FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCEJOBS.COM
1. Reputation, reputation, reputation! It matters for the company, too. Contributor Jillian Hamilton explains that principle, and more: “A recent survey reported that most Americans would decline a job from a company that had a bad reputation. Eighty-four percent of the respondents would even consider leaving a current job in order to work for a company with an excellent reputation. Corporate ethics and reputation still mean a lot, despite the economic downturns.”
2. T.M.I. (Too Much Information). Droning on about giving your cat a bath is one thing; sharing too much information on social networks – professional, and otherwise – is another. Contributor Christopher Burgess explains, and uses the word gig while doing it: “As enjoyable as it is, social networks carry risk. Not the type of risk where we go screaming from the room and then wrap ourselves in cotton, but risk, which if not mitigated, can be utilized by an adversary to the US Government to obtain bits and pieces of information which help fill in pieces of a mosaic.”
THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT
1. Tamarud – the students behind the revolution in Egypt. The remarkable backstory to Egypt’s re-revolution. Reuters Special Report by Asma Alsharif and Yasmine Saleh: “When army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi appeared on television in July this year to announce the end of Mursi’s presidency and plans for elections, it was widely assumed that Egypt’s military leaders were the prime movers behind the country’s counter revolution. But dozens of interviews with officials from the army, state security and police, as well as diplomats and politicians, show the Interior Ministry was the key force behind removing Egypt’s first democratically elected president.” Israel’s BFF.
2. Aid to Egypt reduced. Aljazeera.Com confirms, “The US is reducing its military aid to Egypt following the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi and the subsequent crackdown on his supporters by the military-backed government. The US provides $1.5bn in aid each year to Egypt. While the State Department did not provide the total amount of the aid being cut, it amounts to hundreds of millions in mostly military aid. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the US would withhold delivery of certain ‘large-scale military systems’, as well as cash assistance to the Egyptian government, until ‘credible progress’ is made toward an inclusive civilian government set up through free and fair elections.” Related, White House carrot to elections in Egypt and Egypt’s criticism of same.
3. NATO to Karzai: Get a grip! NATO’s top and well-respected leader Anders Fogh Rasmussen responds unequivocally to Karzai’s claims of NATO’s failures. AP reports from Brussels, “NATO’s secretary-general has sharply rejected Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s view that the presence of international troops in his country caused much suffering but achieved few gains. Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Thursday in Brussels the progress achieved in Afghanistan ‘thanks to the immense efforts and the solemn sacrifices’ by the U.S. and other troop contributor nations ‘is remarkable and it cannot be denied.’” Also, elections in Afghanistan.
4. In Syria, depletion of chemicals is possible, if . . . . Aljazeera.Com reports, “’If we can ensure cooperation by all parties, and if some temporary ceasefires could be established in order to permit our experts to work in a permissive environment, I think the targets could be reached,’ Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) head Ahmet Uzumcu told journalists in The Hague on Wednesday. Uzumcu said that Syrian officials had been ‘quite cooperative’ in the early stages of the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.”
5. Iran coming clean on uranium stockpiles. Also from Aljazeera.Com, “Iran plans to negotiate over its nuclear programme next week with the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. They would be the first talks between Iran and the six since the election in June of President Hassan Rouhani, who has called for a speedy settlement of an issue that has been stalled for eight years. At meetings in Almaty this year, the six proposed that Iran suspend uranium enrichment at the 20 percent level it says it needs for a medical research reactor, and to halt enrichment at its underground plant at Fordo. In return, they would ease some sanctions on trade in gold and petrochemicals.” Also, top Iranian leaders lash out at hardliners.
6. Dry runs – precursors to terrorist attacks on airlines. Tampa Bay’s WSTP.Com reports, “A memo obtained by the 10 News investigators from the union that represents pilots for US Airways says that ‘there have been several cases recently throughout the (airline) industry of what appear to be probes, or dry-runs, to test our procedures and reaction to an in flight threat.’ . . . Until now, there has been absolutely no publicity about the US Airways flight from D.C. to Orlando International Airport, but security experts say incidents like this should not and cannot be ignored. As the Federal Air Marshal and industry insiders tell us, ‘We’re waiting for the next 9/11 to happen, because it’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when.’”
1. Big fish CACI gobbles up Six3 Systems. GovConWire.Com reports, “CACI International (NYSE: CACI) has agreed to acquire McLean, Va.-based national security contractor Six3 Systems from private equity firm GTCR for $820 million in a move to grow CACI’s footprints in the cybersecurity, intelligence and C4ISR markets. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and is scheduled to close during CACI’s fiscal second quarter, which ends in December 2013 . . . .”
2. $160 billion in 2014 – 74% increase. FederalTimes.Com contributor Nicole Blake Johnson reports, “The government’s largest contracts slated for release this fiscal year will be significantly larger than previous years, according to a new analysis. The top 20 contract opportunities represent a combined potential business worth $160 billion over the contracts’ lifetime, or a 74 percent increase over the $92 billion value of last year’s top contracts . . . .”
TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY
1. ScareMail to clog the NSA’s works. VentureBeat.Com contributor Eric Blattberg reports, “Created by artist and composer Ben Grosser, ScareMail’s inserts a unique ‘story’ below each e-mail. To generate the text, the ScareMail algorithm grabs a passage from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and proceeds to swap out the nouns and verbs with keywords that might trigger NSA surveillance filters. Some are obvious, like ‘dirty bomb’ or ‘ammonium nitrate,’ but others are more commonplace, like ‘warning’ or ‘target.’ The end result is a barely coherent (but often highly amusing) narrative that appears below every new e-mail.”
2. Apps to keep you – and yours – safer. Time lays out three cool apps that help you keep track: “Your smartphone is an incredible wonder. Not only can you use it to talk, text, e-mail and connect with people on social networks, you can use all sorts of helpful apps that do things like tell you where to get the cheapest fuel, keep track of your money, and even turn your phone into a flashlight. In fact, the list of what your smartphone can do seems endless. But there’s one thing you may not think about using your phone for: Keeping your family safe. In the case of these smart apps, you’ll be armed with the tools you need get help and information for yourself and loved ones.”
3. Ultrahaptics – it’s here. What is it? Well, remember Minority Report? U.K.’s The Independent explains, “The device is essentially a touchscreen so sensitive that a user doesn’t actually need to touch it. Instead, it is manipulated via the vibrations from soundwaves alone – and feedback from it can be ‘felt’ in mid air. Ultrahaptics uses an array of tiny speakers – called ‘ultrasonic transducers’ – which use waves of ultrasound to create vibrations that can be felt at quite precise points in mid-air. And now engineers at the Bristol Interaction and Graphics group have found a way to beam the signals through a screen, creating an invisible layer of vibrations above it and allowing it to be used as a computer interface.” Awesome.
1. Dance, damnit! Like it or not, Rep. Boehner (pronounced bonner, people!) is dancing to a tune for which he may not really care: “After the 2012 election, when other conservatives were licking their wounds, Michael Needham narrated a Heritage Action video declaring, ‘We are in a war,’ a call to action for conservatives. Defunding Obamacare became the holy grail, with a passion that catapulted House Republicans into a government shutdown that Needham says he didn’t want. But in war, there’s always collateral damage. ‘Over the course of the next week, President Obama will feel the pain,’ he says confidently. ‘We will win the debate.’” Which reminds one of Platoon, with Needham as Charlie Sheen . . . the scary thing, who’s Bunny? See also Dana Milbank’s “The Shutdown’s Enforcer-in-Chief.”
2. Dances – 10 cents, please. As the shutdown draws on, charities come to our rescue: “The world’s mightiest military, with a budget of $700 billion, will accept money from a private charity to temporarily cover fallen troops’ death benefits until the government shutdown ends, officials said Wednesday. The government’s inability to pay the death benefits had triggered anger across Washington. ‘I am offended, outraged and embarrassed that the government shutdown had prevented the Department of Defense from fulfilling this most sacred responsibility in a timely manner,’ said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam vet.” Not outraged enough, I guess.
3. What happens when it hits 0% ? Congressional approval ratings continue to fall, now at only 5%: “Approval for Congress has plummeted to just 5 percent, according to a poll released Wednesday by the Associated Press. And Americans’ disgust with Congress and its leaders is bipartisan: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, each earned a favorability rating of 18 percent. . . . In general, Americans now rank government dysfunction chief among the problems currently facing the country, a new Gallup poll has found.”
OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS
1. Waffle House. Time’s Lee Smith argues, “The unfortunate reality is that the Obama administration’s inability to send one cogent, clear message regarding Egypt aid is symptomatic of its foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East. Even when it makes the right call, as it has with its decision to cut part of the Egypt assistance package, the White House’s scattershot messaging is evidence of the sort of indecisive policymaking that baffles allies and harms the national interest.”
2. Africa, Middle East style. Aljazeera.Com’s Mark LeVine argues that “it matters little whether the US involvement in and ultimately leadership of the three United Nation missions in Somalia, or most recently, in the NATO support for the overthrow of Ghaddafi, are considered examples of altruistic if seemingly ultimately misguided humanitarian interventionism, or whether they were undertaken in pursuance of, what else, access to Somalia’s and far more so Libya’s oil reserves. What matters is the fact that the very structure of Africa’s long-term and ongoing incorporation into world economic and political systems dominated by outside powers has meant that even the most well-meaning foreign attempts to ‘help’ the peoples of the Continent are subverted by greed, corruption, violence and imperial agendas.”
3. “Halting the GOP’s doomsday strategy.” WaPo’s David Ignatius argues, “House Republicans have put the country on a doomsday path toward financial default. If the two sides can’t find a way off their ladder of escalation, they will soon reach a point of ‘assured destruction’ in global financial markets. The fact that it will be the Republicans’ fault will be little consolation to the Democrats as they try to clear the wreckage.”