Alcee L Hastings

Pentagon using artificial intelligence to track wildfires, study chaos of combat
Head of military AI office promises more money for 2021 budget

National Guard helicopters drop water on a wildfire near Ojai, Calif., on Dec. 9, 2017. The Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center has been working with the National Guard to track natural disasters using AI tools. (David McNew/Getty Images file photo)

One year ago, Air Force Lt. Gen. John N.T. “Jack” Shanahan became the first director of a new Pentagon office created to act as a clearinghouse for all of the U.S. military’s work on artificial intelligence. Among a raft of near-term projects the office has taken up is one deploying computer vision technology to track and combat wildfires. 

Taking tools developed for Project Maven, an initiative to analyze and identify objects on the ground from videos shot by aerial drones during the fight against the Islamic State, the Pentagon’s office known as the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center has been working with National Guard units combating wildfires in California and hurricanes elsewhere.

At the Races: Trial vs. Trail

By Simone Pathé, Stephanie Akin and Bridget Bowman 

Welcome to At the Races! Each week we’ll bring you news and analysis from the CQ Roll Call team that will keep you informed about the 2020 election. Know someone who’d like to get this newsletter? They can subscribe here.

Impeachment comes with its own rules — or lack thereof — on standard of proof
Constitution says nothing about an impeachment evidence standard, making process political

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., and his fellow impeachment managers are seen in Statuary Hall before addressing the media on the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Jan. 21. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

What is the standard of proof senators will apply to the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump? It depends on whom you ask. 

The Constitution provides only bare-bones instructions on the impeachment framework. It does not outline a “standard of proof.”

John Lewis faces hard fight against pancreatic cancer
Georgia Democrat hopeful medical advances in past 15 years will help him defeat disease

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., announced Sunday he will undergo treatment for stage 4 pancreatic cancer. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. John Lewis was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer over the weekend. Just a decade ago, that most likely meant a death sentence.

But now, with rapid advances in modern medicine and higher degrees of success among patients receiving experimental treatment for the disease, the 79-year-old civil rights icon and longtime Georgia Democrat may have more time than many expect to put a capstone on his political legacy.

Congress to Pentagon: Find and fix racially offensive forms
Defense Department had expressed reluctance to review thousands of documents

The U.S. Army Reserve commemorated its 100th anniversary by conducting a mass reenlistment of 100 soldiers on the West Front of the Capitol. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

The defense authorization bill that President Donald Trump is expected to sign into law soon would require the Defense Department to report to Congress on efforts to rid official military documents of “racially or ethnically insensitive” terms.

CQ Roll Call reported earlier this year on several previously undisclosed examples of outdated and offensive language on official Defense Department forms — and the pain these terms have caused military personnel and their families.

As Super Bowl LIV draws near, Congress still tackling one of the event’s biggest problems
Florida Rep. Donna E. Shalala leads human trafficking hearing ahead of the big game in Miami

Katherine Fernandez Rundle, state attorney for Miami-Dade County, flanked by Rodney Barreto, chairman of the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee, and Kathy Andersen, executive director of The Women’s Fund Miami-Dade, addresses the media in Miami on Nov. 6 as they unveil a campaign by local, state and federal agencies and partners meant to combat sex trafficking leading up to and beyond Super Bowl LIV. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

The question of whether the Super Bowl attracts higher volumes of human trafficking in its host city has long been debated. At the least, it provides a megaplatform, and opportunity, for awareness.

“We do have a comprehensive approach for Miami-Dade, and that’s been put together over the years, but the advantage of the Super Bowl for us is to educate the entire community,” Rep. Donna E. Shalala told HOH.

Ethics Committee investigating Alcee Hastings relationship with staffer
Hastings is the third member or delegate since October that has been investigated for an alleged sexual relationship with a subordinate

Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., is under Ethics Committee scrutiny for a relationship with a subordinate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Ethics Committee announced Thursday it is investigating Rep. Alcee L. Hastings and whether his relationship with a staffer, Patricia Williams, violates rules that forbid members from having sexual relationships with any subordinates in the House.

“I have cooperated with the Committee since May 14, 2019. As they continue to conduct their work, I stand ready to fully cooperate with their inquiry,” the Florida Democrat said in a statement.

House takes aim at Trump’s drilling plan with three bills
Bills would block offshore exploration in parts of the Gulf of Mexico, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the Pacific and Atlantic coasts

A surfer rides a wave at the Huntington Beach pier with an oil rig and Catalina Island in the background in Huntington Beach, CA in 2018 (Photo by Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)

Lawmakers from both parties evoked the memory of the 2010 BP oil spill Tuesday to drum up support for a trio of House bills that would hamper offshore drilling and President Donald Trump's energy agenda. 

The House is expected to vote Wednesday and Thursday on three bipartisan bills that would block exploration in parts of the Gulf of Mexico, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.

Racial terms have marred military forms
Words like ‘negroid’ linger despite decades-old federal directive to root them out

Jahmar Resilard died in December while serving in the Marine Corps. His death certificate contained an unwelcome surprise. (U.S. Marine Corps via AP)

A Marine Corps captain named Jahmar Resilard was one of six military personnel who were killed Dec. 6 when the F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet he was piloting collided in midair with a military refueling plane during training off the coast of Japan.

Resilard, 28, was African American — a fact that is only relevant because of what happened after his death.

Hoyer and House appropriators back potential pay raise for Congress
Salaries for rank-and-file lawmakers have been frozen at $174,000 since 2010

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., says he supports a provision that could boost lawmaker salaries. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats are making moves to lift the pay freeze that lawmakers have been living under since 2010. But the top Senate appropriator is not on board. 

House appropriators released their Financial Services fiscal 2020 spending bill earlier this week, striking a provision that blocked members or Congress from receiving an increase in pay that Republicans included in previous  Legislative Branch spending bills. The salary for rank-and-file House and Senate lawmakers is $174,000, but those with official leadership titles and responsibilities make more.