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EU Lawmakers Vote to Completely Ban Remote Facial-Recognition Surveillance



Real-time, remote biometric monitoring has been outlawed by the European Parliament, making it impossible for police departments around the EU to employ live facial recognition technology. Legislators had earlier approved the restriction after confronting early resistance over worries that it would be overly broad.

The restriction might put the parliamentarians in conflict with EU countries which would rather heavily implement the technology for policing.

The decision also includes further restrictions on general-purpose artificial intelligence (AI) and so-called fundamental models, such OpenAI’s GPT-4. Regardless of their intended use, the law mandates that businesses like OpenAI Inc. and Google do risk assessments and give descriptions of the copyrighted content used to train their models.

Roberta Metsola, the president of the parliament, stated during a news conference that any upcoming advancements in artificial intelligence would need to be subject to consistent, clearly stated rules and constraints.

“There is one thing that we will not compromise on: Anytime technology advances, it must go hand in hand with our fundamental rights and democratic values,” he added.

On June 14, the AI Act’s whole draft was approved by a resounding majority. 499 delegates voted in favor, 28 voted against, and 93 did not participate in the voting. The vote kicks off what is known as the “trilogue” round of discussions amongst the parliament members, where the finer points of the measure will be finalized.

According to Bloomberg, the EU Commission is aiming for a deal by the end of the year, meaning the new AI Act regulations could affect businesses as soon as 2026.

However, according to Brando Benifei, one of the primary writers of the measure, some regulations may be put in to place much earlier.

In the meanwhile, representatives from the EU, notably Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager, are working to develop a voluntary code of conduct with G7 digital corporations that also includes countries like India and Indonesia.

Facial scanning in public places would be authorized for specific law-enforcement scenarios under an earlier agreement reached by EU member states at the end of last year. This issue will continue to be a sticking point for a number of EU member states in the next discussions.

People’s Party members who lean farther to the right petitioned to add exceptions to the rule, such as in cases of looking for missing children and stopping terrorist acts. But in the resounding vote earlier this month, legislators mostly ignored these arguments.

“The result of today gives us even a stronger position. It’s clear that the parliament doesn’t want us to recede on such important topics, on avoiding mass surveillance,” said Benifei.


In its report (pdf), the European Parliamentary Research Service describes how AI technology such as facial recognition could be problematic in terms of personal freedom.

“While there are real benefits to using facial recognition systems for public safety and security, their pervasiveness and intrusiveness, as well as their susceptibility to error, give rise to a number of fundamental rights concerns with regard, for instance, to discrimination against certain segments of the population and violations of the right to data protection and privacy,” the report states.

The AI Act was first proposed in 2021 (pdf), and was initially touted as a risk-based approach that would effectively regulate the application of AI rather than the actual technology itself. The proposal would have banned practices like social credit scoring and the implementation of technologies that would likely have negative impacts in terms of bias, discrimination, and citizens’ fundamental rights.

The drive to include general-purpose AI in the act, which would apply to a considerably larger range of circumstances, was instead led by EU member states.

According to reports, members of the European Parliament went a step further by putting restrictions to “foundational models.” This refers to the substantial language models that underlie chatbots like ChatGPT, which have recently been under intense public and official attention.

In a statement, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said he expects clear and proportionate rules on generative AI to be focal points of the trilogue process.

“We need effective transparency requirements on AI-generated content and strict rules against ‘deep fakes,’” he said.

The scope of the new EU legislation may have significant effects on a market that is now pegged at close to $1.5 trillion in value. If they don’t comply, businesses might be subject to hefty fines of up to 6% of their annual income.


CIA Secret Report Reveals Warning to Russia of Terrorist Attack was Marked “Urgent” but Failed to Identify Target



US warning regarding a potential terrorist attack at a concert venue in Russia was labeled as “urgent.” However, the warning, according to Hersh’s source, did not specify Crocus City Hall as the target, despite some media reports suggesting otherwise.

The CIA allegedly provided the warning to Russian intelligence before the concert at the Crocus City Hall marking it “urgent,” meaning that the data in it “was credible and near term,” Hersh quoted the official as saying.

“The highly secret report on the attack in Moscow was prepared by the Counterterrorism Center at CIA headquarters and delivered to the terrorism division of the Russian Federal Security Service located in the old KGB building in Moscow. Separate briefings were presented in person by the FBI officer at the embassy. This is an established relationship,” the official said.

The warning, however, did not mention Crocus City Hall near Moscow and only said that an attack was being planned at some “public gathering,” according to the official.

The information provided by the official is contrary to a Washington Post report published on Tuesday claiming that Crocus City Hall was specifically identified in the warning as the target of a terrorist attack.

On March 22, several armed men broke into Crocus City Hall, a major concert venue just outside Moscow, and started shooting at people. They also started a fire in one of the auditoriums, which was full of people ahead of a concert. The attack left 695 casualties, including 144 dead, according to the latest data from the Russian Emergencies Ministry.

The four main suspects in the case — all of them citizens of Tajikistan — tried to flee the scene in a car but were detained and charged with terrorism. Russian authorities believe the perpetrators planned to flee to Ukraine, where a safe haven had been arranged for them. An investigation is underway.

Later in March, The New York Times reported, citing European and US security officials, that the US intelligence agencies did not provide the Russian side with all the information they had about the threat of a terrorist attack at Crocus City Hall in the Moscow Region out of fear that Russian authorities might learn about their intelligence sources or methods of work.

Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Alexander Bortnikov also said that the information transmitted by the United States on the preparation of a terrorist attack was of a general nature, and the Russian special services responded to it.

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Biden Administration

Biden Admin is Using Fraudulent Climate Dataset in Push For Green Agenda, According to Government Watchdog




A government watchdog group has filed a complaint with the Biden administration over its use of a dataset frequently used to push its climate agenda.

Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT) filed the complaint with the Commerce Department over the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) “Billions Project” dataset, which purports to keep track of natural [and climate] disasters that have caused at least $1 billion in damages going back to 1980. The billion-dollar disasters (BDD) data — cited frequently by the Biden administration to insinuate that climate change is intensifying and justify sweeping green policies — is based on opaque data derived from questionable accounting practices, PPT alleges in the complaint.

“American families and businesses continue to struggle with persistently high inflation, which many attribute in large part to the energy policies and government spending of the current administration. The idea that blatant violations of scientific integrity could be underlying the rationale for these policies should concern every American,” Michael Chamberlain, PPT’s director, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Unfortunately, this is far from an isolated incident. The Biden Administration came into office pledging that its decision making would be grounded in the highest-quality science, but all too often has failed to live up to those promises.”

The complaint was filed with the Commerce Department, as NOAA operates under its auspices, Chamberlain told the DCNF.

PPT’s complaint alleges that NOAA does not adequately disclose its sources and methods for compiling the BDD dataset, adds and removes BDD events from the dataset without providing its rationale for doing so and produces cost estimates that are sometimes significantly different than those generated by more conventional accounting procedures.

While NOAA states that it develops its BDD data from more than a dozen sources, the agency does not disclose those sources for specific events or show how it calculates loss estimates from those sources, PPT’s complaint alleges.

The complaint further alleges that NOAA’s accounting methods are opaque and “produce suspect results.”

For example, when Hurricane Id alia took aim at Florida in 2023, NOAA initially projected that the storm would cause about $2.5 billion worth of damages before insured losses ultimately came in at about $310 million, according to PPT’s complaint, which cites the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation

 for that figure. Nevertheless, NOAA subsequently marked up its estimate for how much damage the storm caused to $3.5 billion, a discrepancy for which NOAA provided no explanation, PPT alleges in its complaint.

NOAA researchers have disclosed in the past that the agency considers factors such as functions pertaining to livestock feeding costs — in addition to more conventional types of damages — in their cost calculations.

Further, the complaint alleges that BDD events are quietly added and removed from the dataset without explanation, citing Roger Pielke Jr., a former academic who believes climate change to be a real threat but opposes politicized science. In a forthcoming paper analyzing the merits of BDD statistics, Pielke compared the dataset in late 2022 to the dataset in the middle of 2023 and found that ten new BDD events were added to the list and 3 were subtracted without explanation.

Apart from the issues with methodology alleged by PPT in its complaint, the use of BDD events as a proxy for climate change’s intensity is inherently misleading because economic data does not reflect changes in meteorological conditions, as Pielke has previously explained to the DCNF.

For example, increasing concentrations of assets, especially in coastal areas, can confound the usefulness of BDD events as an indicator for the intensity of climate change, as Energy and Environment Legal Institute Senior Policy Fellow Steve Milloy has previously explained to the DCNF. Hypothetically, the same exact hurricane could hit the same exact place, decades apart, with vastly different damage totals; this would be the case because there are simply more assets sitting in the way of the storm, not because the storm was any more violent due to worsening climate change.

NOAA has acknowledged this limitation of the dataset in prior communications with the DCNF.

Additionally, NOAA will add disasters to the list retrospectively because it adjusts for inflation, meaning that a hurricane that caused $800 million in damages in 1980 dollars would be added to the list because the damages exceed $1 billion when adjusted for inflation, for example.

The Biden administration has frequently cited the BDD dataset to substantiate its massive climate agenda.

For example, Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk cited the dataset in written testimony submitted to lawmakers in February explaining the White House’s decision to pause new approvals for liquefied natural gas export terminals.

The BDD statistics are also referenced Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5), the Biden administration’s landmark climate report that is intended to provide the most sound scientific basis for lawmakers and officials to craft climate policy.

NOAA asserted that the increasing frequency of BDD events is a sign of intensifying climate change in a January press release and blog post summarizing 2023, and then defended the use of the dataset in subsequent communications with the DCNF.

“Sensational climate claims made without proper scientific basis and spread by government officials threaten the public’s trust in its scientific officials and undermines the government’s mission of stewarding the environment,” PPT’s complaint states. “It also poses the danger of policymakers basing consequential government policy on unscientific claims unsupported by evidence.”

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U.S. Military Has Started Recalling Retirees Due to Recruiting Crisis




The U.S. Army Publishing Directorate released the ALARACT 017/2024, titled, “Utilization of the Army Retiree Recall Program.”

The document cites Executive Order 13223 from the Bush administration in 2001.

A retiree recall is a “retired Soldier who is ordered to active duty (AD) from the Retired Reserve or the retired list under 10 USC 688/688a, 12301(a), or 12301(d). Per AR 601-10, Recalled retiree Soldiers must be aligned to a valid vacant AC requirement that matches the grade and skill of the retiree before he or she may be recalled to AD,” according to the document. “The retiree population will be utilized as a last resort to fill Active Component vacant requirements.”

The ALARACT 017/2024 comes as the U.S. military is experiencing a recruitment crisis.

The U.S. Army recently announced that it is cutting thousands of positions. Authorized troop levels will now be an estimated 470,000 by fiscal year 2029, down 24,000 from its 494,000 soldiers.

“While making these investments and adding formations, the Army must also reduce force structure to protect readiness in light of decreased end strength. The Army is currently significantly over-structured, meaning there are not enough soldiers to fill out existing units and organizations. Army leaders seek to have at least 470,000 soldiers in the Active Component by FY29, which is nearly 20,000 above the current end strength but a reduction of about 24,000 authorizations compared to currently planned force structure,” the report


It added that the Army is “undertaking a similarly important transformation of its recruiting enterprise so that it can man units sufficiently, continue to bring the right types and amounts of new talent into the Army, and rebuild its overall end strength.” Noting the ongoing recruitment failure within the U.S. military, the document noted, “The Army must solve its recruiting challenges to successfully transform for the future.”

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