Friday, January 13, 2017

BBC Team to Debunk Fake News

The BBC is assembling a team "to fact check and debunk deliberately misleading and false stories masquerading as real news." BBC will make its Reality Check series permanent to target false stories/facts being shared on social media. The news organization is emphasizing slow news, " news with more depth – data, investigations, analysis, expertise." See more in a January 12, 2017 post in the Guardian.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

General Accounting Office Study - Climate Information for Design Standards, Building Codes, and Certifications

On January 3, 2016 the General Accounting Office (GAO) released a study entitled Climate Change: Improved Federal Coordination Could Facilitate Use of Forward-Looking Climate Information in Design Standards, Building Codes, and Certifications. You can access the 45 page PDF report and/or fast facts, highlights, and recommendations. The purpose of the study is as follows:
GAO was asked to review the use of forward-looking climate information by standards-developing organizations. This report examines (1) what is known about the use of such information in standards, codes, and certifications; (2) challenges standards organizations face to using climate information; and (3) actions federal agencies have taken to address such challenges and additional actions they could take.
The GAO recommends that "federal agencies work together to provide forward-looking climate information for consideration in standards and codes."

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

DHS and FBI Joint Analysis Report (JAR) on Russian Malicious Cyber Activity

A December 29, 2016 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) press release discusses  its Joint Analysis Report (JAR) with the FBI. Nicknamed "Grizzy Steppe, the JAR provides "details of the tools and infrastructure used by Russian intelligence services to compromise and exploit networks and infrastructure associated with the recent U.S. election, as well as a range of U.S. government, political and private sector entities."  The "Grizzy Steppe" is described as follows on the December 29, 2016 White House Fact Sheet: Actions in Response to Russian Malicious Cyber Activity and Harassment:
  • The JAR includes information on computers around the world that Russian intelligence services have co-opted without the knowledge of their owners in order to conduct their malicious activity in a way that makes it difficult to trace back to Russia. In some cases, the cybersecurity community was aware of this infrastructure, in other cases, this information is newly declassified by the U.S. government.
  • The report also includes data that enables cybersecurity firms and other network defenders to identify certain malware that the Russian intelligence services use.  Network defenders can use this information to identify and block Russian malware, forcing the Russian intelligence services to re-engineer their malware.  This information is newly de-classified.
  • Finally, the JAR includes information on how Russian intelligence services typically conduct their activities.  This information can help network defenders better identify new tactics or techniques that a malicious actor might deploy or detect and disrupt an ongoing intrusion.
DHS and FBI encourage security companies and private sector owners and operators to use this JAR to check their network traffic for signs of malicious activity as well as to "leverage these indicators in proactive defense efforts to block malicious cyber activity before it occurs."

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Meet Tump's Cabinet Picks

Atlantic Media's Government Executive is a daily news source aimed at high-ranking civilian and military officials concerned with "carrying out the laws that define the government's role in our economy and society." It is now offering online brief descriptions of Trump's Cabinet picks so far who must still be confirmed by the Senate.  "Meet the Trump Cabinet" also includes newspaper quotes when appropriate to get a fuller picture of a nominee's viewpoints.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

War Strategies of General James Mattis, Trump's Secretary of Defense Nominee

USMC Major Michael L. Valenti from the US Army Command and General Staff College Press published a report in 2014 about the strategies General James Mattis, President-elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Defense, employed in war. The abstract on p. iii of The Mattis Way of War: an Examination of Operational Art in Task Force 58 and 1st Marine Division, summarizes his "way of war":
A “Mattis Way of War” is postulated in the conclusion which draws from his use of history, commander’s intent, and leadership to build up a capacity, or potential energy, for action in his unit. Once built up, he unleashes this energy utilizing explicit trust in his staff and subordinates.
Access a pdf of the full report including a three-page bibliography at

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Explanation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program

During the campaign President-elect Trump made statements about possibly repealing the administrative order establishing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). For those unfamiliar with all the provisions of DACA, on Sept. 30, 2014 the Congressional Research Service (CRS) published a summary of DACA provisions in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): Frequently Asked Questions .

Monday, November 14, 2016

Win $10,000 to improve education in Texas

The Rather Prize, started by journalist Dan Rather and his grandson Martin, provides funding for a great idea to improve education in Texas. A student, teacher or administrator can submit an idea to compete for the $10,000 prize and an additional $10,000 from Rice University. Last year's prize went to Dr. Sanford Jeames from Eastside Memorial High in Austin who devised a student training/mentorship program for students who had been in a low-functioning school until he took over.

Vote for your favorite project in January 2017 when a shortlist of the top ten projects will be available. The winner will be announced at SXSWedu 2017.