News Update for Friday, November 17


Policeman Stops Bomber from Killing More

Source: The New York Times

Security forces at the scene of a suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Thursday. Credit: Rahmat Gul/Associated Press

An Afghan police officer, Lieutenant Sayed Pacha, used a bear hug to stop a suicide bomber trying to enter a wedding hall in Kabul yesterday. Upon seeing a man who looked like a suicide bomber approaching the heavily guarded gate of the hall filled with civilians, many of whom were dignitaries, Lt. Pacha told him to stop, but instead the suspect began running. The officer stopped him, throwing his arms around him in a bear hug. The bomber then detonated the explosive vest hidden under his coat. Fourteen people, including Lieutenant Pacha and seven other police officers as well as six civilians, were killed; 18 others were wounded said Basir Mujahed, a police spokesman. There was little doubt the death toll would have been far higher without the lieutenant’s body reducing the blast, Mr. Mujahed said.

Historic Tax Cut

Source: The New York Times

Al Drago for The New York Times

With 227 Republican votes, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the most sweeping tax overhaul in thirty years. The law aims to cut $1.5 trillion in taxes for businesses and individuals, in what would be the first major legislative achievement of President Trump’s tenure. The focus now shifts to the Senate, where Republicans are quickly moving ahead with their own tax overhaul, which differs in substantial ways from the House bill. It remains to be seen if it has the support needed to pass.

Science Fiction or Reality

Source: The New York Times

Seasteading Institute

Believe it or not, there are companies, academics, architects, and even a government — that of French Polynesia — working together on a prototype of a floating island. Blue Frontiers will build and operate the islands, with the goal of building about a dozen by 2020, including homes, hotels, offices and restaurants, at a cost of about $60 million. The project is being partially funded by an initial coin offering, a new concept sweeping Silicon Valley and Wall Street in which money can be raised by creating and selling virtual currency. The government of French Polynesia agreed to let the Seasteading Institute, a nonprofit organization based in California, begin testing in its waters. Construction could begin soon, and the first floating buildings — the nucleus of a city — might be inhabitable in just a few years. “It would essentially be a start-up country,” said Seasteading president Joe Quirk.

New Ways to Confront Pyongyang

Source: The New York Times

The Avenger drone, made by General Atomics, has a wingspan of 76 feet and would potentially be used to shoot North Korean missiles as they are launched. Credit: General Atomics

A $4 billion emergency funding request to Congress contains hints of new ways the Trump administration is experimenting with to deter North Korean missiles. The new approach envisions greater use of cyberweapons to interfere with the North’s control systems before missiles are launched, as well as drones and fighter jets to shoot them down moments after liftoff. “It is an all-out effort,” said Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, who returned from a lengthy visit to South Korea last month convinced that the United States needed to do far more to counter North Korea.

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