope of the agency's general duties, the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general has concluded. But the "welfare check," as described by the Secret Service, lasted for parts of only five days, and none of the agents who conducted the protective surveillance in 2011 believed that the security of president or White House was compromised.

In the context of the Secret Service scandals, it's hard to know how this will play....  More»


Here's a story you won't read.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The American public health system has largely contained the exceptionally deadly Ebola virus, despite early mistakes and some confusing public statements from official voices.

No person who contracted the disease in the United States has died. A Texas nurse who treated Thomas Eric Duncan, an Ebola patient from Liberia, has been upgraded to "good" condition. A second nurse, Amber Vinson, remains "weak," according to her mother, but is recovering.

Duncan's fiance, Louis Troh, shows no signs of the disease after a three week quarantine....  More»

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