WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration has agreed to provide in-person briefings on threats to the November election to key members of Congress, backing down from a decision last month to provide that information only in writing.
Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe has agreed to provide briefings to the Senate and House intelligence committees, according to the heads of those panels. The move comes after significant pushback from Democrats and some Republicans who said the briefings were more important than ever as the 2020 presidential election approaches and Russia signals it will try to interfere again as it did four years ago.
Acting Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the panel, said in a joint statement Wednesday that Ratcliffe had reaffirmed that the panel will receive “briefings, including in-person, on all oversight topics.”
Rubio told reporters that he expects a briefing next week on election security, though he said he wasn’t sure of the timing. A person familiar with the briefing said Ratcliffe’s office had accepted an invitation to brief the panel behind closed doors. The person discussed the meeting on condition of anonymity because it has not been publicly announced.
House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff also said in a statement that Ratcliffe’s office had on Wednesday committed to the briefings “after extensive public criticism.” Schiff said the panel was working to confirm a date and time.
Still, Schiff said, “these briefings for the intelligence committees must not obviate the need to keep all Members and the American people appropriately and accurately informed about the active threats to the November election.”
Ratcliffe said in August that most briefings would be in writing instead of live, citing what he said were leaks out of “all member” meetings held earlier this year. Democrats said that would prevent members from asking followup questions and allow the administration to limit what information it allows.
Shortly after Rubio and Warner issued their statement, Ratcliffe claimed his position remained “unchanged.”
“I will continue to provide congressional leadership and the intelligence oversight committees appropriate updates to keep Congress fully and currently informed,” Ratcliffe said in his own statement. “In order to protect sources and methods, the IC will not provide all-member briefings, but we will work to provide appropriate updates primarily through written finished intelligence products.”
Ratcliffe met with congressional leadership and the heads of the intelligence committees earlier on Wednesday — a group called the “Gang of Eight” that receives the highest levels of intelligence. He said in the statement that he had shared with them his proposal on how the intelligence community will share election updates in the future.
Over the summer, the nation’s counterintelligence chief, William Evanina, issued a statement saying U.S. intelligence officials believe that Russia is using various methods to denigrate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and that people linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin are boosting President Donald Trump’s reelection bid.
U.S. officials also believe China does not want Trump to win a second term and has accelerated its criticism of the White House, Evanina wrote.
Associated Press writers Laurie Kellman, Eric Tucker and Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.
Accenture: Tech companies’ disregard for inclusion drives women away
A joint report from Accenture and Girls Who Code found a massive perception gap between leaders in the tech industry — including C-suite executives and senior human resource officers — and its female-identifying employees. While 77% of leaders think their workplace empowers women, only 54% of these women agree. And while 45% of leaders claim it’s easy for women to thrive in tech-related jobs, only 21% of women overall (and 8% of women of color) feel the same way.
These findings from the report “Resetting Tech Culture” are based on online surveys completed by three distinct groups within the United States in 2019: 1,990 tech employees (1,502 of whom identify as women), 500 senior human resources leaders, and 2,700 college students. The researchers then analyzed workplace culture by applying a linear regression model to the survey results, which quantified the impact of different cultural factors on women’s advancement.
According to the report, the disparity is all about culture and opportunity: uncomfortable classroom settings in college, or even high school, combined with less-than-ideal company work environments, lead over 50% of young women in technology roles to drop out of the industry by the age of 35.
Senior human resources leaders are largely responsible for workplace culture. They’re changemakers who determine who is hired, how they work, and what they work on. But according to the survey results, they largely overestimate how safe and welcoming their workplaces are while underestimating how difficult it is for women to build their careers in technology.
This perception gap is key because leadership undervalues inclusion in the workplace and remains focused on hiring women when there’s an existing attrition problem. The report indicates that leaders tend to center their efforts on hiring rather than retaining women. An emphasis on hiring makes it less likely for women to advance in their career within a company; the company then misses out on reduced bias, a more equitable workplace, and an overall improved culture. The report asserts that the corporate world cannot improve at the rate it needs to without the contributions of women.
This report identifies five actionable cultural practices that can curb this trend: strengthening parental leave policies, selecting diverse leaders for senior teams, developing women-specific mentorship programs, rewarding employees for creativity, and scheduling networking events that are open to all team members. It expects that these changes could help ensure up to three million early-in-career women will work in technology roles by 2030. That’s almost twice as many as there are right now, according to the report.
Accenture and Girls Who Code say this reset would help to “drive much-needed change: [the] analysis suggests that if every company scored high on measures of an inclusive culture — specifically, if they were on par with those in the top 20% of [the] study — the annual attrition rate of women in tech could drop by up to 70%.”
Although the number of women working in technology as a whole has increased, the proportional gender imbalance in technology today is actually greater than it was 35 years ago. This disequilibrium hurts not only women’s earnings and advancement but also the goals of technology companies, because inclusivity and innovation are closely intertwined.
And if technology is the future, these next few years present a golden opportunity to make it work for everyone. Accenture and Girls Who Code believe that this begins with resolving the critical disconnect between tech leaders and their employees through empathy and women-focused policies.
People with this name can get a free flight to Florida on Frontier Airlines
Frontier Airlines is teaming up with Visit Orlando to fly people with a certain name for free in October.
If your first or last name is Orlando, congratulations. You are eligible for a free flight in the form of a $250 travel voucher to Orlando International Airport between Oct. 13-20 this year, Frontier Airlines said in a news release.
Travelers must confirm their legal first or last name is Orlando by filling out this form by Oct. 5.
The budget airline will then contact travelers to confirm their eligibility and send the voucher, according to Frontier.
“Like the hashtag says, we ‘#LoveOrlando’ and are thrilled to partner with Visit Orlando to welcome new and returning visitors to the mecca for family fun and entertainment,” Tyri Squyres, vice president of marketing, said in a news release.
“Plus, we can’t wait to welcome all the folks named ‘Orlando’ on flights to their namesake destination.”
If your name isn’t Orlando, you still have a chance at free travel.
Frontier is giving away a four-night stay at Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive for four people along with round-trip airfare and a slew of activities.
You can enter by filling out this form by Oct. 5. Winners will be notified by Oct. 9, according to Frontier. You can only enter once.
This isn’t the first time Frontier has offered free travel for people with certain names. Last year, the airline gave away free flights to people with the last name Green or Greene in honor of its Green Week.
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