News Briefs: April 17


Access to the Syrian city of Douma has been cut off following alleged chemical attacks for an independent party to conduct investigations into the matter. After the April 7 attack that sparked international condemnation, Syria and Russian maintain that the attack was staged by British forces. The Associated Press reports the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is scheduled to visit Douma on Wednesday, but the OPCW has received some pushback from Syrian and Russian officials who have cited security concerns and have denied access to the organization.

A bipartisan bill was signed in Kansas by Governor Colyer to increase transparency regarding lobbying efforts in Kansas legislative efforts. The Kansas City Star reported last year that the state has one of the most secretive governments in the nation. Senate Bill 394 passed both the House and Senate unanimously. “The people of Kansas have the right to know who is behind getting a bill passed, how they are trying to influence that bill and where the money is coming from,” Colyer said in a statement.

The United States and United Kingdom are warning that Russian hackers are attempting to gain access to devices that control the flow of the internet. CNN reports that officials are unsure of the number of devices affected and the goal of the hackers. Officials from both countries have reported their confidence that the cyber attacks are sanctioned by the Russian government and have released statements about the joint efforts aimed to draw attention to the aggressive behavior of Russia.