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Posted by Randy | October 12, 2015
17 percent. That’s the approximate amount that the average American pays in combined federal, state, and local government wireless taxes and fees on their phone bill each month, according to research by the Tax Foundation.

We should all be able to agree that something needs to be done about this. Especially since for many Americans, cell phones are increasingly their sole means of communication and connectivity. It’s unfair for the government to single out one set of consumers (like wireless users). Yet that is exactly what they are continuing to do.

I’m championing a bill to stop state and local governments from tacking on any new taxes and fees on specific communications services, like wireless, for five years.  During this freeze, there is time for state and local governments to make common sense changes to their communications tax structures, modernizing them to reflect current usage patterns. Take a look at H.R. 1087.

I also supported a bill to keep internet access tax-free. Learn more about the bill, here.  
Posted by Randy | September 04, 2015

22 million. That is the approximate number of people impacted by the recent hack against the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which a number of accounts have attributed to the Chinese government. Although this malicious hack has not be formally confirmed to have originated the Chinese government, there is no shortage of evidence that China is actively promoting cyber espionage. And they are not just hacking personal information—they are also suspected of making off with some of our most sensitive military technology and the medical data of millions of Americans.

So far the Administration has pursued at best an incoherent strategy for addressing this growing threat.

As Chairman of the Congressional China Caucus, I sent a letter to the President, along with Rep Joe Wilson, Chairman of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee outlining China’s belligerent behavior to the United States and urging him to take decisive action -- in the form of punitive economic sanctions -- to protect the intellectual property and personal data of U.S. based companies, as well as government data and personnel information. It is time to send a clear message to China, and to the world, that state sponsored hacking against the United States will not be tolerated and will have tangible repercussions.

You can read more about our letter in the article below, published in The Hill.


 Lawmakers press Obama to sanction China
The Hill  |  Thursday, September 3, 2015

Reps. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) on Thursday called on President Obama to impose economic sanctions on China “to let the world know that state sponsored hacking will have tangible repercussions.”

In a letter to the White House, Wilson and Forbes pointed to mounting evidence of Beijing’s active promotion of cyber espionage, specifically its alleged hack on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

The congressmen said the White House has pursued an “incoherent deterrent strategy” when it comes to state-backed cyber espionage.

While Obama authorized additional sanctions for certain North Korean officials in response to the attack on Sony Pictures, the representatives said he has taken no such action against the five Chinese military hackers indicted on economic espionage charges in 2014.

Some observers say it’s unlikely the five members of the People’s Liberation Army charged in 2014 will ever see the inside of a U.S. court room, and that the purpose of the indictments was simply to send a diplomatic warning.

“A clear and unwavering line needs to be drawn by your Administration in protecting the intellectual property and personal data of U.S. based companies, as well as government data and personnel information,” Wilson and Forbes wrote.

The representatives’ call comes in the wake of recent White House leaks that revealed the administration is developing possible economic sanctions to use as a tool to deter China cyber spying.

The unnamed White House sources suggested that those sanctions would most likely be targeted at Chinese companies, not Beijing — and that the OPM hack would not be one of the actions subject to sanctions.

Policy experts say there is a critical distinction between hacking for commercial gain and hacking for traditional intelligence purposes. Most reports indicate that the sanctions would address only the former.

The president has been under increasing pressure to take a more offensive stance on cyber espionage where China is concerned, with rhetoric amongst D.C. lawmakers reaching a fever pitch in the wake of the OPM hack.

“One of the conclusions we’ve reached is that we need to be a bit more public about our responses, and one reason is deterrence,” a White House official told The New York Times in an oft-quoted interview on administration policy. “We need to disrupt and deter what our adversaries are doing in cyberspace, and that means you need a full range of tools to tailor a response.”

“We strongly urge your Administration, in consultation with the Treasury Department, to apply punitive economic sanctions to entities and individuals conducting cyberattacks to punish and deter such action,” Wilson and Forbes wrote.
Posted by Randy | August 07, 2014

A recent report released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that the U.S. ranks below average when it comes to innovation in primary and secondary schools. 

Innovation is essential to the progress of our education systems and in strengthening our students’ ability to compete in an increasingly global economy, especially in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. I believe that we must encourage students to get involved in STEM at an early age, not only to develop their interest in those subjects, but to allow them to see that what they like doing – like playing on computers – can be what they do for a living.   By coupling increased interest with strengthening STEM education itself, we can spur economic development through the diffusion of technology and information, and better equip our students to push our country towards to a brighter future. 

I supported the STEM Education Act of 2014, H.Res.5031, which expands the definition of STEM education to include computer science and ensures the awarding of National Science Foundation grants to improve STEM learning outcomes, as well as research that advances the field of informal STEM education. I will continue to support the expansion of STEM education throughout the Commonwealth and across the country.
Posted by Randy | April 03, 2014
Since 1998, the Department of Commerce has exercised control over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a private, non-profit organization that manages basic functions of the Internet. 

Earlier this month, however, the administration announced its intent to relinquish control of ICANN to the global Internet community. 

In 2012, the House and Senate unanimously passed resolutions expressing the sense of Congress that the administration should maintain the United States’ support of a global Internet free from government control, and work to preserve and advance the multi-stakeholder model that governs the Internet today.

Question of the week:   Do you support transitioning authority of the Internet to a global community?

( ) Yes. 
( ) No.
( ) I don’t know. 
( ) Other.

Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | January 13, 2012

In 1978, the Supreme Court ruled in FCC v. Pacifica that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had the power to police public broadcast radio and television programming during times when children typically watch and listen to radio and television (6:00 AM and 10:00 PM).  This week, the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments over whether the FCC should still have a role in regulating the public airwaves or whether its indecency regulations violate guarantees of free speech.  Broadcasters say the FCC policy is unconstitutionally vague and violates free-speech rights.  Specifically, Fox Television Stations is requesting the Supreme Court to abandon a rule that allows more government regulation of broadcast, compared with cable, because of the scarcity of the airwaves and the pervasiveness of broadcast TV and radio.  Proponents of the regulation, however, argue that broadcasters utilize public airwaves that the government is entitled to regulate in order to prevent the proliferation of indecency during traditional family viewing hours. 

Question of the Week: Should the FCC continue to monitor public broadcast airwaves to prevent indecency during family viewing hours?

(  ) Yes, the FCC should continue to monitor public broadcast radio and TV content.
(  ) No, the FCC should cease policing public broadcast programming.
(  ) I am unsure.
(  ) Other (leave your comments below)

Take the poll here.

Find the results of last week's instaPoll here.


Posted by Randy | June 24, 2011
Imagine if the federal government could ask the “what if” questions about a wide variety of national disasters from natural to manmade. Imagine a crisis that could be solved in hours or days, rather than months, or, better yet, prevent it altogether. Imagine a virtual command center where hundreds of ideas from across the nation could be simulated, rated for effectiveness, and placed into effect across all federal agencies within a matter of moments. Imagine if our nation had had the opportunity to train and prepare for disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Oil Spill before they even happened.

This week, the 6th Annual Congressional Modeling and Simulation Expo showcased ways in which that can be done through the use of modeling and simulation technology.  In today’s high-tech society and with the increasing potential of global threats, the federal government must be prepared for national emergencies, and M&S is uniquely positioned to provide practice for responding quickly and effectively to disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Oil Spill.

Read more about the Congressional Modeling and Simulation Caucus, which I founded and chair, here.

Here are some photos of the event.

Posted by Randy | May 27, 2011

Recent news reports are now suggesting that energy-hungry China is ‘cranking up the heat’ in its efforts to reach nuclear fusion, a scientific achievement that has long eluded the United States.

China has previously been involved in a collaborative $21 billion effort toward developing a viable nuclear fusion program with the multinational International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) program, which involves hundreds of scientists from China, the European Union, Japan, India, Korea, Russia and the United States.  However, a recent report reveals that Beijing is planning to train 2,000 more of its own experts to independently pursue research and development into magnetic confinement fusion, which would use magnetic fields to produce the high-pressure conditions necessary for fusion.

Read the Wall Street Journal article below to learn more about the significance of China’s decision to pursue its own research of fusion technologies, or click here

May 26, 2011, 7:49 PM HKT

China Cranks Up Heat on Nuclear Fusion

Is China’s latest technological drive going to end up producing yet another Sputnik moment for the U.S.?

That has to be one question on the minds of scientists, researchers and politicians in the U.S. as China unveils its latest attempt to reach for one of science’s brass rings: viable nuclear fusion technology.

According to a report in the state-run China Daily, the central government is planning to train 2,000 experts to pursue research and development into magnetic confinement fusion, which seeks to use magnetic fields to create the high-pressure conditions necessary for fusion.

A number of research institutes and private companies around the world are racing to perfect magnetic confinement.

China is already a signatory and participant in the France-based International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project, that is perhaps the largest project pursuing magnetic approach. Arguably one of the most world’s ambitious multinational scientific undertakings, the project has a price tag of at least $21 billion and involves hundreds of scientists from China, the European Union, Japan, India Korea, Russia and the United States.

One concern among Chinese scientists is that the nation is not getting enough value out of its investment the ITER project. “China is trying to dispatch more qualified scientists to work on” the project, Cao Jianlin, vice-minister of science and technology, told China Daily.

Right now China provides 10% of the funding for the project, but supplies only 5% of the scientists, which means the country is missing out on valuable training for its would-be fusion experts.

Chinese engineers and scientists are currently responsible for building components such as heating, diagnostic and remote maintenance equipment for the project, as well as transporting it to Cadarache in the south of France, where the ITER reactor will be built.

Another researcher quoted by the China Daily thinks it’s not nearly enough and complained about the lack of exposure Chinese scientists are getting to the new technologies that could reshape the energy market.

“The ITER is related to 34 core scientific engineering technologies and management subjects,” Wan Yuanxi, dean of the school of nuclear science and technology under the University of Science and Technology of China, said. “Chinese researchers only work on 11 of them, which means we have no involvement in more than 60 percent of its core scientific engineering technologies and management subjects.”

In addition to its international efforts, China is also pursuing its own research into fusion technologies in research around the country, including at a laboratory in Chengdu.

An April guideline issued jointly by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Education, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the China National Nuclear Corp. recommends the government subsidize at least 200 researchers who intend to pursue doctorates in magnetic controlled fusion.

Currently there are 1,254 researchers have been involved with magnetic controlled fusion-related projects in China, according to the China Daily report.

Not to be outdone, the U.S. has spent billions of dollars on fusion research, in addition to the work it is doing to promote ITER projects domestically and on the main project in France, although funding for the European project has been a political football in the past. Like China, the US is responsible for around 9% of the ITER project’s total costs, with the EU has taking on the bulk of financing.

Indeed, institutions globally are all racing to find some way to commercialize technology that seems almost too good to be true – providing cheap, nearly unlimited power with no harmful emissions.

It’s a quest that has created some strange bedfellows. In the U.S., supporters of fusion technology range from the original “Penthouse” magazine publisher Bob Guccione to some of the nation’s premiere technology investment firms.

Posted by Randy | March 08, 2011

Last week during a hearing in the House Armed Services Committee, I asked Secretary of the Army John McHugh how important modeling and simulation is to the Army and what kind of future he sees for this technology.

Secretary McHugh responded by saying that modeling and simulation is absolutely essential. He went on to say that modeling and simulation offers some of the best ways we can ensure our soldiers are acclimated and prepared for what they see in theater, and he said the technology is becoming increasingly important to our military.

You can watch our exchange in this video:

Secretary McHugh's comments are critical. Modeling and simulation technology is so important to our United States military as we face both the realities of significant budget constraints and twenty-first century warfare.

As the founder and chairman of the Congressional Modeling and Simulation Caucus, I have championed the use of this technology in our military. I’ve also joined with other Members of Congress to look at ways to take modeling and simulation beyond the battlefield by increasing collaboration around this technology as a tool to better respond to national catastrophes, both natural and man-made.

You can read more about modeling and simulation here.

Posted by Randy | January 14, 2011
"It's an area with no rules, there are no boundaries, it happens with the speed of light," the military's top officer Admiral Mike Mullen said at the Washington Foreign Press Center.

He was referring to cyberspace, an area that is considered a “lawless terrain.”

Admiral Mullen went on to warn that the threat of a cyber attack on the U.S. is substantial, and that it could have a devastating impact on our nation.

Many individuals do not realize the extent to which cyberattacks could impact us as a nation. The U.S. is more dependent on our computer systems than any other country – from military readiness to transportation and energy grids to banking systems to national security operations to civilian infrastructure. An infiltration of any of these systems could sabotage power plants or financial markets with an online attack, stop transportation systems with a hacking of communication systems, or result in billions of dollars in annual losses to businesses around the globe.

I have long said that it is not enough to simply promise to deter and protect our national systems; we need to have a whole-of-government and state-of-the art strategic cyberdefense plan. I have requested hearings on cybersecurity plans, and intend to do the same in the 112th Congress so we can begin moving towards a solution.

I am also a member of the House Cybersecurity Caucus, whose purpose is to actively create dialogue among members of Congress to identify challenges and make recommendations on cybersecurity.

Weigh in on this issue: Do you believe the U.S. is prepared for a cyber attack? Do you think enhancing the state of cyber security in the U.S. should be a priority?
Posted by Randy | December 07, 2010

I wanted to make sure you saw this must-read article in today’s Wall Street Journal on why cybersecurity should be one of our prime strategic objectives:

How to Fight and Win the Cyberwar

Several years ago, during the presidency of George W. Bush, many banks and Wall Street firms were knocked offline. The financial industry, which had long been considered to have the best safeguards against cyberinfections in the private sector, discovered its computers had been penetrated by a worm, so-called because a virus grown on one computer can worm its way to millions of others. Mr. Bush asked then Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to examine what it would take to protect our critical infrastructures. The upshot was that steps were taken to strengthen the security of the military networks, but little else was done.

The major shock about the mischievous WikiLeaks—even more than the individual headline items—is that it dramatizes how vulnerable we still are. Digitization has made it easier than ever to penetrate messages and download vast volumes of information. Our information systems have become the most aggressively targeted in the world. Each year, attacks increase in severity, frequency, and sophistication. On July 4, 2009, for instance there was an assault on U.S. government sites—including the White House—as well as the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq. There were similar attacks that month on websites in South Korea. In 2008, our classified networks, which we thought were inviolable, were penetrated. Three young hackers managed to steal 170 million credit-card numbers before the ringleader was arrested in 2008.

The Internet was originally intended for thousands of researchers, not billions of users who did not know and trust one another. The designers placed a higher priority on decentralization than on security. They never dreamed the Internet could be used for commercial purposes or that it would eventually control critical systems and undergird the world of finance. So it is not surprising that the Internet creators were comfortable with a network of networks rather than separate networks for government, finance and other sectors.

A symbol to many of the open communication of American culture, the Internet has thus evolved into a two-edged sword. Our extensive systems facilitate control of pipelines, airlines and railroads; they energize commerce and private banking. They give us rapid access to medical and criminal records. But they also offer a growing target for terrorists and thieves.

Most people who experience "malware" have been victims of so-called phishing, whereby criminals pretending to be bank employees, for example, trick the gullible into revealing account numbers and passwords. But cyberwarriors can do damage on a much larger scale, as former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke points out in his revealing book "CyberWar," published earlier this year. They can tap into these networks and move money, spill oil, vent gas, blow up generators, derail trains, crash airplanes, cause missiles to detonate, and wipe out reams of financial and supply-chain data. Havoc can be created at the blink of an eye from remote locations overseas. Criminal groups, nation-states, terrorists and military organizations are at work exfiltrating vast amounts of data from the U.S. public and private sectors.

Continue reading.

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