By Alan W. Dowd

On the Cyber Defense
The Pentagon is standing up a new Cyber Command to coordinate computer-network security and to develop offensive cyber-weapons. The new command will likely be a “sub-unified command” under the Strategic Command, according to NBC.

The Pentagon reports that cyber-attacks have more than doubled in the past six months and now comprise thousands of probes each day. According to an AP report, the Pentagon spent $100 million in the first six months of FY2009 repairing damage from and plugging holes related to cyber attacks. In one of the more serious recent incidents, hackers stole information about the new F-35 joint strike fighter.

Is Your State “New”?
Massachusetts and Washington top a ranking of how well states are structured and prepared to maximize the benefits of the high-tech, knowledge-driven “New Economy.” Conducted by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the New Economy Index rates states according to a number indicators falling under five broad categories, including knowledge jobs, globalization, economic dynamism, transformation to digital economy and technological-innovation capacity. 

Top 10                                      Bottom 10
Massachusetts                         41. Louisiana
Washington                              42. Iowa
Maryland                                   43. Oklahoma   
Delaware                                  44. South Dakota
New Jersey                               45. Kentucky
Connecticut                               46. Wyoming
Virginia                                      47. Alabama
California                                   48. Arkansas    
New York                                   49. West Virginia
Colorado                                    50. Mississippi

Read the full report at http://www.itif.org/.

Pork, Anyone?
According to the latest edition of the “Pig Book” published by Citizens against Government Waste, there were 10,160 earmarks worth $19.6 billion in the FY2009 appropriations bills. “While the number of specific projects declined by 12.5 percent,” the report concludes, “the total tax dollars spent to fund them increased by 14 percent, from $17.2 billion to $19.6 billion.” Here’s just some of the slop CAGW unearthed:

  • $2,192,000 by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), Rep. James Walsh (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Michael Arcuri (D-N.Y.) for the Center for Grape Genetics in Geneva, even though New York’s wine and grape industries generate $6 billion annually in sales.
  • $413,000 by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), then-Rep. Terry Everett (R-Ala.), and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) for peanut research.
  • $243,000 by Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), and Reps. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) for floriculture, even though Hawaii’s floriculture and nursery products industry generated $105.9 million in 2007.  
  • $3,000,000 by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) for the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks to help make data received from NASA satellite images more accessible to the public, even though, according to the NASA website, “The NASA TV Public and Educational channels are ‘free-to-air,’ meaning your cable or satellite service provider can carry them at no cost.”
  • $200,000 by Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) for the Providence Holy Cross Foundation tattoo removal violence prevention program.
  • $6,430,414,000 for 142 anonymous projects in the Defense appropriation.
  • $132,729,000 for 84 programs by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), including: $5,471,000 for the Iowa Department of Education to continue the Harkin Grant Program and $381,000 for the Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra’s residency program.
  • $1,791,000 by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) for swine odor and manure management research.

Read more at http://www.cagw.org/.

Troops’ Ballots Go Uncounted
After surveying election materials from seven states with high numbers of military personnel—California, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and West Virginia—an investigation by the Congressional Research Service and Senate Committee on Rules and Administration has concluded that one-quarter of military and overseas ballots were never received by election officials or rejected for technical reasons in 2008.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the sample results prove that “the balloting process for service members is clearly in need of an overhaul,” adding, “We have an obligation to make it easier, not harder, for our military to cast their ballots when they are away on active-duty.” Find out more at http://rules.senate.gov/public.

As a contributing editor to The American Legion Magazine, Dowd writes columns and news briefs on national security, foreign affairs and U.S. politics each month for the magazine's "Rapid Fire" section.