In a chilling New York Times article, James B. Comey, director of the FBI, is quoted saying the threat of terrorism is worse than he imagined before assuming his current position:
By Mr. Comey's own account, he also brought to the job a belief, based on news media reports, that the threat from Al Qaeda was diminished. But nine months into his tenure as director, Mr. Comey acknowledges that he underestimated the threat the United States still faces from terrorism.
"I didn't have anywhere near the appreciation I got after I came into this job just how virulent those affiliates had become," Mr. Comey said, referring to offshoots of Al Qaeda in Africa and in the Middle East during an interview in his sprawling office on the seventh floor of the J. Edgar Hoover Building. "There are both many more than I appreciated, and they are stronger than I appreciated." [The New York Times]
One might interpret this information differently, based on preconceived notions.
Neocons, for example, might see this as further evidence that skepticism of the surveillance state is rooted in nothing but ignorance and naiveté. Meanwhile, folks on the other side of the debate might view this as yet another example of someone being co-opted once they gain a position of authority.
But Comey's credibility on this issue is hard to impugn. As the No. 2 in the Bush Justice Department, he famously refused to approve reauthorization of the N.S.A.'s domestic eavesdropping program.
I don't know about you, but I'd be more comfortable if his credibility on this issue weren't quite so solid. Matt K. Lewis
Jet-setters, rejoice: Pretty soon, you will no longer have to settle for watching the latest Disney movie or network comedy on your flight. JetBlue has announced a deal with Amazon that will allow Amazon Prime members to get free Wi-Fi on their flights, and the Wi-Fi will be strong enough to allow them to stream any of the thousands of titles on Amazon Prime Instant Video through JetBlue's in-flight entertainment system.
The deal will help both Amazon and JetBlue stand out from their competitors: While Amazon is battling with Netflix and Hulu for subscribers in the online streaming wars, JetBlue is likely trying to position itself as an airline that offers top-notch amenities in an industry where its competitors are cutting out freebies and adding fees.
JetBlue plans to roll out the service on its Airbus A321 and A320 models this year, and on its Embraer E190 aircraft in 2016, so being able to spend an entire cross-country flight binge-watching The Sopranos is just around the corner. Samantha Rollins
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) on Tuesday announced he is running for president.
"As president I promise you will get what you paid for," Huckabee said at a kickoff event in his hometown of Hope, Ark.
In a speech spotlighting his Christian faith, Huckabee took some veiled swipes at Democrats and his rivals for the GOP nomination. He also positioned himself as the strongest candidate on national security, vowing that "hell will freeze over" before Iran acquires a nuclear weapon.
"I promise you that as president, we will no longer try to contain jihadism, we will conquer it," he said.
Huckabee ran for president in 2008, earning a surprise win in the Iowa caucus and for a time threatening to upset more established competitors in Mitt Romney and eventual nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) He considered running again in 2012, but ultimately avoided the race. Jon Terbush
And it's bad news for Ted Cruz. The Washington Post put together a handy infographic based off an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey that asked respondents to indicate their feelings on a variety of traits in a hypothetical 2016 candidate. Here are the results:
As you can see, of the top five least desirable traits in a candidate, three of them apply to Sen. Cruz (R-Texas). But as the Post points out, the survey polled across party affiliations, so it's possible Cruz isn't as doomed in the Republican primary as it seems he would be in the general election. Kimberly Alters
As Charles Stross explains, it's an easy four-step process. First, build a Von Neumann probe — an automated spaceship that can refuel, repair, and make copies of itself. Second, program the probe to hunt out likely solar systems with a good bit of planetary mass, and when it gets there, to build a Matrioshka brain. Essentially, the probe breaks down the local planets into a networked system of solar-powered computers so numerous they capture all the local star's sunlight (as seen in Stross's book Accelerando).
Third, the brain uses radio astronomy to map nearby stars and search for signs of life: oxygen absorption signatures, non-natural radio signals, and so forth. Finally, if any life is detected on a nearby planet, the Matrioshka brain aims a Nicoll-Dyson beam at it — a phased array of lasers powered by all the star's energy. Such a beam would have a range of hundreds of light-years — and could destroy an Earth-sized planet in less than an hour.
Manny Pacquiao's "fight of the century" against Floyd Mayweather could lead to another fight, this one more boring than the boxing match itself.
At issue is a shoulder injury Pacquiao suffered before the match. The boxer's camp says it notified the proper regulatory body, the United States Anti-Doping Agency, of the injury and received clearance for a treatment regimen involving anti-inflammatory shots. But boxing oversight is notoriously Byzantine, so the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Saturday refused to allow Pacquiao to take a last-minute shot, claiming it only learned of the injury hours before the fight. Specifically, the NSAC said Pacquiao did not disclose the injury on a pre-fight medical form.
Whether intentional or not, the omission could lead to a fine or a suspension for Pacquiao, according to The Associated Press.
"We will gather all the facts and follow the circumstances," NSAC Chairman Francisco Aguilar told the AP. "At some point we will have some discussion. As a licensee of the commission, you want to make sure fighters are giving you up-to-date information." Jon Terbush
Need a raise? Don't ask your boss; ask Obama. On Tuesday, the White House initiated motions to reform overtime pay laws via executive action, which, if successful, could result in a sizable pay bump for millions of Americans.
As overtime laws stand now, certain categories of workers are excluded from the monetary benefits of working long hours, such as highly compensated executives and professionals. Additionally, there exists a "threshold" salary for receiving overtime — anyone who makes less than the predetermined annual income (currently $23,660) is automatically entitled to overtime, regardless of management status. In these conditions, many companies are able to skirt paying their low-salaried employees by calling them a manager, even if they are stocking groceries for $24,000 a year for 80 hours a week.
This salary threshold is the center of Obama's reform. The administration certainly plans to raise it — the question is how high. Some House Democrats have suggested raising the magic number quite substantially, up to $69,000, which would "cover about two-thirds of salaried workers," as The Huffington Post reports. Now, only 11 percent of salary earners qualify for overtime pay.
"President Obama believes that if you work hard, you should be rewarded for your effort," said a Department of Labor official. Stephanie Talmadge
You might be able to walk like an Egyptian, but have you heard of King Sahure?
Historians don't know much about Sahure, a pharaoh who ruled almost 4,500 years ago, during the Old Kingdom's Fifth Dynasty. Before an incredible new discovery, there were only two known statues of Sahure in the world.
— ancient-origins (@ancientorigins) May 4, 2015
Now, Belgian archaeologists have made what Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities is calling a find "of great significance and importance." The team discovered a broken statue, which they believe represents Sahure, in Aswan, about 360 miles south of Cairo. Aswan was once the ancient city of Swenett, a "frontier town" of ancient Egypt, explains Ancient Origins.
The ministry believes that the newly discovered base, which is inscribed with Sahure's name, is the bottom half of a statue depicting Sahure seated on a throne. The team will continue excavating the site to see if the area holds more clues and artifacts about the mysterious king. Meghan DeMaria