Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Vietnam War Summit, Live Streamed April 26-28, 2016

April 26-28, 2016 the LBJ Presidential Library is live streaming The Vietnam War Summit. Speakers include the keynote address by U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry and the following major participants:
  • Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State and former National Security Advisor Vietnamese Ambassador to the United States Pham Quang Vinh
  • Ken Burns, Award-winning Documentarian
  • Dr. Grace Liem Galloway, former Medic at Third Field Hospital and Cu Chi
  • Tom Hayden, Anti-war Activist and Politician
  • Bob Kerrey, former U.S. Senator and Medal of Honor recipient
  • William McRaven, University of Texas System Chancellor and former Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command
  • Journalists Peter Arnett, Dan Rather, David Maraniss, and Joe Klein
  • Nick Ut and David Hume Kennerly, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographers
  • Also present will be Country Joe McDonald of Woodstock fame.
You can live stream the presentations here: vietnamwarsummit.org/live.
Each session will be archived on their YouTube page
See the schedule at http://www.vietnamwarsummit.org/attend/sessions.html

In addition, at UT Austin's LBJ Presidential Library along with a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall), the following exhibits are being featured:
  • Vietnam: Evidence of War, April 1-July 31, Vietnam photojournalism and artifacts from the collection of The University of Texas at Austin's Dolph Briscoe Center for American History
  • Tributes to the Fallen, April 14–June 26, Artifacts from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection comprised of objects that have been left at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
  • Vietnam: Turning Points of War, April 14-June 26, Key Vietnam-related documents from the Truman through the Ford administrations

Rather Prize to Improve Education in Texas

Journalist Dan Rather with his grandson, Martin Rather, currently a student at Rice University, have set up a $10,000 prize for a Texas student, teacher or administrator who has the best idea for improving Texas education.

The 2016 inaugural winner of the prize is Dr. Sanford Jeames of Eastside Memorial High School for an idea partnering high school students with college students in a mentorship program. See more information at the Rather Prize website.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Celebrate Earth Day, April 22, 2016

Record Rainfall in Southeast Texas, April 2016
Photo Credit: NASA Earth Observatory map by Jesse Allen, using IMERG data provided courtesy of the Global Precipitation Mission (GPM) Science Team's Precipitation Processing System (PPS). Caption by Kathryn Hansen.

To start your celebration of Earth Day, check the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Earth Day site which gives the history, projects, events and activities association with Earth Day since its inception in 1970. It also includes quotations about the environment such the following from former Wisconsin Governor Gaylor Nelson, the founder of Earth Day:

The ultimate test of man's conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.

For fascinating views of the earth, check NASA's Visible Earth, the origin of the photo displayed above which has particular meaning to those in Houston currently impacted by floods.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Politics from the Past

Does the name Charles Curtis, Alben W. Barkley, Garret A. Hobart, or George Mifflin Dallas sound familiar? Each of these men served as Vice President of the United States. The Senate website has links to their biographies at the end of a brief introduction. Today's controversy about candidates running for elections is nothing new. Former Vice Presidents include one who became a fugitive after murdering a man, one who led an invasion of Washington, D.C. as a member of the Confederate Army, and another who was criticized for playing a piano with an actress posed seductively on top of it.  On the other hand, three received the Nobel Peace Prize, one was the wealthiest banker of his era, and one composed a popular melody. On the Senate site read more about their talents, challenges, and the office of Vice President.

Monday, April 11, 2016

World Bank's New Climate Action Plan

According to an April 7, 2016 news release, the World Bank announced its new Climate Change Action Plan  that will "help developing countries add 30 gigawatts of renewable energy – enough to power 150 million homes – to the world’s energy capacity, bring early warning systems to 100 million people and develop climate-smart agriculture investment plans for at least 40 countries – all by 2020." The plan focuses on helping countries develop national policies and leverage private sector investment. Instead of a one-size-fits all plan, it stress differentiated actions and supports according to the point a country is starting from and its emission levels.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Senate Approves New Education Secretary, John B. King, Jr.

On March 14, 2016, the Senate confirmed John B. King, Jr. as Arne Duncan's replacement for Secretary of Education. Although Mr. King's parents were educators in New York City, both died from illness by the time he was 12. He credits public school teachers with " saving his life by providing transformative educational experiences and giving him hope about the future." He began his own education career as a high school social studies teacher in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Boston. He then became co-founder and co-director for curriculum and instruction at Roxbury Preparatory Charter School in Massachusetts where the school outperformed even affluent Boston suburban schools. He also served as a managing director at Uncommon Schools, a chain of high-performing charter schools in Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. He then served first as a senior deputy commissioner and then commissioner of education in New York before coming to the Education Department as principal senior adviser whose duties were to carry out the tasks of the deputy secretary and to oversee President Obama's My Brother's Keeper task force formed to address "persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color."

Dr. King has a "Bachelor of Arts in Government from Harvard University, a Master of Arts in the teaching of social studies from Columbia University's Teachers College, a J.D. from Yale Law School, and a Doctor of Education degree in educational administrative practice from Columbia University's Teachers College."

To learn more about Dr. King, read his biography on the Education Department's website.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Census Bureau Irish Statistics for St. Patrick's Day

The Census Bureau has a Facts for Features section on its web page that celebrates holidays and seasonal/special events. The page that is dedicated to celebrating St. Patrick's Day has a wide variety of statistics ranging from the educational and income status of Irish Americans to beef and cabbage production. Celebrate St. Patrick's Day (March 17) with fun facts.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Encryption: Selected Legal Issues

Debate has been raging about whether Apple should grant the FBI's request to provide a technological way to obtain encrypted content stored on an iPhone when legally requested. On March 3, 2016 the Congressional Research Service (CRS) published a new report that "provides background to the ongoing encryption debate, including a primer on encryption basics and an overview of Apple, Google, and Facebook’s new encryption policies." Entitled Encryption: Selected Legal Issues by Richard M. Thompson II, Legislative Attorney and Chris Jaikara, Analyst in Cybersecurity Policy, the authors chose to focus on two questions from the many political, economic, and legal questions being raised: 
  1. Does the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination bar such a request?
  2. Can the All Writs Act federal statue that "provides federal courts with residual authority to enforce its orders be interpreted broadly enough to cover compelled assistance on the part of the device and software manufacturer?"