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Category Archives: E-Government

The MAGA Plan to End Free Weather Reports

The Atlantic [unpaywalled]: “In the United States, as in most other countries, weather forecasts are a freely accessible government amenity. The National Weather Service issues alerts and predictions, warning of hurricanes and excessive heat and rainfall, all at the total cost to American taxpayers of roughly $4 per person per year. Anyone with a TV, smartphone, radio, or newspaper can know what tomorrow’s weather will look like, whether a hurricane is heading toward their town, or if a drought has been forecast for the next season. Even if they get that news from a privately owned app or TV station, much of the underlying weather data are courtesy of meteorologists working for the federal government. Charging for popular services that were previously free isn’t generally a winning political strategy. But hard-right policy makers appear poised to try to do just that should Republicans gain power in the next term. Project 2025—a nearly 900-page book of policy proposals published by the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation—states that an incoming administration should all but dissolve the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, under which the National Weather Service operates. Donald Trump has attempted to distance himself from Project 2025, but given that it was largely written by veterans of his first administration, the document is widely seen as a blueprint for a second Trump term.

NOAA “should be dismantled and many of its functions eliminated, sent to other agencies, privatized, or placed under the control of states and territories,” Project 2025 reads. The proposals roughly amount to two main avenues of attack. First, it suggests that the NWS should eliminate its public-facing forecasts, focus on data gathering, and otherwise “fully commercialize its forecasting operations,” which the authors of the plan imply will improve, not limit, forecasts for all Americans. Then, NOAA’s scientific-research arm, which studies things such as Arctic-ice dynamics and how greenhouse gases behave (and which the document calls “the source of much of NOAA’s climate alarmism”), should be aggressively shrunk. “The preponderance of its climate-change research should be disbanded,” the document says. It further notes that scientific agencies such as NOAA are “vulnerable to obstructionism of an Administration’s aims,” so appointees should be screened to ensure that their views are “wholly in sync” with the president’s…”

What the internet looked like in 1994, according to 15 webpages born that year

Fast Company: “What was the World Wide Web like at the start? Long before it became the place we think and work and talk, the air that we (and the bots) now breathe, no matter how polluted it’s become? So much of the old web has rotted away that it can be hard to say;… Continue Reading

Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, July 6, 2024

Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, July 6, 2024 – Privacy and cybersecurity issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, finance, health and medical records – to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss, highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex… Continue Reading

FTC – Who’s who in scams: a spring roundup

FTC: “Scammers are all about spinning lies, but they still operate in the real world. Many scammers pretend to be well-known businesses to gain trust and make their stories seem more believable. And scammers use real-world methods to contact people and to get paid. Reports to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network point to some of… Continue Reading

SEC Updates Website to Improve Compliance, Functionality, and User Experience

“The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced enhancements to its website to improve compliance with federal statutes and standards as well as the site’s functionality. The updates will improve the website’s user experience for market participants and the public.  “I’m pleased that these updates will improve our website’s compliance with federal standards,” said SEC Chair… Continue Reading

Inside the US government’s brilliantly boring websites

MIT Technology Review – You may not notice it, but your experience on any US government website is a carefully crafted experience. “The United States has an official web design system and a custom typeface. This public design system aims to make government websites not only good-looking but accessible and functional for all. Before the… Continue Reading

How do we know how many people died of Covid-19?

YouTube: “After four years and dozens of studies, we know everything we’re going to know about the death toll of the Covid pandemic. After four years and dozens of studies, we know everything we’re going to know about the death toll of the Covid pandemic. WELCOME TO HOWTOWN! Our small but mighty team of two… Continue Reading

Nine Takeaways From Our Investigation Into Microsoft’s Cybersecurity Failures

ProPublica: “After Russian hackers exploited a flaw in a widely used Microsoft product duringone of the largest cyberattacks in U.S. history, the software giant downplayed its culpability. However, a recent ProPublica investigation revealed that a whistleblower within Microsoft’s ranks had repeatedly attempted to convince the company to address the weakness years before the hack —… Continue Reading

Climate Quick Reference Guides Now on Farmers.gov

“Even when data is at your fingertips it can sometimes still be hard to find what you’re looking for – especially when it comes to climate information. USDA’s Climate Hubs and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are helping to meet that need by providing Climate Quick Reference Guides for agricultural producers and landowners seeking basic… Continue Reading

New Live Crime Tracker Provides Real-Time Crime Data from America’s Cities

“A first-of-its-kind data tracker from NORC at the University of Chicago’s Center on Public Safety and Justice offers in-depth information on crime, violence, and victimization in cities across the United States. The Live Crime Tracker provides the public—along with policymakers, researchers, and others—with transparent, timely, and available data that can help cities respond rapidly to… Continue Reading